Mental As….Sonja

I’ve sat down to write this a few times now, and deleted it over and over again.

It’s Mental Health Week in Australia – or month if you live in NSW. Obviously, this is a topic close to my heart. I believe that more people need to speak up about it, so that there can be greater understanding in the wider community that having a brain that is sick is no different, really, than have a body that is unwell.

The problem lies here: I want to write an uplifting post. I want to say that it all gets so much better and therapy and medication really help and there is an end in sight! In some ways, this is correct: I have overcome Bulimia Nervosa, the roots of which began when I was 8 (but that really took hold when I was 16). I no longer have any symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. These are two really big things that took a lot of hard work to achieve, and I am proud of them. Continue reading

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Thankful Thursday #4: Mental Healthcare

Firstly, I realise that I’m a day late with thankful thursday this week.
I’ve been sick, and uni is in full swing and…I forgot. Oops!

This weeks topic is close to my heart, and it’s also something that matters to a lot of people I know: Mental Healthcare. One of my favourite blogging sites, Kiki & Tea, regularly publishes articles that relate to mental health and mental illness. In fact, this week they published two pieces, which you can find here and here, that deal with the two different sides of the same coin.

So why mental healthcare?
I’m glad you asked the question! Continue reading

It’s not our fault (but we’re always told it is)

WARNING: This post deals with the topic of sexual assault. If you think you will be triggered, please do not continue reading.

Those of you who know me, know I am a ‘victim’ of sexual abuse. It happened over a 9 month period, from  November 2005 to August 2006. He was the boyfriend of my best friend (then mine), I was the incredibly naive and insecure little girl. It began with seemingly harmless flirting, and ended with him raping me 8 days before my 16th birthday, then him’ breaking up’ with me and the subsequent demolition of my mental health. I was admitted into a locked adolescent psychiatric unit for 3 weeks and I’m *still* receiving therapy around it now. He chose me. He programmed me. He made me think everything was my fault.

And that’s the prevailing attitude in our society, whether overtly discussed (or not). Somehow, we have got it into our heads that victims of sexual abuse, bullying, and often murder are somehow to blame. In the past few weeks, I’ve heard my own mother talk about Jill Meagher, and how she shouldn’t have walked home alone at that time of night – like somehow, she is to blame for being killed. I know that my attacker, that Jill’s attacker would have found someone else if we hadn’t been available. In Jill’s case, maybe he would have chosen an unknown target, and still not been brought to justice (much like mine).

So here is the thing I want to say – IT IS NEVER THE VICTIM’S FAULT! 

I don’t care what they were wearing, where they were, who they were with, what they drank or even what they previously consented to. I don’t care what the colour of their skin is, if they’ve previously said something mean to you (or you think they did), I don’t care if they have a medical issue that makes them ‘different’. A victim is a victim. Don’t try to tell me that we’re safer walking home in groups, because more often the rapist or murderer is someone you know well. Don’t try to tell me that to ‘avoid being raped’ women should dress less revealing, because my attacker attacked my while I was in trackies, uggies and a jumper. Don’t try to tell me that they were “asking for it” for being out so late at night. Don’t try to tell me that ignoring the bully (or, conversely, standing up to them) is going to stop them. Don’t ever try to imply that the victim is ever at any fault or holds any responsibility for the horror that has occurred. It always  is the perpetrator’s responsibility, it is always the perpetrator’s fault.

To other survivors, I want to say this: As hard as it is, you have got to stop blaming yourself for what happened to you. Holding onto that thought means your attacker still has control over you. The good news is, you can break free. So take that chance and live your life according to your wants, your needs, your desires.

The Bad Celebrations

I have this thing I do, that I think a lot of people who have had traumatic events do – I “celebrate” the anniversaries of the shit things happening. I live my life every year from date to date – January 4th, February 12th, April 12th, June 12th, August 21st….etc etc. Each date has significant meaning, and I spend ages “preparing” for the anniversary of the particular event. I have certain emotions  that are triggered by different dates – anger, sadness, fear, loneliness and everything that comes with them. Every year, I tell myself that this is the last year that the dates will mean anything. The last year I cry. The last year I fall apart. And then next year rolls around, and we start the whole process again.

I’m really starting to get sick of it.

Of course, I realise that these dates are never going to mean nothing to me…but I would like to live my life not preparing in horror for the next cruel anniversary, but instead dreaming of the future and all it’s possibilities. I want to let go of the pain that is keeping me locked away, instead of reaching my full, beautiful potential. I want to get rid of the fear that binds me. I want to be free of the walls that keep me hidden.

Oh yes I know – this all sounds fantastical. And I bet you’re wondering: How long will she keep this up?  I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll be able to achieve what I want. But I have to try, don’t I? I have to believe that there is something more than the pain and fear and entrapment of living from horrible date to horrible date…