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The effects of bushfires on those living with complex mental health issues

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The constant smoke haze and news reports serve as a reminder of the bushfires that still burn across Australia. Exposure to details and graphic images relating to the fires can be extremely distressing and can have a negative affect on our mental health.

The effects of such devastating events can be even more profound for vulnerable people within our communities, such as those living with complex mental health issues. People living with a mental health issue may find their symptoms return or become more intense during this time. For example, someone living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) might find that graphic images trigger flashbacks to their own trauma.

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Guest blog: Sometimes it's hard to speak

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Artist Joanne Morgan gives us an incredible insight into her life, and how it informs her art. You can view Jo's work (along with a range of other talented artists) at The Dax Centre until June 7th.

 

My name is Jo and I am an artist with a lived experience of cPTSD, schizoaffective, agoraphobia and autism.

There have been several times in my life when due to trauma I have shut down my level of communication and ranged from being dissociative and non verbal to selectively mute and only verbal enough to ensure my safety. It has been during those times of silence that my art has become my salvation.

My quiet solitude has been my vehicle to the discovery of another language. And it has given me time and space and a stillness that has allowed me to sit, sometimes painfully, sometimes peacefully with my thoughts and feelings. It has given me a language that did not live in my head. It lives in my whole. During times of silence it has rumbled inside of me and tossed and turned until it moved through my hands onto a page or a canvas or a sculpture or an installation into a story without words but filled with meaning. It is my safe language that secretly begins its transition from my mind to my hands and into the world with the freedom to develop uninhibited, unrestricted, unmonitored and not threatened in fear of what it might reveal.

In that quiet private space where an image has the freedom to grow unscrutinised and in the safety of my silent language it thrives and matures before my eyes into my truth that wakes me from my deep disconnection into an awareness that sits solidly within me and anchors me to my present and I feel it through the finger tips that conveyed it, through my body that supported those hands and the mind that, free from the constraints of illness allows me to speak my truth. 

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Nine great books about living with mental illness

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Reading can be a tremendous source of solace as we navigate the ups and downs of life. Books that contain characters we relate to can provide a way to transcribe the messiness in our minds and understand other people's emotions. Mental illness can sometimes make it challenging to find the concentration required to read, but these nine books are wor...
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How to connect when you feel alone

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Despite the world's population growing rapidly, many of us feel lonelier than ever. The drive to connect with others and forge meaningful social relationships is an essential part of what makes us human. From a neurobiological perspective, we are wired for connection.   However, loneliness in Australia is an issue. A 2018 survey by the Au...
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What's the biggest challenge people with mental illness face?

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What's the biggest day-to-day challenge people living with mental illness experience?

We asked 10 SANE Peer Ambassadors for the biggest challenge, fear or obstacle they face.

And they said their biggest challenge is . . .

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Battling life's ups and downs

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Why is the cliché 'life has its ups and downs' so difficult to apply when we find ourselves in a down moment?

If you find it a struggle to reverse a down day, remember we have the cliché because 'ups' exist as well.

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Tackling mindfulness with a mind that's full

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Mindfulness is a self-care tool that can help us slow down and manage our thoughts. But, it can be a hard activity to approach when your mind is overwhelmed or racing.

Do you find it hard to be mindful with a mind that's full? It's certainly a challenge I can relate to. Yet, it's possible to overcome this challenge by breaking the process into small, achievable steps.

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Three tips for managing loneliness this holiday season

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The holidays are a time to connect with our loved ones. But for many people it can feel the opposite. Being separated from family and loved ones – either due to work, loss, or conflict – can make this time of year one of unhappiness and loneliness.

We might feel disconnected from others and feel like nobody really understands us, listens to us, or values our company.

The holidays can be a difficult time if we are feeling like this, but there are simple strategies you can use to help manage feelings of loneliness.

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Ways to unwind and destress when you live with a mental illness

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There's a proven relationship between stress and mental illness. It can worsen an episode, or even result in symptoms returning.

A balanced lifestyle and coping strategies can help with the management of stress. But how do you start?

The following suggestions can be implemented right now, or they can form part of an ongoing plan. 

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How to manage conflict

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Conflict or disagreement is a part of life and something everyone experiences. Yet, we all respond to and resolve conflict in our own unique way.

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