Human rights

The things I want don’t change when I’m unwell.

The things I want don't change when I'm unwell.

‘The service that was supposed to be there to help me was recreating my worst horrors. It breaks my heart.’
 
I was interviewed about my experience of compulsory treatment by The Age newspaper, for a story about Victoria’s new Independent Mental Health Advocacy service.

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I am the person of whom you speak

I am the person of whom you speak

One of the most difficult challenges I’ve had as a mental health consumer advocate is when people deny our lived experience. It drives me nuts. So-called recovered consumers. Last year I came across a person who used the term ‘so-called recovered consumers’. Worryingly, this person had influence in national mental health policy and she directly challenged the credibility and relevance of consumer advocates. She believed that no-one could really recover from ‘serious mental illness’, because that had been the experience of her family members. And so, her logic went, if people with ‘serious mental illness’ can’t really recover, then consumer […]

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Just a cry for help.

Just a cry for help.

There were many times in my past when I sought help at hospital emergency departments. Usually when I had self-harmed or was fearful of suicide.
 
And almost every time I felt the ire of medical staff who clearly viewed me as a time waster. I was someone less worthy of their time, skill and compassion than the other patients under their care.
 
So often we dismiss people’s pain by saying things like ‘just a cry for help’ or ‘just attention seeking’. This article explores the implications of these beliefs. It is a plea for greater compassion in mental health care.

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Writing about me without me.

Writing about me without me.

What is written about us in hospital records? Whose version is the truth? Can we find ways to co-create narratives about our lives?   I recently watched Madness Made Me, the short online film about Mary O’Hagan’s story. It got me thinking about the power of words and those who use them.   I have long been inspired by Mary O’Hagan. I still remember the first time I saw her speak at a conference, and her strength stretched out to me across the auditorium. I wanted to be like her. A survivor, speaking her words with intelligence and humour, unashamed […]

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Just keep typing: A night of madness

Just keep typing: A night of madness

What is it like to lose yourself in suicidal urges? And how do the police and mental health system respond? Read about one night when I got lost in my madness and was on the edge of suicide, and what happened over that evening and the following day.
 
This article draws on actual journal entries. It may be triggering for some people to read.

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The blog that shouldn’t be written. And why I’m writing it.

The blog that shouldn’t be written. And why I’m writing it.

I was a consumer of mental health services off and on for nine years. Diagnosed with depression, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder and many more labels. I experienced involuntary hospitalisation, massive doses of medication, and electro-convulsive therapy. I was told I would always have this ‘brain disease’. I was told that I would probably never recover or work again. During this time my identity went from being a successful, creative, attractive, strong woman, to a hopeless, fat, unemployed mad woman with no future. Today I am a general manager at a major mental health organisation, a board director, an adjunct research […]

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