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Mark Tayar - Scheduled: Incarceration in an Australian Psychiatric Ward

March 16, 2018

 

Introduction

 

In parts of Australia being ‘scheduled’ means to be involuntary admitted to hospital due to mental illness. Legal grounds for this form of incarceration differ between states. Generally, a person’s normal rights are taken away from them when there is a mental disorder and potential or actual risk of self-harm or harm to others. Harm can however be widely defined such as harm to reputation.

 

In NSW initial detention can happen if a police officer brings you to a mental health facility -even when you haven’t committed any crimes. This happened the first time I was hospitalised. Detention can also happen if an ambulance officer brings you to a facility. This happened the second time I was hospitalised -even though I called the ambulance and went willingly. There are many other circumstances that can lead to detention including “a written request made…[by] a relative or friend of the person”.

 

The following brief memoir is a true recount of my time at work and in psychiatric wards of two hospitals in 2016 and 2017. It is my own perspective but still as honest as I can get it with a poor memory from certain medications. Some names have been de-identified, some have been used with permission and others have been used deliberately without permission.

 

Worrying at work

 

In 2016 worries consumed my whole life. Worries from work, worries for the people in my life and worries about myself. Together these led to my hospitalisation in Royal North Shore psychiatric ward. 

 

I am an academic. I hold a PhD in management and have worked at top Australian universities. I was working at the University of Sydney when I had my mental meltdown. Doctors say I have either schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder. Doctors have also said that work was a major contributor to me having a psychotic episode.

 

Schizoaffective disorder is like a cross between schizophrenia and bipolar. You have psychotic symptoms such as grandiose or persecutory delusions plus mood instability like people with bipolar. I am stable now but only with a cocktail of drugs to target the dreaded three: psychosis, depression and mania.

 

My downward spiral started in May 2016; or so I think. It could have been earlier when I worked at Macquarie University and my boss transferred to UTS; I lost my job because he moved. But the real problems started at Sydney Uni. I am not afraid of slandering the university because slander/libel is only when something is said that is untrue! My managers honestly behaved in an abhorrent way and this is a true recount of their mishandling; but this is only part of my story.

 

I had been hired to be an Associate Lecturer in February 2016. The job was naturally tough because the one subject I had to teach enrolled 1800 students -mostly from mainland China. They had also recently received negative press on the SBS and ABC websites. It was a challenge even without anything else added on top.

 

Our team had many false starts. There was confusion about who was employed to lead the team of 26 tutors and conflict with our manager Margaret. Margaret was nice to me but we eventually fell out and she accused me of throwing a tiny USB stick at her head which I didn't do and still find ludicrously funny when I think that I could have been falsely charged with assault for throwing such a small plastic object.

 

The team was made up of two guys -myself and a more experienced lecturer and two women. The women got along like a house on fire. Their dispute engulfed the team and was so out of control that the Deputy Dean intervened. I tried my best to console and befriend both women but I then took on too much strain and my worries about others started to send me into a tailspin.

 

As an academic, you want to work in a cooperative and collegial environment. Collegiality is the backbone of academia but our workplace was completely toxic. Margaret could not prevent this toxicity and neither could the Deputy Dean so probably no one could have. It wasn't any one person’s fault; it was just a relatively normal case of badly managed workplace conflict.

 

While all the infighting and mismanagement was taking place we still had a bloody big operation to run. A postgraduate subject with 1800 students is almost unheard of in Australia. A very large proportion of these students also failed a diagnostic English test we delivered. The team that previously taught the subject had all been fired except for two people: one disgruntled about the whole experience and one completely dismissive of the capabilities of the Chinese students. Margaret had a huge job and we were meant to support her running the unit but we spent more time arguing over tiny details like the formatting of a PowerPoint slide.

 

I am still furious with the university for failing to properly support us in this mammoth task. A team of 5 managing a subject sounds like a lot but when you consider we were all new and I was the only one who got along with all the other team members, the reaction of HR to our problems was truly disgusting. I was investigated for the apparent throwing of a USB stick and my colleagues were interrogated about the circumstances leading to my mental breakdown.

 

At the time of writing now I have not received any compensation for the hell I was put through. Allianz denied my workers compensation claim and I now only receive a very small pension for my disability from the very supportive folks at UniSuper. This section is part of my revenge against Margaret, John the Deputy Dean and the university more broadly (especially HR) but this is the last sentence I will waste on my vendetta.

 

The Perfect Storm

 

The 'work-related contributing factors' to my mental breakdown are many and varied but can be summarised in a recount of just one month. On Black Friday May 13, 2016 I resigned from the University of Sydney. I wrote in the letter the reasons I was leaving and this triggered a chain of reactions across the university. Then, I pulled out of a week of lectures and took sick leave because I was too anxious about the content of my slides and how it was being modified by others in my team. I was also justifiably anxious about giving my first ever lecture to a room of 500 students but this was a good kind of anxiety -one that motivated more than it crippled me. Still, this was a contributing factor related to work that fed a perfect storm of bad luck.

 

As a paradoxical way to resolve my problems I was demoted from lecturer to tutor. This was done with my permission in order to reduce stress but this ended in more work being piled on top and the eventual breakdown that had me running into the fire escape of the new Abercrombie building at Sydney Uni.

 

The non-work factors which were used against me to deny my workers compensation claim are also many and varied. During my final week at Sydney Uni, I took a sick day because my anxiety was at unbearable levels and my doctor was very supportive providing a doctor's certificate. I used this sick day to meet up with one of my oldest and best friends Ben. I took Ben to my apartment in North Sydney which was full of rented furniture because we were selling the property. It felt alien to us both so we went to Ben's house. Rather than Ben consoling me and listening to my problems like a good friend he had his own more serious problems. Ben was a meth addict and it was the first time I had seen him so consumed by his addiction. He has been rehabilitated now but me mentioning him to my Doctor was used against me by the university's insurance company.

           

I was way too open and honest to my Doctors and it cost me tens of thousands in compensation. I believe that when I am off my medication and finally past all of this pain and hurt, I will get sweet justice. It might not be justice in the form of money but I will get some form of catharsis merely from turning this abridged book into a published non-fiction book.

 

I was also open and honest about a few other things that were used against me. I was living at my mum's place in Manly and they saw this as a stressful disturbance to my life. My mum has water views, free beer and she let me bring our cat to her place so I was actually more relaxed than normal there. I stayed with mum the year before for 3 months during renovations and we didn't have one serious argument which is pretty rare for 29 year olds living at home.

 

While heavily medicated in hospital I blurted out so many things that were used against me. I can't remember much of it and only know it now from reading my insurance rejection documentation. For example, when I was asked about family history of mental illness I stupidly told them I have a distant aunt in Italy who is "incarcerated in a mental institution". That is only partially true, I think she is really distant, may have passed away already and was not in Italy at all.

 

Other smaller things that went wrong in my life included: a brother having serious life problems; conflict between my step mother, mother and brother; study at Sydney Uni being unmanageable; and, both grandmothers being ill in some way. These were all part of a perfect storm right about the time that a major storm hit Sydney and devastated our beaches.

 

Eye of the storm

 

On the Thursday before the Queen's Birthday long weekend I hit the eye of my perfect storm. I went into work to help students with questions they had about our final exam. My extra responsibilities that were given to me when I was demoted were to consult with students all day. Other tutors helped but word was getting around that I was really good at consultation. This sort of thing spreads among the Chinese student's microblogs and chatting systems (Weibo and WeChat respectively). I had students constantly calling my office extension for consultation.

 

Student consultation is one of my favourite things about being a lecturer. Good consultation is the only time where lecturers actually teach one-on-one. Because of the group orientation of Chinese students, my consultation was actually more often one-on-four or one-on-five and this was an efficient way for me to deal with the absolute torrent of students that were coming to see me.

 

I was really tired from the rough week I had and lack of sleep due to a larger-than-average marking load (also part of my demotion). It was like the eye of the storm because I was interacting with so many students and kept awake from the excitement of teaching. Despite this, things were starting to crumble. Students were pointing out things in the subject that were crappy. I knew they were crappy and didn't know how to defend them. I was too tired to give appropriate official responses to the students and I was also asked to reduce the amount of time I spent with each student so I had to usher people out.

 

Amongst the phone calls on my office phone I also got a call from a friend who wanted business advice. I create and host websites for my friends including one for my formally meth addicted mate Ben who is a stunning and distinguished photographer (he made his own website though, I just host it). My pregnant friend wanted me to work with her on a great new business idea. I hadn't taken a lunchbreak at all so met with her at 2pm. To meet her I had escape past tutors and a line of students which just made me feel guilty just for taking a lunch break. I left my PC on, left my things and ran into the fire escape and have still never returned to my office since.

 

I tried to get help from my pregnant friend but she just wanted my help for her new business. We went to a nearby restaurant for lunch but I just had a beer instead to try and calm my nerves about what was waiting for me back in the office. Things spiralled way out of control and I felt so anxious that I couldn't even walk near the Abercrombie building where my office was in fear that one of the 26 tutors or students that knew me might see me and smell the beer on my breath.

 

I didn't know what to do, I couldn't go back to work in such an anxious state but felt guilty about all the students who knew I was timetabled for consultation. My pregnant friend offered me a Valium which I reluctantly took to calm down but it failed completely. I was so paranoid about getting in trouble from work that I asked my friend to dispose of the Valium foil container but she thought I was being ridiculous. She was the only witness to this part of my breakdown but refused to act as a formal witness because as she stated in an angry SMS to me: "Sydney Uni is one of my only chances to get an academic job". I understand this as I know firsthand how hard it is to get work in academia but it was a terribly selfish thing to do which I have not fully forgiven.

 

Downward Spiral

 

After leaving my pregnant friend I jumped on my train home to my mum's house. I knew I was manic and anxious and thought my partner could save me. I called him to come and meet me but I was so psychotic by this time that I just scared him. I was paranoid about the cameras on the train and became obsessed with mounting a workers’ compensation lawsuit (which I am still vaguely hoping to do one day when I can take the stress).

 

I tried to run away to prevent further scaring of my partner and my mum. I couldn't go home and sleep because of the expensive rental furniture that was there while we sold our house. I met my husband in Circular Quay but couldn't deal with all the people. I couldn't be comforted by a hug and kiss from my husband because we worry about homophobic violence and carry self-shame of our PDA. We hopped in a cab but then I became obsessed about the camera and we got thrown out of the cab. No one on the street asked if I was OK and the cabbie didn't care.

 

My husband (we were married legally in New Zealand) Ray was totally scared and he had every right to be that way. He took carers leave to try to help me but things just got worse which I don't blame him for. I went to my GP and she said I was OK but wrote me a referral letter for a psychiatrist. It was too little, too late and I ended up hospitalised on the Queen’s Birthday holiday.

 

I was spiralling down into deep depression about the likely career-ending departure from my comfortable university job. While depressed I was also completely manic, paranoid and obsessed with trying to quickly solve all of my problems.

 

Queen's Birthday long weekend

 

On the Friday of the Queen's Birthday long weekend in 2016 I booked Ray and I into a hotel room in the Blue Mountains. We booked it while I was psychotic and hoped the getaway would settle me down back to normal. The whole journey there was chaotic. We went back onto the train because I like the journey but again I was afraid that camera footage of me could be used by my employers against me in a legal battle. It was an extremely unlikely thing to happen but when you are that sick, even things with infinitesimally small probabilities start to plague you.

 

We were staying in the Fairmont Resort in Leura and walked there from the station which was a 30min walk largely uphill that made me anxious about my lack of fitness. The hotel was vaguely familiar as I had been there as a child but it was the wrong place for me to be when I was completely psychotic.

 

I stayed up all night and kept Ray awake totally troubling him with all of my problems. It was at this time I started to slowly realise that I would be scheduled under the mental health act unless I was super careful. This was my new obsession: acting as normal as possible in public so I didn't end up in a psych ward.

 

I kept up this incredibly tiring effort to appear normal in public. To appear normal as we checked out of the hotel was hard enough but then on the train again with all the people and cameras, I just couldn't do it.

 

We got off the train somewhere still in the mountains and I was totally out of control -more than any other time in my life even considering past drunken and drug-fuelled episodes. We walked down a random street which abruptly ended at a paddock. I felt completely trapped, I was having a panic attack about being locked away and facing the stigma of being scheduled but that's where I really should have been rather than some paddock between Leura and Sydney.

 

I stared out into the paddock and noticed a cow was right near me! The ugly cuteness of that beast brought me back down from all my panic but just for one fleeting moment. To get me back I started to think about positive emotions. I have done a free online course in positive psychology as well as a 6-day workshop on mindfulness. I used the basics of these courses to bring myself momentarily from what the positive psychology course called downward spiral to an upward spiral. One lesson from that course was that positive emotions whisper while negative emotions scream so it was an uphill battle for me.

 

Vacillating between downward and upward spirals became my obsession for the next day or so. I thought if I could bring enough positivity into my life my perfect storm could finally subside. I did positive things to try and solve the problems in my life. Ray helped me do this as much as he could but I was still downward spiralling every few minutes rapidly flipping from manic to depressive.

 

One of the funny things we did in a vain attempt "to upward spiral" was decide I was never going back to Sydney University. I cut up both my staff card and my student card. The staff card allowed me access to my office which still had some of my furniture and personal belongings in it. I was sure that the only time I would step back into the Abercrombie building would be when I was completely well again and that ended up being several months after my notice period ended. I took a photo of the cut up cards and sent it to one of my colleagues as proof that I was never going back.

 

By this time, we had gotten back to Manly where my Mum's apartment is. I was back in a very familiar setting and feeling a bit better but I still had not slept. I was trying to explain all of my problems and was manic about it but I was so tired that I had to slow my speech to even construct a proper sentence. We went for a walk and again I had the same problem as I did in Circular Quay: I couldn't hug my partner and cry without attracting attention from concerned members of the public who might mean well but whose interference was deeply unwanted.

 

We went to Little Manly and Shelly Beach and my new obsession was about making Ray feel better. I stopped caring about my own perfect storm and upward/downward spirals so I could make sure Ray was OK after the horrible weekend I had just put him through.

 

First time in hospital

 

One of my last attempts to avoid hospital was to take Ray to my friend Adam's house. Adam was really helpful to us both but it was too late. I had fallen down the mental illness rabbit hole so far now that hospitalisation was the only outcome.

 

I did delay that outcome even further with another hotel stay. We stayed in the Rydges Hotel opposite my house so we didn't wreck the perfectly made bed that had rented linen on it. Though work was the main contributing factor to the mess I was in, us selling our house became something else that could be used against me to deny workers' compensation. I was paranoid about this and also paranoid that hotel staff would call the police because of how loud and hysterical I was being. I emptied out the tiny vodka bottles and made myself spew in order to blame the hysteria on being drunk.

 

We finally went home and removed the rented bed sheets. I was finally safe from the eyes of the public and I thought I was safe from hospitalisation but I kept scaring Ray. Then my brother came by and he was a big help but I was inconsolable. I popped a bottle of Veuve Clicquot at 9am and offered my brother some to try and calm us both down. I had a special digital lock that I used to prevent Ray or the police from coming in. My brother left and the police came.

 

A single policeman came with two mental health workers. They completely mishandled the whole situation. I was screaming at Ray saying I would divorce him if he called the police and here I was with a policeman at my only safe place in the world. I let them into my house even though I wasn't wearing pants -I was also too tired and confused from our moving house to find underwear.

 

They took me into the elevator and the officer said "there might be witnesses". I had no idea what he intended to mean by that but this completely scared me. What were they witness to? Had I done something wrong? My psychosis then shifted and I thought I had committed crimes because why else would there be a police presence?

 

In the car to the hospital I tried to explain that I had been to Royal North Shore before and it was OK to go there. I also tried to explain why I was feeling so anxious. I had in my head the recent news story of the crazy person in Hornsby that pulled a knife in a shopping mall and was shot dead injuring 3 bystanders. This probably just alarmed the policeman more as I was relating to someone who had a weapon.

 

In the hospital they tried to interview me but I was just too anxious. At some point in the journey from my house to a hospital bed I was scheduled under the NSW Mental Health Act. I still thought I had committed a crime and no one explained anything to me in the calm evidence-based way that academics like me like to hear.

 

Out of hospital too soon

 

In the hospital I had a range of terrifying beliefs about why I was incarcerated. The first related to the ECG, I was convinced that terrorists hijacked Royal North Shore Hospital and planted a bomb inside of me. Whenever I stressed out, the risk of the bomb exploding apparently escalated.

 

I was also heavily influenced by the many insane people around me. I befriended one of them -Tania but almost everyone else scared the shit out of me. There was an anti-Semitic one who I stupidly told that I am half Jewish. Tania called him the galah. He would walk round breathing heavily and would stare at me. He once apologised for scaring me but at all other times he came near me breathing heavily when I was alone.

 

Some of the nurses were quite good, others were completely insensitive. All failed to convince me that I wasn't in a terrorist siege -they didn't even try to convince me of this because I didn't talk about it. I did however repeatedly and annoyingly press the emergency buzzer in my room. My mum came to visit when I was in this state and I dragged her into a bathroom and pressed the emergency button after being afraid the galah would hurt us both.

 

I also thought I was receiving messages from the TV. My doctor has since used the metaphor of a semi-permeable membrane to describe my susceptibility to outside influences like the TV. One example of this permeability was when I watched a Simpsons episode in the hospital that I had seen many times. It was the one were Homer's mum leaves clues for him in the first letter of each line in a newspaper. This led me to start seeing all news as some kind of message.

 

The news that came into the hospital and ‘penetrated my membrane’ included the June 12 Orlando shootings. I thought my terrorist plot had something to do with it and that the terrorists picked me to plant the bomb inside of because I am gay.

 

Other news that came into the hospital TV and into my mind included a story of someone who asked their cab driver to stop on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and then climbed it. This story I misinterpreted as something I had done and was an apparent reason why they were keeping me in the hospital for two weeks.

 

They released me from hospital but it was too soon. I went home to mum's in Manly and I was suicidal. I was scared of the knives in the house and worried I would do something drastic. I was still so sick and was expected to return to my normal life without fixing any of the perfect storm stuff that had completely shattered my whole being.

 

I returned to the hospital within the same day as leaving. I was then released again a week or so later. It was now July and I was starting to recover. I began to work on my new charity -the OL Mate Foundation and I felt that I was ready to give back to the mentally ill.

 

Second time in hospital

 

Out of the hospital things were going well until when I tried to go back to work. I got a new staff card to replace the one I cut up and arranged to meet my colleague for a drink on campus. I had a panic attack about being back there and never had that drink.

 

I was progressing with the creation of my new social venture for men's mental health. I was also seeing a very good psychiatrist and he tried to change my meds to something less sedating and less of a weight gainer. This change of meds though totally destabilised me and my paranoid delusions returned. I eventually called an ambulance and was scheduled a second time.

 

When changing over to the new meds I visited my Aunt. She was having trouble finding my ill grandmother a new nursing home. I tried to help and needed a beer to get me through it but Ray yelled at me for drinking. I didn't have beer to turn to and Ray was not helping with my aunt at all and then things just turned weird and terrifying.

 

In between my two hospital visits I had both grandiose delusions (a.k.a. delusions of grandeur) and persecutory delusions. My grandiose delusions were quite exciting and fun like thinking Ellen wanted me on her show to tell my story of recovery. The delusion with Ellen was so intricate that it became almost believable. I believed she used YouTube to recruit people for her show and she interviewed me through my webcam using a new (non-existent) feature of YouTube.

 

My persecutory delusions were equally improbable but I still completely believed them and they were torturous. I believed that: snipers were targeting my home; a terrorist recruiter was using my illness to try recruit me into ISIS; police were monitoring me through Pokemon Go; and, Margaret from work was using a PI to get dirt on me. These are all clearly untrue now that I am well.

 

Third time in hospital

 

While in the hospital for the second time I was medicated heavily but stable and this continued for six months. During the period of relative stability my notice period ended at Sydney Uni so I didn't need to return there (thankfully). Other problems from my perfect storm resolved themselves fairly well. I then made a slight change to my medication and I relapsed into mania and mild psychosis in February 2017.

 

I was hospitalised a third time but this time it was voluntary. There are varying degrees of ‘voluntary’ but this it was my initial idea to be admitted and my own will walking alone to the hospital. The decision was supported by my doctors and my carers but there was no pressure from them.

 

The third time in hospital really isn’t comparable to the first two. Those who have been to a private psychiatric hospital probably don’t know at all what it’s like to be scheduled. After an initial observation period of 24 hours I could walk out the door to the shops. I had auditory delusions and thought I heard people talking about me but I was still free to come and go from the hospital because I was not a serious risk to harming myself or others. When I was scheduled the doctors misdiagnosed me with schizophrenia so I was incarcerated for longer than I should have been but it seems like I actually have Bipolar I disorder but it still depends which doctor you ask. Writing this now, I think I am in a period of hypomania – a milder and shorter form of mania.

 

This relapse was much easier to rebound from due to my growing resilience having being scheduled twice. My resilience is also stronger having learned mindfulness meditations and regularly seeing doctors. This has eased the pain I still feel when I re-live my work nightmare and think about my times in hospital. I still have pain knowing I really hurt my family and my husband but I am starting to accept this pain.

 

Worrier to Warrior

 

I am fortunate to recover with so many supportive friends and family around me. Some of them know I was in hospital with a mental illness but others will only know from reading this book. I am also extremely lucky to be scheduled for less than a month each time. Many patients remain incarcerated for months and some for years. For some this incarceration is actually a better option than discharging into a community that can’t care for them. The conditions in mental health facilities now are unlike old asylums but still deeply tragic and involve the revocation of everyday rights and freedoms like other forms of incarceration.

 

I have been privileged to not have to work during the term of my temporary incapacity benefit but other mentally ill people really need support from the National Disability Insurance Scheme or the generosity of family and friends. I could not recover if I was financially or morally obliged to go back to full-time work. If I was poor or had an unsupportive partner, my whole journey would have been so much worse. Each day is still a small journey to greater recovery. I try to think of the good that will come from my psychotic episodes but it is still really hard to live a normal life again.

 

Coming out as mentally ill is harder for me than coming out as gay but I need to speak up. I hope to become a warrior for the mentally ill in Australia. Whether I do that through the OL Mate Foundation or through advocacy, I know I can make some kind of difference. You can help too just by listening non-judgmentally to stories about mental illness. You can also donate to OL Mate Foundation and your funds will only be used to print stories by the mentally ill (check out olmate.org).

 

I am now also the SANE Australia Hocking Fellow researching storytelling as a way to manage mental illness. Donate to them at sane.org.

 

Positive Actions

 

There are some things you can do to incrementally improve mental health. This list of small actions represents three positive emotions: gratitude for the people, places and things in my life; joy, and; sometimes, love. Don't try to do all 64 – just one or two can really help.

 

  1. Listen to old music that reminds you of joyful times in your past

  2. Talk to siblings who were there during your childhood and know what it was like

  3. Develop ideas for ‘passion projects’ that spark interest

  4. Walk and be in awe of the creations of nature

  5. Walk through a city and be in awe of what humans are capable of building

  6. Pursue multiple interests in a way they align, overlap or intersect

  7. See parents and grandparents who can comfort you just by their presence

  8. See old mates who can easily share in nostalgia

  9. Meet new people who share a hobby or sport

  10. Talk about times when you were happiest in your life

  11. Draw visual metaphors that explain your emotions in simple ways

  12. Meditate in a way that suits your surroundings and personality

  13. Thank a complete stranger or a loved one to show genuine gratitude

  14. Wake up early to watch the sunrise

  15. Laugh at a sitcom or stand-up comedian on YouTube

  16. Look back at my family tree and discovering my roots

  17. Do a jigsaw puzzle in a slow and mindful way

  18. Flick through a magazine like it’s a picture book

  19. Sing in the car or the shower

  20. Draw simple stick figures and outlines of things you are grateful for now

  21. Make a collage or drawing 5-year goals on A3 paper

  22. Learn a new language

  23. Carpool karaoke (a la James Corden)

  24. Solo travel or travel with a partner

  25. Silence alone and with another person

  26. Indulge in secret but harmless shames

  27. Draw a timeline of the highs and lows in your life then reflecting on the highs

  28. Give 5% of your salary to a charity that you love

  29. Change your route to work and noticing nice things along the new route

  30. Give a compliment

  31. Receive a compliment

  32. Solve a crossword or Sudoku

  33. Dance in the dark (like Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen)

  34. Look in the mirror focusing only on your best features

  35. Rethink sadness and grief as a necessary parts of life

  36. Play a frivolous game on your phone or tablet

  37. Look at artful nudes of the same or opposite sex to admire the human form

  38. Write a letter to your future self

  39. Change your desktop wallpaper to something serene

  40. Pat a friendly dog, cat or bunny

  41. Wear daggy clothes at home

  42. Ice cream, chocolate or another small treat

  43. Colour in or painting

  44. Cook a new recipe

  45. Silently appreciate an art gallery or museum

  46. Take photographs of loved ones or serene scenery

  47. Take a selfie then having someone photoshop the image to make it more beautiful

  48. Post about someone you are grateful for on Facebook

  49. Create a reflective writing blog

  50. Close your eyes and imagining a moment from a past holiday

  51. Write a short To Do list focused on 5 things you can do to bring joy to your life

  52. Laugh at silly internet memes

  53. Have your high school or college degree framed and displayed with pride somewhere

  54. Sing in a private karaoke room with friends who don’t care how bad you are

  55. Write an encouraging comment to reply to someone’s video, pic or post

  56. Make up new words that only you and a friend or partner know the meaning to

  57. Gleefully use a line from a movie or TV show

  58. Eat or drink slowly and noticing all the subtle flavours

  59. Join a hobby group such as one on Meetup.com

  60. Read an autobiography of someone you see as a hero or role model

  61. Write long lists like this one of all the great people and things you have in your life

  62. Never miss an opportunity to be fabulous (Thanks Prof. Tina Seelig from Stanford)

  63. Read stories by the mentally ill

  64. Most importantly, be kind (Thanks Ellen)

If you haven’t already done so, I am inviting you to submit your Consumer or Carer story on your personal experiences with: - Anxiety Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, PTSD, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Anorexia, Post Natal Depression, Hearing Voices or any other MI I have overlooked.

The average length of stories are 6 to 15 pages. However I do have those that are 4 pages.

Minimum accepted is 4 pages, narrow margins, size 12 Arial font and single line spacing. Send them through to info@thisismyreality.com.au in a MS Word document as per the above settings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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