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'The death sentence didn't eventuate': the importance of discovering hope and purpose

Sandy is on a hockey pitch with her hockey stick in position to hit a ball. She is wearing a purple uniform and rainbow coloured socks.

From poet and violinist, to hockey player and advocate, Sandy Jeffs OAM is also one of SANE’s longest serving Peer Ambassadors, sharing her experience of living with schizophrenia for 45 years to shape public policy and help others. 

This Schizophrenia Awareness Week, which coincides with SANE’s 35th anniversary, we chat to Sandy about the ‘heady’ early days of SANE, becoming a public figure, and ‘curating’ a life towards wellness, despite the daily challenges.   

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COVID-19 vaccine available for adults living with complex mental health issues

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Did you know that if you have a complex mental health issue, you might be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine now?

The Australian Government states that 'adults with specified underlying medical conditions' are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as part of phase 1b, which is rolling out now. This includes people with 'severe mental health conditions'.

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OCD: the symptoms you don’t see

A photo of Tim from the shoulders up looking into camera calmly.

You might have seen Tim on ABC’s You Can’t Ask That sharing his experiences of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Here, he gives even more insight into living with OCD, the symptoms people don’t see and how acceptance gives him strength.  

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‘Finding our way’: a mum and son navigate the path to recovery together

Marg and Mark sitting together outdoors smiling at the camera, Marg has her hand resting on Mark's shoulder

Marg was there when her son Mark had his first episode of psychosis five years ago, and has been part of his support network ever since. Mark’s road to recovery has meant building a new life for himself, and supporting others impacted by mental health issues.  

In celebration of Mother’s Day, here Marg and Mark share things they’ve learnt along the way, the importance of empathy and the need to support carers in their journeys too. 

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Telling a partner about past sexual assault

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The decision to tell a partner about a history of sexual trauma is a deeply personal choice. It can bring up mixed emotions that are hard to sort through.  

If you feel ready to have this conversation with your partner, I’m offering some advice to help you feel even more prepared. 

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How to ‘be a man’ living with bipolar – from relationships to dealing with male stereotypes

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What does it mean to be an Aussie man living with bipolar and navigating relationships?

We ask Matt and Mark, two SANE Peer Ambassadors, about their experiences. They share how they deal with stigma, harmful stereotypes, and what they find helpful from the people close to them. At the end of the day, they say speaking up about their mental health (as hard as it can be) allows others to do the same.

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Dating with bipolar disorder

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Vulnerability, trust and authenticity are the foundations of any successful relationship. It takes time to really get to know someone and build genuine intimacy. In the initial phases of dating, everyone tries to put their best foot forward to impress their prospective partner.

The ‘honeymoon’ phase is ideally full of fun, laughter and good times as we enjoy spending time getting to know the other person. The reality is that we all have our challenges and flaws which will rear their heads when life becomes stressful or we have our first conflict with our loved one.

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Managing anxiety when your fear comes to life

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Bushfire trauma can have a profound impact on existing mental health issues. Finding the right support is key to getting through disaster recovery and bushfire anniversaries.

The town of Wolumla, on the New South Wales south coast is a small village just south of Bega, surrounded by picturesque farmland. But over the summer of 2019/20, the landscape changed. On New Year’s Day, a ring of flames surrounded the region, with fires burning to the north and south. The sky turned orange, blotting out the sun. The ground was blanketed in ash. Fear gripped the town.

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Taking steps to rebuild relationships through bushfire recovery

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Bushfire trauma puts huge pressure on even the strongest relationships. It’s important to realise you’re not alone as you recover.

Bushfire disaster is a perfect storm for anxiety. A lack of control of the situation combined with the threat of loss can be a fertile ground for feelings of despair, uncertainty and hopelessness.

Grace, from Long Beach NSW, knows this all too well. She and her family were evacuated three times during the Black Summer fires. And while their house survived, her childhood home, where her parents still lived, was lost to the flames – an event she describes as heartbreaking.

The menacing fires and displacement both brought out strong anxious feelings for Grace. “It’s hard when you suffer from anxiety as it is,” she says. “Then, when you’re faced with that fear, it’s even harder.”

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Finding a way through your own bushfire recovery

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Bushfire recovery is different for everyone. Finding a way back can take time, but there are green shoots on the other side.

Experiencing disaster takes a significant toll. The added pressure of being responsible for others – whether they’re family members, friends or people in your community – can make it really hard to find time and space for important self-care. But not doing it can have devastating effects.

Butch lives in Moss Vale, in the New South Wales Southern Highland area. In January 2020, a fire jumped a river and raced towards homes, sandwiching his town between two major blazes. Although he and his family were safe, Butch got a call asking if he would be part of an emergency response team in Batemans Bay.

When he arrived, the town was cloaked in smoke and lit by the red glow of flames.

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