Month: December 2015

A special kind of card this Christmas.

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She’s only a year older than me, and already, she’s been through and done so much.

Caitlin Bush is a 21-year-old from Unanderra, and this Christmas, she’s doing something beautiful—she’s writing heart-felt and meaningful cards, and sending them to those who are struggling; particularly with their own mental health. To the average person, this may not seem like much. But to someone who is suffering and alone, it can mean the world.

“I know first-hand how lonely and hard Christmas can be, especially if you are alone or have a broken family,” Ms Bush said.

“It really hits home at Christmas, so I thought I could try and help in any way. I wanted to make others know they’re not the only ones, and people do care.”

“If anyone would like some extra Christmas cheer this year or knows someone who’s suffering. Let me know, everyone deserves something at Christmas even if it’s just a card.” -The Silent Sufferers page.

While this is her first Christmas card run, Ms Bush knows it most definitely won’t be her last. The response to her campaign has been “amazing”, with over 200 hand-written cards already sent out—and this is all coming from Ms Bush’s back pocket.

“It’s great to know someone is thinking of you. Getting even just a simple thing like that [card] can make your day, week or even the whole Christmas month worth it,” one card receiver said.

Ms Bush said she has been called a “Christmas Angel” by some, a title she modestly turns down.

“[I’m] just a girl trying to make a difference,” she said.

Ms Bush also began a Facebook page, the Silent Sufferers, a few months ago in order to let people know they’re not alone. Ms Bush says she was sick of the judgement, alienation and the lack of understanding of what people with mental health issues go through. She intends to raise awareness, as well as provide support to those who are suffering.

Image via Facebook.

“Honestly, I just help people know they’re not alone, no matter how bad it seems,” she said.

Ms Bush has posted her own struggles on the Facebook page, with one particular video gaining over 80,000 views. She said the video’s intent was to urge people to consider their actions, and support those around them.

“If mental health wasn’t swept under the rug so much, people might be able to understand it instead of running from it.”

“If you see someone who looks like they need help, ask! Say hello to the random that sits at the back of the class or the bus, hiding themselves.”

“If people just took the time to dig a little deeper and look around, [they’d see] everyone is fighting a battle.”

If you wish to request a card, please private message the Silent Sufferers Facebook Page.

This post originally appeared on the Tertangala (written by me) , and has been republished with full permission.

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I’m on holidays, and i’m more depressed than I have been in a long time.

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Picture this: you’re on holidays. On the beautiful Coral Coast of Fiji, to be precise. You’re staying at a 5-star resort on its own island. The weather is absolutely beautiful, and the scenery stunning. You have delicious food. You have some of your favourite people around you. You’re doing all sorts of really cool, unique and relaxing things—things you may never experience again. And yet . . . something is missing. You feel empty.

Every day, at least six Australians will take their own lives, and at least 30 others will attempt to. Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-24. We’re more likely to die from suicide than we are from skin cancer. Almost half of all Australians will experience some form of mental illness within their lives, with 65% not being able to access adequate treatment.  Despite all we know about depression, anxiety and other disorders, there’s still an incredible stigma attached.

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Nothing has to even go wrong for you to feel depressed. Please, be sensitive if a loved one has depression. Seek help. 

Depression is a truly horrible feeling. It’s not just being sad (though that is a really big part of it). It’s feeling guilty for feeling sad, it’s feeling anxious, it’s feeling desolate, it’s feeling overwhelmed, it’s feeling lonely, it’s feeling like no one understands, it’s feeling like things that once did or should bring you joy simply don’t, it’s feeling like you’re worthless. It’s hating yourself. It’s hating everyone else too, sometimes. The worst part of it is all these emotions are locked up inside of yourself. You don’t want to tell anyone, because you don’t want to bring them down, or you’re afraid they’ll judge you. You’re afraid they’ll simply say “cheer up”, like it were that simple. Or worse, that they’ll say you’re seeking attention. Things become both less and more important. You don’t want to feel like this. You know it’s illogical – but you can’t help it, and people who haven’t experienced it simply don’t understand that.

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You try to go out. You try to do normal things. You try to be okay. But you’re not–and that’s okay. Emotions are fleeting. Let yourself feel your emotions. Process them, validate them, and let them go. 

 

I’m sitting in my hotel room right now. Outside, the sun is shining. The palm trees are swaying pleasantly in the wind, and I can see little birds singing happily. There are beautiful flowers in the trees, and scattered on the grass. A carpet of frangipanis and other bright red flowers I don’t know the name of. The air is warm, whispering alluring secrets of happiness, and I can hear the sound of people laughing and children shrieking with joy. My family and friends are among them.

Nothing bad has happened. In fact, it’s been quite a wonderful holiday. I’ve explored caves, been immersed within Fijian culture, been treated to massages and manicures, snorkelled and seen beautiful fish, and been able to spend my days lounging around the beach. It sounds great, right? And I know it’s great.  I know I should feel happy. I know I should feel lucky, and privileged, and just relax. But it’s not that simple.  I’m sad, and everyone else around me is happy. They’re saying it’s the best holiday of their lives, and here I am, not exactly caring if I were to not wake up.

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Fiji is beautiful. Image via Instagram, @somethingbeginningwithz.

Maybe it’s just a spout of weakness, and maybe I’ll go outside, and all of this will be a bad dream. Maybe I’ll be able to shut it out. Focus on the small things. The good things. The sun is warm. I don’t have assignments due. The geckos are adorable. I bought a shell turtle wearing a hat and glasses. Those things are cool. Those things are good. Those are the things you have to focus on in order to not lose your mind.

Depression doesn’t go on holidays just because you do. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to feel sad, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for that. Talk to your loved ones—don’t bottle it up. Remember to ground yourself, take deep breaths and do small things you like and enjoy. If you think one of your loved ones is depressed, do not judge them. Do not criticise them. Do not get frustrated at their sadness, and do not tell them to “cheer up”; just be there for them. Be with them. Don’t give up on them. While they may not show it, I assure you, they’ll love you for it. Don’t become another statistic.

If you need help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, or dial 000 if you are in immediate danger. Call 1800 273 825 if you need to chat, or click here to chat to someone online. You can get through this. You are loved. You are strong. You will destroy those feelings with success. I believe in you.

16 stupid things vegans everywhere are tired of hearing.

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I may look like i’m smiling, but if you make that vegan joke one more time, i’m going to stab you with this form. Image via iStock.

I’m vegan, and like many other vegans, I am asked incredibly stupid questions all the time. Last week, while at a friend’s wedding, a person came up to me and asked, “what do you even eat?” while  I was holding a massive plate of food.  So, to clear it up for you, here’s a list of questions, along with answers.

You’re vegan? Why?

I love animals. I don’t want them to die. I don’t want them to suffer. I don’t think they should be mistreated or killed for a human to have a snack. I also care about the environment.

The meat and dairy industry is not sustainable. According to the United Nations, one billion people do not have enough food. This is expected to rise to three billion within the next 50 years—and animal consumption is a leading cause of this. How? It takes around 9034L of water to produce 0.5kg of meat, compared to 923L for the same amount of tofu. To produce 3.8L of milk, 2585L of water is needed. Furthermore, it takes 4kg of grain to produce 0.5kg of meat. This is because these animals are raised purely to be slaughtered—if the demand did not exist, neither would the strain on resources. These resources could then be used elsewhere and actually solve world hunger.

By converting to a vegan diet, you can save around 829,000L of water per year. Simply decreasing the amount of meat and dairy you consume is incredibly beneficial to the environment and your body. Please, be mindful.

What, do you think you’re better than me or something?

No. Vegans don’t think we’re better than any human or animal. Hence why we don’t eat either.

 

But if the animal is already dead, you may as well eat it, right?

Face palm.

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If you think it’s wrong, that’s because it is. If you feel guilty or defensive, ask yourself: why?

Where do you get your protein?

You do realise there’s protein in more than just meat, dairy and eggs, right? Like, in vegetables? Same thing with iron. Shitloads of veggies is more than enough to be incredibly healthy. There’s also tofu (but not all vegans like tofu!) and other meat and dairy alternatives.

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I bet you’re iron deficient.

My iron levels are fine, thank you very much.

 

But bacon.

Pigs are cute! Why would you want to murder them? They are living things. They think. They feel pain. They have emotions. They have the will to love. Why should they lose their life so you can have a snack?

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Bacon.

Apparently, humans taste like bacon too. Are you going to eat them?

What do you even eat then?

Air. I eat air. And sunlight.  Because it’s not like 75% of the average omnivore eats fruits, veggies and grains in their diets anyway.

FYI, the answer is shitloads of vegetables, fruits, pastas, breads, wraps, lasagnes, soups, curries, desserts, chocolates, ice creams cookies . . . Sound familiar? We miss out on nothing. There’s delicious, cruelty-free and healthy alternatives to everything. OREOS ARE ALSO VEGAN!

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You’re just one person, you can’t change the world.

Are you serious? How do you think any kind of change happens? We recognise that something is wrong. We change it. We explain it to other people, and they agree. As more and more people come to realise the environmental and health impacts, if they’re reasonable people, they will change—or at least be mindful and decrease the amount of meat and dairy they consume.

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We’re supposed to eat meat.

No. We’re not. And it’s destroying the environment. And a whole heap of other health problems.

But plants are living things too, why do you eat them?

Do you tie your own shoe laces in the morning?

Vegans are always trying to shove their beliefs down my throat!

Yeah, because your beliefs are destroying the environment.

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My food poops on your food.

You’d eat it too, then, moron. And no, no they don’t.

Do you guys ever shut up about veganism?

No.

How do you know if someone is a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

Damn straight, i’ll friggin’ tell you. I’ll tell you until the cows come home. Oh, wait. You ate them. Also, that’s a stupid joke.

Vegans are weak!

Arnold Schwarzenegger is (sometimes) vegan. He also advocates for meatless diets. This guy is also vegan:

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Want to tell me again vegans are weak? Billy Simmonds is a vegan competition-winning body builder and martial arts instructor. Image via Unleashed.

Did you have to Google how to spell that last name?

Yes.

Check out other celebrities who have ditched meat and dairy:

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Ariana Grande.
Ellen and Portia vegan ABC
Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi
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Ellen Page.
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Ellie Goulding.
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Jared Leto.
Natalie Portman image via deadline
Natalie Portman.
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Peter Dinklage.
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Ricky Martin.
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Russel Brand.
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Samuel L Jackson.