My eyes are sad and I’m lost.

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Yesterday I had my mind and body analysed by a woman I’ve only ever met once. I stood in a room with her in my underwear, feeling completely vulnerable as she studied my shape, size and structure, which, according to the International Association of Psychosomatic Therapy, have been determined by my genetics, environment and emotional state. The Association states that ‘face and body analysis techniques enable practitioners to readily identify imbalances in the body, which provide an indication of the client’s repetitive emotional and cognitive behaviours.’

I had no idea what to expect going into this psychosomatic therapy session. I hadn’t even researched it before I went. I thought the woman would look at my face and tell me a few interesting quirks about myself, like ‘that line means this’ and ‘that freckle means that’, but I never knew she would reach so far into my soul and reveal so many truths. It was like she knew me. It was confronting. It was eye opening. It left me feeling emotional and in real, desperate need of change. It’s like everything she said, I already knew about myself deep down, but to have a stranger acknowledge these deep, hidden truths? That was something else.15202671_10157843086090323_553969383234165545_nEverything she revealed was so accurate. Here’s what happened:

First, I stood with my ankles in line with a silver ball that was attached to a string hanging down from the ceiling. The therapist analysed the way I stood and whether I leaned forward or back, the ways my arms and hands fell by my side, the space between my feet, the shape of my body, the flesh on my sternum, the size of my wrists and ankles, the arch in my feet and how I walked. Then she analysed my face and determined where my eyes went when I stared straight ahead, and if I tended to shift my glance to the left or the right. She looked at the way I parted my hair, how big my forehead was, the symmetry of my features.

And this is what she said (she said a lot, but this is what stuck):

She said my wide and open fore head showed I had a mental drive pushing forward from my masculine side (did you know we all have a feminine side and a masculine side?!) and that I had a good mental capacity with a propensity to analyse (correct). She said my angle of gaze when contemplating a question showed it rose up and to the right, showing again my mental drive in the masculine zone. When I asked her to explain this feminine/masculine whatever-it-was, she said my face and body revealed my soft, sensitive feminine side – my eyes showed the great depth of my emotion, and I had an elegant, soft nature – but I tended to use my masculine side more (it even came down to the side I parted my hair) because I was afraid of revealing to others who I really was. I was afraid of revealing my sensitivity, of being too open, too raw, too honest. And I have to say, I agree.

When it came to the way I stood, which was leaning slightly to the front of the string and silver ball, she said I pushed through in life to succeed – I didn’t find life a walk in the park. Then she looked at my throat chakra and said my slim neck showed I could express myself well when I choose to, but the two horizontal creases across my throat showcased my propensity to hold back my vocal expression, preferring to wait and hear what others have to say first. This is so true. I am always afraid to speak up, especially at work. But why?

Next was my heart chakra. She said the slight raised area in the centre of my upper chest reflected that at times I felt I needed to protect my heart. She also said my small chest region reflected a lack of sensitivity and nurturing at an early age of my growth. Now, I know I received a lot of love growing up, and mum would be horrified if I told her about my heart chakra, but when I think about it, I have always been an extremely sensitive person and my dad is not the most sensitive man. Mum knows that. My brother and sister know that. We all know that. He’s rough around the edges, always needs to be right. My mum has always been my best friend, but my dad? We’ve had our problems. Never seen eye to eye. It’s true – I was too sensitive for him and him being the extremely masculine, tough guy he was, didn’t know how to reach out to a such a sensitive soul.

It felt odd standing there while my body was being looked at and touched and scrutinised. Next, I was told about my solar plexus chakra, the chakra that represents personal identity and power (ego and confidence). I was told the curving of my hips tapered in at the waist, showing a slight restriction in energy flow from my solar plexus up through my upper chakras, which illustrated a tendency to struggle with my personal identity and feelings of self-doubt and lack of confidence. This woman, this beacon of light, said I might also feel that I sometimes bent over backwards for people that didn’t always show their appreciation. I totally relate to everything this chakra revealed. I do have self-doubt, I do struggle with personal identity. I do lack confidence. I wish I could find a way to accept myself, give myself more credit. But how?

Next I learned about the sacral chakra, the melting pot of intuition, sensuality, sexuality and creativity. I was told I have a lot of unused potential in life. My creative base is full of potency – it just needs direction and confidence to let it flow over. I was told when the fuller hips move up and dip into a slender upper torso, it shows potency and drive is restricted. She said my sacral chakra was holding me back in life due to a lack of confidence and fear of moving forward. But why? Why, why, why? Why am I so afraid? I’m 31 years old – Shouldn’t I at least have a little bit of confidence in myself and the direction I’m headed in life by now? I want to unleash my unused potential more than anything. I want my creativity to flow over. What’s stopping it? Why do I feel so stuck? I can’t help but feel something isn’t right. This path I’m on – my job, my goals, my life. Is it the right path? I’m not so sure. What is it about my life that is restricting my creativity?

Finally, she told me about the base chakra, which reflects my vital life force, support, stability and grounding. She said I had good grounding and a practical nature. She said my straight stance revealed I do have drive when I apply myself to what I want – I might just feel at present that I am adrift, not sure of where I am heading. Adrift, always adrift – that’s me, for sure, without a doubt. As she was analysing me she kept going back to my knees. She couldn’t work them out. But then she said they had a slight locked appearance which again showed I held myself back in life from my full potential. And then she went back to my childhood again, saying a slight collapse in the left heel of my ankle/heel area when viewed from behind showed I might have felt a lack of emotional support from a parent growing up. Again, this is my father she is talking about. Finally, just to really drive home the fact I’m adrift and lacking confidence and unsure and uncertain, she said my feet had a slight coolness to the touch and there was a slight clutching of the toes in my left foot, reflecting a feeling of stagnation and a holding back in life.

After our session, we sat down and talked everything through. She told me I had a strong and vibrant body with a warm and gentle personality. She said there was much depth to me, and that I had sad eyes. Of all the chakras, it was my sacral chakra she came back to, the great untapped potential I had inside of me. She said I needed to build up my confidence and become aware of my creative potency. She said it was time to throw out the fear and self-doubt in my thoughts as they did not serve me.

I knew all of this deep down. I’ve been trying to work on all these things over the years but it’s so hard. It’s a work in progress. But I feel I should be better at it by by. How do I get rid of these negative thoughts that cause so much of my fear and self-doubt? How do I stop them so that I can change my life? After this psychosomatic therapy session I realised it was time. Time to step out and live my life to my full potential. Something needs to change. And it will. I also promise to embrace my feminine side. There is nothing wrong with being too open, too raw, too honest. Femininity is a beautiful thing. I want to let mine shine. I want to be me. I want to be unapologetically me. I will find her and once I do, I believe my creativity and all of the truths I’ve been hiding deep inside of myself for all of this time will bloom and I will no longer be afraid.

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You have no idea what it’s like having your penis think for you.

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I’m 31 years old and I’ve had my share of bad first dates. And second dates. And third dates. I’ve never written about any of these dates, but if I could go back in time and jot down notes on the numerous losers I keep attracting myself to, I think I’d have enough content for a few best sellers by now.

My dating history goes back about 15 years so of course there is a lot I can’t remember (maybe that’s a good thing). But my most recent date? Now that’s one I won’t be forgetting in a hurry. This date was the icing on my bad date cake.

I matched with him on that app known as tinder (are you rolling your eyes already? I don’t blame you). Anyway, we matched and I thought he was funny. A bit of a goofball so naturally I wanted to meet him. It’s not often I find people as weird as I am.

We met last Monday night for sushi. Yum. Now, usually on a first date you order an alcoholic beverage, right? Something to take the edge off. But not this guy. He ordered green tea and I was a little taken aback. I wanted a glass of wine god damn it but I couldn’t order wine now that he had ordered green tea? So I ordered green tea too. But you know what? We didn’t even need alcohol because everything felt so easy and natural. He made me laugh with his stupid jokes. He asked me questions about my life. He was doing everything right. And he was tall. Perfect. After dinner (we split the bill) we went for a stroll and found ourselves sitting at a bus stop talking and telling more jokes. I even felt comfortable doing my E.T. phone home voice in front of him. And then we went and had ice cream and played jenga. We shared our ice cream. One scoop of citrus lime and one scoop of caramel swirl. Is that a weird combo for one cone? Probably.

The date didn’t end at ice cream and me winning (losing) Jenga. I know this probably wasn’t the wisest of decisions and mum, if you’re reading this I’m sorry but I felt so comfortable with this guy we decided to go for a drive to the Mt Coot-tha lookout to admire the pretty lights over Brisbane city. I swear that’s all we did! He didn’t even try to make out, despite telling me the lookout was where ‘all the kids went to get it on.’

After sushi, sitting at the bus stop for what felt like an hour-an-a-half, ice cream and jenga and a drive to lover’s point, our date ended at about 11.30pm and he even asked me to save Friday night for him.

So Friday night comes around. We’d been messaging all week and snap chatting hilarious videos to each other and I had a great feeling about things. Late afternoon he messages and tells me he has bought us tickets to a soccer game. Okay that’s cool, turns out he’s a soccer fan. Not sure what my dad and brother will think about that but whatever. We go to the game and it’s as fun as a soccer game can be and we’re drinking and I’m trying to seem interested in the game and it’s all going swimmingly. After the game we go to a great bar on Caxton St and we drink some more. Whiskey and real apple juice. We go upstairs and this lady in her mid forties makes a beeline for him. Here’s where it starts getting juicy. She’s short, short curly blonde hair, nothing special if I don’t say so myself. And at this point I really don’t care cause honey, she ain’t got nothing on me. I wander downstairs, have a bit of a dance and float around like the social butterfly I am when I’m had a few too many. Then he wanders down. I go to meet him at the bar and he pulls out his phone. Someone sent him a message so I look and see a few messages have been sent back and forth. Now I’m not usually one to look at other peoples phones but he has it out  in front of my eyeballs so I can’t help it. And guess what? It’s her!

‘Blah blah blah as soon as I saw you at the bar I knew I had to blah blah blah.’ Wow. I walk away.  He messages me saying ‘She ambushed me. She’s a psycho. Where are you?’ and ‘she’s a cougar who lured me in.’ I message him saying I’m at the bar by the front door. But he doesn’t come to find me. I give him 10 minutes. Nothing. I walk back upstairs, to where this ‘cougar’ first spotted her prey, and there they are. He’s sitting down on a tall bar stool and she’s in front of him, a bit too close for my comfort. I confront him, ask the woman if she’s the psycho he told me about and then I walk away. For good this time. I walk straight out the door, jump into a taxi and get the fuck out of there, sending him a ‘fuck you’ message for good measure.

And then the texts start rolling in and I can’t work out if he is on drugs or stupidly drunk or missing a ton of brain cells I didn’t pick up on during our perfect first date.

A lot of fucks. A lot of unintelligible garbage. And then this:

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Can you believe it? What the actual? I was SO upset I got the taxi driver to stop at the end of my street so I could fall into a heap on the grass and have a good ol’ cry without waking my flatmates. I called mum (at about 2am) and she calmed me down and when I finally stopped crying I walked home and fell into bed. Next morning he messages me again:

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There are so many things I want to say to this jerk. Like, you’re absolute scum. And, yeah I thought our FIRST date was pretty great, too. And, I was drinking as well but I still knew what was going on. But I refrain and try to keep my dignity in tact and simply tell him:

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So that’s my latest dating disaster. I’ve deleted tinder. I really hope to meet a great man who thinks the absolute world of me and puts all of his energy into ME on a second date but tinder can take a hike. I’ve had enough. I heard it had a bad rep and as much as I wanted to believe I’d match with somebody genuine I’m starting to think the rumours are true. Tinder can get lost and so can you, Nick.

Mentally Healthy Workplaces: What are you doing to promote mental health and wellness?

Why are we so afraid to talk about it?

It’s been nine days since Mental Health Week wrapped up and I’m still no closer to disclosing my mental health condition to my boss and colleagues. An email went around the office about a free seminar offering practical tips on how to manage stress and anxiety, but I didn’t go. I was worried about what my boss might think. He didn’t go either, which made me assume he didn’t value workplace mental health.

I also choose not to go because while it’s great we have initiatives like Mental Health Week, there is never any follow through, or not that I know of. I need practical tips on how to manage stress and anxiety throughout the year. Initiatives like Mental Health Week and R U Ok? day do not come around often enough for me to feel comfortable to turn to a colleague and say, ‘You know what, I’m not okay. Can we talk about it?’

Admitting you’re depressed or anxious is not easy!                                                                                quote-on-stigma-health-67-healthyplace

What workplaces need are more conversation starters and awareness training so that people living with mental illness can start to feel comfortable talking about whatever it is they’re going through; do you agree? The sooner people can talk about their mental health experiences, the sooner workplaces can reduce the stigma attached to mental illness. I don’t want my boss and colleagues knowing about my depression and anxiety because I’m worried they’ll think I’m not capable of fulfilling my responsibilities as an employee.

But you know what? I am capable. I’m a hardworking employee and I love my job. I’m also managing my depression and anxiety, so what’s the big deal? You have a headache, you take Panadol; you have depression, you take anti-depressants. What’s the difference?

According to research by Beyond Blue[1], one in five Australian employees has taken time off work in the past 12 months because they felt stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy. If so many of us are feeling mentally unwell, why are we still so afraid to talk about it? We wouldn’t be afraid to let our employer know about a broken bone, so why can’t we be more open when our minds don’t seem to be working? Mental and physical pain is parallel but they’re seen so differently because, well, you can’t see a broken mind.

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Beyond Blue points out that while a mentally healthy workplace is everyone’s responsibility, mental health is a leadership issue, and change must start at the top. Its research reveals 81 per cent of organizational leaders indicate their workplace has one or more policies, procedures and practices to support mental health, but many employees (35 per cent) don’t know these resources exist or don’t have access to them. That’s why SILENCE AROUND MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE MUST END! Mental illness is real, it is everywhere and it is not going away. Let’s start the conversation, let’s join the conversation and let’s keep the conversation going. #itaintweaktospeak #valuementalhealth

For materials and resources your business can use on a day-to-day basis to support mental health in the workplace, head to www.headsup.org.au

Further reading

[1]           State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia, 2014. Available from: < https://www.headsup.org.au/docs/default-source/resources/bl1270-report—tns-the-state-of-mental-health-in-australian-workplaces-hr.pdf?sfvrsn=8>.