Don’t tell me to fucking “breathe”

The first time I discovered that my breath might be key to managing my anxiety, I was really fucking mad.

Breathing? Seriously?

I do that already. All the time. Automatically in fact. The idea that something so basic and constant could provide relief for a condition I considered so volatile and overwhelming was almost…insulting. Don’t you think I would’ve worked that out on my own by now?

And yet, there I was. Fritzin’ out my mind. Uneasy about nothing & everything all at once. Wringing hands in the pit of my stomach. Pause. Eyes closed. Attention drawn inward.

Breathing in. 4 – 3 – 2 – 1.


Breathing out. 4 – 3 – 2 – 1.

After a few more of these, something weird happened. Almost like an invisible balm was rubbed somewhere on the most nervous parts of me. And for the moment it brought calm. But not for long. That calm was quickly replaced by embarrassment.

How can breathing be the solution? It’s too easy; too natural – to quell something so complex and unrelenting? It made me feel dumb. And it made my anxiety feel dumb too, and I didn’t like that.

In the following years after this experience, I’ve curiously prodded my strange emotional reactions to it. I mean, fancy being upset when you discover something free, easy and cheap could be a helpful solution to an ongoing problem?

Something I discovered about myself is this need to idolise complexity. I am very quick to discount the simple, easy & accessible. In high-school, I remember feeling like getting married and having a family was literally the most basic and elementary path to life satisfaction – it was what lemmings did, and I wanted more than that. This pattern of thinking was destructive, as it led me to exalt my anxiety, and revere my depression as factors that gave me depth. It didn’t inspire me to go on to do great work or create great things – in fact, it made me resist creating because nothing I produced could ever be profound enough. It shut me off from appreciating the small, simple and wonderful things in life – believing them to be reserved for individuals less ‘enlightened’ than myself – when it turned out that I was the one who truly needed to get woke.

This is something that I’m still teaching myself to un-learn. Confucius served up a zinger when he said “life is simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” We can spend our whole lives searching for meaning, analysing our own and other people’s thoughts, emotions and behaviours, thinking for so long about so many things that seem so important. It’s still pretty much what I do 95% of my waking life. But now, in the other 5%, I’m forcing myself to breathe.


At this time of year, there’s plenty to celebrate. With an influx of engagements and pregnancy announcements – our parties, functions and online feeds are gushing with public proclamations of some recently unlocked life achievement. 

After celebrating my own engagement this year, my partner and I have received many congratulations regarding the upcoming nuptials. Our online announcement elicited many messages of celebration and well wishes, and after the wave of dopamine subsided, I pondered the moments in our lives that will be met with the most congratulations. Weddings, engagements, new jobs, new houses, babies and births – these milestones are widely understood as positive, undoubtedly  celebration-worthy events and they all mark the occurrence of one thing – a new beginning.   
New beginnings are exciting. They symbolize the heralding of something different, and unknown. Starting something new can fuel us with a fresh sense of purpose and direction.
The moments in life that I feel are truly celebration-worthy are not the beginnings. But the middles. When you’re faced with hardship you never anticipated. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable and it is scary and uncomfortable. When everything seems to be conspiring against you. When you are so overwhelmed, broken and defeated and you’re teetering on the brink of giving it all up.

But you don’t.

These silent and noble moments often pass unnoticed. Not met with any filtered Instagram posts or public announcements over Christmas lunch. I often wonder if we underestimate the importance of these moments because they’re not received with a champagne toast, or a stylized photo shoot or 100+ little cyber thumbs-up. 

So with no likelihood of public congratulations, it will be up to you (and perhaps those very close to you) to recognize and celebrate these true life achievements. Albeit not as flashy as the beginnings of a lifelong love or a brand new baby, these moments make up the invisible middles that help strengthen our connections, build our resilience and fill our lives with purpose, direction and growth. So if no ones congratulated you for those moments this year, I’m raising a glass for you right now. 

Why Social Media Makes You Feel Crappy About Yourself

A few months ago a bunch of Insta-models shared polls in their Instagram stories asking if followers thought Social Media seriously harms mental health. The general consensus was a resounding YES and the research seems to back it up. A number of recent studies have been done investigating the effects of social media usage on our psychological well-being and they’ve shown that many of us tend to feel pretty crappy after an extensive stint spent on the socials.
So why does it make us feel like crap? Well, aside from the fact that time spent on social media is time spent not doing other stuff we’re probs supposed to be doing (pls dont make me vacuum) one of the leading theories is Social Comparison theory. Basically, we see depictions of others that are a closer representation of our concept of the “Ideal” and we compare ourselves against those. It’s effect is particularly strong when it comes to making comparisons against “ideal body types” (for anglo, white women, it’s called the “thin ideal”), but can pretty much apply to any aspect of life. It’s likely that there will be people on your feeds that represent aspects of life that you would consider closer to your ideal (remember, representations can often be deceiving). The space between where you’re at and where they’re at can cause some stress and anxiety. “I wish I had that job/degree/house/family life/relationship/friendship group”, etc. Their relative social proximity to you can also increase these crappy feelings.
How can we combat these feelings? There are two ways, either change your Social Media usage or change your concept of the “Ideal”. Sounds simple, right?
It’s easy to get sucked into Social Media. Almost 75% of Australians actively use it (ABS, 2014), it’s on our smart phones which makes it constantly accessible, and it’s pretty much optimised by web gurus to make it as addictive as possible (it’s like internet crack). If it’s making you feel shitty, try limiting your time spent on it or deleting apps off your smartphone so you can only access it from your computer. If that’s too huge a leap, try curating your feeds a little better to stop following pages or users that make you feel angry, frustrated, jealous, resentful of or bad about yourself.
Changing your concept of the “ideal” requires a little more of a philosophical expedition. What we consider “ideal” is wrapped up in a lifetime of experiences, exposure, and social conditioning. Often ideas of what we want don’t always come from an honest and authentic place, and might instead be ego-fuelled by the need to prove something to ourselves and others. These things might not get us any closer to living happy and fulfilling lives – but it’s super easy to think they will (more 👏🏼 money 👏🏼 pls). 

Finally, remember people’s depictions of life on Social Media can be a false representation of actual reality.

The good news is that studies have also shown the negative psychological effects of social media usage can be thwarted by being an informed and educated social media consumer. So remember, don’t always believe everything you see, and don’t believe everything you think.


People quantify success in many ways; what job you have, what car you drive, what school you send your kids to. I used to think that, in order to be successful, there was a bunch of stuff you needed to do/have/accomplish. But a few life lessons got me reevaluating my personal concept of success and exploring the notions of happiness and self-acceptance.
The most important lesson I think I ever learned is that everything starts from the head first – with our ability to take in and make sense of the world. We can be our own best friend or our own worst enemy (and sometimes both at the same time).


Our thinking determines everything. It determines how we feel about ourselves, how we feel about others, what we want, what we are capable of, how we feel about our past, how we feel about our future. It’s a daily struggle for lots of us, and for many, an inescapable nightmare. 

But the conversations around mental health and mental wellness are often stuffy and boring. We bring it up when things are going wrong (and even then, we can still be reluctant to do so for fear of judgement). Rarely do we celebrate our moments of mental victory, or take a moment to consider how making little changes can positively enhance our lives.
So I thought I’d start this blog. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it is a chance to share thoughts, discoveries and observations on tackling life, love and everything else head first. Perhaps together we can learn a few things, help take the edge off and start building new, inclusive concepts of success, happiness and self-acceptance that are achievable for all of us. 


Every where I look, I see people getting married and having babies. It seems peculiar because I never recalled seeing them in such overwhelming quantities before, but all of a sudden there they are, at my local café, on my Facebook feed, at the bookshop, cropping up in chats, texts and emails from friends and family. This evidence before my very eyes seems to run in direct contrast to the statistical reality that fewer and fewer people are getting married and choosing to have children, but whatever. I’m seeing it. Therefore it’s there.
We help make sense of the world by looking around us. With everything we take in with our senses, we piece together, bit by bit, how things are, what they mean, and why they are that way. Often we place such emphasis on this sensory information that we fail to acknowledge the individual, psychological filters this information passes through in order to reach our smart, little brain boxes. The reality of this situation is that there isn’t an irregularly massive number of people getting married and having babies, rather I’ve been thinking more about marriage and babies (due to societal pressure, a close friend’s upcoming wedding, seeing a photo of Megan Fox’s unusually attractive offspring, etc) and therefore, all evidence of marriage and babies has become disproportionally emphasised by nothing more than my mind’s inclination to see it. There are plenty of people I know, see, FB stalk, who aren’t getting married and producing small people, but these guys don’t work with my current theory that “EVERYONE IS GETTING MARRIED AND HAVING BABIES”, so I disregard them, and instead focus on those who make me feel like I’m RIGHT.
“Cognitive scientists have studied our natural tendency to look only for corroboration; they call this vulnerability to the corroboration error the confirmation bias”. And we humans are complete suckers for it. We see what we want to see, when we want to see it, and are reluctant to change our minds about it. Changing our minds about beliefs we hold to be true takes a lot more effort and consideration than continuing to reinforce any pre-existing beliefs. We’re keen to understand new things with as little energy expended as possible. In which case, we give things explanations and/or narratives to help store new information in an accessible location of our mental Kennards, and explanations that further reinforce existing beliefs are the easiest and most convenient method of storage! Only, when we’re a long way off being right, it takes a helluva lot for us  to see the other side (imagine how sensible it seemed to once believe the earth was flat!)
Anais Nin said “We don’t see things are they are, we see them as we are” and you should try and remember that when you’re feeling chubby and ugly and every person you (choose to) see looks like Kate Moss, or when you’re feeling like a professional failure and everyone you (selectively) hear about is getting record deals and Harvard scholarships. If you’re anything like me, your mind is your personal saboteur, fashioning the world around you to make your mistakes and shortcomings even more graphic and pitiful. But remember, even though it often feels like you’re just taking the world in as a cool and impartial observer, we forget about those filters that shape and distort, emphasise and neglect, and churn out weddings and babies on every Insta post and street corner.

(Quote taken from Nicolas Nassim Taleb’s Black Swan. Image via Pinterest)