Life Lessons and Stories
Stretch marks. Those tiny and sometimes not so tiny pink lightning bolts that adorn most of our bodies. They signify life. They signify change. And often, they signify you’ve created. We have all seen those posts praising women for their post-baby bodies, proudly showcasing their stretch marks and soft bellies—and that’s absolutely fantastic. I am utterly ecstatic for them—they’ve done something absolutely phenomenal, and have the courage to tell society to eff its standards of womanhood: that idea of a skinny, yet big-breasted, yet curvy woman with perfect skin, long hair and a sweet, meek smile. We see posts about women openly declaring love for their bodies, stretch marks and all, saying phrases like “my body created life” and loving it more because of that.
While this is so fantastic and awesome, I can’t help but think it creates a dichotomy between two kinds of women—a divide—between those who have and want children, and those who don’t or can’t.
Is this just another way we women have been conditioned to pit ourselves against each other?
I haven’t given birth—nor do I want to. And like most women, I have stretch marks too—around my thighs, around my hips, and around my breasts. It’s inevitable. It’s a part of life, growing and changing. And as I age, I come to love my body more and more—even if it isn’t supermodel skinny, even if my belly is soft, even if my thighs touch, and a whole lot of other things that happen. But why can’t my stretch marks and soft belly be celebrated as “beautiful”, even if I haven’t given birth to achieve them? They’re a fact of life. And I think emphasis needs to be taken off celebrating bodies based on what they have or haven’t done.
There’s already a significant stigma against women who don’t want children. That oh, you’ll change your mind or your life isn’t complete until you’ve had kids or you don’t know happiness until you’ve heard your child’s laugh or worse: you’re still young. You’ll realise how great having kids is.
Thanks. I didn’t realise my life, my worth and my value revolved around popping out miniature versions of me and my partner (gosh, that would be trouble). I’m perfectly happy not going through that experience, thank you very much.
As a social community, we adore and stand behind women who’ve had children and choose to wear bikinis in public. We stand behind these mothers, and we call them brave (which they are). But should we really be teaching and continuing this idea that we can only love ourselves entirely if we’ve borne children? Is this really the message we want to send to young girls? “Your life isn’t complete until you’ve had a baby”.
We should all be proud of our bodies, and proud of our tiger stripes. And if we continue to praise women for their soft bellies, stretch marks and so on, only if they’ve had children, we continue to perpetuate this way we differentiate and place value upon different choices. We continue to perpetuate the idea that children complete your life—which is obviously a terrible notion for women who don’t want children, and women (including trans women) who can’t. Just because my body hasn’t been through a miraculous experience like giving birth does not mean I am any less deserving of celebration. I shouldn’t have to go through that to be comfortable with my lack of a thigh gap, with my stretch marks, with my comfy belly. I am a happy, healthy human being: isn’t that enough?
We need to celebrate our bodies, not for what they have or haven’t done, but for the simple fact that we are human—and all humans deserve to be able to celebrate their bodies: and be supported and cheered for doing so. There’s so much negativity in the media about women: please, ladies: can we just love our bodies for how they are?
I’ll admit, I have a lot of hate and anger inside of me. I can’t help it. When I see people I love being wronged, or when I’m wronged, I can’t help but feel it’s incredibly unfair. But it consumes you, changes you. You become obsessed with it, you feel the anger in every fibre of your body. And most importantly: it’s not healthy.
How are you supposed to live a satisfying life if all you’re thinking about is anger and hate? You need to process your emotions, validate them, and eventually file them away to move on. But here’s the million dollar question: how?
Forgive them—or at least forget
Maybe what they did to you was really shitty. Maybe it was unforgivable. But hating them isn’t going to change anything: all it will achieve is making you feel worse. Don’t let them win. Forgive them, because they don’t know better—or if you can’t, forget, and move on. Because really, when you forgive them, you’re really forgiving yourself and allowing yourself to let the hate go.
We’re human: we make mistakes
Remember that. Maybe things were said and done in the heat of the moment. Maybe they regret it, and maybe they don’t. But it’s important to realise we all make mistakes. Why should we hold a small mistake against someone? If you were in the same position, you’d want them to be gracious towards you.
Don’t live in the past
I know it’s hard. I know you’re probably obsessing over it. I know any slight mention makes your blood boil, and your chest heat with an overwhelming sense of injustice and rage. No matter what you do, you can’t fix the past. And even if you do get some form of revenge, it won’t make you any happier, and it won’t change what happened.
Open yourself to the future
Use that rage to fuel your passions. If anything, kill them with success. The best revenge, after all, is success. Open your heart. Try new things. Take one step at a time to make your dreams come true.
Allow yourself to feel
If someone has done something terrible to you, you have a right to feel angry—so don’t feel like a bad person for it. But, like with any emotional experience, you need to address it the right way. Don’t bottle it up—talk to loved ones, a therapist, or even write. You need to process your emotions, validate them, and let it go.
Learn from your experiences
Think of it as a learning curb—think about the kind of person you want to be. Think about how you want to be treated—and treat others that way. Every adversity has a lesson to teach us—and we must be stronger than it.
Send them love
Generally, if people do bad things, there’s a reason: they’re damaged or they too have been wronged somehow. That isn’t fair, and it doesn’t justify their actions, but it does explain them. Maybe getting revenge and making them feel bad will make you feel momentarily superior. But in the long run, it will only make things worse. Life goes on, and hate only breeds more hate. Don’t let it eat you up from the inside.
Replace it with something you love
Negative voice in your head? Obsessing over words said to you? Keep repeating the incident over and over? Replace it with something else. Something you enjoy, something you love, something that makes you happy. Let your happy memories set you free.
Think about what I’ve written. Acknowledge your feelings. When anger strikes, remember you deserve more than a hate-filled heart. The world has enough hate in it—it doesn’t need any more. Let yourself move on—it will free you.
Care for yourself
You are number one. Do things you love. Get a massage, have a bath, get a manicure, do a hair mask, drink a glass of wine, read a book, watch your favourite shows and eat your favourite, nutritious food. Always put yourself first, and surround yourself with positive people who will help and love you.
Do the clichés
Scream into a pillow. Go to the gym and work up a sweat. Write an angry letter, and tear it up or burn it. Get all your emotions out in a positive way that isn’t hurtful. We don’t need more hurt in the world.
We aren’t always innocent, and maybe things could have been handled better. But you always—no matter what—need to forgive and love yourself. You are strong. You are a good human. Be the change you want to see in the world, and who knows: maybe if you respond with love instead of hate, you’ll change someone’s world.
Every day, six Australians will take their own lives—and another 30 will attempt to. But what if someone could be there for them? What if someone could have looked after them? What if we could have saved them? Mental illness is a serious—and terrifying—thing to experience or see. But even the smallest things can make a massive difference. Here’s how you can look after the ones you love:
Clean for them
I feel paralysed when I’m depressed. I can’t move. I sit, and stare off into nothingness, stuck in a black hole of desolation. I peer around my little apartment, and see unwashed dishes, an overflowing bin, crumbs and clothes on the floor. But there’s not a single thing I can do to fix it. Even getting out of bed is a mammoth task when you’re depressed, and cleaning is almost unthinkable. But at the same time, a messy house is distressing. It’s cluttered—just like your mind.
Having someone to help with this would be glorious—and if you don’t have to worry about small things like cleaning, you can start focussing on the real task at hand: fixing yourself.
Cook for them
It’s the same as the above scenario. When you’re feeling down, it’s really, really hard to look after yourself. When you’re sad, you don’t feel hungry—and you don’t exactly feel like cooking a nutritious meal loaded with veggies. I think eating a good meal is the first step to feeling better. It will help your body function better, and make you feel better. Who doesn’t love a food coma from comfort food? Cook your loved one their favourite meals: fill our hearts and our stomachs with love.
Tell them you’re there for them—and mean it
These small words can mean a lot—but if you say them, you have to really mean them. Check up on your loved ones. Make them smile. Help them do everyday chores, and encourage them to begin the healing process. Be there for them when they break down. Hang out with them, even if it’s something as banal as watching movies or having coffee. Trust me, the company will do them good. At the very least, it will stop them from doing something they’ll regret later—or something they may never come back from.
We all crave human contact, whether it be through a loving embrace, or a shoulder to cry on. This love is exceptionally important for someone caught in a spiral of self-hatred, trapped inside the insanity of their own mind. Love tem endlessly and unconditionally. Bet the rock that’s always there for them when their world is spiralling out of control.
I’m not telling you to go out and spend heaps of money—it’s the little things that matter the most. Pick them a flower, draw them a picture, write them a loving letter. Do something—anything—to make them smile, and remind them the world isn’t always a terrible place.
Talk to them
Sometimes you just need somebody to lean on. Let them vent, no matter how repetitive they are, or how illogical their worries may seem. Encourage them to feel their emotions, to process them, to validate them, and let it set them free. All we want sometimes is someone to listen to us, and to understand.
Remember the little things—the beautiful things. The sun licking your closed eyelids. A cool breaze. The smell of flowers. The sweet tweeting of birds. The feel of the ocean on bare feet. The taste of chocolate. The taste and vibrancy of life. Try new things, reintroduce them to old things they love. Send funny memes or cat videos: laughter isn’t the best medicine for nothing.
Love your friends. Love yourself. Life can be beautiful. You are strong, and you can get through this. I love you, and there is always hope. Keep fighting.
Do you need help? Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or chat online here.
Ah, Tinder. You’re as useful as you are cringe-worthy. We’ve all heard about the horror stories—whether they’ve happened to us, or to someone we know. And yet, for some reason, we continue to swipe right, unbeknownst to us that we may be about to invite a total creep into our life.
For the few people who actually have successful relationships and friendships from Tinder, we salute you. But for the rest of us mere mortals, Tinder is hilarious, strange, insulting, creepy and sometimes downright sad. And thanks to the wonders of the internet, our discomfort will now be your entertainment—enjoy!
“I tried out Tinder for like 3 days but then deleted it because no one would match with me.” –L, 25.
“[Some guy told me:] I wish you were my little toe, because I’d bang you on the coffee table.” –T, 21.
What a pick up line!
“I had a guy from Tinder actually track me down and introduce himself to me at uni. I didn’t recognise him because he looked nothing like his picture.” –Z, 20.
Awkward. Pro tip: don’t stalk people you’re interested—because it (usually) doesn’t work.
“I say hey, and they never reply.” –R, 21.
“I once turned a Tinder conversation into a business deal to make a website for my business.”—S, 20.
I’m not sure it’s supposed to work like that, but good on you!
“Guy: Hey. What’s your snapchat?
Me: Why? You’re not going to send me pictures of your junk, are you?
Guy: Lol wtf? No . . . do guys do that?
Me: Yes. It’s usually the only reason they want to add girls on Snapchat.
Guy: I promise I won’t do that.
Me: Okay. *Gives Snapchat*.
. . . Five minutes later . . .
*Receives snap from guy; opens it. It’s a dick pick.*
Me: You motherfucker.” –S, 30.
We’ve been there girl. I hear you. Guys, please don’t send random women pictures of your genitals. We really don’t like it.
“I had a guy randomly ask me in the middle of a conversation if I wanted to see him naked. As if that were some kind of fantastic pick up line or something.” Z, 20.
Smooth as butter.
“I invited a guy over, and he looked a lot larger than his photos . . . [when] I saw him at the end of the drive way . . . Shamefully, I grabbed my phone off charge in the lounge room where the windows were open and hid in my bedroom. Heard him knocking for ages. Eventually, he left and I messaged him saying why didn’t you come around? I pretended I was in the back room and must not have heard him. So ashamed!” –K, 24.
Ah, poor guy!
“I had a guy ask to be his second partner for him and his pregnant wife. He said with his Mrs being preggers, they wanted a third party to join in to spice things up a little for them both. I deleted Tinder the next day.” –A, 20.
Probably not one of the strangest things to occur on Tinder . . .
“I went on a first date with this girl from Tinder and she messaged me later telling me she loved me. “—D, 21.
But, what if it was love at first sight, D?
“[I was on a date with this guy in America and he] wouldn’t stop nodding at me. Even when we were not talking. It was super awkward.” –A, 21.
“I didn’t realise Tinder was a dating ap. So I looked for both guys and girls, hoping to make some friends. Safe to say I probably wasted the time of a few lesbian women trying to find relationships.” –S, 20.
“A guy stood me up like five times, and I was awkwardly waiting for him for an hour at a bowling alley once.” –A, 21.
Let’s hope karma strikes back!
“On a date one guy legit talked about his drunken experiences the whole time and didn’t even take me anywhere, after sending me on a wild goose chase to find him. Then he just rambled about his drunken experiences and that his dad was rich.”—A, 21.
Impressive, tell me more?
“This one guy pretended to be Morty from the show Rick and Morty—literally everything he said was a quote from the show. It was pretty great.” –Z, 20.
I like what you got. Show me what you got.
And last, but certainly not least, this saga . . .
“Me: so I was talking to this girl, right . . .
Her: Hi, are you willing to be controlled and obey? I am a dominant mistress looking for a submissive to obey and worship me.
Me: Lol yeah, I could live with that.
(She told me to call her mistress and tell her my sex fantasies. I told her to tie me to something so hard it leaves marks and indents).
Her: But first . . . you need to undergo my online training . . . and sign a contract.
Me: Basically it was a scam site to try and get me to pay for sex from a random person off the internet.” –D, 21.
Well, then. There are no words for that.
May the odds be ever in your favour, fellow Tinder users.
Do you have any cringe-worthy Tinder moments? Let us know in the comments!
Hey you—yes you. You, with the sad eyes. You, who constantly checks their phone in hopes of seeing a certain someone reply. You, who is waiting for the person you love to treat you how you deserve. You, who have been stood up, cheated on, lied to, and played. You, who justifies why they do certain things—and that it’s “not really that bad”. I want you to listen very carefully to me: you deserve more.
It’s taken me nearly 21 years, but I’ve finally had a life-changing realisation: I am worth so much more than I’ve received. And I bet most of you are in the same boat. I have been in a number of relationships where honestly, I’ve settled. Maybe they are great people—but if they don’t treat you great, why are you with them? Why do we put up with such bullshit? We know we’re worth more—so why do we do it?
I was dating a guy a few years ago who was probably my first real adult love—and boy, did I love him. I was crazy for him—even though he did not so nice things. Don’t get me wrong; he did some very great things, too—and I know he loved me. But that doesn’t mean I, or you dearest reader, have to settle. He would often stand me up to hang out with his mates instead. He would lie to me about whose bag of pot that was I found under the coffee table. He’d lie, and tell me: No baby, I’m not on drugs, I promise. That was someone else’s; they just left it there. Trust me. He’d ignore me for days on end when I did something he didn’t like. He’d try to control who I could and couldn’t talk to—and get mad when I disobeyed (and consequently ignore me again). But worst of all, he told me he loved me—and then he cheated on me.
In another relationship, my partner wouldn’t make the physical effort to come see me. He wouldn’t make plans with me. Hell, he actually organised to go on a camping adventure on my birthday—and this was after not seeing me for a month. He thought that was perfectly was okay. Again, he was a lovely guy; and he absolutely adored me. But once again, I settled for treatment I didn’t deserve.
I’d been single for quite some time when I met my last partner. I thought he was perfect—but it was only after the relationship ended that I realised how terribly sad I was, and how much I wanted so much more. He is a great guy. He cooked me awesome food, and would even find recipes without things I’m sensitive too (despite the fact that he loved those ingredients). He’d give me back massages, and make me coffee. He would listen to my rants. He would calm me down. At the time, I thought all of this could make up for the bad things, but this is the truth: that kind of thinking does NOT work. It could have been so much more. It could have been beautiful. But it wasn’t. There wasn’t any spark—there wasn’t any romance. I was giving so much more into the relationship, desperately hoping to bring it to life again. We would only talk or hang out if I instigated it—and being a long-distance relationship, talking was pretty important. I felt isolated, ignored and unwanted. I gained weight, too. And then he cheated on me—with none other than his ex-girlfriend. I convinced myself that this was okay—that I should take the good with the bad, and that it would all work out. But it didn’t.
Why do we put up with these things?
Why do we settle for less than we’re worth?
Why do we convince ourselves that things are okay, when they’re clearly not?
Ladies and gentlemen, I make this pact with you: I am never going to do that again. Is it so much to ask for someone who treats you well, and who won’t ignore you or cheat on you?
No. It’s not. And no, that’s not some bullshit and ridiculous notion of “having too high standards”. Fuck that. Love yourself, guys—there’s too much hate and too much self-questioning in this world.
YOU, dear reader, are worth so much more. And I think the moment we start to realise and incorporate that into our lives is the moment our pain and suffering sets us free.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.