Balancing and Mental Health

After two weeks of isolation, my mental health collapsed.

It was the first time in recent years that I felt so desperate and wondered if I should end it all. 

I’m a fairly active person who likes to interact with people, but since I no longer go out socially, I just get things on my to-do list done. Active energy consumption for daily activities is significantly reduced. Apart from work, because everything I can start or stop at anytime, the boundary between days and nights completely eliminated. I was just doing the same things, even if those that satisfied me, but everyday was just another copy of the previous day was nothing to look forward to and I didn’t see an end to such a life. 

As a result, bedtimes were getting later and later, and my attempts to adjust my sleep schedule from the week two onwards didn’t work; even if I went to lay in the bed before 1am, I would lie there and stay awake until 4, and then I couldn’t take it anymore. A new sun had risen from the eastern horizon, my previous day wasn’t over yet. I‘m tired but awake when it’s completely bright and then it makes it even harder to sleep. 

I couldn’t bear it any more on Sunday morning, I had been losing sleep and there was this overwhelming feeling coming over me that I simply felt desperate. When I realised this, I knew it all had to stop, starting that day. So I jumped into the shower, cleaned myself up, got dressed and got ready to do my first urban exploration in 14 days.

When I arrived the city, the weather was perfect, the sun was shinning and I’ve never been happier to see all the active people. I went to the contemporary art gallery where there were some new exhibitions, some right up my alley. I stayed there a few hours, resting and enjoying myself. I called my friend, had a few conversations, did some cardio that I hadn’t done for long time. I burned four times as much active energy that day as I did on some of the days I stayed home. I went home early, read, studied and went to bed early as well.

I woke up early the next morning, went for a nice brunch and finished almost all my study task before starting work. It was a great start and I started to release the restrictions step by step. This bad experience made me realise for the first time how important mental health is, it is the art of balance and even if you’re doing the things you love, there can be many factors that you need to take care of to maintain good mental health.

I couldn’t fall asleep easily again after that day, but I’m trying to do more mindfulness and use new techniques to get better and earlier sleep, and it worked.

Tommy 28 July 2022

Australianity and Belonging

So today we’re going to talk about the language we speak and who we are.

As I said, my view of myself has completed changed in the last two years as a result of a lifestyle transformation. Going back in time, before the pandemic I was an international student travelling all over the Asia Pacific region, I would stay in Perth during university but had many months of the breaks where I would travel between countries. So I stayed in Perth for the most part just focusing on my studies and I also had a few really good friends so I just stuck to them and didn’t really do anything social and I thought I was happy, well technically I was indeed. But it was a completely different situation to what it is now. I wasn’t really immersed in the Aussie culture and my English didn’t really improve, all I did was go on a few road trips with my visitor friends.

When COVID started I had to be stuck in this state and I couldn’t travel as much as I used to so I had to find out what the locals did for fun and I started to join others in more events, get involved in the local community and get to know the city. When travel restrictions were relaxed I had several trips further into regional Western Australia (Exmouth, Broome, Kalgoorlie) , and to more cities such as Adelaide, Cairns and Darwin, in the country where I live. All of this allowed me to adapt quickly to the local lifestyle and gave me a better understanding of what the country was like and what I really wanted out of life.

All of this was just the beginning for me, showing me how to live here, but what made a bigger difference were the friends who made me start enjoying every moment of my life here. Yes, after all that I also started socialising and before I noticed it, it really changed my life. When I was a student I was quite happy with who I was at that moment, but I still lacked confidence and I didn’t really want to speak English because my communication skills were limited. I didn’t want to look stupid, so gradually, even though I was a very talkative person, I rarely spoke. After a few years, I think I got better at speaking English because I started working and I had to speak real English with my colleagues, and I was getting some achievements with my physical training, so I started meeting people from online platforms. Then I met Joseph, Paul, Tim, Justin and others, all from last year. All my friends helped me in different ways, showing me around the city, exposing me to more cultures and different ways of entertainment, music films books events and common hobbies kept me with them and I couldn’t be more grateful. They become the link between the city or country and me. The more I spend time with my friends, the more I enjoy staying here and the better my English becomes. When I realise this, I can’t go back to the old days.

Generally the country has given me a lot before I started getting more entitlements, for example I am currently working and studying part time at the same time, but when I get Centrelink entitlements I will be able to get the same amount of money without working. Haha, it doesn’t really matter, these are just things that protect and support you when you fall down. I’ve been given the freedom and opportunity to live my life so well, while doing what I love in an environment that makes my life fulfilling. I love the art around my daily life and I love how friendly and open everyone is. We are an advanced country with a high level of education and everyone who lives here plus the immigrant professionals make it even better. I feel safe, supported and like I belong. I have no fear of going after what I am looking for and I can always try different things to explore more possibilities. I can’t condense the last two years into just a few words, but that’s how I think I belong here. And there’s a big world waiting for me and I’m happy and proud to have a safe home here. With courage let us all combine, we’re young and free and we’re one.

Oh well, I don’t think we’ll have time to talk about English today, so I’ve changed the original title and replaced the word English with the word belonging. I’ve told this story a few times now, but this will be the last time. When I say I’m going to make some changes, like the beginning of the phase of using English, it doesn’t mean that from now on we’re going to do something new. I am actually saying this when the transformation is complete, I have been thinking, talking, gathering and processing information in English for a long time and now we can say the change is complete. As with the identity issue I brought to the table today, that’s how things are and I’m happy with that. 🐨

Tommy 23 July 2022

Something Big

Well, it’s midnight (sentimental) time again, so let’s briefly go over what we’ve been up to this month, as this is the longest break we’ve had from social media as we get ready to do something big.

I’m sure my mates who will be checking out this site know me well enough to know about my routine disconnection from the internet, which I call Project Walden. It first started in mid-2019 when I was trying to spend more time on things that really mattered to me off screen, so I stayed with my parents for a few days with no internet at all and it actually felt good to not have any distractions and I freed up time to think and talk to myself a lot. Then as time went on, it became a habit. Whenever I was feeling frustrated or unable to focus on what I needed to do, I would close all my apps and take some time for myself. This has really helped me with different aspects of my life.

But we usually take a few days off, never as long as this one, and some of my friends were starting to wonder if I was okay. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself by announcing on social media that I was going to be missing for a while, so I just changed my profile picture and bio on most social media to make sure that if people came looking for me, they would notice that I was currently on a break and they didn’t need to worry. The original plan was to take a week off to think about my current situation and change some habits, but the week felt so different and wonderful that I decided to extend it and send a few emails to close friends to let them know I would be away for longer. So here we are, so far we’ve been missing for two weeks, so what exactly have we done that’s new?

We have been thinking for a long time about our new learning patterns, about what things are really important to me and what I really want. I would say that this change doesn’t happen at any particular moment, it’s a long and cumulative process and if we’ve made some decisions, we must have thought about them thousands of times. So from now on I have decided to be a student for a few more years until we are ready for the new employment, which will be a really big change in my life, and I am sure you know what that is.

Instead of waiting and thinking at work, the main agenda of life will be study. I will go back to the way we lived when we were at university and make it even better. And the most important subject to study is English, which will be the most used tool in my future life. I think I have said many times how the last two years or let’s say the pandemic has changed me, especially in my way of life and identity. I will be writing more in the coming days about how I see myself, how I am a student and how I learn English as the beginning of this new phase, I have been preparing for this for a long time and now I know exactly what I need, that’s why we are here to write something like this.

Alright, as this is just the beginning, we’ll leave more afterwards. The past two weeks have been so good, productive and hard working. I’ve finally started doing the things that have been on my list for a long time and my daily studies and workouts have been running really well. I can feel how I am benefiting inside and outside.

Now it’s time to go to bed and do some reading. I wouldn’t say my life will change completely, but most things are already quite different and more changes are welcome.

Tommy 22 July 2022