I would like to thank everyone for their continued support of ‘The Art of Overthinking’. As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted anything in a while – this is because I have been collaborating on a project with a good friend of mine, Robyn. It has taken precedent, as the project in question in a new blog, entirely separate from ‘The Art of Overthinking’.
The new blog, which is independent of this particular blog, is called ‘Bringing Justice‘, and hopes to shed light on issues surrounding Justice, including: Derek Bromley, Aboriginal/ Indigenous Deaths in Custody, the Black Lives Matter movement, and general issues of injustice within Australia and beyond.
I would very much encourage you to take the time to have a look at ‘Bringing Justice‘, and hope it can be a way for you to learn more, start a conversation, or simply see a different perspective. I will be focusing more energy into ‘Bringing Justice‘ for the time being, while also working to re-model ‘The Art of Overthinking’ to still be an active site.
Although I have had a lot of fun with ‘The Art of Overthinking’, I believe that the current issues our society (and world) face are much more pressing than my own musings. People of Colour are suffering and dying everyday at the hands of a system that is racist, suppressive and unfair in the extreme. Injustices are occurring more frequently, rather than less frequently, and I believe that there needs to be a change. And I would like to be a part of that change, in any way that I can.
‘Boy Swallows Universe’ is a raw, coming-of-age debut novel by Australian journalist, Trent Dalton. The novel follows the main character, Eli Bell, as he grapples with finding ‘the answers to the questions’.
It’s 1985 in the suburb of Darra, Queensland, just south of Brisbane. Eli is 13 and juggling his junkie mum, a brother who doesn’t speak, a heroin dealer for a step-dad and a notorious criminal for a babysitter – and he has a lot of questions. Like whether or not ‘Slim’ Halliday, his notorious babysitter, really killed that taxi driver in 1952. Or whether his older brother, August, will ever speak, instead of writing cryptic sentences in the sky with his forefinger:
‘Your end is a dead blue wren.’
And Eli’s questions only get bigger and more complicated as time goes by. And as his questions get bigger, so do his problems.
Eli will have to come face to face with a psychopathic drug dealer and his cronies, meet the girl of his dreams, break into the Boggo Road Gaol to rescue his mum and meet the Dad he doesn’t even remember, all in search of ‘the answers to the questions’.
The only regret I have about this book is that I didn’t read it sooner. If truth be told, I picked it up more than once in the store, and, after reading it was an Australian novel, put it back on the shelf in favour of something more gritty.
But ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ was eventually in my hands, and before I knew it, I couldn’t put it down. The detail with which this novel was written is a colossal success. I have never read anything like it – and probably won’t for quite some time.
‘Boy Swallows Universe’ sent shivers down my spine, put tears in my eyes and made me look back on the raw truth of my own childhood – filled with drugs and thugs and alcoholics for family members. And although from the outset, we know Eli Bell has it tough, his story is one of finding himself, finding love and finding meaning in the mess.
This novel certainly sets the bar high for future Australian novelists, and has restored my faith in story-telling. ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ is a true masterpiece – a stroke of genius – and a testament to the author, Trent Dalton.
If you do anything before 2019 ends, read this book.
We’ve all had moments that make us see red. It’s about what we do next.
We’ve all had moments that make us see red.
Just last week, something happened to me at work that made me so angry I was blind with rage. I only just managed to make it to the HR Manager’s office before I burst into tears.
Someone had questioned my work, and by extension, my work ethic, and that made me angry.
Sometimes it only takes one misguided conversation, one person or one incident to send us reeling into a complete rage.
And that’s absolutely fine, and absolutely normal. In fact, over 65% of office workers admit to having experienced anger and rage at work, and 45% of staff regularly lose their temper in their workplace.
However, the trouble comes when we use this rage in unproductive ways – such as withdrawing, deciding not to do as much work, ignoring the person or issue or just storming around the office without venting.
Anger, when harnessed correctly, is a powerful emotional tool. When used productively, anger can help us move forward, forge new paths and better relationships and empower us to achieve our goals in new ways.
Anger Creates Determination.
Have you ever noticed that when someone does you wrong, the first thing that comes to mind is often revenge?
When we’re angry, we’re determined. We want to get back at the person or situation which has hurt us, and we want to prove ourselves.
When used in the right way, we can use our anger and determination to find ways to be better. We want vengeance, and we want it to be swift.
So what better way to become better, than channeling our will for vengeance into a positive force. Use that determination to get something done you’ve been pushing aside. Finish that project you’ve been working on. Apply for that new job you were thinking about. Get that pile of washing folded. Whatever it is, smash it!
Turn your anger into determination and use it to power through.
When we are angry, we are often angry that someone has insulted or harmed us in some way. When someone does this, it is only natural that we want to prove them wrong.
Not only do we have thoughts of seeking revenge, and also of proving to ourselves and others, but we feel like we need to be redeemed. We need to prove to the world that we a worthy of better. Better treatment, better people and better situations.
When we are personally insulted in any way, it can spark anger in us – and that is completely valid and completely normal.
So what better way to use that angry energy, than to use it to show the world we are worthy? Just because one person tells us we aren’t good enough, doesn’t mean that we have to believe it. With the right attitude, we can empower ourselves and seek out our feelings of worthiness.
We can use our anger to show people who we truly are, what we stand for and what we won‘t put up with.
Anger Breeds Optimism.
When something bad happens to us, our mindset tends to change. Perhaps not straight away, but eventually, whatever happens to us shapes us.
If we’ve been through something before, we’re more likely to feel like we can get through it again. We can stare at our aggressor and say: ‘Hit me with your best shot.’
Because we know we can deal with it. Humans are designed to adapt and overcome the issues we are faced with. It’s in our genetic make-up.
We are constantly changing and evolving as we experience new things – and sometimes that means bad things too. The best part of going through something that makes us mad, is that we can laugh in its face the next time around.
Next time you’re angry…
Next time you’re angry, remember to breathe, and try not to do anything rash. While anger can be an obstacle to success, it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of ways to harness anger and turn it into something usable – it’s about what works for you. Channeling your anger and planning for your future are incredibly powerful tools when it comes to dealing with an issue that’s come to a head.
You are worthy, you are strong and you grow through what you go through. Don’t let anyone get in the way of your success, no matter how they make you feel!
‘The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.’
– Mark Twain
Mental Illness is a struggle that affects many people and can take many different forms.
Mental Illness can be lonely and debilitating, forcing us to withdraw socially and try to hide our condition from the world. One of the hardest things for those who are suffering from Mental Health Issues to do, is to accept their condition in the first place.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being introverted, or enjoying time to ourselves, but it becomes a bigger issue when that becomes the norm. Balancing those qualities and still having (and maintaining) meaningful connections with those around us can sometimes be hard – especially when we choose not to accept our reality.
Many of us choose to suffer in the dark, rather than admit to anyone they are struggling, or are ‘different’ or ‘sick’. This shouldn’t have to happen.
There is far more beauty, strength and power in accepting and embracing our flaws.
‘The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.’
Here are a few ways to learn how to embrace our struggles and turn them into something we can use in order to grow in our journey:
Get Diagnosed & Refer To Your Condition By Name.
Being diagnosed can often bring about shame or confusion in many people, as well as feelings of guilt or anger. ‘Why me?’ is something that people ask over and over again.
But as scary as being diagnosed is, it can be incredibly useful as well.
You can’t defeat something if you don’t know what it is you’re fighting. But knowing what you’re dealing with is the first step to finding a solution – a way to fight back.
If you’ve been diagnosed with Depression – call it by its name. Bi-Polar? Name it. Anxiety? Own it. If you name something, you own it. If you own it, you choose how much power it has over you.
If you choose to name your condition, you also help others put a name and face to the condition – making it far easier to relate to and empathize with – thus reducing the stigma attached to it.
If you want to educate others, you start by educating yourself. If you want to be empowered and influential, the best thing you can do is learn as much as you can about the topic you want people to understand.
Having stories, facts and figures at our fingertips can prove incredibly important when we are trying to get our point across to someone. And learning just how many other people out there are in similar circumstances to us can propel us forward and give us hope and confidence.
Sidney Hook put it like this:
‘Everyone who remembers his own education remembers teachers, not methods and techniques. The teacher is the heart of the educational system.’
If we can learn about ourselves, and truly know ourselves, it can create an energy within and a fire that can’t be extinguished. Being able to feel good about ourselves starts from within.
Respect Your Mental Illness.
If you want to own your diagnosis, you need to learn how it works.
If you want to tame a beast, you need to know how to make it feel respected.
Some forces demand a certain amount of respect – they are powerful and damaging, but beautiful too – like fire.
The same thing goes for our Mental Health. If we want to own our diagnoses, we need to respect that there are going to be days that are better than others. And that’s okay.
Never minimize your condition. It simply is what it is, and that sometimes means adjusting ourselves accordingly.
For some, that means taking extra self-care steps. For others, it’s removing ourselves from a toxic situation.
Paying attention to ourselves and our conditions is critical when it comes to empowerment and feeling ‘in-control’.
Implement Self-Care Measures That Work For You.
Self-Care is meaningless if you aren’t focusing on yourself. Self-Care looks different for everyone – and that’s totally fine. What works for one, may not work for another.
The challenge is finding what does work best for us as individuals. There’s no point joining your friend for Yoga if you absolutely can’t stand getting sweaty and bending yourself into a knot. It may work for your friend, but not you.
For some of us, Self-Care is as simple as taking some time out for an afternoon nap. For others, it’s hitting the gym, or a nice hot bath.
Spend some time thinking about the last time you truly felt relaxed, and work from there. If you know how to manage the bad days, you will find yourself feeling much better and more in-control over our situation and condition.
Embracing who you are is vital on all of our journeys – not just people with Mental Illnesses. Being able to accept who you are, flaws and all, is hard sometimes (even for the best of us). So don’t give up, and remember you are never alone.
If you’re feeling like you need to talk to someone, there are plenty of places you can reach out:
The waiting periods to see a psychologist are far too long.
I’m not saying my mental health is more fucked than anyone else’s, or deserves to be seen to before anyone else.
But what I am saying, is that the waiting periods to see a psychologist are far too long. I’ve battled with my mental illness for many years, and I’m starting to come to the realization that half my problem is that I had stopped bothering trying to seek therapy of any description.
I know that might sound a little self-destructive, but hear me out.
I first saw a psychiatrist when I was under the age of 5.
He was trying to get inside my little, child brain, to understand what was happening around me, and whether I should be placed in the care of my drug-addicted Mum, in a dangerous house that had pedophiles, drug addicts and criminals coming in at all hours of the day and night, or my Dad, who hadn’t so much as raised his voice at me, ever.
When he visited me at my Mum’s house, I would be told by my Mum and Step-Dad that I should ‘tell the man you want to live with me, or all your toys will be sold and I won’t see you’.
When he visited my Dad’s house, my Dad told me to ‘tell the man the truth’ to the questions he asked.
Do you know who the psychiatrist thought was the better option? My Mum.
And so, my poor relationship with psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors began.
I didn’t see anyone else about my mental health again until I was 15.
I had been living with my Dad since I was seven (after the Family Court finally realized who the right parent to live with was), because I was a missing person for 8 months because my Mum and Step-Dad took off when they couldn’t pay a drug-debt.
Growing up, I had always been a quiet person, and found myself feeling a lot more mature than my peers most of the time. I didn’t know what depression, or anxiety, or mental illness was back then. I just thought that I was different.
And then when I was 15, a close friend of mine died, and I was encouraged to see a counselor, who I went to see at the local hospital. Even in a town of less than 2,000, it took me 4 weeks to get an appointment.
Then, the first thing the counselor did was point at the scars on my wrists and tell me I was obviously not depressed and just wanted attention.
I immediately disliked her.
I had a second appointment a couple of weeks later, which I decided to go to, just in case I had misjudged the counselor, or hadn’t given her enough time. But all she did was ask me why I was so sad, and then told me if I couldn’t tell her, that meant nothing was wrong.
I didn’t bother seeing her again.
I didn’t see another psychologist or mental health professional until I was 19.
By the time I was 19, I had finished High School, I had ran away from home, lived in poverty to the point of living in the street, moved to a big city to start University, moved in with a boyfriend, broken up with him, moved to an Aunt’s house, moved out with another boyfriend who was abusive to me, and began to realize that there was something seriously wrong with my mental health.
One day, I broke down and cried and cried and cried, walking around the neighbourhood after dark for hours. I was having terrible thoughts, panic attacks, mood swings and felt like I was all alone. It was then that I decided I needed help.
I went to a doctor, who ‘diagnosed’ me with depression, gave me some anti-depressant medication and sent me on my way. It wasn’t until I went back to the same doctor’s surgery and saw a different GP that they set up a Mental-Health care plan, which included a referral to see a psychologist.
I said I couldn’t afford to see someone. They put me in a queue to see someone in the public system.
That someone was a 45 minute drive away, and was only available to see me every 2 weeks. But I was desperate for help, so I drove the distance and waited for my appointments.
This psychologist was the first one who ever actually seemed like she cared about helping me get better. She asked me about my family history, asked me about my relationships and my studies and my home life. We began to dig a bit deeper, and I remember her telling me that she thought I should get a proper diagnosis from a psychiatrist, but that we’d organize it in the next session.
She moved states the following week, and I never heard from her again.
At 23, I decided to give it another shot.
After the last psychologist, I gave up on seeking mental health for a few years. I had broken up with my abusive boyfriend by this point, but the relationship was incredibly damaging to me. He had told me I was a psycho, that there was something wrong with my brain, that I deserved the things that happened to me as a child, that I should just hurry up and kill myself – among the physical abuse and the rest of it. I had carried the weight of his words ever since.
That burden eventually became one of the reasons I didn’t have much success with relationships after that. My self-esteem was at an all-time low, I was lonely and I had to force myself out of bed just to go to work. I had started taking hard drugs and wasn’t in a good place.
But I finally built up the courage to speak to my (new) doctor, and asked her to help me, because I felt like I wasn’t getting better, I was only getting worse.
I asked her whether she thought I should be diagnosed by a psychiatrist, but she said no.
She upped the dosage of my medication and made a new Mental Health plan, referring me to a counselor close by.
I went to my first session, and was bitterly disappointed. This time, I walked into the room to find a man who spent half our session on the phone, and the other half telling me that the depression was all in my head and what I needed to do was change my attitude.
I told him I didn’t understand what that meant, because I was obviously trying to get better, otherwise I wouldn’t be in his office.
He then said “I don’t know why you’re here anyway, you seem like an intelligent person’.
I went to the doctor again when I was 25.
I told her straight out ‘I think I might kill myself one day’.
She upped my dose of anti-depressant medication, referred me to Yarrow Place (a service for women who have been raped) and recommended I join a gym.
I remember her saying ‘…Swimming is good for the mind.’
To keep things in perspective here, I never mentioned to this doctor I had been raped, that is something she simply assumed. The only other thing she did was give me a list of the crisis phone numbers I could call if I wanted to.
I contacted Yarrow Place and asked when their next available appointment was and they told me that unless it was an emergency (in their eyes?), the next appointment wouldn’t be for the following month.
I wanted to cry. Why was it so hard to get the help I needed?
Here, in the present day, I’m 26 years old.
I went to my (new) doctor in March this year, and said I really think I need to see someone about my mental health. I told him that I had been feeling down for quite some time, and believed that medication wasn’t going to help me.
He asked me straight out ‘…What could possibly make you so sad?’
This doctor is a nice enough guy, but he’s not a psychologist. I didn’t feel comfortable telling him much, and to be perfectly honest, I was kind of hoping to untangle all these years of feelings with someone who was qualified to do so. So I said ‘lots of things’ and he asked me to fill out the Mental Health Questionnaire that I’d filled in a dozen times before.
This time though, when he said he was going to make a Mental Health Care Plan for me, I asked him if I could be the person to choose who I was referred to. He said that I could, but that if they’re private practices, there might be a cost involved. I said I didn’t care, so he sent me away to research who I wanted to see, and to come back in a week and he’d write up a referral.
My doctor wrote the referral, and the very next day, I contacted the practice via email to organize my first appointment. The receptionist told me the first available appointment with the psychologist I wanted wouldn’t be until June.
My heart sank.
I asked her if there was anyone else I could see from the practice sooner. She gave me a date in late May and said it was probably best just to wait for my preferred psychologist, and that she would put me on a cancellation list, just in case a space became available.
I decided to grit my teeth a bare it, regardless of the wait or the cost, so that I can try and get better.
It’s now May 30th, and my first appointment is June 13th. I’ve been waiting for 3 months, with the only other alternative option being to present myself to the emergency department and be evaluated, and probably released the same day with no real therapy.
I’m just trying to get better.
There are days where I drive home from work and honestly consider veering off into a pole, a tree or a ditch.
There are nights when I unpack the dishwasher and hold the knives a little too long, considering the ways I could use them. There are times when I wake up at night in a cold sweat and want to vomit my guts up or scream my lungs out.
There are days when I’m jealous of the people who get to go to therapy.
And then those moments pass, and I try again. I wake up to another day, and try to be optimistic. There are times when I have arguments with myself in my head about whether I should be here, and I have to force myself to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving towards something that I can’t quite see yet.
I don’t need pills. I need therapy. But because I haven’t tried to kill myself yet, by professional measures, I’m fine. That’s just the way it is.
But the problem is, it shouldn’t be this way.
How many people has the system failed? I think about this every day. How loud do we have to scream to be heard? How much damage and trauma is deemed acceptable for help?
And what about the people who don’t want to talk about it to just anyone? Is it not okay to want to talk to a professional about something, rather than having to admit it to a GP first?
What about the suicidal people who struggle in silence? What about the ones who don’t think their struggles are worth someone else’s time? What about the people who are sent home by the doctor with a prescription and a referral to someone who doesn’t care?
I wonder all of these things and more.
But most of all, I wonder when the system is going to change.
Resources for those seeking help:
Remember, your safety should always be a priority. If you are in crisis or your mental health becomes an emergency, call 000.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you, or someone you know needs help, don’t hesitate to use the following resources:
If you are a young person, the future is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate.
In case you’ve been living under a rock…
Climate Change is a very real, defining issue of our time. Regardless of whether you live in a place like the United States, where the President denies Climate Change (along with pulling out of the Paris Agreement to curb Carbon Emissions), or somewhere more advanced in its leadership on Climate Change, like France, who’s Prime Minister ended an address on the subject with: ‘Make our planet great again.’ … Boom.
Either way, we all live on the same planet, and it is our individual and collective responsibility to take action on Climate Change if this planet is going to survive even the next 40 years. NASA says the evidence for rapid Climate Change is compelling, noting key indicators, including:
Global Temperature Rises;
Shrinking Ice Sheets;
Decreased Snow Cover;
Sea Level Rises;
Declining Arctic Sea Ice;
Extreme Weather Events and
Climate Change is affecting the planet in significant, detrimental and soon-to-be irreversible ways. Without drastic action, the planet we know today will be gone, replaced with a landscape characterized catastrophic natural disasters, mass-extinction, global food shortages and increased exposure to conflict.
It’s for this reason that the younger generations are gearing up for a rough ride, and changing the way they see the world, in order to survive the damage our ancestors have inflicted on the planet.
Young People Don’t Want To Raise Children On A Damaged Planet.
More and more Millenials are becoming concerned with what the future may look like in 10, 20 or even 50 years from now. The phrase ‘I don’t want to bring children into this world’ is something you wouldn’t often have heard someone say 50 years ago. But in this day and age, there is a real, tangible fear of what the future may hold.
Global birth rates are declining, with more people becoming aware of the planet’s situation. The fear of bringing children into a world of uncertainty is a very real issue facing the young people of today. Even as recently as February this year, United States Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) asked the question ‘Is it still OK to have children?’ on her Instagram Story.
AOC argues that although the answer is not clear-cut, there is a scientific consensus that the lives of future generations will be difficult. And they know it. More and more young people are taking part in Global Climate Change Protests, like those started by Greta Thunberg who recently stated:
‘You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes… We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis…if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then… we should change the system itself.’
– Greta Thunberg
Younger generations are increasingly opting not to have children, with worries of food and water shortages, global unrest, natural disasters and political unrest present themselves as very real threats.
Young People Have Little Faith In Their Government.
A lot of Millenials are written off as out-of-touch with politics.
But the truth is, Millenials simply have no faith in the people representing them. Evidence of this is in the record number of Australians enrolled to vote this election – 96.8% of the total eligible voting population. This includes a record number of 18-24 year olds.
The world’s leaders have a responsibility to fight against Climate Change. We can only hope that as the older generations die out, they will be replaced with more switched-on individuals, who are dedicated to helping the planet and the people living on it, rather than continuing to be more preoccupied with the 1%:
“That future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once. You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to.”
– Greta Thunberg
A survey carried out by Triple J found that 89% of young Australians believe the politicians in power aren’t working in the best interests of the planet. And guess what? Those same young people voted Environmental Policy and Climate Change as the most important issues to them, come election time.
That’s pretty damning.
Younger Generations Are Experiencing Higher Rates Of Mental Illnesses Dubbed ‘Eco-Anxiety’ or ‘Ecological Grief’.
The negative impact Climate Change is having on the physical environment poses real risks when it comes to the Mental Health of young people. A sense of doom where the future contains things like poverty, unemployment, natural disasters and resource shortages are very real issues that young people are having to face.
Even as far back as 2012, the National Wildlife Federation reported that over 200 million Americans would be exposed to serious psychological distress from climate related incidents. Of a study done by Millennium Kids Inc., 94.6% of the target demographic felt that Climate Change would be a problem in the future.