So I decided that I should probably write a little update on this blog. A lot has been going on lately. I went to the National Suicide Prevention conference in July. It was a incredible and meaningful experience and a lot better than last year with Miss Clare. Probably because I could be completely selfish and didn't have to navigate (manage) her needs as well as my own.
I really enjoyed exploring the city of Hobart before, during and after the conference. I was lucky enough to have both the conference costs and accommodation paid for by Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA). This meant that I was able to book time either side for relaxation and got to experience a little bit more of what Hobart has to offer.
I tried to visit as many cafes as I could possibly fit in, as well as the beautiful boutiques, markets and locally produced arts and crafts. I felt truly "at home" in Hobart and felt like it was the perfect mix between Melbourne's hip culture and the smallness of a country town. I might move there one day.
During the conference I was approached to be a member of a committee for mental health advocacy (I want to maintain privacy on this blog so won't provide links). I gladly accepted and now sit on a national advisory board which meets once a year in Sydney, as well as holds monthly teleconferences on key issues concerning suicide prevention, mental health policy and future research opportunities.
I have been so inspired and thrilled by this development. It has enabled me to envisage a future that I never dreamt possible. I have ordered beautiful hand-made stamps from a Melbourne based store and I will be making my own business cards (sourcing recycled, hand made paper as we speak).
I have also bought my own domain name (again, will not be linking here) with plans to go public in a month's time. This is scary stuff because not only will I be putting my name to my experiences (owning my experiences with suicide, sexual assault, trauma, grief, etc), but I will be using them to qualify me for my position (ie. my expertise lies within my experiences).
With the input of some trusted friends, I have been working on a series of powerpoint presentations. One is aimed at peers or lay-people to the mental health community. It covers things like appropriate language for suicide and mental illness and understanding these experiences within a trauma informed lens. I have also made one for a professional context which talks about understanding "self determined death" and advocates for a more compassionate, person-centered approach to intervention, research and care.
As for my studies, all is well. I am doing 3 subjects at uni this semester; Anthropology of Global Development, Sociology of Health & Illness and Shakespeare & Contemporaries. I feel really passionate about study and thoroughly enjoy the weekly readings. I feel excited now that my major is anthropology, not English, as this leads into so many interesting career areas.
Mental health wise, I am going fairly well. I am happy with my home. Kieran and I are getting along and the dog is behaving. I am cooking good quality meals and eating regularly. I am so greatful to my beautiful naturopath who has gotten me on track with a range of supplements which seem to be improving my mood and energy; allowing me (with continued vigilance) to do the things that are important to me without too many energy crashes.
After consultation with my psychiatrist, we have decided to decrease my medication (SNRI) dosage. This is a slightly scary step for me as last time I tried this, I had another dark period and it was a huge blow to my confidence ("I'll be on medication forever, I'm not in control of my body, nothing I can do will ever fix this"). This time however, I am determined to fight on and decrease the dosage with the view to completely cease when I leave for England in 2017.
It will take a really long time to completely taper off my medication (over a year). I'm hoping that in this time I can continue to build up an advocacy profile and contribute positively to this discussion. I worry that another period of hospitalisation will ruin the friendships I have created separate to that identity and fracture any chance of authentically existing with one foot in the world of professionalism and one in the world of personal experience.
I must admit that I have noticed an increase in suicidal thoughts (more like suicidal observations). However, I maintain a very strong belief that it is the stigma and fear of these thoughts which is the issue, not the thoughts themselves. I can hold these experiences lightly. I can think fleetingly about death without relapsing. I can entertain an idea without accepting it (this is my motto for Christianity and organised religion as well).
I feel blessed to have a strong supportive group of friends. Sometimes I find that I actually have too many friends. I get easily overwhelmed with plans, juggling my week and managing the expectations of others. I constantly feel like I'm "giving myself away" and often see others as a drain to my energy. I need to learn how to see socialising as something other than a commodity for connection...I'm trying to step out of that.
Having said that, I have been finding myself longing for a girlfriend. It is most definitely a girlfriend that I want (males need not apply at this point). I'm not sure whether that is because Alps friendship so closely mimics both the friendship I had with Zhi Hui and what I desire in a relationship. Maybe I just need foster a closer, more emotionally intimate relationships within my preexisting group of friends?
Anyway, I think that's pretty much it. Small things to note like the fact that I bought a Patti Smith postcard the other day and felt a stabbing pain when I realised that it would never get to it's intended recipient (my God-mother). The fact that I had lunch with Mama Goose and it felt completely natural again. I have fifty hours logged in my driving book. Life goes on without you.
With kindness, x