The Graveyard Of Dead Projects

The place where good writing goes to die

So, in my mind, there are rooms. Each room is a part of my life, there’s a room for work (right now, the lack thereof), a room for relationships/friendships, a room for the tv shows I’m currently binge watching and then, there’s a graveyard.

Having a mental graveyard sounds really morbid, but stay with me here. This graveyard is full of dead projects. The writing projects I have started and loved, then gone back to a day, a week or a month later and absolutely fucking hated.

This graveyard is littered with bodies of work, of varying sizes, shapes and mediums, all of which had such potential for a while and then suddenly *POOF* nothing.

The “nothing” is the point at which the idea suddenly looks awful, or lame, or so cliched as to be painful.

This graveyard haunts me, because I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, I used to write stories as a kid and then never finish them and as I have gotten older, the size of the unfinished project has grown with me.

Right now I am feverishly researching the possibilities that writing a high fantasy series holds. I have been reading more high fantasy recently and want to explore the possibilities of writing it. However it requires…planning. Something which I love to start and never follow through with.

And therein lies the problem: planning, and following through.

Giving myself the illusion of being organised and motivated isn’t quite the same as actually being organised and motivated. To actually be organised and motivated, one must have discipline, and that is something I very much lack.

At random intervals I resolve to be different, be better, and while I do try, it rarely lasts longer than a week.

I was talking to my cousin the other day, over a very nice brunch, and we were talking about the fact that our mothers both have adult ADD, and we seem to exhibit the same symptoms, which would be an excellent way to explain why I am so seemingly unable to get my shit together, but if I’m honest I don’t really think that’s the issue. I almost certainly have ADD, but being aware of the problem means that I should be able to map out strategies to combat the issue and power through it, after all, knowledge is power.

But, what if that knowledge is actually holding me back? What if knowing that I most likely have ADD is what stops me from succeeding? What if subconsciously I’m shrugging my shoulders and saying “well that’s just my brain and there’s nothing I can do to change it”?

Back to that graveyard, where I have abandoned some really promising writing projects when the initial buzz of starting a new project has passed and it no longer feels new, shiny and exciting to take it out and work on it. Am I just like a kid who plays with a toy a few times and then throws it under their bed? And is that ADD or something else? Am I just spoilt for choices? Do I have too many options for things to do at any given moment of the day? And if that’s the case, do I just choose the things that are the easiest?

Do I binge watch shows on Netflix not because I truly enjoy them but because they require much less brain power than writing a new story? Does binge watching a show give me that rush of doing something new without having to actually do anything?

Is that part of my brain chemistry? Do I crave that rush of “new and exciting” and am I getting it from absorbing other stories through watching or reading them instead of creating them myself? Even when my passion lay with writing, maybe I choose not to because I’m essentially lazy? Maybe I just lack discipline.

I am not going to sign off by promising to be better or new, or more organised, because there are blog posts on that here and here, all I will say is that maybe one day I will stop procrastinating, and start really planning, writing and succeeding.

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Dear Future Self

A letter to my future self, reminding me of the important things in life.

Dear Future Self,

 

Sometimes you’re gonna fail.

Okay you might fail a lot. Like, an uncanny amount. But that’s OKAY. It really really is.

One of your most recent “failures” is not keeping up with this blog. The blog you felt such passion for when you first started. The one you planned an entire 3 months worth of posts and wrote less than a handful of them within the first month. The blog you were sure was going to be your introduction into writing for actual real money.

Right now, I see this is a failure. Maybe I still will in the future, but I hope I learn to be a little more gentle with myself.

Instead of writing this blog, I’ve been doing lots of other things. I stayed with my grandmother for 3 weeks, we had a great time, and I don’t regret it for a second.

I’ve also started really reading again, I’m currently reading through the Ken Follett Century Trilogy and it’s fantastic. I still have the 3rd book left to read and I’m loving every second I spend reading.

I’ve watched a number of new movies and loved almost all of them. I’ve gone out to lunch with friends.

So maybe not writing in my blog isn’t a failure. Maybe there’s a reason it was on the back burner. Maybe I needed some time with the people I love and care about.

I often harp on about self care and I thought I had my self care routine figured out but I think I’ve realised that what I thought was self care was in fact quite the opposite. I used to think that my self care involved being introverted and doing things on my own, and for some people, that may well be the case, but I don’t think it is for me. I have noticed that I am much happier if I spend time with people, out of the house, doing something.

Yeah, I’m going to fail hundreds more times in my life, some small failures and some big. Some of them will seem insurmountable or hopeless, but they won’t be. I just need to take a step back and follow what my heart says.

With love,

Your past self.

 

Please stay tuned for more blog posts. I promise they won’t be so self centred!

 

 

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!

 

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.

Millennials VS Everyone else: Why are Millennials depressed?

Ask a baby boomer or a gen X-er about milennials and they’ll roll their eyes and lament that Millennials are whiney, lazy and unappreciative.

According to wikipedia, baby boomers were born anywhere from 1943-1960 and are therefore anywhere from the age of 57-74 years old as of 2017, Generation X were born anywhere from 1960-1970s/1980s (the demographics on that one are a bit sketchier) and Millennials are defined as being born starting anywhere from the 1980’s-Mid 1990’s, although some sources say that its anywhere from late 1980’s up until early 2000’s.

My grandparents are baby boomers, my parents are generation X and I am a millennial (sometimes known as a Generation Y).

My grandparents often lament Millennials as whiny and lazy, as well as pointing out that they’re unemployed and use mental health as an excuse to do nothing. This trend of lambasting the newest/youngest generation is not new, it goes all the way back to Socrates, who allegedly said “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”

If Socrates thought that those younger than him were bad mannered, disrespectful and preferred gossip to exercise, it’s pretty obvious that the trend of the older generations bitching about the younger generation isn’t new or innovative, nor is it a direct assault on the youngest generation, moreover it is a societal trend that has been around since recorded history.

That begs the question, what does the older generation gain from insulting the younger generation? And in the case of baby boomers, gen X and millennials, how does pointing out the rise of mental health issues in Millennials add anything to society? The short answer is, it doesn’t.

When I look at my circle of friends, nearly all of them have been on anti depressants, anti anxiety or a plethora of other drugs designed to adjust brain chemistry. To me this is a great thing, because it means these people who mean the world to me went to their doctor, spoke about their struggles and got help. But when I talk to baby boomers or Gen X-ers, I hear the argument that it just means that Millennials are weak cry babies who can’t “suck it up” or “tough it out”.

This argument is fucking toxic, and it pisses me off. It makes me so angry that I can rarely formulate a good response to the “debate” that I know is coming.

I found one study that had the following results:

  • Depression Diagnoses

○ 19% of Millennials

○ 14% of Generation Xers (ages 34-47)

○ 12% of Baby Boomers (ages 48-66)

○ 11% of aged 67 and older

  • Anxiety Diagnoses

○ 12% of Millennials

○ 8% of Generation Xers

○ 7% of Baby Boomers

○ 4% of aged 67 and older

Based on these stats, it’s pretty clear that Millennials are the most diagnosed in both categories, and that the diagnosis rate drops substantially as we go further back in generations.

There are many reasons why this could be happening but I won’t actually speculate on those because I am not a statistician, or a scientist, or anything which would qualify me to speculate on the reasons why. What I will say is that the increase in diagnoses of mental health disorders in younger people is not because they’re lazy or unappreciative or weak, it is because they were brave enough to seek help, to say to those around them or their doctor “I am struggling, I am depressed/anxious/stressed and I need help”

Millennials are by far one of the most unique generations, we’re living at home with our parents longer, moving out and then coming back, unemployed at higher rates, don’t own our own home until we’re much older, or maybe not at all, because it is much harder to get into the housing market these days. All of these concerns lead to one big factor which plays a huge role in mental health concerns: STRESS.

Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers like to point out that at “their age, I had a steady job, my own home and a family!” as though Millennials are wilfully ignoring the perks of a steady job and their own home, and the fact that their own family might be quite nice (not taking into account the perfectly valid decision that kids are not on the cards for some). It is statistically proven that getting into the housing market is much harder for Millennials than it has been in the past, and frankly, in most Australian cities the rental market is no better. Add to that, that after the economic bust in 2007-2008 (now known as the Great Recession), the job market stagnated, the cost of living rose, and the housing market became even more inaccessible and it’s no wonder that Millennials are stressed, depressed and anxious in record numbers!

All of that is to say, while it is somewhat of a cultural tradition to pile onto the youngest generation as the “laziest yet” or the “whiniest yet” it’s not helpful, it’s toxic and harmful and it’s all round a dick move.

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re a Millennial and to you I say: Keep doing what you’re doing, get help if you need it, and remember that just because you’re young doesn’t mean you’re any less valid in society.

If you’re one of the few Baby Boomers or Gen X-ers reading this, to you I say: Please think about what you believe about Millennials and do some research, because Millennials are just doing the best they can with the world they inherited.

 

If you’re struggling with mental health concerns, please speak to your doctor, a trusted friend or call your nearest helpline.