Liberals attempt to use SES to hand out vote cards in exchange for donation

In a typical Liberal Party move, they have covered their backs with a legal but totally unethical bid for assistance in the WA Senate election. On Monday the 31st March, Judy Bailey of the Liberal Party of WA reached out to members of a not-for-profit organisation for help with handing out ‘How to vote’ cards at the upcoming election. As a bargaining chip, they offered a donation to be made to the Tom Price SES in exchange for their assistance on the day.

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Thanks to @PeterFosterALP for bringing this to light.

In doing this, the Liberal party appealed to members of the SES – who are volunteers and therefore known selfless people – in an attempt to coax them into making to make a deal with the devil. Could you resist $250 for a worthy cause, for which you already give your time on what is simply a moral/political stance? Not many could. Shame on you Liberals, you’re ever-outdoing your own shady dealings.

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Magical moments from March in March

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There were many incredible photographs of the March in March weekend; some marked the heartfelt expression of genuine issues with the Abbott government and others were moments of absolute respect and unity for and with one-another. Amidst the misrepresentation of the true peacefulness of the marchers, these images never had the chance to be known for what they are – a display of the passionate, open-minded, thinking Australia.


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“The perfect moment”
Perhaps one of the most perfectly captured images from the protest weekend – a protestor at March in March Sydney receives a high-five from a motorist as they pass by the passionate participants of the march.



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“The Left”
Before March in March, I had never considered that politics are simply the division of ‘left and right’. In fact, this perception is equivalent to the idea that life is to be viewed in terms of ‘black and white’ only. The terms “the left”, “lefties” and “leftists” are the ideal phrases for those who are desperate to discredit the march as being only one ‘side’ of politics. The reality – perhaps frightening to those who use such terms – is that marchers were from the entire political spectrum, included those who voted for the LNP and were even, and quite commonly, completely apolitical. We are not “the left”; we are Australians and we marched because we have the ability and awareness to identify what is currently just so wrong.


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“A tender moment”
At Adelaide March in March, I was so busy soaking in the atmosphere and holding a camera over my incredibly short self, that I snapped this shot without even noticing the content. While looking for photos to post on March in March Facebook, I came across this in the camera roll. This tender moment is by far my personal favourite moment from March in March Adelaide.


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“How folly of you!”
Let’s not forget Tony Abbott, the self-appointed minister for women’s infamous words: “I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons.”


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“Large sentiments from tiny figures”
These are from an adorable series of figurines made by some very creative supporters. These mini protestors tackled most of the issues that we have with the federal government in the sweetest possible way.


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“The thoughts of the innocent”
Many who are willing to deny marriage equality would accuse this darling child of being nothing more than a machine for their parents’ own message; however, any compassionate, intelligent person would know that children have an intense failing to understand why anyone would deny equality – as do I.


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“Tony Abbott’s behaviour has been noted”
Senator Scott Ludlam told Tony Abbott that his behaviour – by list – has been “noted” during his now famous parliamentary address. Now the Australian people have done the same
.


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“Let’s strip the people of their rights!”
By waging war on unions, the government has waged war on the people.


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“Save our ABC”
It’s a simple message but a pertinent one; she loves the ABC and so do we. As part of the Abbott government’s series of attacks, the future of one of our last remaining impartial media bodies is under threat. To call the ABC “un-Australian”, as Tony Abbott has done previously, is akin to labelling the newspaper ‘The Australian’ as, well, as Australian.


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“Equality is not a trend”
The ever-stubborn and heartless Tony Abbott has made his opinion regarding marriage equality clear; “I’m not someone who wants to see radical change based on the fashion of the moment.”


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“The right to protest”
The right to protest, which is indeed an ancient right, is now being taken from us as hastily as it possibly could be. Victoria’s anti-protest law has passed recently and will come into effect this September. It is only a matter of time before the rest of the country conforms and we are even further gagged by the powers that currently be.


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“Australia doesn’t ‘believe in’ science”
It is 2014 and we’ve wound our calendars back near to the stone-age. Well, perhaps not that far but by announcing a cabinet without a science minister, being avid and stubborn climate-change deniers and heavily slashing funding to the CSIRO, the Abbott Government is certainly taking what was a progressive society as far back as they can drag us.


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“If not too much to ask…”
We feel as though we’ve been hijacked by a government that chooses to govern only for big-business, rather than for the Australian people. We will not go down without protest – we will not accept what is being done to us and our land.


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“Murder on Manus”
Scott Morrison doesn’t see fit to close offshore processing facilities despite the known horrid conditions in which asylum seekers are forced to live during their time – which is undetermined – held as prisoners in offshore detention centres, the 3 of 6 women who miscarried in the Manus Island detention centre last year due to being given Malaria injections without first being tested for pregnancy, the children held in detention, the brutal attacks on asylum seekers by locals and guards inside the Manus compound, or a young, defenceless man’s murder during said attack. This is not acceptable.


*Images will be credited if/when I can locate the original source. If you have spotted your photograph on here, please feel free to let me know so that I can give appropriate credit.


Thank you for marching

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Thanks to every single supporter for your likes, comments and shares; it was thanks to you that we were able to get the word out about the national protests.

Thanks to every person who donated to March in March; it was thanks to you that we could afford the necessities including printing, insurance and banners.

Thanks to everyone who made creative and family-friendly signs and banners; it was thanks to you that we were able to express our true and deepest concerns.

Thanks to everyone who shared your photos and videos of the march; it is thanks to you that people are aware of the 100,000 Aussies who marched against the government, despite the disappointingly lacking media coverage.

Most of all, thank you to every single person who marched; it is thanks to you that the government was made to hear us, whether they would like to acknowledge it or not.

This is just the first step but thank you for taking that necessary first step with us.

Tony Abbott gets ‘schooled’ by school kids

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It’s a situation that is so pathetic that it comes to the point where you just have to laugh – a country’s Prime Minister at the mercy of a group of year nine school students who have absolutely outsmarted him.

The unfortunate state that this country is in is thanks to the woefully shameful Federal election result last September. I, like many others, often wonder how this actually came to pass. Was it misinformation? Was it the simplicity of those hideous three-word slogans? Regardless of how voters were fooled, it has become clear that many regret this decision. What is of embarrassment but some strange comfort is that others see what we see – the incompetence of our PM is obvious to most respectable people from leaders and experts internationally, to what now seems like the vast majority of forward-thinking Australians. Though had we ever considered what our upcoming voters, our Australian youth are thinking?

During a recent excursion, students of Newtown High School questioned one of the most questionable characters in Australian history – the current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. This 9:49 minute video, captured by one of the year nine students is possibly one of the most conflicting pieces of film that you’ll ever see. You’ll be embarrassed by the blatant stupidity of our PM but you’ll be filled with hope by the intelligence and open-mindedness of the youth who represent Australia’s future.

Do yourself a favour and watch the entire clip. These students do well to inspire a sense of relief during this horrid time in our country’s timeline.

UPDATE: These incredible students attended March in March!

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GUEST POST: I will March in March because we are part of the world, not apart from it.

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- By Deanne James

As March in March approaches and the daily emetic that is reading/listening to the “news” and any associated commentary gets stronger, I find myself increasingly wondering: where the bloody hell are we? Much to my dismay, I think the answer might be somewhat out of Lara Bingle’s league to discern. Although at this point, I’d be willing to consider anything that anyone might be able to offer up in order to understand what has happened in this country since that awful September evening in 2013, when Australian voters cut off their collective noses to spite their own face.

I am the great-granddaughter of Julia, whose family originates from El Mina in Tripoli, and who travelled from her home to Cuba, Melbourne and Dunedin before settling with her husband in Tasmania where my grandmother Amy was born. I grew up in Chester Hill, when the Villawood Detention Centre was still a Migrant Hostel. As a student of Chester Hill North Public School and Chester Hill High School, I had many classmates of Vietnamese origin. Quite a few of them would recount tales of being ushered into a tinny by their parents under cover of darkness and making the journey from their homeland to Australia to seek refuge. These were kids who grew up to be doctors, lawyers, teachers – valuable and proud citizens; citizens who never forgot where they came from, yet embraced Australia as their new home. Their stories joined with mine to make up the fabric of the Australia that I loved so much in my younger days.

With all this in mind, it is our treatment of refugees – and in particular the death of Reza Berati – that fills me with the most shame right now. Our country was founded and settled by boat people, many of them considered to be the dregs of English society, but a great many of whom were simply trying to survive – stealing bread to feed your starving family? Off to the colonies you go with the murderers, rapists and a few aristocrats. I’ll wager the Indigenous caretakers of this land weren’t asked if they minded the British getting off their boats.

In economic terms, offshore processing is a huge waste of money – those taxpayer dollars people are always bleating about. If you happen to possess some small measure of a conscience, you will see it for the unspeakably cruel and ideologically dangerous solution that it is. Segregation, secrecy, rations. Men, women and children locked up indefinitely, hidden away, in order to satisfy the rabid desire of the ill-informed to see “queue jumpers” punished just for wanting a better life, one free from war, famine, civil unrest. If there is no one in your homeland to whom you can apply for asylum, you just GO. Only when you get there, you are treated with contempt, stripped of your dignity, separated from family and kept in the dark in regards to your request for asylum. How we have failed those who have reached the point of such desperation that they would sell all that they own, risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones, that they would get on a those boats in the first place.

I have a big problem with people being used as bargaining chips with which to score political points. Comparative to the rest of the world, we receive very few arrivals; we are more than capable of doing our share. With continued civil unrest, famine, war, and looming environmental disasters, we will see more, not less, people willing to risk everything for a chance at a better and safer life; will we close our doors to all of them?

People are reduced to numbers and statistics to lower the risk of them being seen as actual human beings. Politicians, Shock Jocks and journos whip the masses into a frenzy using language better suited to times of war, creating a culture of fear. Anyone who dares to question is threatened or abused – the National Broadcaster copped a beating for its reporting of claims by asylum seekers that Naval personnel abused them during a tow-back to Indonesia. And whilst the pitchforks were out on that issue, scant mention was made of those who were lost and/or perished in the Indonesian jungle after being towed back by our Navy.

In an attempt to find whatever nuggets of truth are left lying around, we take to social media and independent news outlets. For it’s not just asylum seekers that we are being led a merry dance over; it’s a whole range of social, economic and environment issues.

So it is that this coming Sunday, I will march for those who came from far and wide seeking our help and whose voices are silenced by politicians who seek only to use them for their own political gain. But I will also march for those who will be further disadvantaged by cuts to benefits that already see them living below the poverty line; for those who will have to work longer – but who may find themselves unemployed at 65 with only basic skills and a workforce that doesn’t actually want to hire the elderly; for those who could end up homeless as a result of policy that forces them to sell the family home and live off those funds before being eligible for a pension (where on earth do you go if you’ve sold your house, given the price of rentals? Your car?); for those who are waiting on the NDIS; for those who can’t afford Private Health Insurance and rely on Medicare; for our fragile environment which is under attack by the logging industry and mining magnates hell-bent on dumping their sludge in one of the world’s most beautiful marine parks; for the ABC and SBS, whose services provide a vital alternative to the Murdoch empire’s one-eyed, inflammatory style of journalism.

I’m marching because I don’t think businessmen and women of unspeakable wealth have a right to dictate to us the things we should and shouldn’t do to improve our financial standing, when many of them did nothing but be born to “earn” theirs; because I believe that science, education, health (both mental and physical), technology and renewable energy are worth investing in. I’m marching for the workers of SPC, Toyota, Ford and QANTAS who were told to accept that the “age of entitlement” is over, despite Cadburys getting a bail out, and the Tasmanian logging industry getting a promised boost of some 75000 hectares of forest for them to destroy (if the petition to remove it from World Heritage Listing is successful), and despite the mining sector continuing to receive subsidies and incentives to assist them. It seems that those who chide the rest of us for feeling “entitled” are the ones who feel the biggest sense of entitlement of all.

I am marching because I care about the country my children will grow up in. We are part of the world, not apart from it. This planet is it – there is nowhere else to go. We need to treat one another with respect and dignity whether we were born here or not; whether we have money or not; whether we are well educated or not. We cannot punish people for their social standing, where they were born, the colour of their skin, the god or gods they worship (or don’t worship), their gender, or their sexuality. For all these things, I march on Sunday. For what was once the good name of my country and my fellow citizens; for my children, for me. The dismantling of this country as a fair and equitable place for all people to live and prosper will not be carried out in silence; not in my name, and certainly not in any of theirs.

I am not a member of, nor affiliated with, any particular political Party. I have during my life voted Labor, Liberal, Green, Independent and many things in between. As someone who takes their right to vote seriously, I believe that a swinging voter is a conscious voter; and I believe that voting for party over policy is lazy dangerous. Just look at what happened when people voted for “the other guy” because they were pissed at Labor.

Related:
March In March Australia 2014: A national protest as a vote of no confidence in the Abbott Government
March in March Australia 2014: What We Are Protesting
Tony Abbott’s ‘Message from the PM’ removed by Youtube. What happens next?
WARNING TO WA VOTERS: Liberal Party’s return address envelope for postal vote application is NOT addressed to the AEC
Manus Island guards allowed armed locals into the centre to attack asylum seekers
Tara Moss reveals disturbing details about the murder on Manus
Offensive propaganda allegedly pushed by Liberal MP at Edith Cowan University

WARNING TO WA VOTERS: Liberal Party’s return address envelope for postal vote application is NOT addressed to the AEC

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Western Australia is set to return to the ballot-box after their Senate election was deemed void. The usual slew of party letters has been noted by WA locals, but what has confused some is why exactly the Liberal Party opted to have their own address on the return envelope for postal vote registration, rather than the independent body – the AEC.

The Facebook page, Tony Abbott’s Lies and other Liberal Promises was provided with scanned images of what had been sent to WA residents from the Liberal Party and has kindly passed them on. What was of concern was that the return address envelopes are addressed to the Liberal Party, not the AEC.

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The actual AEC address is enclosed inside the leaflet, meaning it is more likely that people would simply use the return envelope.

While this is completely legal, and has probably been practised by other parties, it is of concern that the system relies on ‘trust’ that the Liberal Party will handle the forms in the appropriate way and forward them on to the AEC.

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The LNP letter that was enclosed with the postal vote registration form.

It has been suggested that in this scenario, because the Liberal Party will then know your intention not to attend and vote on the day, they could enlist ‘stooge’ voters to use your name and address to vote for the Liberals at the polling booths – perhaps multiple times.

The question of whether or not this is possible is easy to determine – we know that multiple votes were allowed in the most recent Federal election, with nearly 2000 Australians caught and with one even admitting to having cast 15 votes. What we want to know is whether or not something been done to prevent history repeating – have they taken measures to disallow this disaster from happening again?

Be careful how you return your postal vote registration forms. Make sure to address them to the AEC directly or simply save yourself the hassle and complete this process online on the AEC website.

If you wish to contact the WA Electoral Commission about this, you can contact them at:

Telephone:
13 63 06 (WA)
(08) 9214 0400 (Australia-wide)
Facsimile: (08) 9226 0577
Email: waec@waec.wa.gov.au

REAL STORIES: Battling Mental Illness AND the Stigma

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Imagine having fallen deep into a pit; you’re tired, physically weak and unable to get back out. You can see the light from above and hear voices of others’ happiness as they walk right by and continue on with their lives.

Passers by often never notice, but those that do sometimes call down to tell you to climb out. They ask why you’re down there and why you haven’t just “tried harder” to pull yourself out. It feels pointless to bother, but you try so hard to climb the walls – to dig your fingers into the soil and pull yourself back up, but often you just fall again, even harder than the first time. Laying there, below the rest of the world, you ponder your chances that you’ll ever be able to get out again; you wonder if it’s even worth it to try.

Then out of nowhere, you see a hand from the outside, reaching down to help. They ask if you’re okay and seem to understand the difficulty of your struggle. You hesitate, not knowing if this will be enough to pull you back out of the pit, but also not wanting to be a burden to your kind helper. With a combined effort, you can be brought back out of the pit. Slowly but surely – and often not on the first try – you work your way out of that darkness with an immense inner determination and the help of the kind samaritan. Often you will have have no choice but to remain in the pit until time has passed – with help or without; but this time you’re glad you didn’t give up, though you know all too well that you’ll most likely be back down there again soon.

This is the reality of thousands of Australians – of millions of people worldwide. It is difficult to explain how deep that pit can seem and just how frightening it truly is, but with the right combination of a helping hand and being able to accept that help, you are afforded a real opportunity to find your way back out.

Suffering the deep pit of depression is a lonely and terrifying experience. What we don’t often realise is that when we are finally able to stand up again on the outside, we have the opportunity to take a look around and see that there are thousands more out there – some just as deep and dark as our own. If you take a walk around, you can see people trying to climb out on their own; some are struggling as hard as you just did and some perhaps even harder. If you see this, you can put your hand out and be the one to help them back up, to tell them of your recent experience and to eventually try to work together to stay above the surface. Depression is of course a much more complicated beast but for what it’s worth, if you have the opportunity and the capacity to do so, it’s never a bad idea to reach out to one-another.

There are of course the many other forms of mental illness that people suffer through every single day. It is a painful reality to know that many of the world’s kindest and most considerate people are actually battling their own demons, but there is hope if we collectively become and remain aware.

The following are statements directly from everyday people who have suffered (sometimes silently) at one point or another from a degree of mental illness. As individuals, they are all caring, kind and highly intelligent and their stories are some of the bravest you’ll hear.

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A brave mother tells of her battle with post-natal depression.

“I knew from the moment he was born that something was wrong with me.

My pregnancy had been a beautiful nine months of being at one with my body for the first time in my life. I felt a sense of peace and wonder that was so new and so calming.

But everything changed after he was born.

At first I felt as high as a kite and out of my body as my baby was passed around the delivery room from one relative to another. Then, after they left so did my elation.

Once back at home my mood worsened. The grey of the world turned black and one day I woke up and couldn’t get out of bed. I could only stare into space listening to my baby cry.

My mother moved in with us and took care of him, bringing him to me for feeds and doing all the rest for him herself. This lasted for a couple of weeks and then she would come by daily just to check and make sure we were going OK.

When she came to visit I would go out for a drive on my own, and I would fantasise about how I was going to kill myself – which tree would I drive into, where would be the least mess. I didn’t want to live, my life had no meaning, and I didn’t want my baby or the life that had been forced on me with his birth.

I recognised my symptoms and went to see a psychiatrist who recommended anti depressants. From that time on things started to settle down and I was able to build my life back up slowly. But it took a long time. A lot longer than I hoped or expected and I had to really learn to take it easy on myself, do things slowly, reach out for help, and learn to take care of myself and my needs.

My baby is 14 years old now and we’ve both come a long way.” - Blanca Luz

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An incredibly strong woman in her early twenties tells of her Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in March of 2013, a few months after my 23rd birthday. I suppose my story starts a lot earlier than that.

To society, my family was the picture perfect household. My parents were and still remain married, I have 4 siblings, attended church and although not having a lot of money, materialistically we were provided for. I have many fond memories of my childhood although a lot of it is unfortunately marred by the sexual abuse I suffered as a child at the hands of my charismatic and popular brother and the psychological abuse inflicted upon me by my mother.
I was 14 when I told a school teacher what had occurred some years previous and it is what occurred from this point on, that for me was pivotal. I was interviewed by detectives and the Department of Human Services and begged them not to tell my parents. Unfortunately due to the law, those pleas fell on deaf ears. The reaction from my family was of disbelief and denial. I was blamed, made out to be a liar and in their eyes had just shattered the ‘perfect family’ image they portrayed to everyone. I was told by my mother that my abuser ‘forgives you’ and that we would all go grab some ice cream.

After suffering anxiety and panic attacks for the remainder of my high school life, I threw myself straight into University until I was offered a full time job. I decided to leave Uni and work, hoping to saving up enough money so I could eventually move out. I eventually moved out and work had become an escape. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a bright, cheerful, bubbly and vivacious person who finds the humour in most things, however I would put on an overly cheerful and flirty persona to mask how I really felt to distract myself from my own thoughts and feelings. On the inside I was somebody who had very low self- confidence, was afraid of intimacy and when I felt like I could start a relationship, it was toxic and continued the cycle of abuse.
In 2013 I met a man and without knowing this, he groomed me and my behaviour until one day he decided to rape me. I had seen several warning signs but chose to overlook them, as all I wanted was to be loved and that I was sadly, more comfortable and familiar with being abused and mistreated than having a male be genuinely caring towards me.

Life became so hard to cope with that eventually I quit my job and found study impossible. I have intrusive memories and nightmares, avoid anything or anybody that reminds me of the trauma and am incredibly ‘jumpy’. All typical symptoms of PTSD.
Below are a few of my personal symptoms..

-Unable to sleep/Refusal to sleep/Nightmares
-Afraid to shower in case somebody was in my house
- Unable to leave my dogs in case somebody would hurt them while I was gone
- At night all my curtains must be pegged closed
-Any sudden movement, flash of light or noise and I am frozen with fear
-I could be talking to friends, colleagues and my mind hits a brick wall and I disassociate.
-I dislike being touched which makes it hard to pursue a relationship and experience memories and flashbacks.
-I isolate myself as I feel safer in my home and have more control of the things around me.
- Self harming as a coping mechanism

The main reason I wanted to write this for Leesa, was that Mental Health issues do not discriminate. I am well educated, dressed and spoken, intelligent, witty , a chocoholic who loves clothes and has a shoe collection to die for! I’m not societies misguided and ignorant image of what a ‘mentally ill’ person should look like.
With the help of a Psychologist I continue to work through my PTSD and my past but refuse to let it define who I am. I am NOT my mental illness. I am Casey who plays netball, who loves a coffee with girlfriends, swims, loves animals, laughs till it hurts and a million and one other things before I’m Casey who has PTSD.”
- Casey N

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A young woman tells of her fight with overwhelming anxiety and depression.

“’You don’t have to control your thoughts, you just have to stop letting them control you.’

I was a regular 17 year old school girl when I tasted my first moment of darkness. To this day, I don’t know why or how I became a victim of Anxiety, but for 9 years it consumed me. It began small, but over time it became something that affected me each and every day. I was embarrassed, ashamed, confused, lonely and everything in between. Convinced no one would understand, I had built up a stigma on mental illness and made assumptions on how people would respond. In doing this, I had forced myself to suffer in silence. For this reason alone, I lost touch with the outside world and struggled to find my place in it. Over time my anxiety got worse and soon followed depression. If I have any piece of advice from my own experience, it’s to share your story, don’t hide. I spent years making excuses on why I couldn’t do certain things, losing friends in the process because I couldn’t be honest. Find the people that love you, the way you need to be loved and open up to them. I promise they WILL understand, maybe not exactly how you feel or what it actually feels like, but they will support you. It took me 9 years to find that strength, to open up completely to those closest to me, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It gave me freedom, a chance to get closer to people. I no longer make excuses, I no longer hide. My mind just works a little differently than others and that’s OK. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, there is no stereotype, no discrimination – it can affect anyone. Don’t be afraid to see a psychologist or simply talk to a friend – DO NOT carry this burden alone. Whether it’s anxiety, depression or any form of mental illness, there is always help available – ACCEPT IT! I cannot stress this enough and to put it simply, without it I wouldn’t be here. It took one woman – a complete stranger and many hours of support to save my life. It’s a hard and long road to recovery, one that I still work toward every day. And although I no longer struggle with depression, I am still greatly working against anxiety. So enjoy small steps and reward any form of growth, slowly but surely you can move forward to a better future.” - Lauren B

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The strength of this wife shines through as she tells of her battle with depression while coping with her husband’s severe medical conditions.

“In all reality I must have been suffering from depression since childhood. As much as my mum loved me she at times mentally and emotionally abused me. It was tough going through the things I went through. I finally decided to go get myself properly diagnosed at the end of 2001 after spending 8 months overseas with my in-laws. I have struggled ever since. I have found that if I don’t take my meds on a regular basis and stick with it I become so mentally unstable I can’t cope. 2013 has been the worst year of my life…my beloved husband got so sick with Sepsis that he had to have both his legs and fingers of both hands amputated at various points. He is a double-lung recipient and has gone through so much….I lost it when I found out that what had happened to my husband was preventable. I was so devastated that I stopped taking my meds and I literally went crazy with grief. I took check of my life when I realised I was lashing out at my husband and he really didn’t deserve it. I got back on my meds and have been stable since then. There is no shame in having a mental illness.” - Ruth P

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The stigma of mental illness is something I cannot fathom – we don’t seem to judge those who are psychically ill, but rather tend to embrace and comfort them. Though, to find out that someone is burdened with a mental illness can often lead to ridicule and a parade of misinformed assumptions. One of the most common and broad misconceptions about mental health is that it is an inherent weakness in the individual that is causing or propelling the illness. In actual fact, the cause of mental illness is a genetic predisposition in combination with environmental factors, sometimes including (but not limited to) upbringing.

Another and perhaps the most common misconception is that mental illness only affects a few people. In reality, 20% of Australians suffer from mental illness; these are people from all ages, backgrounds, cultures and socio-economic states. Mental illness does not discriminate – anyone could be a sufferer and you (or even they) may never even know it. The figure of ‘one in five’ is also possibly deceptively low – there are a lot of people who have never sought help, or do not even know that they are ill.

Try to remember, you are not alone. There will always be someone to speak to, no matter what you feel you need to discuss. If you are not a sufferer of mental illness, please try to eliminate the stigma from your mind. You wouldn’t be critical or judgemental of someone with a physical illness – the only difference is the deafening silence of mental illness – it does not always make itself obvious.

Reach out for help when needed, reach out and accept the help if offered and reach out to offer help if you can. Whoever you are, please make sure to reach out; it could save a life – possibly even your own.

This post is the beginning of a series of personal experiences and stories from those who suffer from mental illness. There are many more stories of strength to be shared in the next post, and the one immediately following will involve my own personal experience with anxiety and depression.

There is no shame in mental illness – you are not alone.

If you, or someone you know needs someone to talk to, you can contact:

Lifeline
on 13 11 14

Beyond Blue
on 1300 22 4636

In memory of Michael