Sunday 25 September 2016

When Ish Hits The Fan

"Secrets make you sick"

This is probably one of the biggest and simplest take home messages from To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA).

For those who haven't seen it, it focuses on Rene Yohe and how, with the help of her friends, she overcame drug addiction. Although that seems like a really simplified or watered down explanation of what really happened, because what you learn at the end is that it's a daily battle. She comes home and writes 'Day 1' on her bedroom mirror, because essentially, every day is day 1, over and over again until you don't need to think about the number associated with the day anymore.

The most inspiring thing that I took from it is to own my story. I may not have been sexually assaulted or suffered deep depression, I may not have anything more serious than Generalised Anxiety Disorder, but my story is still one worth telling, if only to make myself heard and so others know that they're not alone.

So hi, I'm Melissa and I'm a love addict who also suffers from anxiety and possibly depression.

I grew up in a family that, due to a family history of mental illness and not knowing how to cope with it, saw me lacking in my own psychological and particularly emotional needs being met.

As a child, I didn't understand what was going on and took it personally when one or both of my parents would yell at me because I genuinely believed that it meant I wasn't worthy of love, attention, affection or any of the other things that I craved.

Throughout high school I sought out quite possibly the one person that couldn't give me the love I so desperately wanted, which only make me want to fight harder for it, much to my own detriment.

I was also diagnosed with severe Idiopathic Scoliosis at 12 which saw me undergo two intensive surgeries just before my 14th birthday. Despite this huge hurdle and the impact this had on me at the time and has since affected me and helped shaped my life, I don't consider myself a Scoliosis survivor. It's a condition that I have and was corrected as best as the surgeons possibly could, but it in no way defines me, who I am, what I do, or what I want to achieve in my life.

Anyway, with my love addiction seeking a new target after spending 4-5 years hopelessly trailing after a guy who was becoming less and less appealing as a person the older he got, I met a teacher when I was 16 and became completely obsessed with him for about 3 years. I'm really not proud of how I acted during this time and how relentlessly I pursued him despite him making it clear that he couldn't give me the kind of attention that I wanted and trying to get me to stop what I was doing, but I understand why I did what I did and have subconsciously vowed to never behave in the same way ever again.

Everything came to an absolutely crushing halt when the teacher got married. It was like my entire world had been completely shattered and I was left with two choices: either stay where I was and revel in the pain and misery of what my life had suddenly become, or ask for help and keep doing whatever it takes to get myself out of the intensely grey pit I'd found myself in.

It took a few weeks along with trial and error of counselors, but I finally found someone who was just right for me and help me get past the first hurdle of pain, find the core of my problem and helped me rebuild myself and my life, one step at a time.

I've now been seeing her for nearly 7 years and my life, as she reminds me as well, is completely different from when I first started seeing her. I've got a stable job, a happy home life, great friends, am halfway through an Arts degree, finished paying off my car a few months ago, and am finally learning to love and accept myself exactly as I am.

During my darkest times, namely around the age of 15 when I hated everything about my life, was sick of fighting for a reason to keep living and often thought about running away or taking my own life, I couldn't have fathomed I'd be able to create the kind of life I have now. It's not perfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than where I've come from, which means that where I'm headed it going to be better still.

So that's my story in a nutshell. I'm sharing it because I feel like I need to and that others need to hear it.

So tell me, what's your story? What do you do when life messes with the fan?

Friday 10 June 2016

The Culture of Rape

(Photo credit to

  1. the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time
  2. a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.
  3. a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)
  1. an act or instance of robbing or despoiling or carrying away a person by force
  2. unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent
  3. an outrageous violation
Does it bother anyone else that we're joining the two?

I'm as aware as the next person that rape occurs worldwide in a whole host of different situations and scenarios. I'm also incredibly aware that it shouldn't. Period.

I get the feeling or rather the message that's being sent by there even being a 'rape culture' is that it's permitting it to happen and continue happening. It's not okay that it's happening, but since it is, it may as well be glamorized in the way that 'party culture' is, right?!

I completely understand how sensitive a subject it is for a lot of people. You don't need to be personally affected by it or know someone that has been in order to feel sensitive towards it. 

Whenever I'd heard the word used, it's made me feel incredibly uncomfortable, regardless of the context that it's in. But I think for a lot of people, it's a common feeling, so it ends up just not being talked about when it really should, and not be attached to a 'culture' of any kind that would appear to be accepting or even promoting (however passively) it's existence.

(Photo credit to

During a discussion in one of my Philosophy tutorials this semester, there was talk about freedom and if viewing pornography was a breach of that. While people have the right to view pretty much anything they can get access to, the question was around the freedom or rights of those taking part in the filming of it.

One of my classmates pointed out that when it comes to shows like Game of Thrones, where nudity and the like are all part of it, it is expected that people can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Another classmate argued in response that ill-educated people could easily watch Game of Thrones or even just porn, then go out into the world genuinely believing that this kind of behaviour was commonplace and acceptable.

A different classmate pointed out to the first that a lot of women are still terrified to walk around alone at night, and there's emphasis on walking in pairs. Why are the women talk to protect themselves when there doesn't appear to be any courses or part of the school curriculum that tells males that they can't just put their penis in wherever they want. If there's no consent, if the person says yes then changes their mind at any point, no means no!

It should also be pointed out that rape isn't only male to female. This is something that I'm sure a lot of people aren't or weren't aware of. I know I wasn't until I heard a statistic about it several years ago.
While the cases are significantly less, they're still significant.

There's also something to be said for the false accusations of rape. This is not okay either. Accusing someone of something out of spite or jealousy or whatever motives you have not only makes a mockery of those who've actually experienced sexual assault, but it creates emotional and financial distress for the accused. This may be what was intended by the accuser, but there are doubtless other things to spend time, money and energy on, rather than trying to ruin people's lives and reputations.

Going back to the ill-education argument, I was watching Murder by Numbers the other night, and the janitor was watching what was presumed to be porn based on the sounds being emitted from the TV. As he got up to check something for the guy he was selling drugs to (played by Ryan Gosling, in case anyone's interested), he made an offhanded comment about how the sounds the woman was making as she was being spanked indicated her enjoyment of it. "Look at her, she's loving it!" he said.

If the only things an adolescent or even mature male knows about sex and women is limited to what he's seen in porn, it explains a LOT, but it most definitely does not excuse his actions!

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For those of you who can't fathom how a person's knowledge of the outside world can be limited to only what they've seen on a screen, this is essentially how I grew up. Aside from my lived experiences in high school, I understood the general idea of it to be exactly what I'd seen in TV shows and movies, nothing more, nothing less. I went to a religious private school in a semi-rural area where the only public transport I ever saw was the odd taxi, but even that was a rare occurrence. I also attended church every Sunday and dance class on a Friday for 45 minutes. 

When you combine all of that, there's really not a lot of real-life external influences to broaden my perception and understanding of the world. I didn't associate with anyone else outside of these areas and was too scared to even try since the fear of the unholy and unknown had been drummed into me from an early age.

That has changed significantly for me not only since finishing school and pursuing further education, but by moving homes twice after the age of 21 and gaining employment in an industry where I have to engage with people on a daily basis.

Bringing this back to point, I'm sure everyone has heard of the Stanford rapist story by now, as well as the open letter the victim wrote about her harrowing experience. As you read through, you become incredibly aware of how the perpetrator seems to be incapable of taking responsibility for his actions or how they've impacted the victim. He continually blames alcohol and the 'party culture' for what he did, even though the numerous readers throughout the world have pointed out that they've been completely drunk or at parties and managed to not sexually assault someone whilst under the influence.

'Rape culture' always tends to focus on women and how they were 'asking for it' or as with porn and what Brock mentioned in his statement 'she loved it'. 

Unless a woman who is in full control of her cognitive functions and aware of her surroundings (not under the influence of alcohol or any other substances) actually says that she wants to have sex with you and doesn't change her mind or lose consciousness at any point during the act, do not have sex with her. 

She's not asking for it. She's not loving it and you should not proceed.

It doesn't matter what she was wearing, what she was doing, saying or thinking, where she was or why she was there. If she did not consent, she doesn't want sex, regardless of what your genitalia is telling you or what it is that you want. 

She is a person, not a thing, not a piece of meat, a person and she should be treated with nothing less than the respect a person deserves.

(Photo credit to

Friday 22 January 2016

The Price of Gold

 (Photo credit to

It's amazing how valuable something is or becomes when it is a finite resource.

I was going through my inbox the other day noting that I had just over 2000 emails which had accumulated over at least 3 years with a few stragglers from earlier than that, when I came across emails from old friends that I no longer communicated with for whatever reason as well as emails from both of my parents.

There was a time back in 2012, a few months after I moved out of home that I was processing a lot and essentially cut off contact with everyone in my family except my brother.

For a period of about 3-6 months I had the barest of contact with my parents, still reeling from a lifetime of hurt and other emotions, having been so sheltered and finally being able to adjust to life on my own, it was a lot to come to terms with.

During this time I deleted whatever I could of theirs that came through if I REALLY didn't want to see it, otherwise I just viewed and ignored it so I wouldn't have to focus on it. I decided when I moved out that as much as I was hurting, I didn't want to be the kind of person that slams the door shut out of pain and anger, then regrets it terribly a few years down the track when they realise how much they've missed and how, with enough time and space, things could really have been forgiven and built up from.

Skip ahead 4 years and now going through my inbox, I'm treating those same emails like some kind of treasure Nicholas Cage would star in a movie about saving.

I can now completely understand how, after a popular person dies, whatever they've made becomes the most precious treasure because it is now a finite thing.

(Photo credit to

The few emails I had from my mother which I normally would have rolled my eyes at, I'm now mentally and emotionally clinging to like a kid with a security blanket. Her main method of contact was via phone call which unfortunately now looking back I didn't record. Luckily her ineptitude when it came to technology meant that quite a few photos she took with her camera are actually videos with her asking dad or someone else if the photo had been taken.

It's been 8 months since she passed on and it still doesn't feel real, I'm not sure if it ever will. It's like you start new routines and they help you get through the hard times which you just keep on going with, but then you look back and realise just how much has changed even though it feels like yesterday in a way. Now whenever I say 'about 6 months ago' I do a double-take a realise that the benchmark for things occurring is around the time that she passed so I can definitely tell whether it was a certain vague time frame or not. It's a strange thing that.

The period of time around her demise and the emails that came in were harder than others to reread, as you can imagine.

All of the artworks mum made are still scattered around dad's place, the home I lived in from age 10-21. It's not that I don't want to touch them, it's more the struggle to fully comprehend that what we've got is all we'll ever have. She'll never make artworks or anything else ever again and that sucks immeasurably.

Have you noticed how much more special and meaningful something is after the creator of it has passed on? Those photos, that whachamacallit, the thingamebob, the doodad become the most valuable things you now own. Sure it's not about the money, but they're as good as gold and there's no conceivable price you can really put on them because the person that made them or that you associate with them is no more.

What do you consider the price of gold? Is there even a numerical amount?! What is gold to you anyway? Maybe it's the literal sense of money or jewelry, or maybe it's the sentimental sense of the perfume someone wore or the brown jacket with the fur trim, the red handbag still sitting on the chair in the kitchen where it was dropped one day and never picked up again.

One thing's for sure: the price of gold goes up exponentially the moment it becomes a finite resource and there really is no true substitute for it.

(Photo credit to