Monday, September 10, 2012
“Please stop talking about this. I don’t want to hear about it…” I have heard this in relation to both my battles with depression and my battles with looking for work in a world that isn’t fair or responsive to my applications. I kind of wonder if these people really know what they’re saying or asking? So, what could this be interpreted as? To a mind plagued by the muddle of depression and anxious, self doubting thoughts, they might perceive that their words are not worth being mentioned or heard, that people really don’t want to hear about it, lest they feel some sort of responsibility to help. Thinking along these lines, they may eventually stop talking about it altogether, for fear of constant negative comments to be thrown back at them. These comments are not helpful, and can sometimes cause deeper wounds than the person intends. For most people, their intention is not to harm, it is to present an aspect of the world that those in dark places cannot access, however harsh those words can appear. At what point though is this helping, instead of mere bullying someone into thinking the ‘right’ way instead of accepting that people need a place to vent, a place to express the light and dark that they feel plagued by. What happens when people stop talking about the darkness within them? Nothing. You think that they’re better, that they must be getting help, but it is nothing of the sort. They’re still dealing with it, away from your negative influence, still trying to prove that they have something offer to the world, but they’re still falling apart on the inside on a regular basis because they have to do it alone, believing that to ask for help is considered ‘wrong’ and it’s asking other people to ‘support’ them in ways they’re not prepared to. Even if your intention is to help, it can be the wrong thing to do to make this big presentation of what you think people should be doing to ‘get better’. You can’t possibly know the true depths of that person’s suffering, or of where they have been or the path that they may already been on, and your words might just be that extra push down the wrong way. It’s fair enough to say that I’m not good at asking for help with my mental health issues. I still have low self esteem, a self worth that, were it counted by numbers would be almost zero, and a history of self destructive thinking. And yet, despite all that, I still try. I try to make my life better. Yes, I still get frustrated when things don’t work out the way I had hoped they would. I make comments about it on social media, only to suffer a negative backlash and accusations of not trying hard enough, but these people only know a quarter of the story. They are looking through lenses at only part of the picture. The total solution isn’t as easy as they believe it is. They do not live the life that I have, they do not deal with harsh realities in the same way because they choose not to. They don’t know the true impact of their words because I don’t share it with them. I don’t talk about the true darkness that I go through because, simply put, I don’t want to burden people with it. I don’t want them to pity me because aspects of my life kind of sucks. This post was written in relation to Write Love On Your Arm day on September 1O. On this day, people across the world will write the word ‘love’ on their arms as an acknowledgement of the pain of the sufferers of mental health issues such as self harm and suicidal thoughts and to raise awareness of this ongoing issue.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
From the day that the Rise Up Program was created, nothing was ever the same again. Feeling a need to combat the rising unemployment rates, the Australian Government asked for tenders depicting programs that would create employment opportunities for the thousands across the country. From out of the murky shadows stepped United Front, a training facility. The whereabouts of its corporate headquarters remains unclear, as do the identities of its administrators. United Front Presented the Australian Government with a program that not only provided unemployed people with work skills based training opportunities, but also a rehabilitation and mental health facility to combat the other issues that plague jobseekers. This program was to be a not-for-profit run piece-of-good that United Front were prepared to administer. This program was Rise Up. Initial running costs for Rise Up were high. The reason for this was a one-of set up cost. There is nothing untrue about this statement. To engineer equipment to make such radical changes, the cost would have been quite high. High costs were paid by all, but perhaps none more so than the individual participants themselves. In their truly unfortunate existence, these people refer to themselves as 'we'. They have lost all personal identifiers of their former lives. Their time is spent in the endless pursuit of long term employment. This journey can last anywhere between three and six months, depending on the individual needs. If required, a participant is enrolled in a unit of study. Scholarly types may excel in such an environment, but many of the 'We' feel pressure to pass a course that they have no interest in. Their futures are pre-determined for them, filling industry gaps without care for individual wants or needs. At the time of publishing, it has been suggested that for those who defy orders, reasonable or not, plans for enforced conscription in the armed forces are already in place. The rumours of behavior modification have never been fully proved by this media outlet or any other despite effective searches. For every element of truth that we uncover, several lies surround it, thus making the truth all that more surprising and ridiculous. The truth of the We has been difficult to find. That alone leads questioning minds to wonder why
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
When I wrote the post about building a desk, I never thought it would get the amount of reads that it did. At the time, I didn’t really have a clear idea about how gender image, when discussed without referring to sexuality, could be seen. Anyhow, I did some research over the last week and I read this book called Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Between Sex Differences and it raised some interesting points about how we see particular genders and how those expectations of societal ‘norms’ can shape and damage us. If we see a child dressed in pink, we assume that the child is a girl, just as we assume the child dressed in blue is a boy, because that is the way we’re told to think, ever since we were children ourselves. It is what society and retailers expect of us as we see onesies in those pastel colours all over the place. To overcome any errors when talking to friends who have infants, I ask the parents what the child’s name is before making any out-loud assumption on gender. “Cross-gender behaviour is seen as less acceptable in boys than it is in girls: Unlike the term ‘tomboy’, there is nothing positive implied by its male counterpart the ‘sissy’. Parents were aware of the backlash they, or indeed had, received from others when they allowed their children to deviate from gender norms.” Page 2O3 I put a reference to this quote on Facebook to debate with my friends. The responses were interesting, with one person asking if Tomboy was ever used in a positive way. Possibly this was after my comment that it was semi-positive, though never having referred to myself of had it used to refer to my own behaviours, I may have the wrong end of this. I know of people who used this term as they were growing up to define themselves and their behaviour when it went outside of social expectations for females. I didn’t grow up with brothers. If someone needed to bring wood up for the fire, including cutting it up, my sister and I were expected to do it. My mother and father shared lawn mowing and cooking duties. If my car needed an oil change, my father taught me how to do it, so I didn’t have to rely on others to fix it. I will try to lift heavy items myself safely, but will ask for help if needed from anyone near me. I can put up a tent by myself. My use of manual tools to put together shelves and desks isn’t a thing of perfection, but the fault of that lies in my home-grown skills and not in my gender. I was even in the scouts briefly, leaving because I was made to feel uncomfortable because of my gender minority. This book discussed a lot of issues relating to gender stereotypes and how we can restrict our own choices because of gender expectations. Have you ever been put in a situation where gender stereotyping has stopped you/ restrained you from participation in cross-gender activities?
Thursday, July 26, 2012
I was watching roller derby training last night, seeing how skaters whipped off of each other when I realised, not for the first time, that since I began roller derby several years ago, a lot has changed in the evolution of the roller derby whip, at least for my league. I'm not an expert or anything remotely cool like that. I choose not to do contact now that I'm not aiming to get my star levels of minimal skills, but as I watch, I do notice how things have changed. It used to be that, as the person giving the arm whip, that you weren't allowed to hold onto the other skater. You were just there to give up some of your momentum to help them. I can see the point of directing skaters on the right path though, but sometimes it seems a little less powerful. It's more noticeable, to me, watching them give and take booty whips. It used to be that you really pulled on another skaters hips, really almost pulling them to a backwards stop, now it's almost a gentle caress of their hips as people skate past. It is probably just a change in the way that we're training as opposed to a genuine fear of whipping properly for fear of hurting your own team-mate. It's also possible that I'm just rambling because I haven't blogged in a while.
Monday, July 9, 2012
I haven’t written anything new in ages. It all seems to be rethinking old ideas that flourish brightly but never make it past the whole ‘idea’ stage. It’s the dreaded Writer’s Block, here with me in all its nasty blankness. Even writing this is like a trial, feeling like I’m using up space on my computer where something else might go. Instead of writing I’ve been thinking, stressing and making fun of reality tv and the people that populate them because that seems to be the extent of my brain capacity lately. Even putting together a submission for a publisher takes me forever, thinking about what to write instead of letting my instincts take over my fingers. There isn’t much else to say. Other than: “Hey Muse, come back! I want to be a writer again!” Please come back muse. I miss you and the work we create together.
Monday, June 25, 2012
It all began with a simple, united voice speaking to me of identity loss and other painful things. It all began as a way to stay awake while sitting in Parliament House during debate time with the youth parliament. It looked like, to the casual observer, that I was taking notes about each bill. I was really writing a story. Elements of that original story still remain in future drafts, the words a powerful reminder of where things began. It's simple. It's The We. Actually, it's not that simple. Nothing ever really is though. It is a social commentary that is my way of exploring the issues that have plagued me while I have looked for work. The lack of control over my near future is something that I have fought against, along with the fight to maintain a personal identity. I didn't even realise when I first started writing it how close in theme it was to George Orwell's 1894. Over the years, it has overgone many reworkings. One of the things that I struggled with as a writer was maintaining the universal voice. By intercutting it with articles and a single voice, I have been able to better explore themes and ideas that, while writing as a universal voice, would not have been done so. The paranoia that the characters feel is very real. In reality, jobseekers are monitored closely, though not as closely as represented in the story. I believe it speaks to those very real fears we all have that someone's watching our every move, looking for us to make an error. Security cameras watch us in public. We are aware of their placement. We know that if they are watching us, if is likely that if we do something wrong, they will catch us. This story is my way of venting my frustrations as a system that sometimes seems unfair and unjust, While some of the thoughts expressed are my own, most of which is simply exaggeration.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Let’s take a step back in time. Not a massive leap or anything, just ten short years to look at what I was writing back then. This time ten years ago, I was halfway through my first year of university. I’d almost finished my first semester doing a uni course [as opposed to a TAFE one] and realising that I might actually be able to make it. My stories were dark, horror noir, slasher types without any real insight into the whys or hows the attacks were happening. Or they were ghost revenge stories. There was no real depth to them. Just straightforward exposition/dialogue/description pieces that were a filler to the anthology my Diploma course put out at the end of each year. I was still in that whole ‘oh my god I’m at uni’ mind-space. It was a big step for someone that no one else expected to leave home, let alone my home state! At the time I was experimenting with the ‘slice of life’ type stories that didn’t need to have a beginning or a conclusive end. My characters rarely, if ever, got a happily ever after. My central female characters had a bit of Buffy in them, because of how much time I spent rewatching old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and marvelling at Joss Whedon’s story creation. I think, at that time, I was working on a piece that surrounded a central female character with telekinesis who was working in some sort of factory with her friends, each one possessing some ‘supernatural’ ability. Then they all went to a training facility to teach them how to use their powers. Then The X Men came out and I realised that, even without knowing about this world, I had created something similar. So I put mine aside while I worked on other projects. Flash forward to now: I experiment with different genres. I wrote Ferris Wheel in the magical realism genre. Dark Destiny is a horror with supernatural overtones. I’m currently working on a dystopian noir fiction piece that is a speculative look at the unemployment system. Now though, I understand a bit better about the psychological insights into each of my characters. I want their motivation for their actions to be clear to myself as a writer, and to the reader. I understand the need for action that progesses the story as opposed to brings it to a screeching stop. Growing as a writer doesn’t mean that you have to necessary let go of what you know to create something new. It’s a lot about building on what you already have within you to create something else. Something different. And not being scared to show another that this piece came from within your mind, dark and scary as it might be.