I’ve noticed that a lot of people seem to be out out of sorts lately, struggling with depression, even taking the struggle to the edge and just not shining like they usually are, want to and deserve to. Hurtling downward in the dark on my own rollercoaster ride right now, I gotta say that I’m feeling it too. There’s a dark storm rumbling inside, outside it’s all a bit of jumble – and I’m pretty much held together by Aesop, distractions and coffee. This particular ride started with burnout that landed me in hospital in December and you know, I’m kinda done and need a break, mostly from myself. Fuck this stupid fuckin ride, I want to get off for a while.
The Never Ending Story called it the Nothing, I call it the Bankrupt Circus … that feeling of standing alone in the middle of something that was once fun, colourful and stimulating but is now abandoned, falling apart and a little spooky.. and the roller coaster looks like it’s going to collapse in the next storm. Whatever you call it, the sky is grey, the paint is peeling, the coulrophobia is fierce, I think the gates are locked and frankly, I’d rather be at the fuckin beach…tanning it up instead of burning toast.
( oh the irony of being in the middle of writing a piece for TEDxSydney about the affects of consciously smiling and having positive interactions with people for a coupe of days. Lols on me, The.Struggle.Is.Real)
The most challenging thing about the bankrupt circus is knowing that I’m the ringmaster soo, this three ring wreck I’m standing in is made from my own special book of choices and habits … most of which I’ve consciously made or allowed to continue (thanks, love you too bro). Being the ringmaster does mean that ultimately, I’m the bitch with the whip though…so with a bit of channeling of my inner dom masc top – Erotica style – I have the power bring this crazy little circus back to life. ( so, basically…I’m totally fucked)
Play the music, light the lights, and let’s try to crack this whip and get things started on this fuckin muppet show we all work on.
Fuck man, it’s taken me like a week to scribble out this rambling mess. Trying to drag this much introspection and positivity out right now is like trying to find dick in a drought. But there’s only one way to get off this fucking ride ….
I think this post is as much or me as it may be for anyone else (if not maybe more). I actually wasn’t sure if I would publish it.. but after talking about authenticity, and “laying everything out there, faults and all” after Mardi Gras... I’d be smuggling a budgie full of lies if I didn’t. ( and you should never lie about what’s smuggled in your budgies).
On this little rollercoaster of life there are a few things I do and remind myself of to keep myself on track, and to minimise the bruising when I fall off it, like now. These are just a few of them. This is a looooong post that has waaay too many words and if you CBF with all the deets that follow ( I hear ya bro), take this TL:DR for when you finish bingeing on The Golden Girls.. or when it’s 3am and you still can’t sleep.
- If you need help or a friend, drown the pride and shame ( like you want to drown in Gin) and get help or message a friend.
- It’s a fucker of a white knuckle, screaming ride that sometimes you don’t think you’ll survive, but it’s actually ok to ride the rollercoaster – ups, downs, peaks, troughs, laughs, hysterical tears, pushed limits and all.
- Fuck fear and his little bitch of a friend, your inner critic – they’re both just Twitter trolls. Don’t feed them.
- Self doubt, isolation and disconnection are an evil muthafuckin triad – Alone can seduce you, but it is not your friend.
- Stay connected to friends and family, and on the radar – if anyone has the magic spell to doing this, I’ll blow you for a copy. I’ve been looking for it for years.
- Plans are for keeping, not just for thinking about or making and flaking on (until you make yourself invisible). Unless you have Pepper Potts on call, no one’s going to make them or call the car for you. Soz bout it, but you gotta work bitch.
- Silence isn’t always golden. Silence can be deafening, usually with the sounds of your critic. The silence of bedtime in particular can be the worst part of the day. To get the sleep you need you’re probably going to need a plan to minimise it. … that’s not just sleeping with the Princes of Chill, Valium and Xanax.
- Get creative, look for gratitudes and find some fun, even if you have to force it. Just like finding ways to minimise the silence (if you need to) distractions are great for keeping your mind from meandering down the dark road to hell. A bit of creativity stretches the boundaries back out and a bit a fun is always good for a bit of sparkle, even if it feels forced. Writing, colouring, music, walking, smile jars, activities like the 100 days of happiness..Brighter, more positive thinking is a habit you need to reignite.
- Manage your vices – all that ice cream will stop you fitting into the new wardrobe on it’s way thanks to Visa, and that can light your confidence up in smoke- well whatever is left of it anyway. Know your vices, and keep them on a leash, too much of a good thing…isn’t.
- Get the fuck outside – this one is pretty simple.. just get the fuck out of the house, even just for half an hour. You need a change of state and some fresh air, and probably the chats from the people you bump into.
- Eat fucking properly – Food is what fuels and replenishes us and emotional diet of Tim Tams, Pizza and Wine might feel better in the moment but choosing fresher and whole foods, will help you feel fresher and whole, and will give you the power of Greyskull and Adora combined.
- This too shall pass – like everything, and like all emotions, this feeling is impermanent and with a bit of work (that you CBF doing), and time (that feels like drags on forever).. like the days of our lives… given enough of them you’ll be bold and beautiful again. The hurricane will pass. just.hold.on.
( secretly though, there’s a whole lot of fake it until you stumble through it going on right now)
This post is particularly long. If you’re in for the long ride and sticking around for a few more of the things that get me through…. strap on, and here we go
If you need help, get help.
People probably can’t see the cyclone behind the smile, because you’re an expert at hiding it, or just at hiding. If they do see it they may not know how to approach it ( and sure, some don’t want or care to) but whether you believe it or not, you have friends and people you can call on when you need help. It can be hard to do, and hard to be vulnerable, and hard to know who to call.. or exactly what you’d say ( “fuck I hate my life” is an award winning opener just quietly) and while not many of us want to be the drama of the week, or the “weak” one, you’re the only one who thinks you are. Don’t ride it out alone, because really, there is no need to.
There are also heaps of great services, resources, organisations and professionals who are out there waiting and wanting to help… R U OK, Beyond Blue, QLife, Sane, Lifeline and the Suicide Callback are just a few, take advantage of them when you need them.
R U OK
R U OK Podcast Series – Thanks for asking
Real people share times a heartfelt conversation changed someone’s life. You might laugh, you might cry but most importantly you’ll feel empowered because asking “are you ok? when someone’s struggling with life, could turn things around in ways you might not have imagined.
R U OK is also tackling mental health in the LGBT+ Community, so check out their resource – Listen with Love
Here’s why is LGBT mental health important to R U OK? and if you want to know why
I signed on as an RU OK Day Ambassador, check out my blog or any of these stories;
Interview – News.com.au Why I became an R U OK Day Ambassador
Interview – Gay Star News – Depression and Suicide Prevention Awareness
NewAccess is a free service that provides support in the form of a coach who will guide you in setting practical goals that will help get you back on track.
Online Forums – https://www.beyondblue.org.au/getsupport/onlineforums
Here’s why I helped Beyond Blue launch Wingman in 2017.
Interview – Star Observer – Beyond Blue Wingman Launch
LGBT service similar to Lifeline
1800 184 527 / https://qlife.org.au/
QLife provides nation-wide, early intervention, peer supported telephone and web based services to people of all ages across the full breadth of people’s bodies, genders, relationships, sexualities, and lived experiences.
SANE Australia is a national mental health charity who’s work includes mental health awareness, online peer support and information, stigma reduction, specialist helpline support, research and advocacy.
And of course if you need them there are the immediate 24/7 services like
LifeLine – 131114
The Suicide Callback Service -1300 659 467
Ride the rollercoaster
At the core of the happiness movement is the idea that we should always be happy and, while we should work at creating a life we love , sometimes life is less dancing with joy and more walking with the dead. It can be a fucking cunt; it’s not right but it’s ok, because it can’t always be – and we’re going to make it anyway. Well intentioned as the happiness movement is, some of its ideals are… less than ideal. No emotion, not even happiness, should be placed above all others.
We are born with a roller coaster of emotions because we are meant to ride it. From the dark depths of sadness and shame to the starry heights of pride and joy, we’re meant to experience them all. Whatever your version of happiness, it’s doesn’t just appear, it’s a lifelong journey and, like all emotions, is the by product of our thoughts, behaviours and actions – we create it by how we live. On that journey we’re supposed to experience, embrace and learn from every emotion on the ride. We’re just not meant to live in any of them, they’re all meant to be impermanent… that’s why life (and depression) is a fuckin rollercoaster.
Optimism and Positivity are the best perspectives we can have, that’s why the stars on my chest remind me to always look up. But, like He Man needs Skeletor or Alyssa needs Coco, we all need the darkness to appreciate the light.
Accepting all of our emotions takes more courage and self acceptance that it should because we value them all differently, even though we shouldn’t. This TED Talk explores why emotional courage is the gift that keeps on giving, and the next time you wish for something other than you feel, I wish you enough.
Don’t Listen to Fear
There is nothing to fear but fear itself they say, but clowns scare the fuck out of me.. only because I let them.( oh the irony of spending so many years as the drag queen now living on top of my wardrobe)
I’ve spoken about this before but fear gets in our way and leads to one of two extremes –
Nothing – we say no a lot and run from things that scare, confront or challenges us, or that critic gets in the way of … and end up doing or saying nothing – flatlining in sameness and boredom.
Excess – we overcompensate and do things to manage either being outside of our comfort zone, or being bored to tears living in the middle of it.
Fear has a role to play, it keeps us safe.. but sometimes we need to be unsafe and instead of giving fear executive power we can use it in other ways.
As strange and basic as it may sound to most people these next 3 are my biggest challenges. I’ve not found the magic to beat them yet – but I’d fucking love to find the spell that breaks them.
Alone is not your friend
Being comfortable with your own company is invaluable and integral to life. Like everything though it becomes problematic when over used, and brings with it some nasty mates. Self doubt, isolation and disconnection start to creep in, feeding loneliness and our inner critic. None of what these things tell you is true and Alone is not your friend. It will consume you without you even noticing, and once it does, breaking free can be like wrestling in JLube.
Talk to your friends and fam, stay on the radar
Feeling connected is essential to our spark, and it’s human nature to have friends who know you, you have great times, tough times and shared experiences with, you trust and trust you, who you can talk to, can slap you into reality when needed, hang out with from the couch to the bar and are connected with.
Create and nurture your relationships and friendships, the good ones anyway. It’s perfectly fine to let dead, toxic, pretend ones go.. cleaning house is actually recommended. Once you’ve have though, don’t hide from or push who’s left away…. or one day you’ll find yourself holding tickets to a circus that no one will go to… and alone is not your friend.
I’m sorry for the times my depression has made me a bad and distant friend
Having an idea or making a plan isn’t enough, you have to make the effort and do it:
I’m a terrible planner ( for a number of different reasons) and can be a pretty bad flake. So you can imagine what my social life is actually like. Whether it’s as spontaneous as a movie or a couple of cheeky drinks or more planned like a birthday or a holiday, there are a lot of moments, banter and experiences that I miss and don’t do.
These are the things that enrich our lives and our friendships. Sometimes it’s ok to say no and take time out.. but do it often enough and you start to disappear from the radar.
You are not your faults and cracks, don’t listen to your inner critic.
We are all imperfect and full of faults and things we’d like to change, do or be, but these cracks and imperfections are not who we are. Your inner critic is basically your own personal troll. They’re a cunt, and it’s their job to make you believe that you are your faults.
Like fear they have a role, essentially to keep you “safe”, they also have the ethics of North Korea and a habit of over stepping their pay grade. Listen to them ( or not), but don’t accept them at their word, let them steal air time they don’t deserve or drag you down to their level. You’re not who they want you to believe you are and they’ll waste your time and wear you down when they get the chance.
There are so many ways to manage your inner critic, I manage mine by being patronising, sarcastic and not playing along. It’s not always easy, and doesn’t always work, but finding your own style to shutting them down is essential. 3 of my favourite ways are:
5 Why’s to freedom:
Question what your inner critic is saying to see if it’s valid, with lots of why’s – like that annoying 5 year old. Why is the magic question, because it the simplest way to ask for explanations. If there is no valid reason within 5 Why’s, there is no reason to listen.
10 seconds from Satan:
Allow 10 seconds for your inner critic to troll you hard, give them permission to throw their worst at you in that time, like go full Lisa Lampanelli, Alexis Colby ( by Joan Collins of course) Joan Rivers, Bianca Del Rio on you. But then, after having said their piece they have to sashay away and leave you in peace to do what you need to do. All you have to do is the countdown while they rant away meaninglessly to no-one.
Screen the calls!
You know how you screen calls and from friends you actually like but, like a sucker, always pick up when the critic comes knocking to tell you how badly you’re failing at life. ( makes perfect sense right?)
If you don’t have time to talk to your mates, you don’t have time for them either. Let the little bitch go to voicemail. The critic is so obsessed with what is happening in the moment that you’ll never actually have to take that call – which just proves how meaningless what they say is.
Your inner critic doesn’t deserve the time or power most of us give them.
Next time your mind starts streaming with anxiety, emotion and negative thoughts, whip out a pen a paper and write it all out. When it’s all out I usually just burn it, writing it all out is literally just to clear your mind and stop them circling. If and when you do read any of it, you’ll probably have a new understanding of why toxic waste is so bad for the environment.
If there is a particular problem you’re trying to resolve though, mind maps can be a really interesting, useful and creative way to break it down and work it through. ( so can sharing and talking with mates)
Navigate the silence, because sleeping is dreamy
Even if you are conscious of all of this and have a hundred different strategies that you’re consciously trying and testing, with no distractions silence can be deafening ( and it’s usually your inner critic screaming)
The silence of bedtime can be one of the biggest challenges because the noise that comes from it can make sleep impossible. Depression and insomnia, they’re like a creepy couple, always trying to drag you into a 3way from the shadows.
A lot of “experts” will tell you the trick to navigating deafening silence is learning how to calm the mind with routine, meditation, mantras, or other zen like dreams…. but outside of a float tank, it’s a 24/7 Mardi Gras parade in mine ( but with no glitter or fun) and Kelsey’s 2 minute meditation for bitches who can’t meditate is the most relatable meditation I’ve ever found… so more silence = less sleep and nah bro, fuck that.
If you’re like me and need to fill the silence, sleep playlists on Spotify, David Attenborough docos on Netflix or just a favourite tv show playing softly in the background means there is no silence to fill, and less chance, although no guarantee, of staring the walls until 3am.
( I realise some of this contradicts what some experts say about sleep routines and bedrooms needing the silence and zen of a yoga studio but nothing works for everyone, and silence rarely works for me. Find the thing that works for you and do that)
Recognise and Manage your vices and habits
Ice cream, cheese, phones, alcohol, drugs, sex, work, dating apps, shopping, external validation and attention, gambling, time out, time in, Tupperware, vintage Lego or that Swarovski sparkle – whatever your vice maybe… too much of a good thing…isn’t
Whether it’s a tub of ice cream, a weekend of alcohol, a $100 or 1000 likes making you feel good each day – if you’re not careful you may find everything going up in smoke.
Get Creative, rediscover gratitude, have some fun, laugh and do something you enjoy
Negativity is really easy for us humans to create and swim around in; unfortunately it’s that positivity takes work and habit – but of course that’s where the magic happens. (who’s fuckin genius idea was it to install that software anyway?) When your spark is low, or dead, and you CBF even blinking, especially when you CBF even blinking, you need to find a way to reignite it.
Distractions are also great for keeping your mind from meandering down the dark road to hell… continuously. A bit of creativity stretches the boundaries back out and a bit a fun can be like kicking up glitter. Even when it feels forced, it has a bit of sparkle.
Writing, drawing, reading, colouring books for adults, walking, your favourite tunes, smile jars, activities like the 100 days of happiness, counting stars, Uno, Jenga, cooking, good chats, quality D, watching clouds roll by, disney movies, sticking pins in voodoo dolls or just feeling sand or grass under your feet… anything that adds a bit of light to the darkness by distracting you from it helps to break it.
Brighter, more positive thinking is a habit you need to reignite, and if you have to force it, that’s probably when you need it most.
The list of things that help ground me and reignite my spark surprisingly grows every year. Colouring books, music, the movie Wild and the book of Tiny Beautiful Things and reminding myself of the power of the first minute, Brene Brown’s talks on why vulnerability and shame are superpowers to embrace and as much as I hide away, catch ups friends ( not just messages and phone calls) are some of the things I’ve come to rely on.
We’re all imperfect and we’re all looking for fulfilment and satisfaction, or even just to fill the emptiness, but being imperfect, broken, a little lost or feeling unfulfilled doesn’t mean we can’t shine. Just like you can see the world in a grain of sand, even the tiniest speckle of glitter sparkles. No matter how tiny, every gratitude, half smile, change, connection, plan or moment that makes you feel – or like that deep breath you can’t take – is one more little shimmer on the soul.. and it takes time but the more you add, the more you start to sparkle again.
The hardest thing about getting the rollercoaster back on track and whipping your three ring wreck back into a fun filled circus, is that no one can light that firecracker but you.
A little help is always good though.
Head of Social Media @ Colloquial, Social Media and Content Strategy, Social Media @ TEDxSydney, LGBT Blogger, Influencer, Model, R U OK Day Ambassador.
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