Toilet Stall Wisdom


These were discovered in a toilet stall at a young people’s theatre. The writings really spoke to me, and I had to photograph them. I wonder where these kids are now; whether they are still performing? I hope that they all have grand lives and I thank them for their ponderings.

‘Acting isn’t about putting masks on-But taking them off.’ Indeed, young sage.

Dismantling of Mental Health Services in Australia


It is with dismay and disbelief that the following came up on my news feed yesterday.

Headspace is the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, providing early intervention services to 12-25 year old’s. The centres are located in major cities, as well as regional and rural areas of Australia. They don’t look like a mental health facility, and therein lies their beauty. The service is free or has a low cost attached. There is an online and phone service. They also have a program that works with school communities. I could go on…

I know a young man who accessed their services after a near-fatal suicide attempt at seventeen. He was a sensitive, whose family had been through a great degree of trauma. He now works with Headspace, giving talks. The team are accessible to young people; they are not clinicians in a drab setting, who seem out of touch. Headspace work with those who suffer eating disorders, drug and alcohol addiction, bullying, schooling issues, depression and other mental illness.

This is extremely personal for me. I was a youth before Headspace was created. I had attempted suicide for the first time just after my thirteenth birthday. It was so serious that I was in Intensive Care for a while. More attempts followed, and I was diagnosed as having reactive depression; a response to deep trauma and strife in my personal life. I would oscillate between pure joy through to deep sadness on a weekly basis. Kids like me only had the hospital psychiatrist to chat to, and mine were all elderly males. The rooms were grey and dark, and they managed to get limited information out of the young, as the vibe was so grim and threatening. Twenty plus years ago, you saw the staff doctor after a suicide attempt, and then were dismissed- in my case- with Valium. There wasn’t a centre to call nor drop into. There wasn’t a service to confide abuse or bullying to.  Certainly, schools were under no obligation to recommend a centre nor assist a struggling youth.

I was put in a private clinic at fourteen (long story), and I was the youngest person there. DOCS had wanted me to go to a centre for adolescents so I could attend school and start my healing from having lived a dark dream. Instead, I was sent to a place brimming with adults. There were drug dealers and perverts; dangerous individuals, whom I had to fend off on a daily basis. There were even those there by arrangement of their lawyers, in order to beat criminal charges. I had people sneaking into my room at night. I developed a raging eating disorder after patients twice my age schooled me in the dark art of weight control. Suicides occurred, and I learnt more about the evil this world holds than a child should know. I was raped and eventually, almost had my life taken. I live with the ramifications of this year on a daily basis.

You bet I am angry. I have been extremely vocal over the years on this subject. Youth should never be in places designed for adults. Two decades ago, this clinic cost $500 a day, just to secure a bed. Free services were non-existent or scant throughout Australia. The young are made to grow up quicker, and the pressure brought to bear is harsher than ever now. We need to roll out more services, rather than tear them apart! Please stand with me in being vocal regarding the need for more funding for youth mental health in Australia.

I look back on my hellish adolescence and shudder. I survived and am now a contented mum and woman. I want this generation to be able to access support designated for their age group. They deserve to reach adulthood with adequate support.

 

 

 

Siren Empire Stories


Here is a little selection of the stories I have been doing over at Siren Empire. I hope you enjoy them!

Here is what to do if you are caught by an energy-zapper! 

This is what it felt like to be in a coma.

Clothes, Shopping and Image.

How to embrace anger.

When alcohol becomes a problem.

This is what love is.

Loneliness.

 

Raphaela’s Picks from the Internet


A satirical look on the epidemic that is ‘Glitter Lung’.

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A dear friend has a fantastic blog about home schooling her daughter. Check it out!

This dear little fellow will give your day a lift; I guarantee it!

These portraits of fish brimming with personality will leave you in awe.

 

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For me, this says it all. 

The Wish Game App


 

 I have always had a healthy cynicism regarding the positive thinking movement. I think most survivors do, having repeatedly heard such chestnuts as “forget the past, look to the future.”  I once took a call at a luncheon from the IVF scientist in charge of taking care of my two precious embryos. They informed me that one of the two had perished. Heartbroken, and left with one chance of successful implantation, I went back to the table. “What’s the matter?” a companion asked. I told them the news, and they smiled. “Chin up!” they said, and went back to their conversation. I felt dismissed, and certainly my grief was unheard. I felt almost embarrassed, as though I shouldn’t have had a reaction at all. Platitudes don’t help, and are almost certainly entirely damaging when one is fragile, whether it be through grief or other trauma. Positive thinking can sadly be an escape for those who aren’t comfortable supporting and hearing another’s pain. Throw a person a platitude and then walk away. Being happy and planning for the future is altogether different.

It was in this spirit that I tried out this particular app. I was cautious, not expecting much at all. I punched in my desire to travel, and was pleasantly surprised at the result. The game took me through my desire, and then looked at how I may be sabotaging the realization of this goal. I realized that I have a fear of flying, and also am hesitant about travelling due to my health. Even the hassle of obtaining a passport has put me off! Once I looked at all the obstacles, the game allowed me to break down the steps into workable pieces. It is going to send me reminders on the dates I set! I see this game as a useful tool to get me to where I want to be. When you look at your dreams, they can seem too big and overwhelming. It is only when you break them down that you can see a way to achieving them.

The Wishing Game App is available here.

The Nation Grieves with You


I couldn’t have said it better than Getting Real with PTSD.

GettingrealwithPTSD

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My thoughts keep turning today to the massacre in Florida and the family and friends of those so cruelly murdered.  Their grief is unfathomable.  I just wanted to take some time on my blog to grieve with them.  We, as a nation, are seeing the photos of your loved ones’ faces and letting them imprint on our hearts.

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A Wedding Brimming with Love


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My daughter and I attended the wedding of a dear friend a short while ago. It was fortunately scheduled exactly a week before wild weather flooded our area, making road closures necessary. In the spirit of the couple, the wedding was held inside a barn, and had a rustic, low-key vibe. There was even a photo booth! I trembled at the sight of my friend being escorted down the aisle by her teenage son. She looked gorgeous, in a beaded gown the hue of champagne. It was made all the more precious because at one time, my friend teetered on the precipice of hell. Through her own tenacity, she found her way through, and into a life beyond her wildest dreams. Her fellow had sent her a random Facebook message, and they had started chatting, this stranger and her. I have never seen a woman look happier, nor a groom look more at peace. It was an honour to be there. They held a sand ceremony, where each of the family poured coloured sand into a decanter, symbolizing their bond.

The reception was held in a country town’s community hall, and old-fashioned games were set up for the kids. They didn’t stop playing all afternoon! The adults talked of their hopes and visions of the future, and lovely connections were formed. This was my kind of wedding! Informal and fun, love infusing the air as the sun beamed down.

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Happy endings are achievable. It often requires a risk; a suspension of disbelief. Happy endings are possible. My friend taught me that.

The Tide is finally Turning! (trigger warning)


I won’t go into the details of the crime, other than to say that the offender was sentenced to a paltry six months in prison, though looks set to serve only three. When I read how his father sprang to his defense, and attempted to minimize his actions, I couldn’t believe it. Here is the victim’s stunning Impact Statement.

The sense of entitlement regarding the offender, both before and after his insipid crime brought back memories. You see, I was this girl, and he and his family remind me of another one I encountered… The offender in my case had a long history of violence, and menacing behavior, starting when he was still in primary school. He set fire to the family home after an argument, and his parents covered for him. Using a compensation payout, he repaired the damage, and all was forgiven. The occasions of violence -which they knew of and either overlooked or helped him escape the consequences of -are many. Then, he met me…

The night of my fall, his parents stayed with him, as he was under police guard in the ER. I was placed next to him at first, a curtain separating us. There was meant to be a bedside hearing in the morning, to charge him with attempted murder. He called out to me all night as I lay broken and bloodied. His parents soothed him, promising that it would all be okay. I was fifteen, and he was 26 years of age. They arranged for him to be transferred to a comfortable clinic the next day, of where he stayed for the next year. They attended court with him when I turned sixteen, and again, never left his side. I was by myself when I had a conference with the Prosecutor and detective on the case in a side room. They hired a cruel lawyer to attempt to discredit me. Despite being assured that he was set to plead guilty on all charges, he changed his mind at the last minute. I watched him walk from the court a free man, his family smiling and congratulating him whilst I stood there broken.

I am tormented by the thought that he may have been aided and abetted after he left that courthouse in terrorizing other girls. I tried to put him away and protect others… The outcry and rage shown to this offender (and regarding the justice system and his father’s response), have comforted me. Times are changing, and I am so very glad that I am here to witness it. When this happened to me, we had no internet. I was effectively silenced. There were letters to the Ombudsman and relevant authorities, but there was no public forum in which to share what had occurred.

Parents can no longer aid and abet these offenders without public scrutiny. Their outcries of unfair sentences and ruined opportunities for their boys will no longer be tolerated. At last, at last!