New South Wales

onion skins (for irena)

we were all once stars, matter layered inside stars,

the projected dust of some super nova

touched by a butterfly’s wing.

each dust shell is the edge of star mass projected

by helium flash once every fifteen hundred years.

if these are the final drawn out gasps of a dying star

then did you shed shells of yourself

in those first motions of death?

 

as i peel back each familiar skin

i come closer to the fundamental you

and the emergent possibilities of our eternal symmetry.

i look to your discarded shell and understand

that you leave me with more

than just these layers of memory.

 

walking alone on towradgi beach

i see waves that are water slices

shaved in succession

by the continental shelf,

the next one forming over as the spent one recedes

and I know that our past motion is your energy

stored inside of me.

An unexpected gift

Many people across the globe have had to deal with massive changes to their daily lives since the coronavirus pandemic has taken hold and become a staple in the news cycle. Whether it’s through small changes such as no longer going into the office for work or giving a home haircut a try, through to bigger things such as tragically losing a family member to the virus or not being able to visit your elderly parents for the foreseeable future, the pandemic has had a massive effect on how we all live.

For me, the global pandemic has had a profound effect on my life in a way that I could never have predicted. In fact, this change is something that I never imagined would happen to me. Yet here it is, so strong and so visible that I cannot deny it any longer.

I now have a desire to live, a zest for life, a will to stay alive.

This is not normal for me. Many other people have a passion to live and my feelings of wanting to die are unusual to them. But for me, the option of not being around has always been present in my mind. Throughout my teenage years and through to my recent 30th birthday, I can’t remember a time when suicide was not on my mind in some shape or form.

I consider the world a horrific and challenging place to live, and the sadness that I feel and see play out on a daily basis cuts deep into my core. Being alive in this day and age has always seemed, to me, a huge uphill battle that was sometimes not worth fighting for. Ending my life was always on the table, and I often considered it a worthwhile alternative to having to suffer and watch others suffer.

Yet, as I sit curled up on my lounge and tune the remote to see the pandemic play its cruel game with the delicate lives of millions, I’ve been hearing a different broken record in my head. Watching the virus take people’s lives so fiercely and experiencing fear while performing simple daily activities such as picking up the mail and getting groceries, has caused an uptake in my anxiety level to the point where I’ve been feeling that I might burst into a million pieces. My skin has felt tight, my heart races to no end, and my muscles fold in on themselves like a boa constrictor. Throughout the past couple of weeks, I have experienced fear and anxiety stronger than I have ever felt before. But the driving factor to these fears?

I want to live; I’m afraid of not being around anymore.

So, while the coronavirus has caused many people immense pain and we are all suddenly realising that things we took for granted are indeed precious to us, I have been unexpectedly gifted with the desire to live. For someone who has been suicidal for as long as she can remember, this is an entirely new feeling. One which I can’t let slip past me unnoticed. Instead, I am leaning into these feelings, and the more I dive in, the more I see that this desire to live has always been around. In fact it’s been engrained into my instincts as a human being, yet I never had the clarity, or the time, or the reason, to uncover it. Previously, life was so hard that I couldn’t see what was bubbling underneath. Now, life stays just as difficult, but I know there is something under me that I can use as an anchor.

By no means am I thankful that the coronavirus has been the thing that has given me this gift. I wish none of this had happened, I wish we could get back the lives we have lost. Yet, I am doing my best to make lemonade from lemons.

Thus, as I sit here enveloped in deep sadness, fear, depression, and hopelessness for what the future may bring and what the world is experiencing, there is one thing that I can hold onto. I want to live, and because of this I am now ready to tackle these big and difficult emotions with a new perspective.

I am finally ready to let life in.

Bridget B

National expansion continues

The new year heralded further national expansion for Roses in the Ocean with the establishment of offices in Sydney to deliver trained and supported Lived Experience Advisory Groups across NSW.

New team members Bridget and Bec (aptly nicknamed B1 and B2) take on the roles of NSW Lived Experience Project Coordinator and Project Administrator, respectively.

Bridget brings five years of experience working in mental health, community development, and youth work positions, and has recently completed a master’s in social work. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, writing poetry, birdwatching, cuddling her cats, and strolls in nature. Bridget has recently made a “tree change” and now lives in the beautiful Blue Mountains.

Bec has more than 12 years’ experience working at high levels of state government administration including NSW Corrective Services and the Mental Health Review Tribunal. She is extremely passionate about social justice and human welfare, and it shows when talking about all things related to the human condition. In Bec’s spare time she likes to read books relating to psychology, volunteer at a Sydney-based dog shelter and play competitive sports.

The NSW Lived Experience Project, funded by NSW Health, will result in the formation of Lived Experience Advisory Groups in each of the state’s local health districts (LHD).

The groups will share their lived experience to offer vital insights on four key initiatives; alternatives to emergency departments, zero suicides in care methodology, postvention services, and assertive community outreach models.

Each LHD will be approached by the team to start conversations around finding people in each area who want to lend their lived experience voice to suicide prevention. Once those individuals are engaged, they will receive the “Our Voices in Action” and “LaunchPad” training. From there, a Lived Experience Advisory Group will be formed with the trained participants, and Bridget, Bec, and the LHD staff will work collaboratively to support the group and enable them to be a part of facilitating systemic change in their region.

While the challenges of COVID-19 have caused upcoming training to be postponed, expressions of interest for workshops are still being taken. Keep an eye out for the rescheduled dates as they become available!

Bridget and Bec are very humbled to be joining Roses in the Ocean during this time of exponential growth and are excited about the opportunities this project brings for creating grassroots change.