Category Archives: Uncategorized

Camden Fortnite Has Me Taking a Break.

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On why I’m taking a break from social media-

Trigger warning: assault of a pregnant woman by her partner in front of their child.

Recently in Camden Australia a man assaulted his partner in front of their terrified child, all the while streaming it to his online Fortnite playing mates. Thankfully some of them reported it. I have included a link to an article about it at the bottom of this blog entry, I don’t recommend watching the video in this article. I include it to give context as to why I am taking a break from social media, not as recommended viewing. Hearing that poor little girl screaming daddy, daddy, after he had beaten her mother, and for all I know her also, is sickening. This guy is clearly a fucking arsehole. No doubt. Perpetrators of domestic violence are selfish arseholes. Not saying they can never change and do better, but until then they are aresholes. But what is truly terrifying about this, is how common it is.

This guy had been playing Fortnite for over an hour. Missing dinner with his young child and pregnant partner. His partner was trying to get him to stop playing and eat. The little girl also wanted her daddy, but he wanted to keep playing Fortnite. He wanted it so badly that he beat his pregnant partner in front of their child because he felt that them trying to spend time with him, the people he is supposed to love, was an unwelcome intrusion into his life. Seems shocking, but is it?

How many times have you snapped at your kids that you just wanted to quickly check your email, when you’ve already been down the social media rabbit hole for half an hour without realising? How many times have you gotten frustrated that you need a minute to yourself, when you’ve just sunk an hour online? I know I have. Sure, I haven’t called my husband or kids dogs or beaten them like that guy did. I’m not a complete and utter arsehole like that guy. But I am someone who has felt angry because my kids have wanted me to themselves when I’ve wanted to faff about online.

Here’s the thing, my kids deserve my time. Sure I can’t be at their beck and call every moment, sometimes I need to pee, make food, sleep, go to work etc, but I can do better. I can be more present. Because 60 minutes looking at nothing on social media really gets me no more than 5 minutes looking at nothing on social media. I’m not coming back any more refreshed either.

My kids and myself deserve better than me pouring my self into dead time. I need to break this hideous habit of spending 30 minutes when I think it’s 2, on social media. I know I’m not alone in my struggle, and I know a lot of you will understand.

This video has been the catalyst for me to take a break. So, you won’t be hearing from me until the New Year. I’m off social media to give myself and my kids back my time and energy, because they and I deserve it.

Take care. Have a great holiday period, and I’ll be back chatting with you once I’ve had some distance and will no longer risk falling down that time sucking rabbit hole that is social media. I’m addicted, I need some cold turkey distance. If friends desperately need me, text or email me.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/livestream-of-video-game-films-sydney-man-allegedly-hitting-partner-20181210-p50l9a.html

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It’s The Only Sport That If You Don’t Learn It, You’ll Die.

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I recently decided to retrain as a swim instructor. This was a fairly straightforward decision for me. Prior to having kids I taught high school for a decade, and I also have Cert III and IV in Fitness. Swim teaching involves two of my loves, teaching kids and fitness. I also did swimming lessons and squad from 4-16, so I’m pretty comfortable in the water, and really enjoy watching my own children’s swimming lessons. I’m not suddenly going to convert this into a swimming blog but I did have something from my training that I wanted to share with you.

In order to become a swim instructor I enrolled in Austswim’s Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety course. This is their base level course to learn the ropes. It involves a two day course, online reading with ten tests, plus twenty hours Industry Training followed by an assessment of your teaching competency. They don’t just do a two day course and throw you into teaching, there’s plenty of support to get you not just competent but confident.

I have enjoyed my entire experience thus far and am only awaiting the final assessment, but one thing really stood out for me. On the first day of the two day course my lecturer, Mehdi Aardin, said that swimming is the only sport that if you don’t train in it you’ll die. Now those weren’t his exact words but they were quite staggering. I immediately thought, I know people who can’t swim and they’re still alive, but then he unpacked the statement further. If you head to a park on your own and kick a football around without ever having trained, you’re probably not going to die. If you decide to go for a jog on your own one day, you’re probably not going to die. If you try to do a long jump on your own without training you won’t get very far, but you probably won’t die. However, should you decide to randomly jump into the deep end of a pool one day, on your own, without any training, you very well could drown. It’s a sobering reality. It’s a skill that saves lives was often repeated by Aardin.

I can’t argue with this, nor do I want to. Learning to swim saves lives. If your child one day wants to go fishing in a boat and falls in, they’ll need to swim. When they enter school they’ll need to swim, aquatics is part of the NSW PDHPE K-10 curriculum. If they want to go to the beach with their friends, they’ll need to swim. If they want to go sailing, they’ll need to swim. If they are going to work near a body of water, then it will be infinitely safer if they know how to swim. If they get stuck in the water for any reason, learning to swim will make them safer. Learning to swim and to be safe in the water isn’t just for if you think your kid will be the next Ian Thorpe, it’s a survival skill.

As I said, I’m not suddenly converting this into a swimming blog, but this message really stuck with me so I wanted to share it with you.

Mehdi Aardin is the coordinator at Badgers Swim School in Milson Point, which caters for babies to champions and is the CEO of Home Swim.

Find council listed Learn to Swim classes for North Sydney here.

Find council listed Learn to Swim classes in City of Sydney with centers at The Domain, Surry Hills, Camperdown, Sydney City, and Ultimo.

Find council listed Learn to Swim classes in the Sydney’s Inner West here.

To find a great swim school in your area Austswim can be a great starting point, find them here.

Read SBS’s most recent article on swimming, research on drowning, and learning to swim here.

See important statistics in regards to drownings in Australia provided by Royal Life Saving Australia here.

I’ll leave you with this SNL clip of the greatest swimming instructor of all time… you better believe I’m searching the storeroom tomorrow for that device.

Twitter Turns to Geek Culture to Deal with #auspol #libspill

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What do we do when political upheaval makes it clear that we’ve reached the darkest possible timeline? We geek out. Check out these tweets of geekle coping with the Australian government going full Mean Girls-

Read more of my heavy hitting political coverage here.

Rethink Education and Teacher by Gabbie Stroud

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I’m a former High School English teacher, I mention it in passing but don’t blog about it so I understand if people don’t know this about me. Yep, dyslexic and ADHD me has two degrees and taught for over a decade without ever getting assistance or special consideration, shocking I know.

I mention it now because another former teacher, Gabbie Stroud, has a book that came out through Allen & Unwin in June simply entitled Teacher. This is an important memoir about teaching and although her reasons for quitting teaching are not identical to mine they overlap heavily. I urge anyone interested in this area to read it. Fellow teachers, fellow parents, and certainly policy makers.

We’re losing energetic and unique teachers to a crushing system. Students aren’t robots and nor should their teachers be. It’s time we had a serious rethink and revolutionised educational practices in Australia.

We had the opportunity to do something amazing when we introduced the National Curriculum but honestly it fell flat pandering to people who didn’t want to change. It was essentially the same old stuff but with a different label rather than an innovative national approach. Meaningful change can happen, just look to Finland. Since the 1970s they haven’t merely just been tweaking their system but completely tossing out the old ideologies and reinventing what they do.

At the moment we’re still trapped by the idea of making changes without disrupting the system. We’re only interested in making adjustments that keep things essentially the same. It’s time to not only go back to the drawing board but to throw out the drawing board and start over. Look at what kids really need. When their varying needs start. Rethink everything.

It would take a whole societal change, but it is worth it. And I for one have faith in society’s ability to adapt. One day some genius decided to throw out the drawing board in technology and said maybe we don’t need buttons. We seem to have gotten on board with smartphones and tablets pretty well. How much more important are our children?

We can do this. I believe in us.

Find Gabbie Stroud on FB here.

Find Gabbie Stroud’s website here.

Find Gabbie Stroud on Twitter here.

I Have ADHD

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I know the title is pretty blunt but I couldn’t figure out a more dignified way of blurting out, I HAVE ADHD. So there it is, I’m 40 next year and have only recently been diagnosed with ADHD.

The 4 regular readers of this blog are probably thinking, is this new information? Didn’t you know this already? Isn’t it obvious?

And they’re kind of right. I have suspected for the last year that this is the case. One of my 4 followers went to primary school with me and is possibly shouting at the screen, ONLY THE LAST YEAR? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? And my ex teaching colleague who reads my blog is probably thinking, did you not see the state of your desk? Again, they’re right. The signs were all there, they’ve always been there, and yes, I’m in the severe range. In fact, in news that probably also shocks nobody, I’m severe for the severe range.

I have a family history of ADHD and related conditions, I have dyslexia and 40% of dyslexics have ADHD (more people have ADHD than dyslexia so 40% of people with ADHD don’t have dyslexia, a much lower amount of people with ADHD have dyslexia), and I have every single symptom aside from addiction to substances (Find a definition of ADHD and its symptoms at the end of this blog entry). So how did it take so long for me to realise this and for me to get diagnosed?

Firstly, I was born in the late 70s and started schooling in the 80s. I went to a regional primary school that was so small that it had composite classes. Dyslexia and ADHD were not on their radar. My dyslexica didn’t get picked up until university. And I did pretty well academically, always got somewhere in the top 3 for my tests in primary school (except spelling tests). Even in modern education students often get overlooked unless they’re doing poorly academically.

I was bright enough but just kept making errors. Fellow people with dyslexia and or ADHD know what they were called, right? Careless, silly or lazy mistakes. They weren’t enough to have me completely bottom out, I still did okay, but they were enough to get me called careless, lazy or silly on a daily basis, at school and at home. They were enough to get me a five minute detention after any spelling test. They were enough to mean I always stuffed up my left and my right. They weren’t enough to stop me from getting into the top class when I entered high school. It fortunately didn’t have a multiple choice component. Things always get weird when colouring in those dots.

I remember in high school, one class where you had to bring a blue pen, a red pen, your book and a ruler to class. That was all. Each item you forgot, you got 5 minutes worth of detention. I could always remember my book and a pen. That was it. I got detention ever week. The teacher, to their credit, would let me off if nobody else was around to see it, or let me off a few moments after the seconf last kid had done their time. They understood I was a scatter brain and detention wasn’t working but rules were rules.

I came to believe what I was told. My problem was that I was careless and lazy. As I got older the message got slightly more sophisticated, I was a chronic self-sabotager, but deep down I was a crappy, lazy person. Once I had kids it became even worse, you’re just not good enough to be a mum. The constant snippy and judgemental comments only compounded my already bruised self esteem. This combined with exhaustion and lack of support led me into a psychiatric hospital with postnatal depression in 2014. My first blog entry on this can be found here and an expansion on how I had postnatal depression in 2011 can be found here.

So how was it that I got assessed by all these people, even in a psychiatric hospital, with such an obvious history, and nobody picked it up? I honestly have no clue.

However, I do know how I eventually got diagnosed with it after all of this trauma and I can share that with you. The answer is simple, after my stay in the psychiatric hospital I found the greatest psychologist ever. Actually, I didn’t find her, one of my fellow patients recommended her. And we took a long journey together of piecing together my sense of self and restoring my self worth. After a long process of self reflection, I came to realise that all those things I was brushing off as, oh I’m just doing that because I’m a bad person, I’m lazy and I suck, might not be true. Because of therapy I liked myself enough to think, hey, I don’t thoroughly hate myself, I’m not the worst, most lazy person ever, might there be a reason I’m still struggling in these areas that doesn’t involve me being a steaming pile?

And then my husband said a throw away comment to me, “I wonder if your dyslexia is just like extreme ADHD? You can’t even get your brain to focus on the words.” I Googled the link between dyslexia and ADHD, it was there. Because I had already been questioning weather I truly sucked, this meant something and I kept researching. If I was still in the depths of self hatred, this would have meant nothing and I would have shrugged my shoulders and dismissed it. It would just be another thing about me sucking.

After many months of thinking and wondering I went and saw my GP and asked if I could get assessed. She referred me to a psychiatrist who specialises in adult ADHD, we wanted to be sure, and not muck around. Yes it was a long wait but I didn’t want any mistakes made.

Through my diagnosis with depression I have been prescribed a number of different medications. None have been particularly effective. One had some short term benefits, that lasted only three months but the side effects were so much worse than any of the short term benefits, and when they stopped the doctor agreed I could come off it. I didn’t want anymore of that. I wanted someone at the top of their field because I needed to be sure. I only wanted a diagnosis if it was true.

It was true. I have ADHD. I have severe ADHD. The psychiatrist spoke to me about management strategies like schedules and alarms on my phone, all of which I already have but haven’t been working. He congratulated me on remembering my referral, and I smiled so hard because somebody finally got it. He also prescribed me Ritalin. Just a low dose to see if I can tolerate it. I asked him if it was related to Effexor, I’d had such a bad reaction with that drug that I never want to go on anything like it EVER AGAIN. (NOTE: This is a perfectly good drug for other people I know, for me it wasn’t. Please don’t throw out your own Effexor based on it being bad for me) He assured me they were unrelated.

Even though I am on a low dose, I can still notice a tiny difference. I’m less easily frustrated. It is not such a supreme effort to focus that I get angry when people disrupt me. I don’t get so hypo focused that it’s literally painful for me to be pulled from it. I can dip in and out a little easier. I am slightly less frustrated in every interaction, which means that at the end of the day I have only built up to being fairly annoyed and snappy rather than angry and yelling. The 7000 alarms I have set to remind me to do things are now slightly more likely result in an action.

Yesterday morning my husband, who has said he can’t really tell a difference, said that he is feeling more full of love for me of late. He can claim he sees no difference but evidently there is. It’s small, it has a flow on effect. It has been positive. Of course I still get frustrated and will continue to do so even when the dose is increased, but I can see there has been a positive effect. It has helped me with the thing I had hoped antidepressants would help with, me feeling like total shit.

I’m a bit emotional about the negative side effects my body has endured from antidepressants (AGAIN NOTE: that does not mean everyone has negative side effects, don’t go off your own helpful meds because I reacted badly to them) that I possibly never needed. I’m also a bit emotional about the fact I’m not exactly a subtle case and yet so many professionals missed it. I had to essentially diagnose myself first. We go to doctors expecting them to help us and yet so many times we get dismissed as the hysterical women who just needs to calm down a bit. It’s a stereotype that needs to die. But I am also grateful to finally be on the right track with something that looks like it will work for me.

I’m not going to lie, my self esteem is probably still not as great as the average person’s, a lifetime of mismanagement doesn’t just evaporate, but it’s getting up there. It was high enough to make me question and think, and that was enough. And sometimes not despising yourself is all the progress you need to get you to the next level. When people say baby steps, they’re not kidding. All this stuff takes thousands of baby steps. Be proud of each little one you take.

Some websites my psychiatrist recommended I check out:

https://www.livingwithadd.com

https://www.additudemag.com/tag/podcasts/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-nPM1_kSZf91ZGkcgy_95Q

https://adhdrollercoaster.org

Wondering what ADHD is? This is what the NSW government has to say:

http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/pharmaceutical/patients/Pages/faq-adhd-consumers.aspx#bookmark1

ADHD is a condition characterised by the symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. While these symptoms are normal characteristics experienced by all people at one time or another, among individuals who are diagnosed with ADHD, there is an overabundance of these characteristics. Their levels of overactivity, inattention and/or impulsivity are severe and persistent and typically result in performance issues in social, educational or work settings.

While many children and adolescents with ADHD improve as they grow up, many will continue to experience symptoms as an adult. In adulthood the symptoms are typically displayed somewhat differently to the way they are displayed in childhood. A child who squirms, fidgets and is constantly ‘on the go’ may become an adult who is less obviously physically overactive but experiences intense feelings of restlessness. He or she may have troubling relaxing and may overwork. An impulsive child who blurts out answers in class, who constantly interrupts others and talks excessively may become an adult who displays impatience when in queues or whilst driving, and who may be impulsive with spending or quitting jobs. Inattentive children who have difficulty listening and forget their homework may become adults who often complain of losing things, such as keys and wallets, and are often late for appointments.

The main symptoms displayed by children with ADHD vary according to age, but generally about one half will predominantly have inattention problems, a quarter will mainly have hyperactive and impulsive symptoms, while the remainder will have a mixture of these symptoms.

It is common for children with ADHD to have co-occurring psychiatric conditions, the most common of which are disruptive behaviour disorders (‘oppositional defiant disorder’ or ODD – which involves a pattern of arguing with multiple adults, losing one’s temper, refusing to follow rules, blaming others, deliberately annoying others, and being angry, resentful, spiteful, and vindictive; and ‘conduct disorder’ or CD – which is associated with efforts to break rules without getting caught, and may include being aggressive to people or animals, destroying property, lying or stealing, running away, and skipping school), and mood disorders (depression, mania/bipolar disorder and anxiety).

And, as always, you can buy my stuff here: https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/what-happens-in-book-club/

#Denyer4Gold

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In a striking move the ABC have teamed up with the currently channeless Grant Denyer to make Logies history. During Logie nominated Tom Gleeson’s incredibly popular segment, I’d say ratings bonanza, Hard Chat, on Charlie Pickering’s likewise much loved, but not Logie nominated, The Weekly Gleeson decided that it was time that the Logies reached their logical conclusion with an axed TV presenter winning gold. Grant Denyer had been the host of Channel 10s Family Feud until they dropped the axe on it.

Now of course Twitter went berko with tens of people jumping on board with the hashtag. It was trending within lots of minutes. Twitter (yes, we’re one conglomerous glob) loves an underdog. Here’s just some of the responses:

Tom has already been doing the breakfast circuit in order to secure his dreams of watching Grant Denyer get gold.

Grant… well… having slightly more trouble getting onto morning shows…

(The order that I have placed this event happening may be deceptive.)

But breakfast radio has been kinder with the 2DayFM Breakfast team creating Denyer a campaign video.

If you check out the alternate hashtag #grant4gold you’ll see a few intriguing results from 2DayFM.

So what are we waiting for?!? I’ve voted for Hard Quiz and #Denyer4Gold and you can too here. Get on it, peeps. #DENYER4GOLD!!!!!!!

Alternatives to Suicide Talk in Glebe

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Three months ago I attended an Alternatives to Suicide talk hosted by Being in Glebe Town Hall. I felt with the news of the passing of Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, Inés Zorreguieta and even Charles Williams that it was probably an appropriate time to share what I heard. And as the title suggests, yes this blog entry will indeed be discussing suicide and suicidal thoughts. The speakers, Caroline Mazel-Carlton and Sera Davidow, were from the Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community. It was really interesting to hear this revolutionary approach to dealing with suicide. What’s so revolutionary about the Alternatives to Suicide approach? First and foremost, you’re actually allowed to discuss suicide.

Being allowed to talk about suicide may seem like a given in order to be able to deal with it but unfortunately it’s not. Suicide is so taboo that generally the moment you open your mouth to say the word you get shutdown. If you’re talking about past thoughts you get told to shut up because you just talking about your issues will cause someone else to commit suicide. If you’re saying you feel suicidal people are leaping at you telling you it’s not normal, it’s not healthy, and you need to be monitored and have your rights curtailed for daring to vocalise just how tough you’re doing it. So being in an environment where silencing wasn’t the encouraged response was refreshing. I honestly felt like I could breathe easier just by being there. Being given permission to discuss and explore your life without fear of being silenced or shamed in itself was healing. But of course there was more to the talk than that.

After telling their own stories, where Caroline spoke about being treated as both dangerous and fragile like a time bomb made of glass, the issue of risk management was raised. It was pointed out how as soon as a person said they wanted to commit suicide the tone of the conversation immediately switched and the questions do you have a plan and do you have means were automatically asked. People aren’t asked why they’re asked how. And this is because of risk management. Which is odd because the most effective risk management tool is around 20-50% accurate, that’s right, as accurate as flipping a coin. Furthermore it was revealed that a clinician was more likely to be struck by lightning than to be sued over a patient suicide. So being driven by risk management and fear of litigation isn’t even realistic or particularly effective so we may as well just ask why instead of responding in fear about means in an attempt to control another person’s actions.

It was discussed how traditionally suicide is treated as the problem that needs to be fixed when in reality it’s a symptom of a problem that needs to be fixed. It was said that suicide is essentially a bad solution to a very real problem not the major problem driving a person. Why a person wants to commit suicide is key to helping them as is why they haven’t already. If we’re so busy restricting the movements of a person in order to control their ability to commit suicide then we miss out on dealing with the real problem that is causing this cry for a real solution to real pain. Ask why do you want to die and ask what do you want to do before you die.

Next the topic of pathology was raised. They spoke about how it is often portrayed that depression causes suicidal thoughts when in reality it is a symptom. They then unpicked where the concept of people having a mental illness are chemically imbalanced came from. Quick note before I go further Sera expressed that they are not anti-medication and that if medication helps you then you should definitely take it, they were more anti medication is the only and best answer. So please don’t misconstrue the next part to mean throw out your meds. Don’t throw out your meds! It was said that the studies into medication didn’t actually test levels of people within normal and severe ranges to determine if they are in fact different and that people are lacking in certain substances. They more ask how a person feels after taking medication and do they feel better. They get positive results in the short term and then gradually decreasing results in the long term. The comparison was made to coffee. These studies were compared to if we were asked if we felt better after a coffee, many of us would say yes, but does that mean we have a caffeine deficiency?

The talk really focused on the factors that contribute to suicide, such as a high ACE score. Having experienced multiple adverse childhood experiences tends to increase this risk. Being denied your own community and language increases this risk. Being silenced and ostracised increases this risk. And so the Alternatives to Suicide approach is to focus on these areas. How can we provide support for people, how can we provide community, how can we listen. It’s all about letting people have an open and honest dialogue without having to jump through prescriptive language hoops on what you are allowed to say and how you can say it. Do you know how demoralising it is to constantly have to say your life is a trigger warning? Alternatives to Suicide lets you speak without fear of repercussions and they let you explore why and also why not.

The key elements of Alternatives to Suicide are:

Validation

Curiosity (instead of fear)

Vulnerability / Transparency

Community

The people at Being did record the talk and I would love to share it with you, but to be perfectly honest, I can’t find where they have put up a link to it. Perhaps they filmed it for their own personal training or the link just isn’t quite as easy to find as I’d like. However, I did find a two part talk that Mercy Care has generously put on YouTube using two speakers from the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community Alternatives to Suicide program I hope it helps.

If you or someone you know has mental health concerns you can find good resources on the following sites:

Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community http://www.westernmassrlc.org/alternatives-to-suicide and http://www.westernmassrlc.org/hearing-voices

Mercy Care https://www.mercycare.com.au/ats
Blue Knot Foundation https://www.blueknot.org.au
Black Dog Institute http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/
Lifeline https://www.lifeline.org.au/
Beyond Blue https://www.beyondblue.org.au
Head Space https://headspace.org.au
Relationships Australia https://www.relationships.org.au
National LGBTI Health Alliance http://lgbtihealth.org.au
The Children of Parent’s With a Mental Illness http://www.copmi.net.au
Mental Health in Multicultural Australia http://www.mhima.org.au/portals/consumer-carers

Some postnatal depression specific sites are:
Gidget Foundation http://gidgetfoundation.com.au/
PANDA http://www.panda.org.au/
PIRI http://www.piri.org.au/

You can read about what Australian journalist Jennie Hill has to say about the culture of silence around suicide here.