All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge: Day 16

Today’s prompt in the 30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge asks
What advice would you give to someone about self harm?

selfharmawareness

Four tips for someone who is about to self harm…

Distract yourself…
There are a myriad of ways that you can distract yourself when the urge to self harm arises. Simple activities, such as watching a movie or playing some songs that make you happy, may turn your attention away from whatever has triggered your urge. Other activities, such as colouring in, playing with play-dough, smelling essential oils, hugging a cuddly toy or spanking a pillow, are also excellent in distracting yourself from self harm urges. In fact, any activity that sparks the senses – sight, smell, touch, sound etc. – can work wonders when it comes to controlling your self harm desires.

Be creative…
One activity that I have used to control my self harm urges involves a red felt tip pen and your flesh. If you’re a cutter, which I am, instead of using a knife on your skin, use a red felt tip pen instead. Draw on your arm the cuts that you would otherwise have made. Perhaps instead of drawing the cuts, draw something fun and creative. I used to draw intricate patterns on my flesh, all of which distracted my mind away from my urges onto the act of creativity. This activity may work for you, it may not, but it’s worth trying all the same as anything is better than cutting.

Build a self harm safety box…
I don’t mean make a box from scratch with wood and the like, I mean take a shoe box or other cardboard container and fill it with things that you can use to distract yourself from self harm. Throw in some candy to enliven your taste buds. May I suggest popping candy, to give you a touch sensation in your mouth as you eat. How about throwing in your favourite cuddly toy, some Sudoku puzzles to get your brain working, a stress ball, bubbles or books. I have a movie or two in my safety box. I also have a notebook and colouring pens for doodling and drawing. My safety box contains all manner of items that I can turn to instead of self harming, so when the urge arises, I can turn to the box and find something to occupy myself with instead of turning to the knife to harm myself. In fact, I would highly recommend a safety box to anyone who battles with self harm urges.

>>> Read ‘How to create a self harm safety box‘…

Pamper yourself…
Instead of self harming, why not run yourself a nice soothing bath with all manner of bath salts and sweet-smelling bubbles? How about treating yourself to an epic shower – remember, the hot and cold of a shower can be a wonderful distraction – plus you have the added advantage of getting all squeaky clean at the same time. Or how about lathering yourself with scented body butter to soothe your skin and excite your senses. Instead of harming yourself, be nice to yourself, and you’ll find your self harm urges dissipating quicker than you can say “I’m awesome!”

Work out…
Exercising releases endorphins. Endorphins relieve pain. Endorphins make you happy. So instead of harming yourself, head to the local gym and do an epic work out to get your endorphins rocking into action. You’d be amazed at how quickly you feel better when your body gets moving. If you don’t fancy heading to the gym, or can’t deal with being out in public, do some exercise at home. Squats. Planks. Sit-ups. They all help to release endorphins. They all help to make you feel better when life gets too much to handle.

…and two tips for someone who already has!

Remember first aid…
My self harm kit contains first aid paraphernalia as well as knives and scissors. I have disinfectant, bandages, plasters, wipes, everything and anything that I think I might need to heal myself after the event. Personally I think this is a vital aspect of self harm. Sometimes the damage we inflict is not serious to warrant hospital intervention, sometimes it isn’t even serious enough to warrant going to a doctor, but it is always serious enough to warrant some form of self-care. So when self harming, be mindful of what you can do to help yourself after the event. Always have disinfectant, bandages and the like handy so you can clean up after the fact and limit any infection or unwanted side effects that may occur.

Keep a list of emergency numbers handy…
Sometimes things don’t go to plan. Even though I had been self harming for years, always able to control the damage I was inflicting, in 2008 I accidentally cut too deep when I was self harming. Unable to stem the flow of blood myself, I had to somehow navigate a nasty depressive and agoraphobic episode to seek medical aid. The episode was so bad that I couldn’t remember anything. Not even my name, let alone the number to call an ambulance. Now, in case of self harm emergencies, I keep a list of emergency numbers on the lid of my safety box; 000, suicide helplines, general helplines, my local GP and support worker. Anyone who may be able to help in the event of a self harm emergency. I’ve never had to use the list, but I am thankful it is there, in case I did need to use it. So consider compiling a list of important numbers of your own and keep it somewhere handy. You don’t have to limit the numbers to medical contacts, you may want to list a few friends who you can call, for you never know what you might forget whilst lost to a period of depression and self harm.

What about you? Do you have any tips, tricks, tactics or advice that helps you deal with self harm urges? I’d love to know…


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Reclaiming ownership of your emotional triggers

The word ‘trigger’ has become synonymous with mental health. Almost every day an article is published in the mainstream media that warns people with a history of self-harm, suicidal ideation, depression and/or abuse that the words that follow may be upsetting or provoke unwanted emotional re-actions.

The recent Oscar-winning film Silver Linings Playbook featured a prominent storyline concerning a song which sends Bradley Cooper‘s character spiralling into an emotional episode whilst counsellors the world over work closely with their patients to identify everything from smells, tastes, people, places and objects that can cause similar reactions in their clients.

I myself have written extensively of my triggers (from an A-Z of my primary emotional triggers to the potential reactions such triggers can cause) for I believe it’s important to know what triggers us so we know what we need to face along the long road to recovery.

But how do we turn such potentially damaging triggers into something we can approach safely and securely?

One technique involves reclaiming ownership of our triggers and changing their ending.

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Step 01: Say how you feel

The first stage in this approach is to state how you feel upon being triggered. The best option would be to talk face-to-face with a close, trusted and supportive person (e.g. a friend, support worker or partner). With eye-contact, use direct “I” statements to voice exactly how you feel, such as “I feel anxious” or “I am petrified” so that both you and your support can understand exactly how you’re feeling.

If you do not have a support person and are undertaking this process by yourself you can use a mirror to make eye contact, just remember to speak how you are feeling aloud instead of just in your head as it’s important to make sure the emotions are heard.

For example, the song ‘Unexpected Song‘ is a powerful trigger not only for my PTSD and anxiety but also Vanessa (one of my voices). When I am triggered by this song I may say that “I feel guilty” or “this song has made me feel worthless, useless and a pointless waste of space”. Other things I could say may include “I feel like I’m about a throw up” or “This song picks me up and deposits me back in my abusive relationship. I can’t stop thinking about how insignificant I felt during that period”.

Step 02: Validate

The second stage in the process is to validate your emotions. It is perfectly acceptable to feel how you feeling. Feeling scared, isolated, guilty (or whatever emotion the trigger has made you feel) is perfectly normal and human. Allow yourself some compassion, understanding and self-love.

In the above example, I could validate my emotions by allowing myself to believe that the abuse was not my fault and, because I did nothing to deserve it, there is nothing I should feel guilty over. I could also give myself permission to show myself compassion for the abuse I experienced, that although I may think these feelings and that there’s nothing wrong with thinking them, they are untruthful descriptions of who I am.

Step 03: Grounding

The third stage in the process is the grounding stage. This is where you bring yourself back into your body, mind and present from a heightened emotional state. Ways in which you could ground yourself include; focussing on five things you can see/feel/touch/smell (focussing on your primary senses), tapping a tune on a body part that you find comforting (perhaps a song from childhood or happy memory) or partaking in a muscle relaxation exercise (such as progressive muscle relaxation.)

For example, to ground myself after validating my feelings following hearing ‘Unexpected Song’ I could sit someone safe and speak aloud five things I can see (carpet, table, radio, voices workbook and tobacco) following by five things I can hear (neighbours talking, the news on the radio, a jack hammer, someone shouting at his partner, rumbling stomach) followed by five things I can feel (my bottom on the chair, my foot tapping the floor, my back against the chair, sweaty palms, my jeans on my legs) and then return to things I could see, only this time stating four before repeating each step until I have reduced it to only one thing I can see/hear/feel; the idea being focusing only on my senses will remove me from the heightened state, grounding me back in the present.

Step 04: Re-Empower

The final stage in the process is to find a way to re-claim the trigger; to change the ending, so to speak. This stage is going to require commitment, patience and some trial-and-error, as finding a way to successfully re-empower the trigger may take some time. The idea is to take your trigger and do something that changes it’s ending; so that when you encounter the trigger in the future it is this ending you recall instead of the painful memories that were once associated with it.

For example, a possible way I could reclaim ‘Unexpected Song’ would be to inhale helium gas and then sing the song as if I were a chipmunk. The hope being that I would replace the painful associations of the song with that of laughter, fun and merriment.

Obviously, this stage is going to be unique to the individual. It may take several different ideas before you can re-claim the trigger, hence trialing different ideas until you have found something that works. It is also recommended this stage be undertaken in the presence of a support person due to the painful memories it may evoke.

Due to my isolated nature I’ve yet to implement this technique myself, but hope to deploy it as I head into battle against my most recent trigger. How I shall re-empower that particular trigger I’ve yet to work out but, if successful, I hope to tackle some of my other triggers (such as the example above or my intolerance of a certain boy wizard) using this approach.

Rest assured, should I ever sing random musical numbers after inhaling helium I’ll do my utmost to post an audio! :p


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Unsent Letter #6: In the end, what we regret most are the chances we never took

The idea for this series came to me last week whilst writing about how social anxiety has affected my life. How my inability to share myself with others prevented me from saying the things I really wanted to say. So, last night, I tore a sheet of paper into 100 pieces and upon each one wrote a name. These names were partners, teachers, acquaintances, ex-work colleagues, family members, old friends and random strangers who made a significant impact on my life.

Each day this week I will draw one of these names at random and then write them a letter.

The only rules for this challenge are:

1) The person will remain anonymous.
2) The letter should include unsaid things I always held back.
3) It shall be written as a sixty minute stream of consciousness. (i.e. no painful seven hour editing sessions, so please excuse any grammar and/or spelling mistakes)

So with all that in mind…[shakes beanie, shakes beanie again, once more for good measure, plunges hand into sea of scrunched up piece of paper, selects, reads name]…okay, this one is an anomaly because even though they’ve made a significant impact on my life – I’ve never actually met them!

8 September 2012

Dear ——–,

Given you and I have never met I want to make it clear from the very beginning just who I am. If I don’t this letter will either come across like some weird junk e-mail from an Arabian Prince or something even more creepy and disturbing that you’ll have to ask your parents about. You see ——–, I’m your Uncle, and at the time of writing you are two years old.

Your life, at this moment in time, revolves around eating scrumptuous food, playing with toys, throwing the occasional tantrum and making life as difficult as possible for your parents. If you’re not doing the latter, hop to it! They’re called the ‘terrible twos’ for a reason – until next year you have carte blanche to be as naughty and annoying as you like!

Throw food around at dinner time. Draw stuff on the walls. Stick toast into your Dad’s video game consoles. Pour honey in your mother’s hair. Sit in the middle of a supermarket screaming until your mum caves from embarrassment and gives you a chocolate bar. Vomit over a lawyer’s $10,000 suit. Bring home a stray raccoon and leave it in your parent’s bed.

Obviously, these are just a few ideas, but as your Uncle it’s part of my job to make sure you’re living life to the full. Don’t worry about your parents, they may scream and shout from time to time, but they’ll see the funny side of that racoon one day!

Anyway, I’m sure you’re far more proficient in the ways of the Dark Side (get Dad to show you if you don’t understand this pop culture reference) than I am so we’ll get on to the gist of the letter.

As you know, we’ve not had the chance to meet yet because I’m currently living in Australia publishing novels, directing motion pictures and hanging out with the Wiggles. You know the Wiggles, right? All this talk about me being a crazy homeless man is hearsay started by a rival film-maker who’s trying to discredit my project for his own nefarious (ask your mother) ends. I assure you that once I’ve finished my film I’ll invite you to the premiere so you can dazzle the crowd with your awesome tuxedo before winging you home way before bedtime so as not to earn the ire (ask your dad) of your parents.

Before that though, I’ve taken a few hours break from filming in order to pen you this letter to fulfil my duties as Uncle and partake some vitally important life-lessons that I hope will hold you in good stead for the future.

  1. Whatever anyone tells you, there are only three Indiana Jones movies. It is a trilogy that begins with Raiders of the Lost Ark and ends with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Got that? Good, now remember it always!
  2. Your mother is God. Whatever she says, you do. No questions. Unless she wants you to wear a silly Easter Bonnet made of tin-foil, in which case, don’t. Those pictures will come back to haunt you, I guarantee that!
  3. When you get to High School and start crushing on a girl (or guy) even though it feels like the hardest thing in the world – talk to them! Don’t let any anxieties get in the way of flirting with them…and only if they’re willing…kiss them, canoodle them and attend all night parties against the wishes of your parents. Trust me, you’ll regret it if you don’t.
  4. Never – ever – do drugs. If they’re ever offered to you remember Grange Hill (ask your Dad) and just say NO!
  5. Should you feel the need when older to travel the world, there are some stunningly hot girls (and guys) in Australia who are just gagging for a sexy accent like yours. And remember, what happens in the land Down Under, your parents need not ever know about.
  6. In relation to number 3, never forget Mother’s Day. Should you ever have any problems working out what to get her, your mother is a huge fan of: Civil War Re-enactments, Ed Wood movies and WWI era memorabilia.
  7. As for Father’s Day you wouldn’t be going wrong if you got him: the novels of Mills and Boon, anything from the discography of Crazy Frog, tickets to a Monster Truck Rally or mittens.
  8. Vanessa Hudgens is the world’s finest living actress. Or if she’s been cruelly snatched before her time by the time you read this, was the world’s finest actress.
  9. Apple and all its products are evil. Don’t get sucked in.
  10. You’re a man, yes, but that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel emotions. Never feel bad about talking to people about any problems you have. If you don’t, if you choose to bottle it all in, chaos will ensue. I assure you.
  11. Harry Potter doesn’t exist. The entire series is a mass world-wide hallucination. Don’t fall for it.
  12. Find something you love doing and do it. Don’t let criticism, naysayers or bullies stop you.
  13. As with number 1, there are only three Star Wars movies. It is a trilogy that begins with The Phantom Menace and ends with Revenge of the Sith. Got that? Good, now remember it always!
  14. For the love of whatever you grow up to believe in, NEVER START SMOKING!
  15. Look after your teeth, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.  And yes, I mean brush them twice a day without fail.
  16. Scotland is the greatest country in the entire world. If your parents tell you otherwise, they’re lying.
  17. Christopher Nolan is an over-rated hack. The same goes for Joss Whedon, David Fincher, John Lasseter and Alfred Hitchcock. So avoid any movies by these people and go for: Michal Bay,  Brian Levant, Uwe Boll and Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer instead.
  18. When your parents show you their wedding album, I am wearing a kilt not a skirt. A kilt! And before you ask, yes, beneath the kilt I was decked out in the traditional Scottish way! (ask your mother)
  19. You will go blind. It’s not an urban legend.
  20. Remember the words of the great Frasier Crane (ask your parents) always:

I should point out that, like Dads, Uncles have a terrible sense of humour. It’s part of our official duty to be as unfunny and embarrassing as possible – something I learned from experience – so it’s entirely possible I was being a little sarcastic with some – if not all – of the above pieces of advice.

The only thing you need to remember ——–, is that this is your life. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are, what you can do, where you should go or who you should spend it with, especially if they leap out at you unexpectedly carrying a big red book! (ask your Mum)

It’s up to you to live your life however you see fit, and when things go wrong (which they will, be under no illusions of that) remember there are people like your mother, your father, your grandparents and all manner of aunts and uncles who will be there to help you back on your feet. All we want is for you to have the best life possible, and we’d move mountains to help you achieve it; your mother and father especially, who love you more than you’ll ever know.

Just remember no matter how naughty you are, no matter how many times you do the wrong thing, no matter what mistakes you make, no matter how many raccoons you kidnap into your parents bed, you will always be loved.

And in the end, that’s all we need.

With love and hugs,

Uncle Addy xx


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Twenty life lessons I learnt whilst homeless

Some are poignant, some are personal. Some are important, some are silly. For today’s Top Twenty Thursday I share some of the life lessons I learnt during my years living on the street.

Twenty Life Lessons I Learnt Whilst Homeless

20. Discrimination is still prevalent in today’s society.
However accepting our society has become in certain areas, discrimination against the homeless is still rife and we need to do everything we can to stop it. After all, homeless people are just like you; human.

19. No matter how waterproof you think your backpack/jacket/shoes etc. are. They’re not!
Something I learnt the hard way after losing important paperwork, notepads of writing and clothing.

18. When ‘showering’ in a public toilet – always remember to lock the door!
Otherwise you may find yourself inadvertently flashing an unsuspecting jogger at five in the morning.

17. Ducks may look cute – but they’re naughty little tykes.
As proven when one duckling ‘distracted’ me with its cuteness whilst its mother stole my sandwich.

16. Never underestimate the importance of clean socks.
You’ll know what I mean when you try to remove the pair you’ve been wearing for three months straight and they’ve become attached to your skin. Ouchie!

Lesson 16. Never underestimate the importance of clean socks.

15. Libraries are the earth-bound equivalent of heaven.
Proof, for those who don’t believe me: Power points for recharging; comfy chairs for snoozing; books for personal growth; newspapers for education; free internet for socializing (see lesson 6); hot librarians for fantasizing; warmth for health. Libraries must continue to be supported and funded under all circumstances.

14. Never go to sleep using a backpack containing a Vegemite and cheese sandwich as a pillow.
A slightly odd life lesson, I’ll grant you, but one you should heed unless you want to wake up with a possum sleeping on your head! Note: this is not as fun as it sounds for they can be a bit cranky if woken.

13. Plastic shopping bags are not the pure evil they’re made out to be.
See lesson 19 and make the all too obvious connection.

12. Homeless people really are invisible. They shouldn’t be, but they are.
A lesson I learnt in a rather uncomfortable fashion when, on three separate occasions, three individual couple decided to copulate only meters from where I was all-too-obviously sleeping.

11. Drunken [insert sporting team of choice] fans should be avoided at all costs.
A lesson I learnt the hard way following a physical assault after their team lost a match. So be careful.

Lesson 11. Drunken {insert sporting team of choice} fans should be avoided at all costs.

10. Always listen to your gut (aka. You’re allowed to say ‘no’)
There were times I went to organisations for help with crisis accommodation and/or housing where they gave me the choice of “it’s either this boarding house in the middle of nowhere populated with drug addicted ex-cons or the streets”. In spite of my gut I felt guilt tripped into taking the boarding house. Another lesson I learnt the hard way.

9. Never eat the soup van sausage rolls. There is a reason why no-else does!
This was learnt after a six-hour vomiting session. Given no-one wanted to eat them, I fear I wasn’t alone.

8. Even though it should be, homelessness isn’t a priority for politicians.
During the 2010 Australian Federal Election there was no mention of homelessness. Why? Because for the only voters who counted, homelessness is something that will never affect them. They obviously haven’t learnt lesson 5 yet.

7. Never be afraid to ask for help.
It’s hard to fight your way out of homelessness by yourself but the humiliation of asking for help can be just as bad. The latter option, however difficult, is always the best avenue to take. You may not believe it, but there are always people out there who care, who will help you find ways you can get back onto your feet.

6. Social networks are vital.
Isolation can be devastating. Few can understand the psychological impact of spending every minute of your life by yourself, nor would I ever recommend it. For a homeless person, social opportunities are few and far between, which leaves social networking sites their only option. If you can forge past the occasional abuse you will find a supportive community that will welcome you with their arms wide open. For any homeless people reading this, may I suggest We Are Visible as a starting point.

Lesson 6. Social networks are vital.

5. Never take your life for granted. Ever!
I never expected to become homeless. And I’m willing to bet that you don’t think it’ll ever happen to you either. But let me tell you – all it will take is one or two sudden events and you too could find yourself sleeping in a park with a possum on your head. Unless you learnt from lesson 14, that is.

4. Homeless people are decent, kind and compassionate human beings.
Not the violent, drug abusing, alcoholic psychopaths middle-class liberal commentators would have you believe. From my time on the street the homeless individuals I came across were always helpful, generous people who would go out of their way to assist you. Hell, one even saved my life once!

3. There is always someone worse off than you.
Have you had your daily moan about the cost of your coffee or the fact your train was seven minutes late? Have you taken to Twitter to have a wee vent about how your local bookstore has sold out of Fifty Shade of Grey or your partner farting under the covers again? Let me assure you, your life could be so much worse!

2. Don’t stop believing!
The one thing you never want to lose is hope. So find something – anything – to keep you warm during those long cold winter’s nights. Even if that means gathering together a posse of homeless people to perform your very own Glee style rendition of this classic song!

1. A smile is the greatest gift you can give.
If you take the time out of your life to have a chat and a smile with a homeless person, you’ll not only be making their day a little better, but your own as well.

Lesson 1. A smile is the greatest gift you can give.


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Five Ways You Could Help The Homeless

In the comments of my post “Addy’s (Slightly Tongue In Cheek) Guide to Dealing With Having A Home After Being Homeless” someone suggested I write a post detailing practical ways a non-homeless person (NHP) can help a homeless person.

A brilliant (in terms of necessity) and frightening (in terms of my questionable style) idea!

I’m not exactly known for my sound advice, especially when you take into account that I once wrote (in a post about getting through a day suffering from depression):

Those flannelette PJs may very well be back in fashion (especially if they’ve got cute little ducks on them) but the first step to helping you get through the day is to get those PJs off! Yep, you heard me. Strip! Believe me, I know how hard that sounds – so have fun with it; do a little striptease and dance nekkid to get those giggles going for the rest of the day.

and (in a post about how you can help a friend/partner with depression):

Three words: naked…food…fight!

Both of which point very clearly to my apparant obsession with nudity – but I guess there are worse things to be obsessed!)

However, for the sake of everyone like me who needs help from time to time I decided to give a serious dose of advice my best insomniac-riddled shot.

Enjoy :)

Five Ways You Could Help The Homeless

#1: Talk to them

Talk Nerdy To Me #2

Image by Constantine Belias via Flickr

We live in a world that is more connected than ever before. Dozens of social networks connect us twenty-four hours a day, mobile phones are perpetually ready to take a call at all hours of the day or night and most of us take the people in our lives for granted. Few think what it would be like to have no-one, ever, to talk to.

The last time I had a face-to-face conversation with a human being on a social level was June 6 2009 (that was over sixteen months ago!)

The last time I had a phone-to-phone conversation with a human being on a social level was June 16 2009 (nearly sixteen months ago!)

Sure, in that time I’ve spoken to NGOs, Doctors and service providers but there is a stark difference between talking about mental health/homeless issues and having a laughter filled natter over a hot chocolate laced with pseudo-narcotic marshmallows.

Whilst it’s true that some homeless people have others in their life (husbands, wives, friends, family etc) it should be remembered that others don’t. It’s important NHPs remember that being homeless does not make the quintessential human need for social contact evaporate.

One of the most important things you can do to help a homeless person is talk to them. Instead of just tossing them a few coins or breezing past acting as if they’re not there, take a few minutes out of your day to talk to them. You don’t have to ask their life story nor delve into their reasons for being homeless, just talk to them.

Instead of treating them  like an animal, you are treating them for the human being they are – and who among us doesn’t want that?

#2: Socks

Fun socks

Image via Wikipedia

Socks. They keep our toes warm, cushion our feet, add a vitally important sixteen seconds to any striptease and through self-sacrifice ensure we don’t get destroyed by the WashMach Gods.

Yet in spite of all this great work we never fully appreciate how wonderful they are. We just pull them out the draw at the start of the day, inflict pain on them for twelve hours and then discard them into a basket at the end of the night. We even deny them vicarious sexual shenanigans as it seems no-one wants to include socks in their love making repertoire.

Homeless people, do not take socks for granted. I don’t mean we worship them for their religious dedication or include them in our love-making sessions, but we appreciate how wonderful a clean, soft pair of socks can be.

Anyone would when you’ve been wearing the same pair for two weeks.

Unlike NHPs, we homeless understand just how difficult it is to come across a new pair of socks, so if you want to help a homeless person in a practical way think no further than what keeps their toes warm and cushioned as they wander the streets day in/day out.

#3: Understand that Homeless is not a species

Rarity the Unicorn

Image by dreamcicle19772006 via Flickr

Society has a tendency to apply labels to everything it doesn’t understand. Constantly shunting everything under the same heading and to hell with a little something called individuality.

Every single homeless person on this planet is unique. Some spend their days sleeping, others sit in libraries. Some fill their time panhandling with witty signs, others refuse to beg even when their life depends on it.

Not every homeless person is an addict, not all homeless persons have a mental illness, few homeless will beat you up and steal your stilettos and even fewer will expose themselves to you before beating a hasty retreat on their conveniently located unicorn.

A practical way to help the homeless is to work to dispel the stereotypes that abound in society. When your friends begin making fun of the homeless, say something. If a twitter topic begins trending which is clearly and obviously discriminating against the homeless, refuse to participate.

Discrimination exists not only because of lack of education but because of lack of passion. If more people had the courage to speak out then stigma would become as mythical as the aforementioned unicorn.

#4: Politics

Government House, Canberra. From the lookout o...

Image via Wikipedia

When was the last time Homelessness was a major political issue during an election campaign? During the recent Australian Federal Election I do not recall homelessness being raised once, this is in spite of the previous Prime Minister declaring homelessness in Australia would be halved by 2020.

The reason it’s never an issue is because it is never important to the general public. Nothing will ever be accomplished in politics without noise. So if you want to practically help the homeless in a wider sense, make some noise!

And I don’t mean purchase a kazoo.

Instead of organising a protest march for Same Sex Marriage rights (a worthy cause) organise one to protest against the appalling treatment the homeless receive. Write to your local MP, your Prime Minister or President. Kick up a fuss, for few remember we employ the politicians.

Tweet, Facebook, share, educate and don’t stop until something happens.

#5: Care Packages

Libresse tampons stylish pack design

Image by Hygiene Matters via Flickr

An NHPs day-to-day activity generally follows: waking up, breakfast, work, lunch, skive off, home, argument, dinner, make up sex, sleep.

A homeless person’s day-to-day activity generally follows: not-waking-up from any sleep, roaming around all day doing whatever there is to do and then popping to the soup van on the way back to a bench for another night of no sleep.

They’re thinking survival, because this is what being homeless is all about. They’re thinking about where their next meal is coming from, whether they have enough clothes, where they can have a shower, who’s going to feed the unicorn?

What can help a homeless person survive is something as simple as a care package containing bare essentials. You’ve no idea how basic items such as deodorant, toothpaste, soap, socks, tampons, hairbrush become highly sought after luxury items when on the street.

Make a homeless person’s day by helping them get these items so they can take better care of themself in order to feel better about themselves.

So your homework this weekend is to toddle off and do one of these suggestions (or something else entirely) to make a homeless person in your community feel better this weekend. There’s a comments field below so you can report back…and be forewarned I come armed with a vicious looking ruler and a naughty corner for those who think helping is for other people ;)


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Eleven (Slightly Odd) Ways to Reduce Stress

In honor of the fact that it’s Lifeline’s Stress Down Day, I present to you eleven (slightly odd) ways in which you can reduce the stress in your life.


1. Watch an episode of Glee (or if you have the time, enjoy a Glee marathon)
As I perused my Facebook profile recently I noticed someone made the following comment in regards to this show “Everything about it just makes me happy,” and they are absolutely right. Rigorous scientific study has shown that if you do not feel happy whilst watching this show then you officially need to throw on a tin suit and skip off to see the wizard.

If you doubt this perfectly valid way to combat stress, I dare you to watch the clip below and not feel your troubles just slide away like hot butter from a knife:

2. Just pick up a pen and start writing…
To be honest it doesn’t matter what you write with nor does it matter what words you do, all that matters is that you write whatever you feel like writing – even if that’s repeating the word “wibble” across an entire sheet of A4.

Sure, the “wibble” approach wouldn’t work quite as well as jotting down your feelings so that you can gain some perspective on what’s bothering you, but it’s such a brilliant and random word I don’t think anyone could say it aloud without cracking a grin.

Repeat after me:

Wibble,

See?

3. Learn how to say “no”…
One of the shortest words in the human language and worth only a couple of points if played outside of special squares on scrabble. Yet it’s one few people ever use. Day in, day out, people agree to take on more things rather than admit that they just don’t have time to do them.

We’re not superheroes, so sometimes we need to casually turn things down if taking them on means overloading our minds to the point of collapse.

4. Dance! Even if you end up looking like Matt Smith in The Big Bang

This tip taps into the innate love of dancing that all human’s share. Whether you’re doing the slightly uncomfortable daddy-two-step-shuffle or pulling off an intricate routine of ‘Single Ladies’, the mere act of dancing releases all forms of stress and frustration. It is in fact akin to getting totally inebriated.

So, if you have a tendency toward being embarrassed, pop off to the toilet cubicle and have a bit of a bogle to Aswad where no-one can see you.

If on the other hand you’re one of these really annoying extroverted souls, gather together a flash mob and whip out your best routine in the middle of your local shopping centre.

Alternatively, if you have no idea how to dance at all, here are some you could try:

5. Pretend you’re the Doctor…
This may not work for everyone, it will really only work if you’re a fan of the greatest television series of all time (so if you’re not, what the hell are you thinking?)…but it might be worth a shot if none of the other tips work.

It’s simple, if you’re feeling stressed, just re-enact your favourite Doctor scenes and pretend you’re saving the universe from total extinction.

Just be sure not to be doing this in public otherwise you:

(a) Run the risk of people believing that there is an actual Dalek invasion under way, which will cause all manner of stress to these people.
or
(b) Run the risk of creating more stress for yourself as people watch on in scared confusion at the lunatic in front of them.

Note: you could replace “the Doctor” in the title of this tip with characters you may love and admire, for example: ‘Pretend you’re Jane Lynch’ or ‘Pretend you’re Han Solo’ or even ‘Pretend you’re one of the Aliens from Toy Story’. But why on earth would you want to do any of those when you could just pretend you’re the Doctor?

6. Talk to Someone…
So obvious that it’s barely worth mentioning, but quite often it’s the obvious which people overlook, so I will. There is nothing better for combating stress than sitting down for a nice hot chocolate and a spanish donut with a friend.

Granted the hot chocolate and spanish donut are optional, but they will help with the whole ‘combating stress’ part of the equation. No-one can eat a spanish donut without feeling blissfully good afterwards.


7. There’s always the obvious – sex…

With this one, you and your honey strip naked and then…you know what, I’m not even going to explain this for it could get icky. Rigorous scientific studies have shown that sex helps with every stressful thought you could possibly be feeling – as long it’s consensual! If it’s not, don’t ever talk to me.

8. The ‘No, not yet, please not yet…fine, you %$*&)#@!I’ll scream into a pillow while you fall into a blissful satisfied sleep’ Method...
A tried and true approach practised by girlfriends and wives the world over. It’s simple (and less likely to result in bruised/dismembered body parts):

  • Pick up a pillow.
  • Press it firmly against your mouth.
  • Scream as loud as you can.

Note: Be careful not to scream for too long otherwise there may be unintended suffocation, which wouldn’t be good. Nope, nope, nope.

9. Crack out a bath bomb and have a soak…
Good for girls and boys. If you’re feeling stressed there’s nothing like a nice hot bath to ease your troubles and woes away. Fill the tub, whip off those clothes and throw yourself into a bombed hot bath. There’s nothing like sitting there as the effervescence fizzes away filling the soothing water with a beautiful aroma. It also  feels funny when close to your skin, so that’ll help with giggles, but I won’t go there.

Once the bomb has fully evaporated just lie back, maybe nibble on the strawberries dipped in chocolate your boyfriend is feeding you (if he’s not, he should be) and feel the tension drift away.

10. Have a massage…
This tip works wonders if used immediately after suggestion 8, so once you’re done in the bath get your boy/girlfriend to give you an all over massage and then lie in blissful contentment for the rest of the night.

11. Embrace your inner child in a field of fallen leaves…
This one is brilliant and guaranteed to work every time. If you’re feeling a bit stressed head to your nearest park where you’re definitely going to have a sea of fallen crunchy leaves to jump/run/fall/crush/play with and then have at it! Forget all your adulty woes and troubles and reconnect with your inner child, go mental with those wonderful crisp leaves just ripe for the crushing.

Note: This tip will really only work in Autumn.

Note: Please, for the love of all things small and spiny, watch out for hedgehogs! They love hibernating in big piles of crunchy leaves just as much as you enjoy jumping/running/falling/crushing/playing with them. A flattened hedgehog will only result in a great deal more stress, a flattened mammal and a lot of hedgehoggy goo on your once awesome pair of shoes.

Further Information:

‘Lifeline: Stress Down Day’ Official Website

‘Lifeline’ Official Website

Lifeline Australia Telephone Number:
13 11 14

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