Mental Illness

We need to talk about mental illness, depression and suicide NOW!


I went to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 today.  It was awesome.  I loved the book and I loved the movie.

But throughout the movie I could not help but feel sad.  As Philip Seymour Hoffman graced the screen in the effortless way that was his acting style, I couldn’t help but wonder where it had all gone wrong.

Just before the main feature began, an advert for another movie, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, was shown.  In it, glimpses of Robin Williams were to be seen, reprising his role of Theodore Roosevelt.

As I watched The Hunger Games, I kept thinking of Philip and Robin and what a great loss they were.  How they were so brilliant at their craft, so revered, so loved, and yet how inadequate they both must have felt to be pushed to the fatal end they both endured.  As a recovering alcoholic, I know only too well that addiction is born out of a feeling of not being good enough.  I have felt the pain that comes with inadequacy and the lure of suicide, knowing only too well the pain this will cause to family and friends.  In that moment, the pain of living is worse than the pain of knowing the devastation your loss will cause.  The promise of release from that pain all too seductive.

This week the internet has been all agog at the comments made by Mark Latham about Lisa Pryor’s comments on how she copes with motherhood.  In his Financial Review article, he likens the stress of tending of his garden to the work pressures that she felt as a mother and full time medical student.  He trivialises the pressure that women feel in this day and age, and goes so far as to disparage the choice of a woman to work for reasons other than financial gain.

Additionally this week was this post by Sarah Wilson in which she poses the question of whether or not her autoimmune disease can be caused, or at least exacerbated by stress.  The headline was unfortunate – Is Self Hatred Making Us Sick.  The backlash to this post, which was reposted on News Ltd’s website was enormous.  Whist I questioned what she wrote and didn’t agree with some of it, I admired her ability to stand back and take a look at what was and wasn’t working for her.  I certainly didn’t feel she was being prescriptive about what was causing my own autoimmune disease or how I should manage it.

What shocked me, though, was the unabashed vitriol that was espoused in reaction to this post.  Blog posts popped up all over the place denigrating what she had said as quackery and attacking her personally.  They questioned her qualification to dish out medical advice (which she was not doing) and called her credentials into question.  If stress does exacerbate Sarah’s condition, the venom spat her way must have caused her great discomfort in the autoimmune department.  It is this kind of cyber bullying that causes journalists to take their own lives.

And what is all the point of all this?  What do the deaths of actors, the challenging of women’s coping mechanisms and a post about autoimmune disease management have in common?

At the heart of all these things is mental illness.  And we don’t talk about it nearly enough.

Depression as an illness, is still a major cause of morbidity and death, and we need to understand it better, and we need to prevent people from killing themselves because they are depressed. – Changing Minds, ABC

When I got home from the movies, I decided to watch the the ABC series Changing Minds.  I had taped it weeks ago, but for some reason could not bring myself to watch it.  Maybe it is because I suffer from terrible clinical depression and I did not want to face the fine line that keeps me on this side of a psychiatric ward. Maybe it is because mental health is stigmatised so much that I try to lock my illness inside a cave somewhere deep inside my head, pretending that it isn’t there at all.  I advocate for mental illness, yet I myself still feel stigmatised by it.

I watched the series and it shocked me.  It shocked me because we simply do not talk about it enough and because of that people are not getting the help they need, especially in the wider community.  People try to ignore it, they do, but it cannot be ignored.

Actors are buckling at an alarming rate because of it, Sarah was trying to connect the dots between anxiety (read mental health) and physical well being, and Mark Latham was stigmatising mental health in women in the way only he (and many others like him) can in a publication largely read by men.

Men are three times as likely to commit suicide than women.  This is because the stigma is so rife, that men, in a world largely controlled by men, do not feel that they can talk about their mental illness.  And if they do, they are often turned away.  So they choose to leave behind loved ones and take their own lives.  Does Mark Latham think he is helping the cause of those men?  Never mind the women he is berating, how about the men?

Those people who chose to call Sarah a quack for her beliefs about her own condition, who chose to insult her as a person, as a journalist and as a personal blogger, did they think they were encouraging dialogue for those people who suffer from mental illness and feel that they cannot seek help?  Upon reading her article, I did not see as her attacking them personally.  I saw it as her seeking answers to her own condition and citing things that made sense to her, recognising that during times when she feels better mentally, she also feels better physically.  She was, in fact, talking about mental health.

All of this is about mental health, about when we feel better mentally, we can operate better on a physical level too – we are better human beings.  Without mental health we have nothing.  Our physical systems seem harder to cope with, our demanding jobs are harder to cope with, life itself is harder to cope with.

We live in a world where pressures increase exponentially and yet the discussion of mental illness is just not happening.

The dialogue of how to address the increasing mental illness and suicide issue needs to begin in earnest.  It needs to happen and it needs to happen now.

If you are experiencing any depression, suicidal thoughts or extreme mental anguish, please talk to someone you can trust, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Until next time,

SHW Signature



Make a Card Monday

Make A Card Monday {Sobriety Cards}

And one day she woke up, all foggy and hurt from the night before, and she knew.  She knew that the grip that alcohol had on her had to be loosened, had to be demolished.  So that she could live her life the way it was intended, so that she could live her very very best life.  And so her journey to sobriety began.

Do you know anyone who is a recovering addict?

If you do, you will know how important each anniversary of their sobriety is to them.

So important in fact, that pins are given out at AA to celebrate each and every milestone.  We like to be rewarded for our efforts and, let’s face it, sobriety – the total abstinence of any alcohol or narcotic – takes enormous effort.  It deserves celebrating and congratulating.

But how to do it.  You can’t take them down to the pub {that would be bad}.  You could take them out somewhere, which would be lovely but you want to give them something tangible to mark the occasion, to let them know how special the anniversary is, to let them know that you get it and how proud you are of them.

How about a card?

Of course, you can’t just walk into a news agent and pick one up.  They don’t make Happy Sobriety Anniversary cards – I’ve looked.  But making one is so easy to do.  And what says I get it and I care better than a hand made card.

Below you will find two Sobriety Cards.  A sobriety anniversary is like a birthday – in fact we call it a birthday in AA {as in “I am celebrating my 5th birthday in January”} – the day that marks the rebirth of you as a sober person.  But it is also an anniversary – the anniversary of the date you made that choice.  It is a very special time and one so deserving of a hand made card.



This card was made using white card stock as the base.  The patterned paper was part of a paper pack that I bought at Aldi, the blue card stock I had on hand and the labels were made using the print and cut function on the Cameo Silhouette.  I used a corner rounder to create the curved edges.  I am really pleased with the way it turned out.  It’s bold and sassy and says exactly what it needs to say.


This one was made in exactly the same way except I turned the card around to create a landscape card.


And there you have it.  Two very easy sobriety cards to make.  I hope you give it a try and if you do, please do let me know.

Until next time,

SHW Signature


Conquering the addiction of sugar takes planning

I had a really terrible night last night.

The heartburn was excruciating.

Surgery was meant to have fixed all that, despite reservations that the success rate would in fact be 100%.

Who am I kidding.  I ate like a sugar-crazed demon yesterday.  Not one shrapnel of goodness passed my lips.  It was all danishes, tim tams (I love those suckers) and shit.

My body revolted.

It literally yelled, ENOUGH!!

And so I lay in the spare room bed, with Mr C blissfully unaware on the other side of the house, writhing in agony.

Why is it that when you don’t need them there is an abundance of antacids but when you need them like an addict needs their next fix, they are nowhere to be found?

I retreated back to bed sans medication, propped myself into bed and drank heaps of water, riding out the searing burns that were convulsing across my chest.

It took hours before I finally drifted off.

I woke up this morning with a dull ache in my chest.  It has been with me all day.

I need to lose weight, I thought, I need to take better care of myself. 

Care takes planning.  We rush from one thing to the next, day to day, with little time for self care.  We need to plan.

I had no plan today.

Result: a muffin, 4 rice cakes with cheese slathered in branston pickle (oh how I love thee branston pickle) and an apple and walnut slice.

My body is not happy.

I am not happy.


It takes planning to take the first step on the journey away from self-loathing.

I am in the triple digit weight range {do you like how I minimised my affliction?}.  I need to be in the double digit range, like way down the double digit range.

Shit, losing weight is hard.

Well, it’s meant to be easy if you have the determination and the willpower.  Clearly those two items have escaped my capacity.

I read a while ago that sugar is an addiction.  That the same feeling a smoker gets when they are trying to give up smoking is the same feeling a sugar addict gets when they are trying to give up sugar.  I am SO addicted to sugar.

I am actually a drug

Around about 3pm, I get a hankering.  A gnawing for something sweet.  At times, it can drive me demented.  So much so that if there is nothing in the house, I will get in the car, drive to the shop, and purchase a shed load of chocolate to eat.  I don’t even taste the chocolate.  I just shove it in my face to quieten that hankering.

And then I loathe myself.

Not enough to prevent me from starting the cycle again the following day though, apparently.

My car is a shrine to the chocolate wrapper.  Not content with stuffing my body full of the sweet sugary nectar of sugar, I also then leave reminders to myself of just how little willpower I have.

I recently cleared out my pantry of all the crap.  Literally, all the crappy non-nutritious food was binned.  I have a pantry full of stuff that would make a Paleo guru weak at the knees.  I kid you not – you name it, I have it – chia seeds, almonds, coconut oil, coconut flower, cacao nibs, cacao powder, goji berries and the like.

Yet, rather than make myself something yummy and sugar free {is there such a thing}, I make the trip to the shop.

Is it me?  Is it the addiction?  The addiction isn’t me. I know that.  And I have conquered addictions before.  I just have to PLAN to conquer this one as well.

I hope you will join me.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Until next time,

SHW Signature