Browsing Tag

mental health

Art, Mental illness

~tortured artist feelings~

11 September, 2012

Illustration with purple clouds and the text “I’m so sad. What do I do with all this sad?” written in orange and surrounded by rain/ tears.

I’m really fed up with the tortured artist trope. People have said it about me since I was a teenager, and while it’s true that I am kind of a bit artistic and also depressed as fuck, the latter does not positively affect the former. If this were the case I’d be a lot further along in my artistic practice and career.

My craziness has affected me to the point where I can’t leave the house most of the time, let alone go to ~cultural events~ and network with local art people. Making connections is incredibly difficult for me. It’s not that I’m shy, I actually really resent being called shy, it’s that I am overcome with panic whenever I try to do certain social/ professional things. When I say panic, I don’t mean butterflies in my stomach. I sweat. I don’t perspire. Sweat rolls down my face, I get flustered, I forget how to form words and I get disoriented and dizzy. People don’t tend to react favourably towards a leaking, bumbling mess, and so I end up compounding panic with the fear of looking ridiculous. And so on and so forth. I only found out there was a name for this a few years ago, and it’s called Social Anxiety Disorder.

So I don’t go to art events, I don’t hang around with arty types, and I rarely get to immerse myself in discussion and critique. It’s frustrating. Every few months I descend into despair over my worth as a person who creates things, in addition to my worth as a human; but it’s balanced out by hypermanic episodes of frenzied sketching and creating. So it’s ok I guess. My psychiatrist says I might have Bipolar 2. I was put on Lamictal (lamotrigine) and for the first time I felt almost balanced, but now I am experiencing very familiar depths and all creating has halted.

This is my life since 15 and from now on, and that’s very difficult to come to terms with. I don’t wish to receive advice when I talk about my health (I want to emphasise that mental health IS health), I just think it’s important to talk about it instead of feeling ashamed. I try to talk about it, but it’s a struggle, because people’s responses pretty much always fall into one of the following:
* unsolicited advice (try this diet! meds don’t work!)
* redundant platitudes (chin up! be positive! it could be worse!)
* conversation terminated awkwardly (and usually the relationship)

So don’t do that. Thanks.

Illustration with text “Jam sandwich club” surrounded by jam splatters, a jam sandwich, jam donut, jar of jam and jam on a crumpet. A faint piece of bread is in the background.

What I am trying to do is be gentle with myself. I have started to learn ACT techniques, and it’s challenging remembering them but I’ve made a start. I wrote a list of steps I want to take towards sorting some of my drawing feelings out, and that made me feel less hopeless about my creative situation. My plan is to focus on research as well as technique, and to draw every day. Even if it’s simple.

So that’s what I’ve done for the last few days. I hope I can keep it up. These vector illustrations aren’t super slick or fully rendered but they’re something.

Illustration with two roughly cut out photos of manatees that look like they’re about to embrace with “Manatee hugs” above them.

People seem to like this one. You can download it to use as a desktop picture if you like!


Tonight on Disaster Chef… [insert flame visual]

17 June, 2011

I have been craving roasted cherry tomatoes with balsamic vinegar reduction for the last week and tonight was the first night in a long time that I’ve had enough energy to cook. So I decided to righteously address my craving and because it was such a momentous occasion I took photos. Seriously, when you find five spoons down the back of the couch of your well-being even small things you can do for yourself are worth documenting! As well as the fatigue and pain I’ve been experiencing in the past few months, my coordination has been quite shocking and amongst various mishaps I’ve smashed two full bottles and dropped 2kg of sugar in the floor in the noble pursuit of feeding myself and others. I like to call myself Disaster Chef.

We get a vegetable box delivered every two weeks from Home Fresh Organics and this week it was full of beetroot. pumpkin and garlic, as well as a punnet of delicious cherry tomatoes! I decided to roast all the vegetables as well as the tomatoes and pair them with couscous and my longtime lover, a balsamic vinegar reduction. I could just drizzle it on anything and lick it off. (Except maybe not Nick’s sneakers.)

A photo of my hand splotched with beetroot juice.

Beetroot is one of my favourite vegetables because it’s just so FUN. I love getting beetroot stained fingers.

A photo of half roasted pumpkin and beetroot pieces in a baking tray with fresh cherry tomatoes and garlic added ready for roasting.

I roasted the beetroot and pumpkin pieces for 20 minutes at 200˚C then threw in the cherry tomatoes and garlic for the last 15 minutes.

A photo of a saucepan on the stove (inside is balsamic vinegar).

I sat down while the vegies were roasting (cutting up pumpkin is exhausting for me!) and Nick took care of the couscous and balsamic vinegar reduction. Thanks Nick <3 [caption id="attachment_4526" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption="A photo of the roasted stuff just out of the oven."][/caption]

A photo of dinner: roast beetroot, pumpkin, garlic and cherry tomatoes on couscous served with balsamic vinegar reduction and many basil leaves.

I hardly think this is a Masterchef quality dish, but it’s good enough for dinner. I always laugh when serving up food now that “plopping food on a dish” has been replaced with “plating up”.

Disclaimer: I am not a photographer or a chef, just a sick person who is very proud of herself for helping make dinner.

And it was fricking amazing.


Hospital drawings.

13 April, 2011

I spent the last few days in hospital. My mental state has been getting increasingly worse and Nick was very worried about me when I started talking about some of the dark feelings I’ve been experiencing, so he took me to see our doctor who saw straight away that I needed help. I was admitted to a psych unit on Thursday night feeling a little resentful and a lot unwell, but it actually turned out to be a good thing. The doctors were very thorough and ran a lot of tests on me and discovered that I have Graves disease. The thing about Graves is that it means my thyroid is producing too much hormone, contributing to my disabling anxiety and social phobia in recent months. I also have to undertake Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to address years and years of unaddressed social phobia. It’s all a bit scary at the moment, but having stuff properly diagnosed means I can hopefully move forward knowing exactly what things I need to get treated.

Over the last six months you may have noticed that I have not been producing much art at all. I’ve had no concentration as my mind frantically bounced from thing to thing, so I lost my ability to get into the right sort of mood to feel creative. For the longest time I’ve drawn to meditate and express myself, so this was pretty distressing for me. I’ve not been able to work as a freelance artist, and because of that I’ve not only been grieving drawing but feeling guilt about not bringing in income. So when you compound that with my general long time feelings of worthlessness, anxiety and social phobia as well as the symptoms of hypothyroidism… you end up with a recipe for a very unhappy Natalie.

If you’ve never stayed in a psych hospital, you might not know much of the experience. It’s lonely, scary and hard to know if you can trust people when they take away all your agency to control your life; and because I’m Type 1 Diabetic and threatened to take an overdose of insulin, they insisted on following me around everywhere and removing my ability to inject myself with insulin and monitor my own needs. Hospital is also a hugely boring place. My phone charger and earphones were taken from me, and there was no TV except for in a common area. If you are a smoker, you might find yourself smoking three times as much as usual because there’s simply nothing else to do, and in the psych hospitals I’ve been in the doctors and nurses don’t bother giving you grief because patients have way more pressing heavy shit to deal with. So I found myself smoking a lot, but also magically I started drawing again. After a six month drought it didn’t come naturally to me but there was nothing else to do.

A pencil drawing of a fat girl with sewn on blush and long tendrils of hair. A gecko with an exposed skeleton sits over her forehead.

For the first day I didn’t speak to anybody. I was in shock and confusion, not knowing how to negotiate my way around this strange place full of new people. One person sat down next to me and we started talking about this and that and then he asked what I did. When I said I drew and wrote about stuff he asked if I could draw a gecko. I don’t really draw animals so I wasn’t sure if I could. I found a card with a flower on it slipped under my door, found a pen at the bottom of my bag, and started drawing an outline of a gecko with an exposed skeleton inside it. I gave it to my new mate and he said I was a genius! Flattered and encouraged, I bought a sketchbook when Nick took me out for half an hour and started drawing a gecko on a girl’s head. And so I started drawing again.

A black pen illustration of a bird skeleton sitting atop an oval frame surrounded by paisley and flower shapes.

A pen drawing of the words "I had to go deep to find love this morning" surrounded by paisley , flowers and flourishes. Underneath says "To the bottom of a pit."

When other patients saw me drawing they’d come up to look, and sometimes they’d strike up conversations. Some wanted me to draw things, often pretty rude and hilarious stuff, but I made no promises! One man was really sad and said something like, “I had to go to the bottom of a pit to find love this morning.” I probably paraphrased but it struck me and I doodled.

A black pen drawing of a naked fat girl with big hair prancing sadly through a circle of tree branches.

When I was admitted on Thursday night I felt a lot of shame. It’s not a new thing. I’m pretty sure lots of people who suffer from mental illness have been shamed into being quiet about their experiences and what they have to live with. I was pretty sure I’d be disqualified from the Cosmopolitan Fun Fearless Female competition for being crazy! For so many years I have worried about what people will think of me when they learn “the truth” about me because the most common feedback I’ve gotten is that I’m flaky, full of excuses, sensitive or given to indulge my melancholy. I’m more than that, I know, but years of negative conditioning has made me feel a lot of guilt and shame.

I got out of hospital on Monday, however I don’t know if I’ll be able to find a place of creativity (“alpha waves” apparently) again so I can maintain this drawing “spurt”. People email me about commissions all the time but I just don’t think I can do it yet. (I’m sorry if I haven’t responded, I get so much email and I am so anxious about disappointing people.) I need to look after myself, and also give this new metric buttload of meds time to help me feel better.

Oh and my goodness, you should have seen some of my hospital outfits. Comfy psych unit chic at its best!

Mental illness

Stitch and Twitch: Social anxiety and public crafting.

3 April, 2011

Over the last few months I’ve been coming to terms with learning something new about myself. I’ve been dealing with generalised anxiety and depression for many years but a few months ago I found out I was also suffering with social anxiety. I’ve never been into partying a lot (well, besides my early 20s and that wasn’t terribly enjoyable) and I score dead between Introvert and Extrovert on the Myers Briggs test. I just thought I was being introverted and stuff!

I’m afraid of using the telephone. Sometimes I don’t go outside because I’m afraid of falling over. When I go out I get terribly anxious, I hyperventilate, sweat a lot and stumble over my words. In the last year I started to withdraw into myself, not going outside and I even started falling behind on my work which is largely undertaken inside in the comfort of my own home. My social anxiety is strongly linked with avoidance so I will avoid seeing friends, taking calls (which must distress my mother!) and even responding to emails.

I’m seeing a psychologist and taking medication to help get me through years of pretty crippling anxiety, but it’s very hard. I wonder if there’s a line between just not wanting to socialise because I don’t get much out of it and being afraid of socialising, but these are things I am currently seeking therapy for. My psychologist suggested that I do at least one social thing a week, and after thinking about it and negotiating between all the things in my brain I settled on doing something that I like in a challenging environment.

I love to make things but it’s been a private thing for me up until now. I see the ways in which the crafting movement has enjoyed a revival and how crafty people have started to reclaim public space for making things. Knitting, crocheting, stitching and stuff. I went to a “Stitch and Bitch” night a few times years ago and wasn’t terribly confident about stitching but the social aspect was great. On twitter the other week I wondered aloud about holding a “Stitch and Twitch”, a weekly social crafting session for people with social anxiety. Wonderfully, a few people (pretty much my friends!) said they’d love to attend, so we’ve had a couple of meetings so far and it’s been great!

Today we went to Kerbside and took full advantage of the lovely mismatched vintage furniture, working on our own individual projects. The bar is actually a huge shed type structure filled with interesting stuff and good music, so even if the conversation lulled (another thing I fear!) it was filled with humming and concentration.

I didn’t have much of that concentration today and after unpicking a huge mistake in my cross stitching I switched to crocheting a necklace, then taking photos! Here’s lots of them.

A photo of mismatched seats lining a long table against a fence made out of lots of odd bits of iron fencing facing the street.

A photo of people sitting in mismatched lounge chairs in various floral tapestry fabrics.

A photo of a framed picture of Jesus on a wall next to a mirror.

An out of focus photo of Sonya's silver sequin jacket spangled with lots of silvery bokeh.

A photo of Nick working on his cross stitch.

A photo of lots of bangles on a pale skinned wrist, one is a coiled snake and the others are various big plastic and resin bangles.

A photo of Mem holding up her small Finding Nemo cross stitch in front of her face.

A photo of me taking a photo of my reflection in the mirror. Written on the mirror in white pen is "Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? And can I have their number?"

A photo of various glasses of cider on a table with Zoe and Sonya out of focus behind.

A photo of various crafty things on the table like cross stitch, crochet, scissors and a drawing.

A photo of some cream yarn and crocheting on a floral tapestry couch.


Fa(t)shion February – Wherein I get my head squeezed.

28 February, 2011

Outfit photo of me, fat and pale skinned, standing in a garden. I'm wearing a white t-shirt with black and white flowers around the necklice, a rust coloured a-line skirt and mary jane crocs with sunglasses.

It’s the last day of Fat(t)shion February and even though I don’t feel like telling you about this day or the clothes that covered me throughout it, I feel like I need to. Because some days I don’t want to pick clothes to wear. It’s just too hard. Some days I just pull on random things just to pass for minimally clothed because other things are on my mind; and instead of being pathologised as lazy or sloppy I want to represent me as far more complex than a t-shirt and a skirt. I want to be represented as a human being with mental illness and other shit going on instead of being minimised or demonised. So I present you with my last Fa(t)shion February outfit. It’s not for high fashion, it’s just for representation.

So I went for my first session with a new psychologist today. It was hard and I’m sure it’s not going to get easier before a bit more hard stuff. I think it’s important to be realistic. I’m not sure how long my patchy blogging will continue for, or if I find a rhythm in routine. I’m trying not to feel guilty about it but it’s very hard to shake off. I don’t know if I’ll write about it here because it’s quite personal but I’m sure it will inspire tangents that get written about.

A photo of me with my hands poses like claws. Am I a monster?!

I usually deal with things by smiling, being goofy and shrugging things off. Unlike water rolling off a duck’s back, these things fall into a big box in the back of my mind that I promptly forget about and deny. The pressure to appear like everything is ok, everything is fine, really gets to me. The therapist said I might be a perfectionist and I cried, “but I never manage to achieve perfection no matter how hard I try!” He scribbled on his paper and nodded saying, “well… that might be something we have to talk about later on.” I’m just like an onion with the layers and the stinging eyes, and oh dear!

Outfit photo of me in the white t-shirt and rust skirt doing a small dance movement for I don't know what reason.

So yep. I managed to wear clothes today, thanks to Mum for giving me the t-shirt last night and pulling this long neglected DIYed skirt out because I liked the colour. It’s not fancy and it’s not totally fashionable but it’s my life.

T-shirt: Kmart (I think?)
Skirt: Made by me
Shoes: Crocs
Sunnies: Valley market vendor

Mental illness

Taking care of business (and by business, I mean me.)

27 January, 2011

I have been sick in the last few months and it’s been very difficult to manage all the different parts of my life while also taking care of me. A few months ago my anxiety got to a point where it was making me withdraw from the world and it probably would have been a lot worse had Nick not stepped in and gently nudged me in the direction of the local GP. I decided to stop everything and focus on my health, my mental health, for the first time in a long time and I’m still working on it. I think I’ll have to work on it for the rest of my life now that I know that it’s not like a cold and it won’t be something I can get through by grinning and pretending I am normal.

I don’t like doctors because even though they’re supposed to care for us, I’ve never really felt like they care much about me. One of the reasons why my anxiety and sleep problems weren’t addressed sooner was because doctors didn’t pick it up. They wouldn’t let me testify for my body and would assume that I was lying or hysterical or non-compliant. Instead of treating me as an individual human being with a unique body, they would look at my body and refer back to the caricature of the fat body. I don’t need to go into details – you and I, we know all about it. I also have Type 1 diabetes and that adds a layer of complication and frustration around looking after yourself, being sick and going to the doctor to seek help. Many GPs and specialists have treated me like I am a criminal against my body, just for having T1D and being fat. They failed to listen to me or have empathy, and thus they failed me.

So when Nick told me that he thought I needed to get help, I protested. I put it off. I knew I’d be ignored again and again, and that it wasn’t worth the hassle. Yet one day I had a bad anxiety attack and Nick had no choice but to take me to a doctor. One I had never seen before. It doubled my anxiety, made me twitch and sob involuntarily, so by the time I was in the chair in the doctor’s office there was nothing for him to see except my anxiety. I’d been able to hide it for a long time because it was more important to keep up appearances for fear of people thinking I was crazy and treating me poorly because of it. This time I couldn’t. I had internalised our culture’s horrible attitude towards mental illness, kept quiet and tucked my crazy back inside; yet in that chair I felt the full injustice of my years of pretending.

This holiday season hasn’t been much different from any other, yet when people have asked me what I’m up to I haven’t had much to say, not because I haven’t been up to much but because I have been struggling with things that aren’t very difficult for people who don’t have mental illness. It’s dangerous when I tell people I have social anxiety disorder because most of them think that it can be cured by smiling, by lifting your chin up or by quitting your “fucking around” and just getting “back into the swing of things”. Just a PSA: these responses are distressing, offensive and even if well-intentioned, do sweet F.A to help the person you’re talking to. So anyway, I did a lot of creative story telling. Sorry family and friends, if you’re reading, but I just didn’t have the energy to walk people through a day in the life of. I want to help people understand, and that’s why I’m writing this, but I don’t have the spoons to educate you!

I’ve been on a few different meds over the past two months and I haven’t yet found the ones that are right for me. It’s difficult when health conditions intersect; at the moment I’m figuring out which tablets can help me sleep and reduce my anxiety while still giving me the energy to go about my daily life (let alone working life!) without mucking around with my diabetes. It’s hard. Luckily I am now seeing a fantastic doctor, the doctor of my dreams even! (Hi Dr C, if you’re reading this!) I started seeing her based on Nick’s recommendation and instead of rehearsing my concerns and fearing what the doctor is going to say, I’m able to feel like my doctor respects me AND I can have a laugh. Oh my god is it incredible to have a doctor with a similar sense of humour!

So there it is. All laid out and kind of ugly, but that’s what I’ve been up to. I’ve been looking after me. It has meant that I’ve let things go and I’m trying really hard to get things in order – like some necklaces that haven’t been posted, I am so so sorry and they are coming to you soon! I haven’t been answering emails, they have scared me for the last six months and I feel really really horrible about it. There’s this perfect version of me in my head: I’m super organised and on top of everything, super nice and gregarious while standing up for myself too… but I fall short a lot and then I feel wracked with guilt and shame. I want to stop this because I’m sure it’s not nice to have a friend who is more concerned with being perfect and ok than having fun; more importantly I want to feel better in myself.

Giving yourself a treat is often seen as naughty and indulgent but it’s actually very important I’ve found out. For a long time I have worked so hard for other people, oftentimes until I cry, thinking that it’ll get me places. We’re taught that success is about denying yourself in favour of maintaining a killer work ethic – but it really is a killer. I have suffered several lapses in mental health over the past 10 years and each time I blamed myself for not being good enough or hard arsed enough. I never really considered that I might need to treat myself better. In fact, it wasn’t until I read about self care within the fat activism and social justice realm that I realised our cultural narrative around success has been built on a foundation of complete bollocks. Burn out isn’t just a thing for corporate folks, it happens in every sphere of life where you find people working passionately.
A photo of me looking into a bathroom mirror holding a DSLR. I'm wearing a black and white striped long tshirt under a pink pinafore with a white half doily brooch. My hair is now white-ish blond with an undercut and a long top and my sunglasses sit in my hair.
So in the last week I was able to do a few things for myself: I cut my hair (with Nick’s help) and I booked a couple of nights away down the coast. And damn the world if the world doesn’t like it, because I loved it.


Whimsy boxing

13 June, 2010

whimsy box/ new farm park

You might have noticed lately but my posting is all over the place, and lots of the regular stuff hasn’t been so regular. I haven’t been feeling very well and so today Nick took me out for a change of scenery. Brisbane is lucky to have lots of gorgeous parks, and one of the most loved is New Farm Park.

whimsy box/ new farm park

Not only does it have expanses of lovely green grass that touch the Brisbane River, the Powerhouse and some of the nicest homes in New Farm, there’s also a magnificent garden of roses and other flowers.

whimsy box/ new farm park

Unfortunately it’s such a nice place that lots of people visit it and picnic there, get married in the rotunda and play football amongst the rose beds. If you want some peace and quiet, the best thing to do is lie down on the grass, pop your earphones in and search the sky for nothing in particular.

whimsy box/ new farm park

Though if you’re like me, you’ll probably go stalking through the gardens looking for pretty things to take photos of, and then you’ll come home and put them through the whimsy filter in Photoshop.

whimsy box/ new farm park

I hope your weekends have been, if not full of nice stuff, at least a little bit touched by beauty.

Body Image

On feeling the anger I want to see in the world

31 May, 2010

I got angry before at someone who expressed some really gross and hurtful things about fat people, and like usual, I was conflicted about my response soon after. As a woman, I was taught that to respond with anger, haughtiness or questioning is a big No No. A woman is supposed to quell her outrage at injustices for fear that she be painted with negative characteristics, for fear that she is dismissed as a bitch and told to “calm down”. Angry fat women, already painted into a pretty corner with this oppressive conditioning, must completely blow minds because they are not submissive, jolly or thin. Angry fat women are angry because you dismiss them as human beings, because they are not thin and submissive, or beautiful and quiet.

When someone is not angry or asking questions, it makes them a lot easier to control but by the same token, I can appreciate being lost in an angry response. A lot of the time I can flip situations around, and sometimes come out of it with that golden Teaching Moment. I did it once and blogged my success, but tonight I have come to blog my failure. And I’m ok with it. One of the things I have learned from my mate Tiara is that it’s unfair to expect a victimised and demonised group of people to educate their oppressors. One of the most common things I hear in my interactions as a fat activist is

“But you just want to glorify fat people/ make everyone fat.”

If I was a thin woman, I doubt I’d hear that. If I was a thin male, I’d barely even know that kind of response existed. Hell, if I was a thin male I’d probably be doling out that kind of response without a second thought.

I get really tired of hearing it… and then some days I get really angry and upset about it. It wears me down and I suffer the old activist fatigue, and find I have to withdraw from talking about this stuff for a while. That’s why I am grateful for fat allies and activists who aren’t female or fat like Paul Campos. He can use his male privilege to be heard and not dismissed by other men! This transcript from his lecture at UCLA says a lot about who our society takes seriously on the topic of fatness:

This is an extraordinarily gendered subject, I mean just take a look around! Right? Why am I getting to talk the way I am about this kind of thing even though I’m “overweight”, which I am according to the American government? Because a) I’m a man and uh there’s a second reason but I can’t remember what it is but mainly because I’m a man and um therefore I have.. Oh yeah, ’cause even though I’m overweight, I’m thin, right?

I’m thin in terms of the social meaning of thinness in our culture. A man of my particular social class and background and so forth is typed as thin and therefore even though I’m “overweight”, I have a BMI of 25 and change, I’m 5’8″, I weight 167lb and that makes me overweight according to the US government. I am still socially thin, so I’m a man so I get to say whatever I want about weight and not be judged for it because nobody cares what men weigh. Needless to say I am painting with a very broad brush here, yes weight discrimination definitely affects men and it’s not as if this kind of craziness does not have negative effects on men too – it certainly does, but it has a vastly stronger effect on women, as I’m sure many of you can recognise just from your life experience.

So I’m a man, I can say what I want about weight without being judged for it and secondly, if I was a woman and I was 5’8″ and a 167lb I would NOT be thin even though I would have exactly the same body mass, even though physiologically I would have the same BMI. But socially I would be, in this context at least (upper class, privileged, in this institution of higher learning) I would be fat. And therefore of course I would not have standing to say anything about this. Because “obviously” I would be rationalising for my own failure to have maintained an appropriate body type.

I hope that quote can open your eyes to what an activist deals with when she is fighting the oppression she is subject to, and why it’s so awesome and appreciated when allies step in. Sometimes it’s just shit that when I call someone out on being a bigot, they turn around and call me a bitch or, one of my favourites, too sensitive. That person, especially if they are a privileged white male (but yo, women do this too!) will receive the full force of my anger. I’m allowed to be angry, and to express my hurt, and if it tumbles out of me in a way that leads to a further conversation about the transgression it’s awesome… but if it doesn’t, I oughtn’t blame myself. It’s going to take a long time to sort this crap out, because of how ingrained hatred and fear are in people’s heads. If the duty is solely handed to the victimised, the bullied and the oppressed… well nothing is ever going to change.


It’s nice to share

25 May, 2010

Climb on your bathroom vanity and do your daily affirmations like this awesome young lady! I’m not a huge “affirmation” person but this is too cute.

if all you needed to get fat was eat an order of pancakes we’d all be fucked” by Natalie Dee

Well, well, well…isn’t this interesting…
Bri from Fat Lot of Good links to a letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association written by Professor Paul O’Brien, gastric banding advocate, in which he admits his failure to report financial disclosure in his study of gastric banding in adolescents. Professor O’Brien receives significant financial compensation from Allergan, the manufacturer of the gastric band. NOW TELL ME THAT THIS DUDE IS IN IT FOR PEOPLE’S HEALTH! What kind of doctor tells people that teenagers should undergo a hugely invasive procedure that will have negative impact on their lifelong health and lies about receiving funding from the manufacturer of the product he installs in people? A doctor who has questionable ethics, and a doctor who will never be charged with the care of my health.

The Secret Life of Burnout
I seem to burn myself out frequently, so I really REALLY appreciate this post on The Fluent Self. It’s funny how working so hard that you end up burning out is seen as this noble thing, and it’s NOT healthy at all. We should be recognising our limits, not shoe-horning things into our schedules until we reach breaking point. As a self-employed creative I feel like I have something to prove so I often take on more than I can handle… and it’s got to stop. I’ve got to start managing my workload in a way that doesn’t lead to feeling like I’m going to crumble under the weight of it all. If you’re a boss of people, I hope you read this and shift your expectations of your staff.

Hilarious! By CodeAires on tumblr.

The politics of the pocket
When I talk to women who don’t believe feminism is necessary I am fairly aghast because symptoms of oppression and the gender binary are as apparent as the clothes we are wearing.

Bras: Expensive, hard to find, hard to fit.
AND ANOTHER THING! Bras. The bane of my existence. Bras make me cry: shopping for them, paying for them, wearing them. Being fat and having a large cup size means that I pay at least 5 times as much for a bra than a straight sized person, because I can’t just go and get my size from Target and pay $15 for it. Oh no. World, are you hearing me? You force me to wear one of these painful contraptions and I have to pay a bollocks load for the displeasure. >:(

Slam poet Katie Makkai and her powerful piece “Pretty”.

DIY Clothes Tutorial: Making an Elastic Harness
I kind of love the idea of making one of these elastic harnesses especially since I’ve NEVER seen a fat person in one of these trend pieces.


It’s nice to share

19 May, 2010

This collection of links I’ve curated is deeply fascinating and dense. You should probably save them for a moment when you’re most lucid and cradling a cup of tea. I’m glad I started posting links to share on this blog, because up until now I didn’t really appreciate the incredible variety of discussions I observe and participate in!

Making a living as an artist
Marcus Westbury writes about how artists are representing and marketing themselves online, and it’s something I’ve noticed Hazel Dooney talking about as well. Often I feel self conscious and a little embarrassed about promoting myself so much but then I realise it’s what I must do as an artist these days! I can’t lounge around until I’m discovered, I’ve got to be proactive.

What it feels like to hate feeling famous
I adore Sia, and I think it’s so awful that people feel like they can intrude on her life in such a persistent and damaging way. While I get that it’s thrilling to meet someone whose work you’re really into, when’s the point where you leave that person alone to enjoy a quiet moment? They could be having a coffee catchup with a friend, or a special night with someone they really like! Lots of people claim that celebrities are to blame for being hounded to hell, but I think that’s a pile of crap most of the time. If you really admire someone’s talent, don’t pester them. (Can you tell I’m a RAGING introvert yet?)

Body Image is a Furphy
Last week was Body Image Fail week, and I’m not sure if a lot of international size activists caught the story, but it centred around blogger and spokesperson for body image in Australia, Mia Freedman, and language she used in a blog post that mocked and humiliated fat people (since edited, re-edited and then edited to death to remove most of the negative tone). Jackie rightly points out that in discussions about body image in Australia, and by the highest authority, healthy body image is denied to fat people. And that’s, pardon me, fucked up.

What If Black Women Were White Women?
This article is nearly a year old but it’s new to me, and hugely MASSIVELY powerful. Alienati0n challenges the power skew that favours white women, and flips the power balance so that black women are favoured and protected. This article blew my mind and unpacked a lot of the privilege that I as a white woman have, even after reading Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack a few times!

And Another Thing… The Black Dog
Much much love for Jordan, who discusses mental health issues (and being an artist!) on this post. I really think we all suffer for not talking about mental health more. This quote from really speaks to me:

As children many people learnt from a very early age that they needed to become, ‘a good nice person’. To become the ‘good nice person’ they needed to stop the development of who they could be, and became who they thought they should be.

The end result of this is low self esteem, fear of being abandoned/rejected, that people won’t love or like us, and feelings of intense loneliness and helplessness. Being who we think we should be, creates enormous personal stress as we try to be perfect in every area of our life, including our inability to say ‘no’ even when we want and need to. Over time ‘something’ has to give and the development of an anxiety disorder begins.

As Fat As I Wanna Be
Tasha Fierce writes so many amazing posts, you should probably subscribe to her blog already. This was republished on Jezebel, but read the piece on her blog because the comments on Jez will make you want to facedesk enthusiastically. If people REALLY cared about a fat person’s health they would quit haranguing them about their weight.