What Next?

I realised I needed to take care of myself, but what comes next?

This post isn’t intended as a follow on from yesterday’s post but it does tie in quite nicely. In essence, I realised I had overestimated my ability to stick to 5 posts a week and had thus failed to do so, quite spectacularly. This could have easily led to feelings of failure and depression, but because I have a good support system in place, I take care of my mental health and I always try to maintain focus on the important things, that didn’t happen.

Instead I sat down yesterday and tried to figure out why 5 posts per week was simply too much and it boiled down to: a lack of motivation, a lack of inspiration, and a lack of energy. Which is why this month is all about me trying to figure out a schedule that works for me, and still maintains some level of momentum on this new project. I don’t want this blog to stagnate and simply putter to it’s own demise, but I cannot overcommit myself because that does myself and the blog a disservice.

It’s currently 4:30pm Monday afternoon as I write this, and frankly I’ve been procrastinating writing this since I woke up. I knew I wanted to have a post up today, but I didn’t have that stroke of inspiration that sometimes overtakes us writers and leads us to feverishly write 500 words without a second thought or pause. Every word feels like pulling teeth and I’m almost certain I’m going to hate this post when I re read it later after I publish it on the blog.

I have no excuse for the fact that it’s 4:30 and there’s no blog, except that I didn’t want to. And since this blog is my own, I have no boss breathing down my neck for me to meet a deadline and I can post whatever and whenever I bloody well please, I am going to embrace that while I can. Eventually I will be held accountable for my work by an employer, and I will not be able to simple roll over and go back to sleep.

Whether that attitude is self care or self indulgence I’m not entirely sure, but I choose to believe that it is self care and that I am doing myself a favour by not being too hard on myself.

In the end, while I hope this blog reaches people and inspires them, it is for me. This is my self care, writing about the things I am passionate about and that make me happy.

I hope you’ll stick around and read whatever comes next, because it’ll be as much of a surprise to me as it is to you!

 

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When Things Don’t Go To Plan: On Realising Your Limits and Boundaries…

An update on one month of blogging

I’ve sat here for the past 45 minutes, trying to start this post. I’ve retitled it 3 times and probably will do so again before I post it. But what it boils down to is this: 5 posts a week is unsustainable for me right now.

May has been a month of experimenting with this blog, seeing what works and what doesn’t, what is popular and what isn’t and I have concluded that 5 posts a week does not work for me.

I have neither the motivation nor the energy to sustain such an upload schedule. I certainly have the time to do it as I am currently unemployed but it has boiled down to the fact that my sleep schedule is permanently whacked out, I’m not happy with the content I’m putting on this blog and I’m dealing with mental health issues (It’s not major or anything to be worried about, I just know I need to make self care a priority) nevertheless I feel that I have come to a point, 28 days into this blog that has made me realise that I went too hard too soon and need to focus on putting out content that I actually like and can be proud of, rather than just putting up a rushed half assed blog in order to maintain a schedule.

In light of this realisation and admitting to myself that I need to focus on good content, June will be yet another experimental month. I haven’t decided which posts to keep and which to omit. I am leaning towards keeping: Mental Health Monday, Thinking Thursdays and Feminism Friday, with the occasional disability advocacy post thrown in when I feel compelled to do so. However, this also may not work, I may find myself switching and changing things up constantly until I am happy with the direction the blog is going.

In the end, while this blog is for me to share my passion and if I’m lucky maybe educate and inspire people, it should also be about what makes me happy and proud of what I am writing.

I hope you’ll stay around to see what I come up with over the next month and watch the blog evolve!

while I’m figuring things out, please check out some of my other posts and let me know what you think I should keep and what you think I should axe!

The Discovery: A Review

A review of the new Netflix movie about the Afterlife…

TRIGGER WARNING: SUICIDE, DEATH

Today’s What I’m Reading Wednesday is actually more of a What I’m Watching Wednesday, because I watched a movie on Netflix this week that has really stuck with me.

The Discovery is a Netflix original, starring Jason Segel, Robert Redford and Rooney Mara, it follows Will and Isla, two individuals with pasts that they can’t seem to escape from. Will’s father (played by Redford) made the groundbreaking discovery that there is an afterlife, leading to a drastic increase in the number of suicides worldwide. Isla is a young woman who meets Will by chance and subsequently moves into the compound run by Will’s father.

Without spoiling the entire plot, suffice to say strange happenings ensued, and everything was not as it seemed.

The entire premise of this movie is dangerous, it allows the viewer to imagine a world where science proves the existence of an afterlife and suicide is an everyday occurrence.

In one of the opening scenes, Will is speaking with his brother who mentions that a mutual friend had committed suicide and Will asks his brother whether he attended the funeral, the brother basically says something to the effect of “if I went to everyone’s funeral, I’d have no time for anything else.” This is obviously done in order to demonstrate that “the Discovery” as it is termed has changed the world for everyone, not just those seeking an answer to the question of “what is the Afterlife?” But it raises more serious questions about the ethical ramifications of knowing that there is an afterlife and publishing these findings on a global scale.

Will and Isla discover that things are not exactly as they seem, and both find themselves compelled to discover what is truly behind the Discovery that has so changed the course of human history and scientific knowledge of the Afterlife. This compulsion to find the truth leads them to fall in love with each other in a rather schmaltzy overplayed romantic trope wherein two people who view themselves as “others” or “outsiders” find comfort in each other and that comfort turns to romance (as modern cinema is so quick to point out, men and women can’t just be friends).

Without spoiling the entire film, suffice to say that the romance is cheesy, the sci-fi/horror elements fall short of being scary or intimidating.

The only saving grace of this movie is the fact that while there is a lot of suicide discussion, it definitely does not glorify the act of suicide and instead at various points of the movie, it addresses what the people left behind feel.

The romance is cheesy, the sci-fi is poorly thought out and the acting is more like the cast has been held at gunpoint and are bored with the entire thing simultaneously, which is impressive when you think about it.

Having said that, the appearance of the cast being held at gun point may actually have been a style choice because of the cult leader like status that Robert Redford’s character has created. That atmosphere of oppression and entrapment could have worked well had the cast played it slightly differently.

All in all The Discovery is an average movie that has tried to fit too many genres in one movie, and failed to deliver on any of them. This movie gets a rating of 2.5 out of 5 from me.

Surviving Solo in an Ableist Society

Living with a disability is hard enough, so how does living alone change things?

In 2015, I moved out of home for the first time, I was 25, and had just gotten my first paid, big girl job. I was a late bloomer in that regard for sure. I was on the verge of finishing up my last semester at uni and had applied for the job very much not thinking I would get it. It was the position I wrote about in my last blog and while it was pretty much a complete nightmare, I learned a lot about myself and the challenges of living alone and being disabled.

I moved to a very small town with a population of just under 3,000 people, about 5 hours from all my friends and family, which is a massive thing when the only other time I had lived away from home was for first year of uni and I came home during vacation, and I was only an hour from home anyway.

I started the job in the middle of the school year, so I had to rush to find housing in 2 weeks, and let me tell you, finding housing in a small town like that was bloody hard. I was very lucky to be given the tip that someone was renting privately, and that I should go and check the house out while I was also looking at the rental properties available through the estate agent. The house also needed to be relatively accessible, a few stairs was okay but not a two storey split level, it needed a bathtub instead of just a shower, and the kitchen needed to be relatively easy for me to use in terms of access to the stove top and height of benches. I can walk, but I use crutches, so when I’m at the kitchen bench or near the stove, I need to be able to lean against something to support myself while I cook. Luckily this private rental fit the bill, the landlords were a fantastically sweet married couple, and within 2 weeks, I was moving in.

Now, within that 2 weeks, I had to write list after list of things I thought I might need: bath board to get in and out of the bath, hand rail on the bathroom wall (installed by the landlord), and a trolley (like this, but not exactly because I’m not made of money) with which to move things from room to room. That last thing I would never have thought of without the input of my mother, and it was a godsend. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to carry cups of tea or my dinner to the table and a whole host of other things that people without disabilities take for granted. While living with my parents they would carry my dinner to the table for me, and if I wanted a cup of tea while they weren’t home I would use a travel mug, but I rarely bothered because more often than not the travel mug was dirty, missing the lid or broken. However since I was going to be living alone for 6 months, the idea of 6 months without a cup of tea or coffee was grim.

It’s the small things that catch you off guard like not being able to call someone up and ask them to bring you a cappuccino and hang out. That last one isn’t really a problem, it’s just something I definitely missed.

Transport was another big one; as I previously mentioned I had moved to a tiny town of 3,000 people and there was one cab for the entire town. Luckily the driver was a wonderful man who was more than happy to accommodate driving me to and from work every weekday, and take me shopping on a Saturday if I needed it, the cost of transport to and from work was $12 per day, which is an absolute bargain. Without that wonderfully helpful taxi driver, I would have found it nigh on impossible to get to work.

People with disabilities often find themselves dependent on others for basic things such as transport, shopping, and housework. This can be made harder by the fact that gaining employment as a person with a disability is much harder than for those who don’t have disabilities, that’s the unfortunate reality we live in. Disabled people are more likely to be unemployed and isolated from society. It can be a real up hill battle to make inroads into a community if challenges as basic as transport cannot be accommodated.

One thing that really stood out to me was the fact that when I told a colleague about having to pay for the taxi each day she offered to organise a roster of people from work to drive me to and from each day, at first I resisted this but finally I relented. I resisted because I wanted to be seen as an equal at work, I didn’t want to be known as the woman who needed favours from coworkers every day. At any rate it didn’t matter because the woman never followed through on the offer.

That story brings me to another point, the lip service that is paid to those with disabilities, the countless empty offers of assistance that are rarely followed up with action, the compliments about “how you’re doing so well at everything” as though getting up and going to work every day was worthy of praise and admiration. This mentality really gets under my skin. The concept of being admired or viewed as inspirational *shudders* just because I live alone and have a job is so frustrating. It feels insincere, condescending and frankly, ridiculous.

I have lived with a disability for almost 27 years, but when I sit back and think of all the barriers that may be in my way to do a simple activity like meet my friends for lunch, it’s easy to get frustrated. Transport as I’ve already said, but things like the fact if it’s raining I probably won’t go out because all the pavements in my town are slippery and lethal as hell when wet. Luckily I have 2 friends who are strong enough to take me by an arm each and help me walk without falling over, but that’s frankly embarrassing. They don’t mind helping and often offer but I’m fiercely independent when I think something should be easy. This post isn’t about a pity party, but fuck it, having a disability is hard and even though I try to be fiercely independent and do things my own way, and never accept help if it is something I can do, I won’t lie and say that everything is the same as it would be if I wasn’t physically disabled.

Living alone as a person with a disability was hard and I’m damn proud to have done it, and I am sure I will do it again one day, hopefully for much longer than 6 months!

 

Rural Mental Health In Australia: The Shameful Reality

Content warning: mental health, suicide, depression

Mental Health has become a very important topic of late, for me and for others. With shows like 13 Reasons Why causing an uproar, an increase in diagnoses of mental health conditions in younger people and a much wider knowledge of what mental illness is and why the stigma around it is outdated and dangerous. This is good progress, a march toward equality for people with mental illnesses who often suffer discrimination at the hands of those who don’t understand the reality of living with mental illness, but society has a long way to go, especially in rural isolated towns in Australia.

I grew up in a very small rural town up until I turned 12, and as a kid, mental illness was either not talked about or I was sheltered from it due to my age, either way, I was woefully unprepared for my teenage years and the depression that would ensue. By that point my family had moved to a larger town with more mental health services and I was at a larger school with a counsellor, which was lucky because as it turns out, the year I turned 16, everything went to absolute hell for me and I was in dire need of help. I can’t help but wonder, if I had still lived in that tiny, isolated rural town of my younger years whether I would have gotten the help I so badly needed as a teenager? It’s hard to know, that small town was where I grew up throughout the 1990’s and whether it was because it was the 1990’s and mental health was still very much stigmatised and not spoken about or whether it was because it was such a small town with a frightening lack of services, but I have my doubts that I would have gotten the help I needed.

It would be easy to blame that small town for being close minded or backward thinking but really the people there were caring and considerate and would do anything for someone who needed help, but the education about mental health was poor, the services non existent and the feeling of shame at having a mental illness was sky high.

I saw this for myself when I worked in another small town not far from my childhood home town in 2015, it was my first “adult” job and frankly it was awful. I worked in a high school as a “Student Support Officer” and in my first week there I dealt with a suicidal 14 year old who was treated as an attention seeker and as a waste of time to help. By law, we had to notify her parents, take her to the hospital, where we waited over 3 hours for her to be assessed by a psychiatric nurse via video link, and the end result was “no action to be taken”. I went home and called my parents and said “what have I done?! Coming here was a mistake” because I felt so helpless, here was this young girl who clearly felt disenfranchised by the community she lived in, crying out for help and being ignored by an overstretched, underfunded mental health service because she wasn’t “acutely affected”. To add insult to injury, when I called her parents again the next day to check in, this young girl’s mother said to me “next time, just call me and I’ll take her home and have a talk with her about this bullshit”. That to me, summed up my next 5 and a half months in that town and in that job. This pervasive culture of “we don’t talk about our problems, we deal with them at home” and dealing with them at home was also a case of “let’s not talk about it right now”.

I was appalled, disappointed and most of all I was furious. In the 12 months prior to my starting at that job, a young girl of 16 had taken her own life after being bullied at the school I worked at, a young man had taken his life after cutbacks at his job, and countless farmers had received mental health assessments as a result of depression stemming from a crippling drought, debt and a declining economy, all in one very small town.

The problem here is that those farmers never spoke to anyone else about their struggles and only ever reached out for help when they reached breaking point, and by that point they already had a plan in place for how they would take their own life but by some miracle they had reached out and stopped themselves from making a god awful mistake.

This town had a population of about 3,000 and to have 2 suicides in 12 months, and countless others receiving mental health assessments is unfathomable in terms of mental health statistics. This was a town that was struggling under the weight of a mental health crisis they were not equipped to combat.

During my time in that job, I struggled, I was having my own mental health issues which culminated in me seeing a mental health nurse during one of his trips from a larger centre. He was very helpful, understanding and kind. We discussed mental health both on a personal note for me as well as on a professional note as a social worker to a mental health nurse and the conclusion we drew was that this town was isolating, enclosed in its own reality and struggling to combat a crisis that was occurring at a national level as well.

This entire experience left me with a feeling that I couldn’t shake: mental health carries such a stigma, especially in small isolated communities, that it makes it almost impossible for those who need it to seek help. The stigma is so strong that mental health issues are still spoken about in hushed tones even by those who profess to be mental health professionals. I had one nurse ask me how I could possibly be a social worker and help others if I was struggling with my own mental health, and that mentality needs to end, because people will die before they get help when even the professionals are judging those in need.

Mental health in Australia, particularly in rural communities, needs to improve and it needs to do so before more people lose their lives because of lack of funds, lack of services and frankly staff who are under qualified for the task at hand.

If this post has raised mental health concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or your nearest Mental Health hotline.

Facebook, feminism and fuckery: A tale of one man’s anger.

MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNING: THIS POST DISCUSSES THREATS OF VIOLENCE TOWARD WOMEN.

Okay, so I’m angry. So angry. As per the title, there’s probably going to be a bunch of swearing and unkind language in this post, and I’m not even slightly sorry for it.

Gather round, I’m gonna tell you the story of how I got called a “man hating bitch who is easily triggered”.  It all began on Tuesday night, when I was scrolling through facebook, and found a post in one of the groups I’m in which professes to be fans of two well known youtubers who are brothers (yeah, you know who I mean). These two youtubers are very into social justice, equality and fairness, including rights for groups which are discriminated against (this is relevant, I swear). So imagine my surprise when a woman in the group posts about receiving an obscene, disturbing and threatening message from a “friend” via facebook messenger, and many people told her to block him and move on.

That part, I could deal with, it’s like sticking your head in the sand and pretending this sexist, violent, and threatening scumbag doesn’t exist in the real world, but I do get that sometimes its easier than trying to report something of that nature and hoping that some sort of acceptable outcome will evolve from it. The thing that got me really mad, was one commenter in particular who made a comment consisting of “I keep my friends list to 100 people who I know well, and also I’m a man”. That’s actually not paraphrasing at all… Can you see why I got mad?

That had the double whammy of victim blaming (by implying she had too many friends on facebook and therefore was inviting this) AND making the blunt statement that men aren’t the target of this kind of thing (Which is completely untrue). Over the next 90 minutes we commented back and forth and it got heated at points, I’m not saying I was perfect in my language. I was definitely angry and not very polite and I make no excuse for that, however what really got me boiling mad was when a third party commented that “man-hating women are so easily triggered” and the first commenter, henceforth known as Douchenozzle A latched onto that and called me a misandrist on numerous occasions, for my repeated assertions that women receiving online threats was not uncommon, should be taken seriously and should definitely be reported. Somehow this guy totally Jumped the shark into a discussion about how women can victimise men, how he has received unsolicited nude pics and therefore he is a victim too. I agreed, he is a victim, he’s a victim of unsolicited nude pics. However the woman who posted the original status that kicked this whole thing off, had been told by a male friend that he wanted to lock her up and use and torment her at his whim. I know unsolicited nudes is not cool, but there’s a huge gulf between “here’s a dick/a pair of tits/an ass” and “I want to use and torment you in a locked room.”

All of this is to say that fighting online produces no victors and will only suffice to raise one’s blood pressure to dangerous levels, but it also speaks to a frighteningly common trend in society:  the notion that threats made online are not taken seriously and are dismissed as “just words” by many people, and especially by those who the threats aren’t aimed at. We see this time and time again when it comes to any marginalised group: women, people of differing races, genders, sexualities etc. Those who aren’t being threatened are much more likely to say “well they only said it, it’s not like they actually acted on it.” But then, when a person is killed by their verbally abusive partner or the behaviour escalates in other ways people shake their heads and say “Well why didn’t they just leave the partner before it got worse?” Victims of any kind are rarely likely to catch a break from those who don’t understand what it is like to be a victim in the first place.

When I tell people that I got into yet another “facebook debate” about some issue or another, they’re likely to respond “just don’t get into it, people aren’t going to listen,” which is faulty logic. How are we to change problematic behaviour if no one says a word?  If those who opposed slavery in the US had said nothing, or the Women’s Suffrage movement had stayed quiet, there would still be huge numbers of slaves, and women wouldn’t have the vote. And frankly, I’m tired of staying quiet, for the sake of not having an argument. If I have to argue with 1,000 people about equality, then I will.

You know, being called a misandrist by a man who asserts that rape threats aren’t something to be concerned by if you’re a woman probably isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever been called, but it’s probably the most ironic. Only a true misogynist would invalidate rape threats.

As a nice little cherry on top of this bullshit soufflé, Douchenozzle A later came back to “clarify some points” by editing his posts to paint himself in a more sympathetic and less misogynistic light. Dozens of commenters called him out on it, and posted screenshots of his original statements. That part was sorta delightful, I’m not gonna lie, if that makes me a bad person then so be it.

This entire post has been brought to you by the internalised misogyny and anti feminist sentiment that has pervaded human societies for thousands of years.

Traveller’s notebook: What is it and why is it awesome?

If you’ve read my Bullet journal post you’ll know that when I discovered that particular system of organisation I fell in love pretty instantly. I was never a very organised person prior to that and in fact was well known for being flaky and unreliable. I could make excuses about having a bad memory, but frankly it was more to do with the fact that I was hopeless at maintaining a diary or appointment book.

Which is why Bullet Journalling became my Holy Grail organisation system, from the moment I bought a cheap notebook and started writing down all of the important things I needed to remember, I felt more productive, useful, smarter and happier. It’s a big call to say that a system as idiot proof as bullet journalling made me a happier person but it really did.

From bullet journalling, i spiralled down a rabbit hole of organisational and planning videos on youtube and found Traveller’s Notebooks. The concept is simple, a folio style planner with removable inserts for increased flexibility and to keep productivity simple.

Folio

Bullet journal purists will tell you that a Traveller’s Notebook is NOT a bullet journal, because it is not one notebook where you write EVERYTHING. To that I say, phooey: as long as you use signifiers, daily to do lists, and an index, you’ve got yourself a bullet journal. In saying that, I have divided my Traveller’s notebook into 3 sections, one for each insert I have.

The first section is my Health section, the second is Notes, and the third is Blog.

Health

If you’ve read any of my posts on living with a disability you’ll know by now that I have Spina Bifida. I am the first to admit that in the past, I was terrible at looking after the specific concerns that my disability brought to my life, in fact I’m still pretty bad but this section is designed to end that once and for all. The first few pages are my emergency contacts, current medications, and current diagnoses. I will obviously update those if anything changes. The reason for this is that I plan to keep this TN in my handbag, and so if anything goes wrong while I am out, and an ambulance needs to be called it will be right there. This part isn’t so much a bullet journal because it requires no to do lists, it’s a compilation of information a health professional may need in the event I have a seizure or soemthing else goes wrong medically speaking. I have also included a list of my allergies and important notes that a doctor may need.

The second one is Notes, which is pretty self explanatory, but basically it’s so that I have a place to write down brief notes that may come up in the course of my day if I’m not near my Bullet Journal or if I just need to jot something down for future reference. I plan to migrate a lot of those notes into my Bullet Journal, probably at the end of each month.

Notes

The third insert is reserved for my blog, because so far I’ve been pretty bad at uploading daily blogs and I really would like to get better at this! The plan with this section is to keep all of my blog ideas, upload schedule, resources and anything else blog related in here so that when I’m late (as usual) with an upload and I’m stressing because I forgot my wordpress password or something, it’ll be right there.

Blog

So far, I am absolutely loving this new system, as well as keeping my regular Bullet Journal for planning what I’m doing each day, tracking habits, and keeping appointments all in one spot, this notebook is just an extra “layer” of organisation to keep my life in order.

If you like the look of my traveller’s notebook the link to it on Amazon is right here. I do not make any money as a result of you clicking that link (I wish!). I also went a little crazy and bought these and also these , because I have zero self control.

If you enjoyed this post, let me know if you’d like a follow up in a few weeks to see how I’m going with the system and whether I still love it as much!