Tag Archives: mental health

life-life balance

It could be PMDD symptoms, or that I haven’t made time to see my psychiatrist in two months, but lately it’s been harder to leave the day’s work behind and properly relax. I’m struggling to finish reading novels (which isn’t usually something that happens?!), and been writing a lot more, and depression symptoms have been more just stop, sit, and NAP, or anxiety symptoms mean it’s harder to fall asleep, and harder to get up because once I’m out of bed, my brain won’t switch off. The nap, thankfully, helped loads.

It’s difficult to reinforce boundaries around being too busy because I haven’t been this functional in nearly two decades. I’ve stayed up late for a bit – on purpose…brew a big mug of tea, read a zine (that doesn’t have pieces of mine!) for sheer enjoyment, but keep making excuses. So while my ‘heart’ is asking why the hell am I so exhausted, what my head is actually saying is the reasons:

  • I submitted a suite of three poems inspired by indie computer games as part of a ‘Women Writers of Colour’ commission on the theme ‘collaboration’ which should appear in the Writers’ Victoria membership mag next month…? Am thinking of working on a few more and compiling them into a separate zine at the end of this year
  • becoming a Women’s Melbourne Network committee member hasn’t felt like work, and in forgetting this, I also neglect that commuting takes up a lot of energy! duh me! Also, Janet Mock knows our bookclub meeting took place and thrilled does not begin to describe <3
  • I pitched and submitted work to a few publications that last year would have been too terrifying to even contemplate reading (no, really, just read that last sentence. Yes, I’m not-normiesplaining)…I feel like no one talks about these sorts of things when you’re reemerging back into life (or emerging into life for the first time with arms wide open)
  • am gathering reading material for some more formal reading/casual teaching arrangements, and can’t find my sodding most recent passport (my older ones are pretty funny!) which is a nightmare for trying to get current police checks (for the record, I’m British and have indefinite permanent residency in Australia)
  • have completed a fifth of a planned chapbook of poems on the private psychiatric ward patient experience (it’ll mainly be funny, honest, or rather, I hope)
  • I’m a reader for an online mag called¬†Syntax and Salt, and their next issue is devoted to poetry so I’m excited because so far, I’ve been reading short fiction!
  • am signed on as a producer for my friend Creatrix Tiara‘s queer-lady-magician extravaganza of a show! It’s going to be on as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival ūüėÄ

Okay, now I get why I took an extended siesta and missed out on a joint beer collab launch at one of my fave drinking holes (Bar SK, case you’re wondering)!¬†Crying.

Let’s get down to business.

zine:¬†‘Hook Up’ volume 1 by Anthony Nocera

There’s a few snippets from (gay) hook-up apps, and then narrative from the writer about his interactions and memories of meet-ups. No holds barred, etc. but quite funny and oddly touching – no pun intended! I mean touching in that way sexual contact can make people be intimate towards one another for a short amount of time before they float off into their lives. There’s also a bit from/about Helen Razer on the whole marriage equality sitch. I wish I could remember when¬†I bought this…it was definitely before the above was even on the table in parliament…or was it? The narrator also explains that he/they told the people he/they were hooking up with that he/they were most likely going to be writing about the interactions/meet-ups! It’s got interesting cut-up collage illustrations throughout, and it’s a bright blue, neon pink that makes me think it’s done on a risograph press? It’s also restricted to persons aged 18+.

beverage: Bright Chocolate (choc factory in Bright, Victoria) cacao tea

Nearly a year ago, I froze my arse off in the name of research for Froth, and went home with some sweet goodies from the Bright chocolate factory, which also had this ‘tea’ from the disposed cacao husks. I’m probably not selling it, but it’s divine, and really smooth the same way good chocolate is!

music: ‘Dead Start Program’ by John Tejada

I still buy CDs, and I really want this one. It turns out that I’m still a minimal techno tragic. It has a lot of what I liked about an earlier album of his, ‘Logic Memory Center’, and yes, it does hurt to have to use American English spelling (joke…but I do misspell type them in first go!). I find minimal techno’s repetition comforting and puts me in a frame of mind to better concentrate.

I do feel a lot better and more rested now. My cat having settled nearby on my bed, pretending to sleep but glancing over every so often also helps.

screaming white into the void

This post does discuss mental health/illness in detail that folks may find distressing (regarding self-injury in particular), and reader discretion is advised.

Despite the nihilist-sounding post title, it’s been a good, though exhausting week. I managed to visit Preston Market when it was…not quite fast-and-furious-bargains-shouted-from-all-corners, but may as well have been. I went to get myself a chicken quesadilla (one of my fave ‘treat’ lunches) after picking up PO box mail but had forgotten my key (theatrical groan!), and also had to get to Brunswick to review Bent Bollywood on a very nearly empty petrol tank…

I thought I’d have more time to generally read and write, and have found myself not making regular appointments with my psychiatrist – this is not good. I’m doing pretty well lately (it’s officially over a year now since last ECT sesh, squee!) and that has meant more energy for work-related activities, but emotional labour (yeah yeah, go on, laugh about how wanky it sounds till you realise you’re the one being drained by it) is taking up more of my time than it should…some of my anxieties have even made it into my dreams (again, not a good sign).

Anyway, it was fab to see my friend Maria and have an epic cackle session about modern romance and its…’challenges’, and you’ll soon be able to read my review on BB for Peril. Liminal¬†sent me a copy of their zine because I couldn’t make it to their do, and it’s gorgeous! That PO box key was worth the extra trek!

Oh! Absolutely decimated the aubergine/courgette / eggplant/zucchini stash from my dad’s garden…

Almost nearly forgot to wish my eldest nephew a happy birthday, but thankfully his new bike and hanging out with his mates mean that he’s not thinking too much of his daggy aunt (it’s true, I can’t deny it)! Happy birthday Leon, me and Fance love you!


Last year, I went to a zine thing and spent all my spare change (nice one noob!). One of the zines I went home with was called ‘white whine’ by illustrator Sarah Catherine Firth. As the name suggests, a bunch of very first-world whines from first-world women are drawn and coloured in. Given my booze consumption yesterday (went to a beer tasting at Bar SK, then drank a Korean beverage that reminded me of dry sake afterwards at a dumpling-smashing dinner), I decided to stick to brewing up pints of white tea, with elderflower and apricot. I guess if the British are going to do white tea, they have to Englishfy it somehow. The dried apricot pieces are also quite yummy. Such a classy tea-totaller!

Seriously, one of my fave deadline-smashing/writing hardcore things to do is brew mugs of tea, or brew white or green tea weaker than its suggested strength, then let cool down, and add more cold water. Not bad for a $4 organic Brit tea – you stretch out that four buckaroonies! Freelancers/creatives, I see you nodding.

It’s hard to pick a fave panel from the zine, but I’d have to go with the lady saying “My brie is too hard.” because when you’re craving soft cheese and waiting for it to reach that magical temperature, it does feel like forever! Readers of this blog may recall I looooooove cheese, too. Seriously, I chose voluntary electroconvulsive therapy over lithium¬†and refused to take any of the tricyclic antidepressants based on their anti-cheese thang. My life was depressing enough¬†with cheese, how much worse would it be after?! That was a horror I did NOT want to contemplate.

In case you were wondering that my opinion was biased, it turns out that Sarah has been nominated for the Good Stuff people’s choice award over at Frankie, if you want to check out more of Sarah’s work and vote etc., then click on here.

I’ve had a couple of litmag triumphs too – Concrete Queers continue to like the poetry I lovingly fling at them, and accepted a poem of mine called ‘stationary objects’. I’ve been submitting regularly to CQ, and they’ve helped me develop a habit where I write from an emotionally and mentally healthy space, and can edit and rewrite and it doesn’t have to mean my health deteriorating (though please do note that when the poem does appear in their ‘milestones’ issue, it does discuss self-injury – a practice I can honestly say is now in the distant past).

A particular right-wing smegma stain was extremely mean to one of the CQ founders, grrrrr, probably because they won People’s Choice at Vic Premier’s Literary Awards for 2018¬†– how awesome is that?! Ida¬†was one of the few books I saved for fun reading before bedtime last year, and I remember once finished that it could’ve kept going! Young adult lit is kicking mega-arse these days, and you can still read it as an older adult! No, really – do.

The second triumph is that Rabbit Poetry Journal accepted a poem that genuinely began as a joke-romantic conversation to former lover – it’s now called ‘Coimetrophilia’ and it will appear in the Queer issue 25. Chuffed doesn’t begin to cover how I feel! I hugged my cat/coworker a LOT. A lot of its acceptance is thanks to the Quippings crew who again helped me develop more confidence about being a performer and a writer.

I recently read and discussed Rabbit’s¬†‘Indigenous’ issue here, for last week’s post.¬†It’s been great to read older issues of litmags lately. When I was really unwell, the sheer amount of talent of the people getting published used to make me feel guilty for not trying harder to write more, submit more, and not be producing better work. I know – it’s not a useful mindset…but depression and anxiety don’t listen to reason? It’s been great that this they have been listening more to me when I say, “no, hang on, it’s bedtime now” or “hey, if you’re feeling crap, drinking booze is not going to help – go cuddle Fance or something.” It’s also been ace that those strategies have been working too.


you got your health, kiddo…

It’s early in the week, the month, the year. I’m nearly forty and still classify myself as a loser (not by choice). My parents are about to retire, and I’m living with them after being bumped out of a shit sharehouse situation (woah, alliteration much?!?!). My job network provider doesn’t think I’m a total burnout* because he sounded remotely interested in the notion of my freelance writing. The person before him – my actual consultant – was a deeply empathic human. I’m guessing this is why he’s no longer in that…’role’.

I’ll always have booze, words and cats, right? I put on¬†¬†the soundtrack to¬†Miss Sloane, by Max Richter, after having caught Richter’s name in the credits. Watching TV is not a habit that feels comfortable anymore, not while there’s so much daylight.

My folks are out wishing my gorgeous younger nephew a happy birthday, I’m here getting ready for a housesitting gig, and doing a bit of reading, and writing. These posts aren’t for personal or professional gain – it’s to remind me that other creatives exist and to pay tribute. My song might be very, very, very quiet or barely audible, but that’s okay for now.

zine:¬†‘Top Secret Burger’ & ‘Space Out‘ by Link Raptor Art

drink:¬†Sailors’ Grave BrewingDown She Gose

I got two zines recently from a Brisbane-based distro because I wanted to read Shastra Deo‘s contribution in The Tundish Review #4. It’s pretty exciting to see a Fijian-Indian Brisbane-based poet having a collection published (fuck yeah!) and Junky Comics had some other fabbo offerings. I loaded up my e-cart like a good sad consumer drowning her sorrows with two teeny zines by Linkraptor because: 1. mental health, and 2. who doesn’t love burgers?!?!

You all know I’m all about the mental health crapping on (I have major depressive disorder and NO, YOGA WILL NOT FUCKING CURE IT). You may also appreciate the gentle irony that for most of my life, I struggled with very disordered eating. Hated food. This dramatically changed once my psychiatrist put me on antipsychotics. One in particular stands out as¬†really encouraging me to love food, and that one is called quetiapine (brand name is usually ‘Seroquel’ or variations thereof. I refer to chemical names because that is the constant name they share). As someone who has¬†never taken recreational drugs, the ‘marijuana munchies’ started to make some sort of sense once quetiapine was prescribed for me (for PTSD-type symptoms;¬†no! yoga did not cure it so stop thinking about it!). Holy fuck. GIVE ME ALL THE CHEESEBURGERS. WITH ALL THE BEEF PATTIES. NOW. NOW. NOW.

The last page of ‘Top Secret Burger’ has the words ‘the mission of the secret burger is to give the best burger for whatever you enjoy…’ and it’s a damn pure sentiment. Everyone being entitled to the burger of their dreams – yep, vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free folks…it sounds like a dream, huh?

My cat is lying out of the sun, to my right. There is something supremely comforting, knowing that she’s alive and relaxed, and feeling safe. When I first met her, she was an anxious cat – being a rescue, and belonging to someone else. Watching her gradually ‘undo’ her nervous habits has helped me undo some of mine.

‘Space Out’ has some sentiments that remind me, or help me feel okay about not having all of my long-term memories intact (I explain a bit about that here, but please be mindful that it contains reference to medical procedures some may find disturbing). That we’re fallible because we’re human, and that is okay (well, as long as we’re not doing it on purpose).

Both the zines are like reading a hug from a stranger who is somehow familiar. Isn’t that why we choose to create, and keep on creating? Most of our economies don’t value creatives the way they should – unless they’re able to be profitable (which is totally crap, by the by – please do NOT confuse me for one of those who thinks this is a good way to be). One of the things I like about my depression is that due to seeing the lows the mind can fall to, sometimes a stranger being kind – or being themselves has this ability to make you feel like…you could be a nobody to yourself but someone who doesn’t even know you thinks you’re worth something, and they don’t look to gain from it.

That’s also what this series of posts will hopefully be about. Revelling in multidimensional living when you’ve spent twenty or so years with…the volume turned down, or not up to speed. Rejoicing in half-price boxes of choc-coated matcha ice cream confection-whatsits. Rejoicing in having a clean, dry, warm bed to sleep in. Not worrying about how much you get paid, and when that will be.

Soooo, guess who’s the dumbarse who totes picked a tinnie based on its purty label! Was expecting a watermelony gose like the one I’d tried at Bar SK but accidentally got one that tastes like seaweed and a bitter lager – which is actually the pilsner influence! And no, the seaweed isn’t gross, and – bear with me – isn’t awful! Goses are supposed to be salty anyway, and this had that savoury, clean Mex-lagerish thing happening that went well with my matcha ice cream splurge. It’s sort of sad that just as I was really digging ‘Down She Gose’, it finished!

Just as it was starting to warm up and get less lager-pilsnerish, it was GONE. Having said that, in terms of gose-country, it’s not that salty¬†or sour, but that might make it an entry-level beer into that style (protip: now you know what to get for your beer-nerdy family member/friend/colleague etc.).

If you have a perv on their website, they have quite a few fab tinnies (the grapefruit and marigold saison sounds divine?!). Anyway, keep an open mind and palate! Seaweed-salty low-booze beer is way better than you think it’d sound. Besides, this is Melbourne, we’re used to assaulting newfangled sensations!

In acknowledging that not everyone wants to drink alcohol, a great non-alcoholic alternative might be genmaicha (Japanese roasted rice green tea). Of course it goes well with sushi, and light, subtle flavours. Hit me up with hiyayakko right now, please!

*sings* it’s gonna be alright…with Gigiiiiiiii…

*worth watching the whole thing, but from 4’24” is why I’ve hotlinked it!