2017, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

The Social Influencer

‘Social Influencer’, he had stated at the top of his Instagram.

Or more correctly, ‘S O C I A L   I N F L U E N C E R’

A [very] handsome early 30’s guy living in my town, with thousands upon thousands of followers and fans of his who fawn over his looks, with endless pic after pic of him pouting his perfect lips in perfectly put together outfits in front of abstract chic city backdrops of walls and alleyways. I’m not jealous. Much. A perfect beard and handsome perfect face, under the term ‘Social Influencer’, in this guy’s description. Perf.

I don’t have fans, nor do I like the idea of someone like me having ‘fans’. Or more critically the idea of a person being a ‘brand.’ It seems awfully self-involved and entitled to think of yourself as some kind of ‘brand,’ star, diva or celebrity when you’re not, especially in my case. I work in a warehouse. I lift and move shit all day, Monday to Friday. I am in short an unimportant, miniscule barnacle in an infinite ocean. Not even a barnacle. Plankton. I am not, nor will I ever be the centre of the universe. And I’m ok with this.

As time goes on, I find more and more that I am disconnected from things I’m not really into. I guess pop culture and the importance and influence of social media being one of them. Don’t worry, I still love aspects of it [Star Wars Star Trek Game Of Thrones anime etc etc], but lately I’ve started feeling fatigued and a malaise with so much that is new or fad-based in pop culture, not to mention trends in social media. Maybe it’s my age. Perhaps I’m suffering from what was termed as ‘Future Shock‘ in the late 1960’s, wherein it was predicted that technology and the influence on technology would ramp up faster and faster, and transform and change all our lives. It would become more and more imperative for us to keep up and follow the rapid changes in technology, and many of us would inevitably suffer from ‘Future Shock:’ being unable to keep up with the latest and becoming outmoded and obsolete. Sound familiar? If you haven’t read this book, please do, as much of what is spoken of and describes in the 1960’s has chillingly become reality.

For instance, the idea that people are a ‘brand‘ or refer to themselves as ‘Social Influencers‘. They’re both terms I find so repellent and repugnant, as they smack of self-indulgence, arrogance and entitlement. They now pigeon-hole people into the category of ‘Douchy priveleged Millenial’. But that’s the time we live in. Maybe I AM becoming an outmoded creature.

I know this sounds contradictory, as I have an Instagram account, a Twitter and this blog I write on. I post shirtless selfies and tag myself places. Believe me I’m just as much to blame. I guess I am ‘branding’ myself as a commodity after all for consumption.

I’d like to think that I am at least aware of this. How many others aren’t? How many are caught up in this world of ‘Social Influencers’ and followers and likes. A world where  people spend thousands of dollars in order to go to a festival that was heavily marketed with non-sensical buzzwords and phrases , and packaged as a ‘transformative’ experience where goers will rub shoulders with models and social influencers. For instance. Only to find that they were dumped on a deserted island with no infrastructure or even running water.

A new Lord of the Flies. Pictures of great looking predominantly white Anglo-Saxon people enduring what so many countless millions do every day felt, unfortunately and admittedly, so satisfying. I couldn’t help like many others feel a sense of ‘serves them right’. I found this whole debacle so fitting for this new era we are living in, where people spend and spend to experience something exclusive and then show off their exclusivity via Instagram and Twitter et al, all in the hopes of what? Likes and followers? Displaying your sense of superiority? There is so much today that feels toxic to me, yet I know I am a willing participant in this ridiculous mousewheel of face filters and gym selfies. What is the logical end point to all of this?

I find myself becoming more and more politicised, whether that is a good or bad thing, I’m still unsure. But I do think on the concepts of fame, wealth, power and popularity, and how much of our receding and declining Western society is built and placed around these concepts more and more these days. The entirety of Los Angeles as an example appears specifically constructed around fame and the pursuit thereof. A nexus and cornucopia of ‘me’ culture. I know it sounds dramatic and almost sensationalist, but I really do feel that things aren’t getting better for us, that we are becoming more and more concerned with the self as opposed the welfare of our fellow human beings, and that as a society, we are headed down the path to as similar scenario to the world depicted in Brave New World: a world where the masses are forever distracted and diverted from the problems of their society and world around them by drugs, new fads and media.

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2017, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

The Mean Gay.

Get OUT Of My Way.’

I looked over my drink, grasped in my hand in the darkened and loud club, the air filled with blasting music, a horde of assorted people of any and all genders and sexualities enjoying themselves and dancing the night away.

Glancing up, the holder of the voice that so incisively dictated to myself and my friends standing by the bar to part way after having just got ourselves a drink and surveying the club we had just arrived up, had already stormed away, a flash of a colourful shirt in the otherwise dim and yet intoxicating intimate space.

A cisgender  and what I may perhaps wrongly assume gay man, replete with a full and even beard, wearing a colourful shirt, nose held high in what would classically be referred to as a display of arrogance. His tone also belied a cutting sense of belittlement and self-importance. Almost as though his desire to be away from my group of friends and I were far above our enjoyment of this space. We were an impediment, a speed bump to this person’s enjoyment of his night, simply due to our position relative to the bar.

And then, my heart sank and I shrank down.

I couldn’t help but start thinking on this. I know it’s only a minor case, but why was it necessary for this young, and again what I assume is a Gay or at least Gay-allied individual to say this to a group of people? Especially so with regards to context. The event was proudly Queer-centric and known for being open and accommodating for all, regardless of gender-identification or sexuality. It struck me as strange and puzzling, and it felt starkly out-of-place, and a bit mean. It felt so contradictory to what this event stood for, and all my past experiences with this event and others like it: promoting acceptance and love in a safe space for all. As though yet again, the archetype of the mean Gay man had singularly and effortlessly placed a hierarchy upon this space and dictated this to others through his behaviour.

I don’t know if this guy was having a bad night. Perhaps he was having a rough night; perhaps he was quarreling with friends or a loved one. Perhaps he had one too many drinks. I don’t know. What I found disconcerting was the tone of this person’s voice, the derision and dismissal and frustration that was loaded in this simple statement as well as body language. It’s obvious to all who know me that I am a creature of analysis and deconstruction. I live to take apart, find and derive meaning in all things. Everything to me has an explanation and context. For me, every phrase, every word selected as well as body language and mannerism has inherent, visible meaning within it.

‘Get out of my way’

I don’t think I have ever in my life said this to anyone, whether in a club. bar or event, or anywhere else really. Even at peak hour trying to get home or to work at a train station, I’ve never told anyone to get out of my way. Usually, in an intimate environment like a club night, I offer up a meek ‘excuse me’, and a nod of the head. Even if I’ve had too much to drink and am barely able to stand. Like my mum used to say, being polite doesn’t cost a thing. Should I have stood up to this about him saying this to my friends and I? Should I have simply asked him why he needed to say that to us?

I kept reflecting on this small event the day after. I kept returning to the fact that this behavior really did come back to the trope of the ‘Mean Gay’. As a community, it can be so easy for us to judge, tear down and reject each other based on appearance, sexuality, ethnicity, or even social identifiers ie where we grew up, what we do for work etc. It’s harder to see the value in others. It’s even harder it seems for some to treat others within this a modicum of respect. When someone says something like ‘Get out of my way’ to me, it can have the effect of making me feel about a centimetre tall. I know I’m far too sensitive. But this is not something that I expect in a place and event like the one I attended. It harkened back to the behavior of the young gay men I recall associating with and wanting to be like, over a decade ago when I was desperate to be a part of a circle of Gay men.

For some reason back then, as a young 20-something Gay man it seemed quite normal to throw shade and criticise and act superior. And not always in a jovial sense. It seemed like a sign of intelligence as well as control, and not to mention the norm in terms of social behaviour. Maybe this was due to most of us being rather poor; many of us were students and some of us just skirting above abject poverty. I never really got into this whole mindset, as I was always far too fragile for this world of Arq-attending twinks and their ability for non-stop partying and non-stop judgment.  But this kind of mean-gay attitude appeared to be the norm for the time and place it felt. The context seemed right for the time for this kind of cutting, rebuke-filled demeanor. I recall a lot of judgement, criticism and bitchiness taking place. And yes, I took part mainly in the desperate bid to be a part of a friendship circle, but I know it was also directed at me. It was a world of who fucked who, who was hot, who had the biggest dick, who was going to what party and who cheated on who. For some, it appears that this mindset has stuck.

What makes the Gay man take on this attitude and persona then? For some, it seems as though this kind of attitude is the normality of their social circles. The irony that this behavior can be so prevalent within the community, yet we as a community face criticism and abuse from outside of it is compelling. Is this kind of attitude a sign of the mobile, app-fuelled, insta-perfect Grindr culture and time we now find ourselves in? I certainly hope not. It seems for many Gay men that it is the reality of life to simply throw shade at other Gay men. Perhaps this is in order to curry favour within their friendship group and to gain social standing and stature. It worries me to think this.

I asked the Twittersphere and close friends what their thoughts were, and the overwhelming response was that many people had endured this kind of ‘Mean Gay’ behavior. One person best summed it up that:

‘Unfortunately some Gays behave like they’re on the set of Mean Girls or Drag Race

Which is telling as Drag Race is a cultural and money-making juggernaut. It would seem that a knock-off effect of this show has been for Gay men to raise the stakes as it were in their cutting wit. Another described that:

‘They also have this image that being gay is an ok pass to be mean without realising what they say could hurt’.

I’m extremely fortunate to be in a very diverse friendship circle. A friendship circle that consists of Gay men, Gay women, bi of both sexes as well as other LGBTIQ groupings or identifiers. I recall a friend once remarking whilst we were on holidays with many members of this group that it was of paramount importance for Gay men to have some female, trans, queer Gay friends or even acquaintances. That we as Gay men cannot cloister ourselves solely with other Gay men, as that trope of bitchy mean Gay man seems to come out of this lack of exposure. This in hindsight has changed much in my own behavior to others, as being in contact and exposed to other people who lead different lives than I has meant that I am hopefully a more empathetic and open person that is less judgemental, and doesn’t need to use being mean or bitchy as social currency, as in this group, being wantonly bitchy or mean will get called on.

To me, I look to those who go against this disparaging attitude and demeanor, and see them as the role models and the future of our community. It’s time to stop being the mean gay, and be more thoughtful and aware of others and the effect we can have as people to others.

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2017, Australia, Gayblog, Life, Sydney

[De]Motivators

The biggest motivator that has been driving me lately has been time itself, and the fact that as every day that goes past that I don’t write or contribute is a day lost. I’m motivated lately by fear. Fear now, of looking back at my life and feeling shame at myself, for not trying hard enough and not working hard enough. I feel as though I am at a point where I really have to start pushing for myself, and to continue working with what I have and to make my goals a reality. In a month I turn 33, I’m no longer a youth. The days of being an aimless lout are far behind me. I’m supposed to, according to society, have my collective ‘shit together’. It still doesn’t feel that way. The last few years have seen me try to try to work out what it is that I’m good at, enjoy doing that will make me some money. The idea of ‘finding yourself’ can be cute and romantic, but not once you get into your mid 30’s. I’m not after fame and fortune, I’d rather just be comfortable and be able to have freedom to be able to travel, or perhaps one day own my own home. I can really feel the clock ticking these days, the nerves fraying, In back of my mind my own voice urging me to write more, contribute more, to take more of a chance, and to not let slip any possible potential opportunity that may come my way.

I guess sometimes fear of the future or of failure can be an immensely potent motivator, yet I also sense that it can bring ruination. As the flip side of this is the response of ‘well whats the use’ or ‘I’m doomed to fail anyways.’ It’s hard sometimes to stay focused and on the ball and to continue on when at times it all seems pointless. This has been something that I have definitely struggled with over and over again in the past. The smallest set back will trigger my confidence and morale to collapse. I picture it like an eagle posed, ready for flight, and when it takes that first sweep of its wings something goes wrong. It’s been a game in itself to keep my confidence up and in flight, it’s been an absolute disaster when my confidence and morale plummets. It’s something which takes time to re-balance itself enough for me to get back on my feet, dust myself off and try again.

It’s very easy to feel like a failure at life. Which is how I’m feeling at this moment. I feel that I’ve not accomplished enough, I’m not travelled enough, and I’m not doing enough in my life to bring me joy, happiness and yeh maybe a little success and prosperity. Success continually seems to elude me.

It’s very easy to place yourself next to someone else and consequently compare yourself to them. They might have all those things you desperately crave. A great job. Amazing looks. A great body. Lots of friends. People paying attention to them because of these things. In my world, it is easy for me to fall into this trap of envy. I find myself doing this more and more these days, and it worries me. Being in the Gay world of Sydney, as well as Melbourne, everyone seems to have something that they’re doing that brings them something quantifiable and desirable: money, career, attention or exposure. Everyone is to my eye out partying, doing photo shoots, getting great gigs, always at fun parties dressed up in crazy outfits. I get a little bit envious and down at times. All I seem to see is other’s displaying how fantastic their lives are, which isn’t even necessarily the truth. I feel sick about myself and insecure. If I’m not comfortable in my own skin at this point, when will I be? Does the act of me comparing myself to others work as a motivator, or de-motivator? What reason then do I want the things out of life that I do? For my own wellbeing and benefit, or simply so I can feel better about myself and what others think of me?

Motivation has to come from the right place, and lately for me it hasn’t. I’ve spent too much time comparing myself to others, which is a toxic and unhealthy approach. I see people taking selfies at the parties, dressed to the nines, at the gyms showing their biceps off. All of this self-aggrandisement has an effect on others. An effect that needs to be monitored and contemplated and considered. I’ve also thought of myself as ‘too old’ for the things I want, and that I am over the hill. None of this might necessarily be true, as I have met some fantastically talented people who have come into their own later in life, and found the things that I have been searching for, yet lately this has been something to which I have given much thought to in my life.

Does everyone struggle with this, and finds themselves motivated for the wrong reason? Is it wrong to motivated through envy, or is it simply a case of the means justifying the ends?

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2017, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Manifesto 2017

It’s the start of a new year, which means it’s an opportunity for reflecting on the year ahead, and setting goals and objectives, or just in more general terms, a time for self-examining.

The idea of new year’s resolutions is nothing new [we all do it], but year by year I find myself keeping track of my year that has just passed, and I recall what I promised to myself.

This year however, I will try something different. As we all seemed to collectively feel, 2016 became a somewhat dire year. It may not have been as bad a year as we all seemed to think, but collectively it appeared that plenty of us were struggling to make it through.

Things for many of us went from bad to worse, a fact reflected by what happened globally throughout the year. Brexit, Trump, celebrity deaths et al. We all, I think, had a stinker. And we all deserve a pat on the back for making it through together.

Instead of a new year’s resolution however, I decided to write myself up a ‘2017 Manifesto’.

I’ve always loved the idea of the ‘manifesto’ concept, used by artists, philosophers, politicians as well as now corporations, and for personal use. The idea of transcribing down objectives, statements of purpose, delineating clearly the goals and ambitions and very identity of an art or political movement as per example, was something that intrigued me from an early age, from when I first learned about manifestos in Art class in high school.

The Dadaist Manifesto, for instance, was an initial exposure to the art of the manifesto as well as the original. The work ‘Manifesto‘, a fantastic video installation featuring Cate Blanchett, a logical endpoint, highlighting famous manifestos in history, all spoken by Cate Blanchett in character. The expression of ideals, virtues and identity is what has drawn me to wanting to write my own for 2017.

In my own life, 2016 has taught me that direction, decisiveness and clarity is key. A clarity of purpose and identity. Taking inspiration from above, I present my 2017 Manifesto. I’m not sure I will possibly be able to live up to this, or adhere to these tenets, but I no doubt will try.

 

 

 

Manifesto 2017

I will not be taken advantage of. My life is finite and fragile.

I will be honest about my feelings. I won’t hide behind half-truths and passive aggressiveness.

I will take my career, or lack thereof, more seriously, and give it focus and thought. In this year, I will knuckle down and work out 3 things: What do I want to do, how do I do it, and where.

I will say yes only when it pleases me to do so, and no when it doesn’t please me to not do so. I won’t let myself be swayed for the sake of a good time or fun.

I will not listen to or accept idle gossip.

I will not lead others on, or let myself be lead on by others.

I will invest my time into those who will reciprocate.

In 2017, I will surround myself with those whom inspire me, and hopefully I am able to inspire them in return.

I will create, produce and generate more. I won’t second guess myself, will output more, and worry less.

I will not think less of myself compared to others simply because they may have more followers on social media than I.

I will remember to breathe.

I will use the block button on apps more, and argue online less. Low-resolution profile images a good opponent for arguments does not make.

I will not succumb to thinking of myself or others merely as a ‘brand.’

I won’t forget to take my meds.

I will learn to like myself more, and hate myself less.

I will write/photograph/contribute to the greater world because I am compelled to do so, not for likes, comments or the affirmation of others.

What would your manifesto for 2017 say?

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2016, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Why I stopped, and why I need to start again.

You may have noticed I’ve not posted much on this blog for months. I’ve felt somewhat paralysed and unsure about the future, or even the point, of continuing to write this blog. There’s been quite a bit of inner-monologuing which has resulted in me being incapable of action. And as much as I cringe at this, [truly I do] to paraphrase Ru Paul, I’ve let my ‘inner saboteur’ sabotage myself. Such cringe and cliche from the great, vaunted High Priestess of Drag herself, yet really fitting for how I’ve been feeling lately.

It’s been great to hear people’s responses to what I’ve posted, it’s also been great to know that a select few individuals have taken their time out of their lives to read about what I have to say. It makes me feel quite priveleged, and in a way, responsible. Responsible for the words I put down here, as well as the thoughts behind them.

Lately, I’ve had more than a few people remark on something I wrote months, or now, even a year or more ago. I’m chuffed when they praise, I’m interested when they critique. My ears instinctively perk up like an eager pup. Even negative criticism has had a positive effect, as it has meant that my stumbling about therefore has equated into experience.

So what happened, and why did I stop?

Life, in short.

In the past 6 months, I feel there has been someone out there in the great big blue sky, pushing a giant celestial finger on an equally over-sized heavenly fast-forward button. I finally left my old workplace of two years, [which was a drama in itself], I spent a couple months out of work and doing some office temping, and finally found my current workplace, which has been such a blessing and such a great ailment for what had been 2 years worth of work related anxiety and general unease.

My social circle has rapidly expanded with more characters I’m grateful to have in my life; I go out more, can socialise and I am able to generally be more daring with life experiences.

Adrian and I have been great together, we talk much more and have opened up exponentially. It’s been invigorating and revitalising having this level of dynamic energy and honesty in our relationship; communicating and being honest with each other has meant we have both grown and in turn, our relationship has grown leaps and bounds.

My new job has also given me a fresh new start and the chance to ‘reset’ myself. The stress related to my former workplace has diminished immeasurably. Day by day it gets better. I no longer sleep with unease. I no longer wake up in the morning with my stomach in knots of nervousness, and my heart sinking. I no longer feel as though I am constantly being spied upon from afar, [or worse yet], judged and taken advantage of. I feel more understood at my current work place, as well as more pro-active and generally interested. If any of you read this, all I can say is never work at an environment like Matt Blatt. But in the end, I learned a valuable life lesson in this: never let others take advantage of your hard-won skills and talent and be true to yourself. Being in that toxic work environment caused me much distress, and by the end, a sense of ‘giving up’ on my own self worth. Moving ahead to the moment, now I work in a great work environment for a large, professional company. I’m treated well, am trusted and get along with my job every day. The change has been something fantastic for me, a real chance for some much needed breathing room.

I don’t know exactly why it’s taken me months to get to the point to be able to write. Lately I’ve felt much of what has been going on in my life has given me much to reflect and think upon, and that I’ve felt much more grateful for the things I have. A part of me feels pangs of guilt for not continuing to post. I don’t know what could have come out of 3 months worth of writing and posting. Perhaps I’ve needed this time off. Maybe it’s actually been a good thing for me to take a break and step back from the blog and just try and enjoy my new job, friends and life in general. I’m re-learning how to relax, and to not feel riddled with guilt when enjoying those things in life that help me unwind and chill: reading, playing games, my new Dungeons and Dragons play group, cuddles, dinners out, a silly night dancing at the Imperial, et al.

It’s been a time of detoxifying and re-grouping, something that I feel I have needed for some time.

I guess with it being Spring comes a chance and time to re-assess, revalue and begin again.

So having said that, thank you, dear reader, for sticking with me, giving me pointers, following my [at times] angsty ramblings, and most of all for believing in me.

 

Much love,

Alessandro.

 

 

 

 

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2016, Australia, Opinion, Sydney, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Folly Of Nationalism.

Pride in one’s nation can be a very dangerous thing. An accident of birth determines so much of one’s circumstances, whether being born as female or male, in differing socio-economic circumstances and geographic location determines one’s life to a substantive degree.

The fact that so much human misery and destruction, both to ourselves and to this planet we inhabit is due to what is in essence tribalism and factionalism magnified in macro makes me personally deride national pride. I know this may be a very controversial point of view, but I am against national pride, patriotism and nationalism as these concepts so easily lend themselves to the politics of hate and exclusion, namely right-wing political ideologies filled with hatred and racism such as Fascism.

Being a self-identified Social Democrat, my standpoint is one of inclusion, fraternity and opportunity for all, not to mention basic human rights that should be afforded to all. REGARDLESS of skin colour, gender, age and sexuality. Universal healthcare, education and welfare support to name a few. Luckily, I live in a nation that gives me access me these things, however we are facing a crossroads, one in which we can easily begin the long downward slide into rugged individualism, economic rationalism and 100% free marketeering. The aforementioned concepts of universal healthcare, education et al should not be a source of pride, they are EXPECTATIONS to me. All in all, I don’t want us, a post-colonial nation which has suffered from so much cultural cringe as well as a lack of identity, to become something akin to a 51st state of the USA.  The political, economic and social policies and goals of the current government, a conservative economo/finance-centric one, would have us simply become a facsimile of the United States. I know the likelihood of this is slim, but I find that some political factions in this country would dearly love this country to forgo and forget its important and indelibly widespread, and far-reaching social-based policies which have helped shape us as a nation. Policies, which established by the almost hallowed yet ultimately doomed and somewhat naive Whitlam government in the early 1970’s that have really become enmeshed and a vital component and makeup in our national identity.

Mateship, a buzzword so easily thrown around in a disparaging manner, especially with regards when describing the ‘true-blue ocker Aussie identity’, to me belies the sense of humanist spirit summed up in the classic phrase ‘egalite, fraternite, liberte’. The term mateship to me has a very real cringey self-involved aspect linking to the identity of the average Australian as a sun burnt, beer swilling tradie white Aussie battler, yet we all know this is far from the reality. It to me equates far more to the crux ideal that we are all in this together, that we are all a community and that in short, we are still affected by the plights and suffering of others.  We only need to look at how we have mistreated political refugees in recent years as well as the indigenous peoples of this nation not to mention the very real lag in progress for Gay marriage to see we have a long way to go. So, due to my political ideologies which have more concurrent concerns on the state and welfare of the human being as a part of a greater community than nationalist pride, I find this question, in fact the entire concept of national pride somewhat disturbing.

Australia has had somewhat a strange and if not at times quietly turbulent history. This nation was established on the plight, plunder and suffering of the indigenous populations and peoples that inhabited this land for many an epoch before the first European man set-foot on our shores. The colonies that formed the core of what would later become Australia in 1901 were established simply due to the fact that the British required pre-eminence and predominance in every aspect of society at the time in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Competition in trade, military strength and cultural influence was fierce between the imperial powers. Colonies were established simply to deny the other colonial and imperialist powers of the day namely France and Russia a foothold on this continent. Purposeless colonies established in order to restraining other nations from gaining a piece of this incongruous continent. A somewhat strange and wasteful notion. A continent with untold mysteries and clearly very misunderstood. For decades it was believed a large inland sea bisected the continent, where unbound arable lands were to be found. A localised El Dorado, almost. Water has always been much more important than gold here. The truth was, this land was and still is harsh; unforgiving yet also beautiful and compelling in its hardness and alien nature in comparison to Western Europe.

The European policy of Terra Nullius, or ‘Empty Land’, which essentially equated the British or any other European imperialist power having right and reason to plant a flag anywhere that was not according to them inhabited [Farming, structures], meant that this land was forcibly and unjustly stolen from the indigenous tribes that very much inhabited this continent.

Add to this the penal and convict legacy of this country, as well as prevailing casual racism, the mistreatment of immigrants as well as indigenous peoples, and it makes me hard to have pride in my country of birth. In many ways I’m very lucky to be born in a nation that has afforded many including myself so many liberties and freedoms. Of course this is undeniable. A dark side of our culture has come to the fore in the past, and I’m sure will continue to flash and flare in the future. The Stolen Generations, the Cronulla riots of 2005, the plight and abject suffering of the asylum seekers and refugees of Manus Island are some examples to name a few.

No nation is perfect, no nation-state to me deserves pride and patriotism invested in it. Our governments and politicians who are the apparatus and nervous system of all nations deserve to fear their citizenry and treat them with an accordance of respect and deference, as the citizenry are the nation, not the artifice of national identity. Nations are simply lines drawn on a map, the reality is often much messier and much more prosaic and obtuse. There is never black and white, but always grey.

Yes, I know I sound like a raving rabble-rousing left-wing Marxist ideologue apparatchik but the truth is, nationalist pride for me is a very perilous concept, one that can create competition, enmity and disparity which can lead to human suffering and bloodshed.

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2016, Gayblog, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

My Marvellous Meds

Lately I’m getting asked quite regularly about my medication. I’ve been taking antidepressants/anti anxiety medication for just over a year now. I’m very open and honest about it, which is something I never thought I would be. I’m happy to share my experiences with medication.

Growing up in a family where mental illness was viewed a fixable state of mind that was able to be fixed through hard work, grit and physical activity lead me to believe that medication for mental illnesses was simply a taboo. I still remember my parents saying there is no such thing as stress, it’s just something made up for lazy people to get out of work.

In fact, I grew up believing that any form of medication as well as therapy strategies like psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors and the like were detrimental, negative and simply a means to shirk responsibility.

If you’ve followed my blog you’ll note that much of my written subject matter since starting out in 2014 is charting my progress and journey from being undiagnosed with depression to seeking help and initiating treatment in the form of medication as well as therapy. It’s been a difficult road, and I still have my ups and downs. So I decided to write a post about my marvellous meds.

Why I take them

My medication has been a help. I can’t deny that. That’s why I take them. However, its not the 100% solution to solving all the problems in my life, but is simply one part of a larger strategy. Aside from meds, other strategies such as psychology sessions, exercise and positive thought modification techniques have meant I have a larger plan for attacking my depression. A bigger picture, which lets me work through my bad days. Meds have really helped improve my general mood however. I still have my less-than great days, but for the most part it’s really helped me manage my moods. It’s been tougher for me lately as I’m currently in between jobs, and I find when I’m not busy at a job or working on a project my mind can run off it’s hinges and into darker territory.

What they don’t do

Meds aren’t going to put the fucked up parts of your life back together, or automatically stop the shitty thoughts in your head as you try to get some sleep at 3am. They won’t necessarily have a direct effect on the course of your career, relationship or mental makeup. They won’t magically transform you into a wide-smiling, motivated go-getter overnight. They won’t make you a better lover or friend, they won’t make your bed in the morning or write emails or perform better at work/study. They take time, and you won’t see any change quickly. How they do work is more akin to something in the background humming away that has a purpose, like a fridge. You know its there doing it’s thing but you don’t pay much mind to it.

What they do

It has a job to do, and sometimes you’re aware of the proverbial humming fridge sound which means it’s working and keeping your shit cool. But for the most part, I just tend to go about my day as per usual. What I have found however after being on them for over a year is that my ups are much higher, and my lows occur less frequently and are generally much less world-ending or fraught with despair. The best way to describe this is with the idea of a wave pattern. Before starting medication, the wave would crescendo then quickly dip low. Nowadays, that wave is more uniform. I still feel down sometimes, yet the main thing is that the low in the wave is not as low as before. I am also more productive, although this is still something I need to work on. The fact that I have kept this blog going for almost two years is a testament to that. I don’t get so affected by something that has previously had a monumental effect on me, and I’m also able to deal can deal with negativity much more efficiently.

In the words of Aahliyah [RIP], I can figuratively ‘dust it off and try again’.

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Hey gurl.

I also find myself being more relaxed in social settings and being less nervous when meeting new people, or in high stress situations, not to mention not being as anxious when attending large social gatherings.

Chop and change

I’ve already changed my meds once since starting them, as I found the previous prescribed medication had side effects on me which I didn’t care too much about, like lowered libido, increase in headaches and stomach aches. My thoughts on this are if it’s not feeling right, change it. Hit your GP up to change your script. I simply spoke to my GP with my concerns and was given a new set to try, which have been way better for me. Since opening up about this issue, I’ve met and spoken to many people who have given me advice as well as how they’re feeling on what they’re taking. It almost feels like speaking about your drink of choice, or what cheese you like. I like this as it has de-stigmatised this from being a taboo subject into something more grounded and social, and strangely has made me feel a part of a club. Brie or camembert?

Don’t feel bad for taking them

Is it right however, to use medication with the purpose of altering one’s mood or general demeanour? Again, growing up in a household that was quite conservative in its views on medication for mental illnesses, I always viewed meds as something only those who were suicidal took; a last resort. To me, the mind was something inviolable, holy and unalterable. I was brought up to believe that medication causes one to become something unnatural. An automaton that isn’t the real you, a modified version of you with a layer of nauseating cheerfulness draped over skin. It took some time for me to educate myself and to understand that the mind is chemical-based. I lacked and still lack the right chemical mix that most people take for granted. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t normal to experience running the daily gauntlet of emotions and despair I felt. My mind quite literally stopped me from experiencing life. Which is why I personally don’t feel bad at all for taking medication, and neither should you. Perhaps me as a teenager would have been dismayed that I would have need of them, but hey, in short they’re designed to put in balance what some of us lack.

So never feel bad or feel as though you’re a failure or you’re somehow inadequate for needing them. I find that increasingly people are opening up about this, and the more I speak to and open up to people, the more I hear that medication has really helped people for the better and works for them. Which is a bit rad really.

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