Riding the Rollercoaster

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.

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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)

fozzie fuck

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)

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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 …. 

work bitch

ok then…um, I guess we better play the music, light the lights, and try to get things started on this fuckin muppet show that is my life. *cue dismal attempt at a whip crack

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 try my best to remember, to keep myself on track, or just to minimise the bruising when I fall off, 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Fuck fear and his little bitch of a friend, your inner critic – they’re both just twitter trolls LIVING to read you and gurl, their library is always open. Don’t listen, never feed the trolls and remember, you own the library – they just have a card to it.
  4. Self doubt, isolation and disconnection are an evil muthafuckin triad – Alone can seduce you, but it is not your friend.
  5. Stay connected to friends and family, and on the radar – if anyone has the magic spell of how to do this when you’re blindfolded, restrained and gagged in the dark ( sadly that’s not always the good time it sounds) I’ll blow you for a copy. I’ve been looking for it for years. #notevenjokingtho 
  6. 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 fill your diary or call the car for you. Soz bout it, you gotta work bitch.
  7. Silence isn’t always golden. Silence can be deafening, usually with the off key, tone deaf singing of your inner critic. For me, the silence of bedtime is in particular need of more autotune than the powers of RuPaul, Amanda Lapore and Countess Luane combined. Bedtime can be the worst part of my day. To get the sleep you need you may need a plan to minimise the silence. … and hot in bed as they are that’s not just sleeping with the Princes of Chill, Valium and Xanax.
  8. 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. Even if it is or feels forced, a bit of creativity and a little fun is always good for getting back on that yellow brick road. Give it some time and you’ll be skipping with a cheeky sparkle in your step ball change back to..ummm, oh fuck it, who cares, just follow it.  Writing, colouring, music, walking, smile jars, activities like the 100 days of happiness, GIF games with mates, d with the boys.. however you do it..brighter, more positive thinking is a habit you need to reignite.
  9. 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 what’s left after blowing it all anyway. Know your vices, and keep them on a leash, too much of a good thing…isn’t.
  10. 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.
  11. Eat fucking properly  – Food is what fuels and replenishes us and emotional diet of Tim Tams, Pizza and Gin might feel better in the moment, but.. #choices. Fresher and whole foods will help you feel fresher and whole, giving you the power of Greyskull and Adora combined. 
  12. This too shall pass – like everything – a bad haircut, Cardi B, the impending sense of doom and sadness 10 minutes into justice League – this part of the ride and gut wrenching feeling is impermanent, and will pass. ( and return and pass again.. and return and pass again.).  With a bit of work (that you cannot be fucking fucked doing), and time (that feels as warped and slow as a melting Dali clock).. like the days of our lives… given enough of them, you’ll be bold and beautiful again.
    Hurricane Bianca will pass. 
    just.hold.on.

latrice royale

( secretly though, there’s a whole lot of fake it until you stumble through it going on right now)

Part 2

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 
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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

Beyond Blue

16487031_10154949651953607_6557974765668695135_oWingman ( for Gay Men) – https://www.beyondblue.org.au/who-does-it-affect/lesbian-gay-bi-trans-and-intersex-lgbti-people/wingman-for-gay-guys-by-gay-guys

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

QLife 
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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

10384804_10152372682897581_3598754822282880813_nhttps://www.sane.org/

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
https://www.lifeline.org.au/
The Suicide Callback Service -1300 659 467
https://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au/


Ride the rollercoaster

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A flat rollercoaster is just a fucking slow, boring train to nowhere.

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.

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. 

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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.

Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 11.55.15 PMhttp://theconversation.com/loneliness-is-bad-for-your-health-90901

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

I’m Not a Bad Person, but Mental Illness Has Made Me a Bad 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.

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You are not your faults and cracks, don’t listen to your inner critic.

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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.

Write

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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.  

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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.  

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( 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.

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 2.05.17 AMhttps://www.ted.com/playlists/321/talks_to_form_better_habits

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.

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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. 

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A little help is always good though.

Craig Mack!
Head of Social Media @ Colloquial, Social Media and Content Strategy, Social Media @ TEDxSydney, LGBT Blogger, Influencer, Model, R U OK Day Ambassador.

Speaks and talks- Social Media, R U OK Day & Mental Health, LGBT Life & Advocacy

Visit, say hi and follow me here
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4 Comments

  1. Mack Dude

    Thanks so much for this. I fucken needed this right now.

    I love your work.

    Regards,

    Brian
    ______________________________

    Like

    1. My absolute pleasure Brian! I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure about it but you’ve just proven that hitting publish was the right choice. 🙂

      There are a few people who need some glitter in the soul at the moment I think!

      Like

  2. It may be long but it was worth reading from start to finish. As someone who rides the roller coaster, this made perfect sense and don’t worry about the rambling it works.
    Sometimes you just need to throw some glitter in the air and dance around in your underwear preferably with company.

    Reading this makes a difference knowing that I’m personally not the only one going through it, it’s normal to go through ups and downs.

    Like

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