I’ll Be Your Man…

Another week and we have to report the fires are still burning, the air quality in Canberra is still worse than Beijing. But we aren’t complaining things could be a lot worse and we could be burning along with the rest of the country. With New Year’s having been and gone many of us would have set resolutions aligning with our hopes, dreams and goals all in the aim of bettering ourselves as we enter into a new year and a new decade. Whether it was dropping a few kilos or learning to speak Spanish, whatever your resolution what people should really be resolving to is to stick to the goals they set for themselves. Break them down into smaller achievable targets that are realistic rather than going for the big bang approach which has been proven to rarely work. With that said it’s time we moved on to this weeks blog and a topic we are sure a lot of people around the world are interested in hearing about.

Dating is often a hard and soul crushing experience, particularly in the age of the internet, outrage porn, self help books, blogs and podcasts, post industrial, post feminist world. There are no longer clearly defined roles of in today’s society. That goes for both men and women, it also goes for those who don’t identify as either but rather as a helicopter or something else entirely. So when it comes to dating what are the roles, what are the responsibilities and more importantly what are the rules? We live by the rule of consent here at A Mind of Its Own, but we aren’t talking about sexual consent that is a given and defined by the line, No, Means NO! We are talking about consent to allow yourself to be comfortable and be yourself with people you want to date. As a good friend put being authentic is the best thing we can do to attract like minded and like value people.

What is often not outlined in the dating game, and let’s be honest it is often a game, because we can not and do not allow ourselves to be ourselves, is that unless you are happy with yourself and who you are as a person, you aren’t going to attract the people you want to be with. You can read as many blogs, books and listen to podcasts on dating advice but the crux of dating is that you need to be comfortable with who you are and what you want in life. Plain and simple put yourself first and yes it’s ok to be selfish and be who you want to be, not who you feel you should be for others. Whether you are male, female, a helicopter or identify as something else entirely you need to be happy with yourself and as we said earlier the happier you are with yourself the more likely you are to attract the people you want.

At the age of 33 the Boss man had everything going for him, he was happily married, he had a great job (Still has that job but not sure about how great it is), he was planning for the future including a little family of his own. He was in a good place mentally, physically he was looking OK (May have got a little Fappy, for those playing along at home that’s Fat Happy) but could have gone to the gym a little more. Come his 34th birthday though everything had changed, life as he had known it ceased to exist. The last thing he thought he’d be doing was dating again. In a sense he was starting again, for a man that wants a family he was at rock bottom, starting all over again scared the absolute shit out of him. He questioned everything, his hopes, dreams and ambitions. Would he have a family of his own?, Would he ever find that someone special again?. There was a lot of self doubt and a lot of destructive behavior that he thought he had left behind in his early 20’s. Over time he would realise he was being a massive douche and well that’s how we ended up with this blog.

What a shallow and wonderful world dating in the 21st century has become, it’s an adventure all on it’s own. Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, eHarmony, Happn and not to mention the specific hook up apps that are available. You name it and there is a dating site or application for it. But what’s it really like to date in today’s modern age of screen time and instant gratification. Well hopefully we can answer all the questions and more as we dive head first into the world of dating, we won’t be taking any self help books with us or cheesy pick up lines but we will be giving you a first hand account of what it’s like out there in the big wide world of dating. We won’t pull any punches or lay down and just take (Pun intended) we’ll give it to you straight. Rejection and all, it’s all part of dating and there is no point holding back anything as it would take away from the real experience.

Firstly it was worked out quite quickly that you need certain things to create a dating profile regardless of whether you are an attractive person or not, we’ll get to why being attractive gives you a leg up shortly. Firstly gym selfies seem to be a must, if you are male a topless flexing pic is always a good idea and if you are female a sports bra and some weights if you don’t do the gym then a beach selfie with your assets on display seems to be the go, helicopters we’ll assume shining rotor blades and if you identify as something else then take from one of the first two examples. Other things you will need is a photo of you drinking, a mandatory boozy photo seems to feature quite heavily just to show people you are fun, a photo with a dog is a must and if you don’t have one borrow one, we have two here that are available for hire throughout the year. They just need a little scratch here and there behind the ear and are very food motivated. Apparently a sense of humour is required and you will also need to have a primary school reading level to make sense of some of the bios you come across but more often than not, people do not list a lot about themselves it’s all part of the supposed mystery or they just post a shitload of emojis that make no sense whatsoever.

As we progress further into the blog we’ll list some of the acronyms we’ve had to work out or have deciphered for us by the boys and girls over at the National Office of Intelligence. We’ll also give you some tips whether they are helpful or not is a different thing but they do say those that can’t do teach. Dating what’s its purpose? Solely to find a mate, another half, someone to spend our time with, someone to share our hopes and dreams with. It’s a scary prospective whether you are just setting out on your journey or have been there and done that before but failed to get the t-shirt. When we spoke to the bossman the last time he dated Tinder and all the other apps weren’t around or were just coming in and solely used for hookups. He was part of the old school where you had to go and make a connection with someone face to face. You didn’t get to text back and forth for ages before you actually meet the person. As we developed a severe case of Tinderitis from swiping we began to uncover some things about the dating world in a town like Canberra. Firstly, it’s small and we say small we mean small, one of those places where everyone knows someone and there a less than 6 degrees of separation. Secondly it becomes easy to develop a reputation if all you are doing is sleeping around.

It’s also no surprise that you will come across people you know, but more importantly you will stumble upon people you’ve always found attractive or had fanciful flights of ending up with. Imagine joining up to online dating and having one of the first people you come across be your wife who’s just left you. It happened to the bossman and is probably why he went through such a hate phase of the fairer sex. Here’s the thing about dating in the 21st century, you will feel shallow at some point throughout your dating experience. But let’s be honest, if you don’t you may be somewhat narcissistic and could do with a trip or two to the psych. Looks are the initial attraction, we’ll always admit that, you are going to swipe on people that appeal to you from the list of things that you find physically attractive when you are looking for your for your ideal mate.

It’s biology, plain and simple, we all have that list of things that attracts us to people from a physical perspective. From there once you’ve swiped or liked someone, it’s a guessing game as to whether they will tick any of the other boxes on our ideal mate wish list. What one person finds physically appealing another may not, we are all different and are attracted to different things. Physical attraction is the initial attraction but with most people who aren’t just looking for the old “Netflix and chill” there are then the other attributes that are important. Intelligence, values, morals etc all play a part in what makes us select the people we do to be apart of our lives.

At some point you are going to feel rejection, you are going to wonder why after swiping your thumb or index finger down to the bone why you aren’t getting matches or why people aren’t writing back. You will wonder whether it’s you or something you have written, you’ll question yourself over and over again as you go around in the little dance circle that is internet/online dating. Firstly you need to work out why you are actually there, are you after a temporary fix, some gratification to know you are still attractive and still able to attract someone, are you actually looking for someone to share your life with or are you just there to get your rocks off and establish no emotional connections whatsoever. It’s all about intentions. No matter whether it’s dating, friendships, work, whatever it is your intentions will set the tone of what happens. You might hide your intentions behind an act but at the end of the day your true intentions will shine through.

We spoke about self-help dating books briefly in the blog and whilst there is a raft of them they will all give you different advice. Some will tell you to ignore women and play hard to get, others will give you a raft of pick lines and there are the ones that tell you to just be yourself and be vulnerable and try not to come across as needy. Ok so we’ve only read one book like that and it was Models by Mark Mansen. Yes the same guy that wrote The Subtle Art and Everything is F*cked wrote a book on dating long before both of those. In fact that’s how he got his start providing dating advice to men. Reading through his book it’s all about intention, honesty and being vulnerable and we break it down even further it’s about being yourself, the true person you are not the mask wearing that so many people throw on through their neediness and insecurities. While being honest is often hurtful people will thank you for it in the long run. If you are looking for a dating book, we do recommend you Models, the principles displayed in this book are applicable to all aspects of your life, not just dating.

When we asked the Boss-man what dating was like he summed it up in one word, Crap, dating makes you feel crappy if you haven’t worked on yourself and understand your values and what you want from life. The boss-man understood this but had not worked on himself enough to ensure he was ready for what was to come, for the rejection. In a sense he was needy, he was seeking validation and approval because he’d been hurt and didn’t have a good relationship with himself. Upon meeting a girl who ticked some or all of the boxes he would become over invested and despite the fact that he didn’t realise it he was being needy. The girl or girls he was invested in would often find this a turn off and split and run for the hills. Because they were less invested than he was, his over investment became a massive turn off.

Sitting with the Boss-man while he sipped a whisky and swiped away on Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and Happn we began to question how serious some people were about finding a significant other. Yes we know there are those that are on there for the sole purpose of instant gratification who are also slightly narcissistic, but then there are those people who have insecurities within themselves that don’t even post a picture of themselves. That’s the thing about the world of online dating you end up with people from all walks of life looking for all types of things. From ONS which is a One Night Stand, to people in open marriages, couples looking for a threesome, the Netflix and chill crowd, it’s a minefield to navigate and when people don’t put at least one picture of themselves, it’s like a lucky dip at the school fete. As it has so often been said you’re values determine your behavior when it comes to dating. That’s the entire point YOUR values determine your behavior not what you think others want, your values will ensure you do what is best for you when it comes to dating.

One thing people struggle with is the ability to be open and honest, to just be themselves and just say what they want particularly when it comes to sex. Women in particular feel they’ll be judged for wanting just sex and nothing more, they worry they’ll develop a reputation and it’s understandable given that for centuries, we (Men) have made them feel that way and in some cases made them sexually repressed. Online dating has allowed women to explore their sexuality and feel a little more comfortable while they do so but until we as a society can make them feel truly safe they’ll continue to be a little less honest about what they want for fear of being labelled a slut or worse, particularly in a small town like Canberra. Throw all that into online dating and you start to get a good idea of why it is such a minefield. It’s not just women who do it though men are the masters of doing it, it all comes back to intentions and sooner or later your true intentions will come to light.

There are no rules to online dating, so once you’ve matched with someone there is nothing left to do but start a conversation. There are many opinions on how you should start a conversation and what you should and shouldn’t say but at the end of the day it’s not what you say or how you say it but again the intention behind it. Just be open and honest and be yourself is the best advice we can offer you. You need to know what you are, and aren’t OK with and set those expectations for the start. If you aren’t into games then you need to be up front and let it be known you won’t tolerate games. According to several magazines, books, podcasts from relationship and dating experts women will actually find this more attractive. They say those that can’t do teach? Maybe that’s why we write a blog each week? Who knows but for now we’ll just continue to write about things that make people feel a little awkward.

What works for one person might not work for another, put yourself in comfortable environments, if you really want to get to know them don’t go into a crowded bar or pub where conversation is difficult the first time you meet them. Go for coffee or a walk, do something that allows you to have a conversation and really get to know them, that’ll tell you if you want to go on a second date or not unless all you really want is sex then do whatever has been working for you but again be open and honest about your intentions rather than playing the game and ghosting. Look we’ve all done it for whatever reason but we can guarantee you’ll feel much better about yourself just being honest with people about what it is exactly that you want. It’s partly why women often ask the question when you first starting talking to them “What exactly are you looking for from this?”. Time is precious so treat people with respect, don’t waste their time particularly if you wouldn’t like your time being wasted. That little empathy you’d want people to show you, you should be showing others it’s all part of being a decent human.

One question that comes up is when should you get off dating apps if you meet someone you like? Again it all comes down to intentions, you need to let that person know you are keen to see where it goes and that you are only interested in dating them so you can see where things go. From there, remove yourself from the online dating scene. What’s the worst that could happen? You end up right back on the dating apps and websites and hey we are all going to face rejection at some point in our life, some of us more than others but if you meet someone you want to get to know better and see where it goes remove yourself from online dating and be open about it. That’s our advice but you don’t need to follow it or listen to it for that matter, as the kids say you, do you! Again it’s all about your intentions.

So to sum it up online dating isn’t for everyone, it is often soul crushing and makes you feel shallower than the babies end of the local paddle pool and is more often than not fraught with twists, turns and upside down roundabouts you weren’t expecting. That’s not to say that you can’t meet people or that special someone through online dating, everyone has their own experience and will get something different out of it compared to friends or people you know who have or are currently dating. All we can say is that the more open, honest and yourself you are, the more likely you will attract the same qualities and values in a person. Your intentions and your values will define what and who you attract in the dating game. It’s like all things in life if your intentions are true and noble, you are open and honest with people and show some vulnerability you will attract the same.

Again we aren’t dating experts and probably shouldn’t be out here giving advice but we have been there, done that had the wedding band. Whilst the first time didn’t work out hopefully the second will and if not then third time lucky as they say. But until then we’ll follow our own advice and speak our truth, be a little vulnerable and be clear on our intentions. That’s all we can do and along the way, you lucky readers may get the odd hilarious dating story but we are in no rush to be in a relationship and at the end of the day we know the universe has a plan for us just like it does for you.

Until next week we hope you’ve all had a great start to 2020 and the new decade. It’s been tough for some of our fellow Australians who have lost people or houses in the bush fires and as we’ve done with the last couple of posts we urge you all to lean in anyway you can to help out in the community. For those of you dating and looking to find that special someone we hope 2020 is your year and if it’s not don’t give up there is someone out there for everyone. As always our advice is just that advice and we are by no means qualified to give dating advice other than the fact we are currently in the same situation as so many Australians, single and ready to mingle. So until next week we’ll sign off once again…

Heroes Of The Sidewalk…

What a year 2019 was, there was certainly some highlights and low lights and in our annual review we plan to cover them all. It’s what we do here at A Mind Of Its Own. As the decade came to a close, a new chapter was opened and the history books were finalised once again with the who, the what, the where and the why of the last 10 years. The team at A Mind of Its Own were there for a lot of it but as it’s our annual review we’ll focus on 2019 and the year that created a lot of change within our country and personally within our lives. It was a year that saw some sadness, some growth and some strange and unusual things, so without further adieu we’ll let the team take it away from here.

Like all good publications we’ll cover the things that made the headlines in 2019 across Australia, yeah we are going to stick to our homeland and spread some of the craziness that made us stop and think over the past year. There was a lot of questioning done throughout the year and not a lot of answers were forthcoming. So to kick us off we’ll look at events and commentary from each month of the year that had heads turning and people palming their own faces.

January

  • 3 January – One man is killed and another is injured following a double stabbing at the Asia-Pacific headquarters of the Church of Scientology in the Sydney suburb of Chatswood, and they still deny they are a cult?
  • 5 January – A far-right political rally held in Melbourne, marked by scuffles with police and counter-protesters, is attended by Independent Senator Fraser Anning, who admits to using tax-payer funded travel to attend the event. Afterwards he got the Australian version of the swastika tattooed on his back for the next rally so he fit in with the rest of the far right bogans.
  • 7 January – A mass fish die-off occurs on the Lower Darling River at Menindee Lakes. Up to 1 million fish, including endangered species, ultimately die in what is described as possibly the largest fish die-off in Australian history. Where’s Greta when we need her to give the government a serve about killing our rivers?
  • 24 January – Professor Tanya Monro is appointed Australia’s next Chief Defence Scientist, the first woman in the position. The female Sheldon Cooper with a personality she’s a smart cookie who has some inspired ideas.
  • 29 January – The South Australian Murray Darling Basin Royal Commission report is released. The commission, which commenced in 2018, was critical of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and the Commonwealth Murray Darling Basin Authority. *Note to the government! Stop selling our water to overseas interests!

February

  • Four people are killed and over a thousand people remain evacuated from homes in Townsville as flooding peaks in the city, following a metre of rainfall in the first week of the month. Among the dead were two men on February 4, and two young boys on February 25, all from drowning. – No comment needed 😦
  • 4 February – The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry final report is tabled in Parliament. The report makes 76 recommendations. Well we all know banks are in the business of making money and that’s just what they did. Not just one of the banks but all of them.
  • 12 February – The Liberal-National Coalition government becomes the first Australian federal government to lose a vote on its own legislation in 78 years, after a defeat on the floor of the House of Representatives. Hmm we’ve touched base on politics a few times throughout the year and well it’s just been disappointing.
  • 13 February – Nineteen homes are destroyed by bushfires in the New England and Northern Rivers regions of New South Wales. Was this a sign of things to come later in the year? We certainly think so!
  • 26 February – Following the lifting of a suppression order, it is revealed that Cardinal George Pell had been convicted in December 2018 of sexually abusing two choirboys in 1996. All we can say is about time! The church has been hiding it’s secrets and disgusting people for way too long!

March

  • 13 March – Cardinal George Pell is sentenced to six years in prison following his conviction over the sexual abuse of two choirboys. Yeah boy! But six years isn’t long enough he should be locked up and the key thrown away! Where do we stand on the death penalty?
  • 23 March –
    • The Liberal-National Coalition government led by Gladys Berejiklian wins the 2019 New South Wales state election and returns to office with a reduced majority. Didn’t stop her from wasting money on a new stadium that wasn’t needed.
    • Tropical Cyclone Trevor makes landfall in the Northern Territory. Who comes up with the names for Cyclones? And how do we get that job?

April

  • 11 April – Actor Geoffrey Rush is awarded $850,000 in damages after winning a defamation case against The Daily Telegraph. What’s the saying mum? Oh that’s right if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.

May

  • 18 May – 2019 Australian federal election: Scott Morrison’s Liberal/National Coalition Government is narrowly re-elected, defeating the Labor Party led by Bill Shorten. Scotty from marketing got his job and is now leading the Nation, opinion is divided whether he is doing a good job or not.
  • 30 May – Anthony Albanese is elected unopposed as leader of the Australian Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition, replacing Bill Shorten. Richard Marles is elected deputy unopposed, succeeding Tanya Plibersek. Politics is boring enough through in Albanese and it just makes us want to stab our eyes out with teaspoons.

June

  • 4 June – At least four men are killed and a woman was injured after a 45-year-old gunman allegedly goes on a shooting spree in the city centre of Darwin, Northern Territory. When things like this happen it makes us sad but at the same time we are thankful our gun laws are as tough as they are.
  • 4–5 June – The Australian Federal Police raid the home of News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst and the headquarters of the ABC over national security and special forces stories. Not sure what they found or whether Annika had anything that was of interest but the allegations levelled at some of our national heroes were quite interesting.
  • 24 June – Parts of the Darwin CBD are evacuated after the city is impacted by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake originating in Indonesia. Another precursor that the planet is furious with us for killing it.

July

  • 1 July – David Hurley is sworn in as the 27th Governor-General of Australia. Onya Davey boy!
  • 8–27 July – A biennial joint Australia-United States military exercise Talisman Saber 2019 is held. What an exercise it was, tanks, ships, planes and troops stormed the beaches of Australia in what can only be explained as a joint readiness exercise. Perhaps they knew Trump would attempt to start a war to stay in office.

August

  • 13 August – 2019 Sydney stabbing attack. Senseless violence on the streets once again.
  • 16 August – Pro-Hong Kong protesters clash with pro-China supporters in Melbourne, while police are forced to intervene during similar confrontations in Sydney and Adelaide, following the 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests.
  • 21 August – The Victorian Court of Appeal dismisses George Pell’s appeal to overturn his conviction for child sex offences. Yeah they did, rot in jail George you scum.
  • 29 August – An attempt to deport Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers Kokilapathmapriya Nadesalingham (Priya) and Nadesalingam Murugappan (Nades) was thwarted by a last minute injunction, forcing the plane carrying the couple and their children out of Australia to land in Darwin.

September

  • 9 September – Homes and buildings, including the historic Binna Burra Lodge, are destroyed by a bushfire in Queensland’s Scenic Rim region.

October

  • 26 October – Climbing Uluru is banned by authority of the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park board. About bloody time!
  • 31 October – The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety interim report is published and tabled in Parliament.

November

  • 8 November – Three people were killed and 150 homes are destroyed by a large number of bushfires burning across New South Wales and South East Queensland. Little did Scotty from marketing know that they would just get worse and the entire country would be on fire.
  • 11 November – A week-long State of Emergency is declared in New South Wales and the Australian Defence Force is put on alert amid mounting bushfire warnings.

December

  • 30-31 December – Eight people were killed, hundreds of homes are destroyed and the Royal Australian Navy is mobilised to assist evacuation efforts following bushfires on the New South Wales South Coast and in Victoria’s East Gippsland.

Sport

We saw the return of Smith and Warner to Australian Cricket, as well as the birth of the man affectionately known as “Loose Bus Change” Marnus Labuschagne which immediately instilled faith in all Aussies that we might actually win a test or two this summer. After dispatching Pakistan and now tearing through the Kiwis it looks like we are back on track to continue our domination of the test arena. Meanwhile Rugby suffered a setback when it lost test winger and religious faithful Israel Folau after a tweet went viral condemning most of us to hell. To make matters worse we struggled on the big stage and failed to make the semifinals at the World Cup hosted in Japan.

Our tennis brats continued to make headlines for doing just that being brats. Some of our Olympic swimmers failed drug tests, Richmond won the AFL Grand Final and all barbers opened up for Dusty cuts. In League the the boys from the Eastern Suburbs took the win over the Raiders in the who cares cup. Some horse won the Melbourne Cup after thousands of people got shitfaced and missed the race while some of our bleeding hearts protested the races altogether. Some of the lesser known sports dominated with the Green and Gold fairing well on the world stage. Our Men’s hockey team took out the inaugural FIH Pro League over Belgium while our women went down in an extra time shootout to the Dutch to take silver. As Ricky Bobby said “If you ain’t first, you’re last”.

The netballers lost the world cup to the mother country in a tight fought contest over in the UK, Motorsport well as you are aware it’s not a sport unless it involves a ball so we’ll just say some blokes drove cars or bikes around a track for hours on end. Our soccer players did what they do best diving around the ground in agony after breaking a nail. The athletics department did what they always do and ran, jumped and threw things trying to beat the juiced up Americans and really quick Jamaicans. Our equestrians jumped and trotted around on horses setting the arenas alight with their displays of pure horsemanship. Australia’s water sports people had a good year ensuring they stayed afloat for another year. The golfers holed out and well we must of done alright in every other sport we competed in we are Australians after all.

Other News

Worldly Swedish 17 year old Greta Thunberg rises to fame after telling the world we are killing it and not having seen anywhere outside of Sweden. Whilst her point is very valid and we appreciate her voice in the world there are people actually doing things to make a difference to climate change who are completely ignored. But that’s a story for another day. The reefs are dying around the world so we’re right with Greta on her message of climate change. President Oomph Loom-pa finally got impeached and 2020 will hopefully see him found guilty and thrown in jail, that’s if someone doesn’t claim the $80 million dollar bounty on his head thrown out by Iran recently. The US had even more mass shootings than any previous year recorded. Trump made the news for just being Trump, the UK finally entered Brexit and Boris Johnson got a new taupe. China caused a ruckus in the South China sea once again, Japan made human/animal hybrids. The Russians meddled in everyone’s affairs, the Stans continued fighting among themselves, Africa was once again pillaged for it’s natural resources and Europe well their economy faulted and terrorism ran rife once again.

In a nutshell 2019 was a year that a lot of are happy to see the back of, there was a lot of heartbreak, some good times and plenty of wow and what the fork moments. It was a year in which we learnt, researched and wrote some of our best pieces. The discovery of our own style of writing mixed in with a humorous approach locked in a formula that works for us and allows us to tackle the tough topics that people often find taboo. Strangely enough a lot of them are sexual in nature or relate to things that we’ve been brainwashed not to talk about for generation to generation. And so for the team at A Mind of Its Own we are looking forward to what the next 10 years bring and the evolution of ourselves as writers and a brand.

So until next week where we’ve decided to tackle an age old question that has plagued many a man and women for at least the last decade. Wish you all a fond farewell, again we’d like to send a massive shout out to the women and men on the front lines fighting to keep us all safe from the fires. You guys are truly the Heroes of the Sidewalks! Without our volunteers and the Rural Fire Service things could be a lot worse than they already are and things are pretty bad. To everyone who has donated or given up their time to help those in need we take out hats off to you. Again if you feel you need to help in some way we’ve provided links below for you to donate to one of the wonderful charities helping out those most affected… Thank you to each and everyone of you!

https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2019/12/31/how-you-can-help-bushfire-victims

https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/bushfire-crisis-how-can-i-donate-and-help/11839842

Dear Science…

Ahhh ok we thought we had seen it all, but no ladies and gentlemen the things of science fiction movies are becoming more and more real. We’ve got lasers, clones, electric cars, spaceships and several other things that have become reality from our favourite sci-fi shows and books. But what could get our goat so much that it would make this weeks blog? Read on if you dare but don’t be surprised if you start to question a few things afterwards like we are. We’ve always tried to deliver the hard hitting news with facts and figures as well as a little humor but there are just some things that even we can’t spin and this has seriously got to be one of them.

Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to another week of A Mind of Its Own. Throughout history we’ve had some innovative breakthroughs that have allowed society to grow, have allowed us to prosper, have brought us into the 21st century. They’ve allowed us to explore, to question, to wonder. Human ingenuity has allowed us to invent, create, inspire and to even destroy. We’ve climbed to the top of the evolutionary food chain and tried to claw our way even further. But there is one nationality that has pushed the boundaries, time and time again both socially, scientifically, culturally. They’ve aligned themselves on the wrong side of history from time to time again but they have always figured quite heavily in the academic and technology industries.

As some of you know a lot of the team that write this here blog work for a Japanese company and have done so for quite some time now. So it’s no surprise to us when the Japanese come up in Science and Technology news. We’ve seen a lot of the products released from Japan and a lot of it is cutting edge. They are building the technology and products of tomorrow. Some of our favourite brands come from the island nation. Mitsubishi, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, Subaru, Mazda, Yamaha, Sony, Toshiba, Nintendo, Seiko, Casio, Fujifilm, Olympus and Canon just to name a few. All of these brands at one time or another are releasing products that are new, innovative and at the bleeding edge. It’s what the Japanese do, they sink Millions upon millions of dollars into research and development (R&D).

So when we read that the Japanese Government had approved the first Human-Animal hybrid research to be conducted we were a little taken back. Our minds immediately went on a journey of all the human/animal hybrids we could come up with. From Minotaur to mermaids to rat boys the possibilities are endless. We even went as far to wonder whether we could finally see Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s vision of ManBearPig finally realized. Whilst our thoughts were somewhat adolescent in creating fanciful hybrids the application and ethics in hybrids is somewhat a little troubling should the ability and technology fall into the wrong hands, and when its the country who came up with Godzilla doing the research questions begin to be asked.

Have we got your attention yet? Fingers flew over the keyboard and hit up google in order to explore, research and find out more behind the intentions of the research teams involved in creating the first “approved” human-animal hybrid. Notice how we said first approved? Yeah there have no doubt been several illegal experiments conducted over the years by mad scientists in secret laboratories around the world. How else do you come up with biological weapons. Plus the Yanky doodles have been doing a similar experiment to the Japanese for years they just stop at some imaginary ethical line apparently.

Yeah, yeah, yeah there is a basement in Area 51 with all sorts of Hybrids running around maiming each other. So once we’d settled down from fanciful thoughts about exotic human-animal hybrids and actually read an article or two we began to see the benefits of this type of research. Whilst the ethics behind it all and the application of creating human-hybrid animals is a little scary the research is designed to get human cells to grow inside an animal which according to all the articles and journals we read isn’t an easy thing to do. So what is it all in Layman’s terms you ask and why? Good bloody questions because we needed to and wanted to know the answers ourselves. What’s got the scientific community in a flap about these experiments and the extent of them, well let’s enter a scientific journey together in order to find out the who, what, where and why.

Stem Cell research has been controversial since the early studies in 1981 where scientists discovered ways to derive embryonic stem cells from early mouse embryos. This early study led to the development in 1998 of the method in which to derive human stem cells and grow cells in laboratories. Fast forward 21 years and Japan has granted approval for Stem cell biologist Hiromitsu Nakauchi to legally conduct trials to not only transplant hybrid embryos into surrogate animals, but also to bring them to term. In previous experiments conducted around the world they had never bought any research to full term. By this they had never allowed the stem cells to fully grow within the animal they had been transported into and “come to term”..

The lead stem cell researcher at the University of Tokyo and Stanford University, Nakauchi has gone from country to country, chasing the dream of one day growing customized human organs in animals like sheep or pigs. With more than 116,000 patients on the transplant waiting list in the United States alone, Nakauchi hopes his idea can transform lives.The ultimate goal is still a long way off, but the next step in his research has at last been given the green light by ministry officials in Japan. As the first researcher to receive government approval since the 2014 ban, Nakauchi plans on taking things slowly so that public understanding and trust can catch up. Trust that he doesn’t create potential monster hybrids that will take over the world. The possibility of ManBearpig is a real thing by the looks of it.

“We don’t expect to create human organs immediately, but this allows us to advance our research based upon the know-how we have gained up to this point,” Nakauchi was quoted saying. So what is the experiment exactly you ask? The experiments will start by injecting human induced pluripotent stem cells (master cells according to Google) into rat and mice embryos, all of which have been genetically manipulated so that they cannot make pancreases. The goal is for the rodent embryo to use human cells to build itself a pancreas. For two years, the team plans on watching these rodents develop and grow. They will carefully monitor their organs and brains in the process. Only then will the researchers ask for approval to do the same with pigs.

While human-animal embryos have been created in the past – such as pig-human embryos and sheep-human embryos – they’ve never been allowed to develop to term before. One of the biggest fears with this type of research centers on exactly where these human stem cells actually go in an animal, and what type of cells they could develop into, once they are injected. While Nakauchi and his team are trying to target this treatment to just the pancreas, if they detect more than 30 percent of the rodent brains are human, they will suspend the experiment. This is part of the government’s conditions to prevent a “humanised” animal from ever coming into existence.

Nakauchi, however, doesn’t think this is going to happen. Last year, he and his colleagues at Stanford successfully made the first human-sheep embryo, and although it was destroyed after just 28 days, the hybrid contained no organs and very few human cells – only about one in 10,000 or less. So there are some caveats on the research and what can be done but the fear from the public and scientific community is still real. The goal of the research is to create viable human organs that can be transplanted. Taking a crystal ball and looking into the future should this research actually pan out would we see the production of organ farms with sheep and pigs running around growing human organs inside of them for transplant recipients? The possibilities are endless and while the experiment is exciting from that aspect, what are the ethical issues behind it all?

It’s a good thing we aren’t scientists there are way too many words to digest and we’ve been hitting Google a lot to understand this whole animal-human hybrid scenario. What do you get when you have a single organism derived from two sets of DNA? A Chimera apparently, and the first thing that came to mind was Mission Impossible 2 where Tom Cruise is running around fucking shit up in Syndey trying to find and destroy a deadly virus called “Chimera” that is created from two different viruses and is self replicating. Then there is the Chimera from Greek mythology that’s part lion, part goat and has a snake as a tail. A true hybrid. In this case it’s closer to the second one and hopefully something that we won’t be seeing anytime soon. However the more we researched, the more we realised that Chimeras can occur naturally in humans. What the Fork? Was our first response as well but when a twin absorbs its twin it naturally creates a Chimera.

So when we inject stem cells into embryos and let them grow, we are in a sense creating Chimeras and that’s not natural according to everything we have read on the internet and if it’s on the internet it has to be true, right?.The main ethical issues are the risks of consciousness and of human features in the chimeric animal due to a high contribution of human cells to the brain, in the first case, or for instance to limbs, in the second. Another critical point of concern is the production of human gametes (organisms reproductive cells), yeah we had to Google what it was ourselves, by such chimeric animals. Can you imagine a rat, pig or sheep that had human sperm or eggs? That would be forking weird but is a major concern within the scientific community when it comes to genetics and stem cell research. From what we can tell there are three main ethical issues with the production of human-animal chimeras.

Human-like external features

It can be argued that the injection of human genes and cells into animal embryos could have an effect on the physical aspect of the animal. In layman’s terms as a researcher at the Australian National University (ANU) put to us, on its appearance. The creation of human/animal chimeras can make the boundary between human beings and other living beings penetrable, inducing questions about human identity. These concerns are more obvious when it comes to a chimera whose physical attributes would let its chimeric quality start to appear. E.G a rat with human arms or organs. It is not only about the creature’s appearance, but also about its specific attributes, such as language.

Human gamete production

The Humanization of animals bearing human organs could result in the production of human gametes. Yep animals with human sperm that could mate with animals that aren’t genetically modified or hybrids. Human embryos could be created using such gametes. The worst-case scenario would be that a pig producing human sperm could accidentally mate with a sow or vice versa. Manbearpig is a real possibility. However, the possibility that the interaction between gametes of different species would result in a hybrid embryo is almost nonexistent, because the inter-species reproductive barrier is very strong. For instance, the injection of human sperm into a hamster egg (the “hamster test”, used to test the quality of human sperm cells) does not give rise to embryos capable of development. Even cross-breeding attempts between human and anthropoid apes failed when tested in the first part of the twentieth century. Keep in mind science has come a long way since then ladies and gents. In addition, this fear can easily be dissipated: sterilization of pigs bearing human organs would be sufficient to prevent their reproduction.

Alternatives to human organs in animals

In the absence of medical alternatives it is essential to justify the development of human organs in animals. However, the issue of organ shortage for the treatment of life-threatening conditions by organ transplantation could be solved by other means in the future. For instance, pig organs could be used. To prevent organ rejection, researchers are investigating the possibility of deleting the main pig genes responsible for organ rejection and breeding pigs in which all porcine endogenous retroviruses are inactivated. The importance of monitoring these developments is massive, because they might represent valid and more acceptable alternatives to the generation of inter-species chimeras.

So we’ll sit back and watch with bated breath as the Japanese create Human/Animal hybrids or Chimeras as they are better known throughout the scientific community and hope the creators of South Park weren’t predicting the future when they came up with their Manbearpig character. There are upsides and downsides for this type of experimentation but does one outweigh the other? In certain people’s eyes that is no doubt the case. With all things in life though knowledge is power, the more you educate yourself around this the more you will understand and be able to make a sound call on where you stand when it comes to Human/Animal hybrid experimentation.

It’s been a tough couple of months for Australia as we burn, homes have been lost, animals, people and much of our beautiful country is still on fire. Our prayers and thoughts go out to all those affected during this time of what we will call a crisis. The statistics alone lead us and many Australian’s to call for a better strategy for handling fire season that encompasses all of Australia not just state by state. Screw a surplus our current government are forecasting, get the women and men on the ground the tools and equipment they need to do their jobs properly and more importantly safely. We’ve provided links below to donate to those affected by the fires including our native animals.

So to a not so Happy New Year we welcome you all to a new decade, who knows whats install for each and every one of us but from the team here at A Mind Of Its Own wishes each and every one of you a cracker of a year even if we are off to a shaky start. Until next week when we launch our year in review we bid you a fond farewell and hope that that Japanese don’t make a Godzilla or Manbearpig. The world is already in enough chaos thanks to a little orange oompa loompa. Adios amigos…

https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/bushfire-crisis-how-can-i-donate-and-help/11839842

https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2019/12/31/how-you-can-help-bushfire-victims

Four Feet in the Forest…

Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the office not a creature was stirring, not even old Al, The cheques were mailed by reception with care, In hopes that a few of us wouldn’t return in the new year, The dogs were nestled and chewing a bone, while visions of chickens danced in their domes. And Maxo on Spotify and I in my hat, we just settled down for a couple weeks nap, when out in the car park there arose such a clatter, we sprang from our desks to see what was the matter.

Away to the window like kids on the bus, tore open the blinds and threw up the latch, the smoke from the fires, stung at the eyes. When what to our wonder should appear but a bloody fat guy, it was the same bloody dick that had nicked the car and told us not to bother, he didn’t have insurance not even AMMI to call. We knew in that moment it was the same prick who bloody ruined christmas when we were just six. More rabid than foxes we were in a rage and he whistled, and shouted and called us filthy names.

“Now, Dickhead! Now, Dropkick! Now Prick and Wanker! On, Cockhead, On CuiN The NT! On, Douchebag! On, Bastard! It’s not a bloody Porsche! Or even a Nissan! Now go away, Go away Go the F#ck away all! As far as I’m concerned it’s a stupid car and when I meet and obstacle we crash through and fly. So up to the houseos and pissheads of course with a sleigh full of sex toys and the fat prick of course. And then in a twinkle he jumped on our roof, dancing and flashing his little man Proof. Poor little Mitsi our car of 2 years down on the bonnet he came with a bound.

Dressed like a pauper, fur head to foot, his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and chicken poop. A bundle of bottles clunked on his back, he looked like a dealer who smoked too much crack. His eyes all bloodshot, his dimples all scarred! His cheeks were all hollow his nose was all marred! His cranky little mouth was turned into a scowl and the beard on his chin all crusty with spew. The half smoked ciggy held tight in his teeth and the smoke it encircled him like seagulls at the beach. A broad sunken face and little beer belly, his breath wrecked of whiskey when he started yelling. And we laughed despite ourselves when he started to share.

A creepy wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave us anxiety and a lot of dread, he spoke a few words but nothing made sense and he filled all the spaces and called us all jerks before tapping his nose and picking a winner, he gave us a nod and sat to eat his dinner. He munched on some beans, cold fresh from the can and washed it old down with a warm bottle of Hahn. And then just like nothing he marched on his way with a little whistle but we heard him exclaim , ere he walked out of sight.

Happy Christmas to all, make sure you have boozy night! Merry Christmas from all our drunk bogan friends across the land. A Christmas classic just copped some of the A Mind of Its Own Brand…

Welcome to the A Mind of Its Own, Christmas survival Spectacular!!! Now normally we aren’t that big on Christmas it’s generally a time of year when we like to crawl into our hobbit hole for a couple of weeks to take some time off and recharge the batteries but there is something in the air this year, well something aside from smoke that’s choking the east coast. Ladies and Gentleman, having kids around at Christmas is great and this year there are plenty of them to share in the excitement with. Children make Christmas and stop us from over indulging on the eggnog or Christmas sherry as well as helping us to run off mum’s Christmas ham. We literally had to stop writing for several minutes in order to stop making everything rhyme but now that we are back we’ll get into the festive spirit and give you the ultimate, go to guide for surviving the Christmas and New Year period in Australia this 2019.

In reality what we are giving you is nothing but common sense. In saying that a lot of us need to be told what’s good for us or what we should be doing from time to time. So as our Christmas present to you all we decided to put together the following tips to help you through the festive period and ensure you all there with us in the new year reading our little blog. We’d make you read it anyway whether you liked it or not. Plus what other blog do you get to learn about racing vibrators, bumper stickers, bin chickens, masturbation, the Dunbar number and self help books. We are only weeks away from doing our annual year in review and this year has been a big one for the team at A Mind of Its Own. So getting back on track…

First things first, before we get started, Air Conditioning is a must across this wide brown land you’ll need that cool breeze to keep you refreshed over the period otherwise you’ll start looking like, a dried up squashed toad on the side of the road in Queensland. Secondly a source of water to lounge around in is always a good thing to have available. Whether it be the dam, neighbors pool or the dogs clam shell. If you have to borrow the dogs shell pool it can be quite uncomfortable especially when man’s best friend tries to get in with you and your tinnies to cool down a little. Thirdly drink only cans, they float better than bottles and stay cooler longer. They are also easier to recycle than bottles. We think, some research may need to be conducted into whether that is or isn’t the actual case.

Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way we’ll get down to the nitty gritty of surviving Christmas and new years. As many of you will know and have experienced, the festive season can often be a little difficult to navigate for those who suffer anxiety and depression. There are expectations both internally and externally that need to be navigated throughout the period but hopefully with our little survivor pack below those of us that often struggle a little, will be able to manage and cope a bit better. Remember there is nothing wrong in putting your hand up and saying you aren’t OK and this time of year is often a little harder on people for a lot of reasons.

  1. You can choose your Friends, but you can’t choose your Family…

We all know Christmas is a time for family and catching up with friends but there are times when it can all become a little too much. The best way to navigate this is to be open and honest, while you set expectations with everyone and often yourself. Whilst that is often easier said than done there are little ways you can you can manage those thoughts and feelings as they come creeping up on you. Set the expectation early that you may need to disappear or take some time out for yourself whether it be 5,10,15, 20 or more minutes. Take yourself out of the environment and get some fresh air into the lungs. It might be hard to open up to friends and family, but they will appreciate it if you do and it could avoid a lot of the “what’s wrong?” questions. Christmas can often be a time of conflict between families as priorities and preferences can often upset people when they feel like you aren’t giving them the time they need. Unfortunately this is always going to happen but just remember to put you and your family first. Those that are upset will get over it, eventually. Communication is key as always.

  1. Money, Money, Monneeeyyyy…

Finances this time of year can often be a little strained but here’s a red hot tip and again it flows on from point 1. Just be open and honest, you don’t need to go out for drinks or dinner to catch up with people. There are plenty of things you can do without breaking your bank. You can go for a walk, buy a bottle of wine and hangout instead of going to the pub, have a coffee. The choices are literally limitless and can be minimal or cost effective. As for presents well there is always a secret Santa, where you buy one present of a certain value for someone in the family. Whilst it is a time of giving if you can’t afford to give, don’t! Stay within your limits. Again just be open and honest and in most cases people will actually respect you for it, as they may be thinking the exact same thing. Make sure you budget and stick to your budget, try to forecast a surplus, that little savings nest egg will come in handy later in the month or potentially in the new year.

  1. I’m an Exerciser…

With this time of year being one of the busiest and everyone rushing to get things done and closed out before they go on leave, we often stretch ourselves a little thin. Burning the candle at both ends while often involving a lot of fun and seeing friends and family it can become detrimental to your health. Both mentally and physically. If you have a regular routine make the time to stick to it, as close to it as possible. We know it’s often hard when you have family and friends around at this time of year however you need to make time for yourself. The time for you to do the things you enjoy is always good for your mental health and for those around you over the busy period. Things like yoga, gym, meditation and the like are always good and you need to keep doing them if they are a regular occurrence in your life. Worst case get out for a walk or run but if you are generally an active person make sure you stay active. Just because things become a little busier doesn’t mean you should cut out the things that make you happy and keep you sane.

  1. Social Media Bleedia…

Limiting the amount of time you spend on social media could have a direct impact on how good you feel this festive season, yes we know we live in a connected world but let’s be honest, generally people only post the good times in there lives. There are studies that point to the fact that looking at other peoples lives via “The Socials” we often get the feeling of missing out and in some cases start to question our own lives. Yes FOMO is a real thing ladies and gentlemen. The holidays, the gender reveals, the babies, family times, the body image and catch ups with good friends. It can and often does have an impact on people’s mental health looking at all of the images and posts of people who seem to be happy and have no issues in their lives. They do but as humans we can now hide behind the mask of social media. From time to time we can often get paid to have our every movement and soft core porn grace the screens and devices of people around the world. It’s yet another thing in our lives that allows us to not have to deal with our own issues.

  1. The Thirst…

Whilst we all love a couple of tinnies or glasses of vino over the festive period we are advocates of everything in moderation. No matter what your choice of poison, drink responsibly. That includes mum’s glazed ham that smells so delicious out in the kitchen. Or the kilo of prawns sitting in the fridge waiting for you to peel. Eat with your belly not with your eyes, over indulgence throughout the festive period whether it be food or alcohol can often lead to heightening of our mental health issues and just poor health in general. Everything in moderation as they say and just because it’s there in front of you doesn’t mean you have to have it. As you all know, alcohol is a depressant and when you are already feeling a little under the weather due to the time of year, adding fuel to the fire isn’t always the best idea, particularly when you have to deal with everything. So whilst we aren’t saying don’t have a good time we are saying maybe have a couple less this year and see if it helps improve things.

  1. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly…

They say to focus on the positives but when your brain is playing tricks on you and spinning at a million miles an hour trying to process and question everything it’s often hard to do. You hear of people talking about gratitude and ensuring you know what you are grateful for in your life. It’s especially important during the festive period to try and focus on the good in your life. The people you want to spend time with, the people you want to waste your time on. As you know time is precious and we should be spending it on the people we want to waste our time and energy on along with doing the things that make us happy. Again if there is something you want to do, make sure you do it, or communicate that you want to do it. Throughout the period the more you talk the more you will achieve and the more you will be at peace within yourself.

So the moral of our survival edition is basically this or the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) during this festive period, communication will solve a lot of your issues and as selfish as it sounds you need to look after you first and foremost. That’s the crux of it ladies and gentlemen. By doing this you could actually be helping those around you and you’ll find you’ll enjoy the period a lot more. You’ll be less anxious, less stressed and will be able to combat those mental health issues that tend to flare for a lot of people this time of year. Whilst we all have to compromise from time to time the more we talk about it the easier things are on everyone. Lastly a reminder that it’s OK to ask for help or to say that you are not OK. It’s generally at this time of year that people need help or are struggling a little and that conversation and asking them if they are OK can go a long, long way.

And so we leave you for another week and this time we can wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!! This isn’t the last you’ll hear from us for the year, we still have a year in review to write for you and there is always a Christmas party story or something political that could no doubt rear its head within the next couple of weeks. After all we are waiting got Trumpasaurus Rex to be impeached. But for now it’s a good night or day depending where you are and as we said a Merry Christmas to you all! Felice Navidad…

Work On Me…

“From Birth to death, everything in between is a memory and will later become your history” – T.M Cullen

With Movember in full flight and the upper lip getting a little itchy, while I sport the worst attempt at a moustache for charity since Caitlyn Jenner went the full snip (Too soon?). I only thought it fitting you all heard from the man behind the blog. The month of Movember is a timely reminder of mental health and health issues for men in general with Movember being the foundation in which research is launched into a myriad of growing health concerns. For me it’s a double edged sword, a month in which I am proud to raise money for something that is close to my heart and also a reminder of a former life that helped to push me in this direction but also threatened to break me all over again. A life full of memories both good and bad, a life that I am thankful I got to experience but also one that taught me a lot of lessons about life and about myself.

Known as Daily Write Cullen to the readers or the Bossman to those who contribute to the literary genius that is A Mind of Its Own. I thought it only fitting being almost 2 years down the track that we, more specifically I, tell you the real story about how and why this blog came to be. The inception of what has become a weekly fluff piece or time waster for some people has become a life saver for me in some regards. It’s given me something to focus both my time and energy on week in, week out. It’s an outlet when I am not working on my book, keeping fit by hitting the gym or playing sports. Whilst many will call that a distraction I would say that it’s a healthy distraction that allows my creative side to flourish and gives our fans and friends something to laugh at each week.

What you are about to read is a story that a lot of people will be familiar with, a story that is probably no different to anyone else’s who suffers from anxiety or depression. It’s a story that helped to create this blog and furthermore the rekindling of the love for the written word. I’ve never been good at talking or writing about myself and when you throw my anxiety and depression into the mix it’s even harder to document and talk about. It’s something that over time I have become more and more comfortable with and accepting of. It’s been a part of my journey and a part of my growth to who I am today.

So to start I need to paint you a picture. Looking back at my youth and growing up there were never any traumatic events or occasion that would trigger anxiety or depression for that matter that I can recollect. Even speaking with my parents now about it all and asking questions there is still nothing that we, as a family can put it down to. I was a happy child who despite having parents who divorced when I was very young and having a stepfather who was often a giant arsehat, had an upbringing in which my mother and father strived to give me everything I needed to be successful in life. Like all kids I fought with my brother and sister but over the years have come to realise just how much they mean to me to the point I have their first initial tattooed over my heart.

I grew up with parents who despite being apart, both wanted the best for me and wanted to see me succeed in whatever it was that I chose to do in life. They supported me and bent over backwards to ensure I could go away on sporting trips to represent my state and had everything I needed while doing that. They supported my hopes and dreams and mum was always driving me to training, games and trials. Academically they could have pushed me a little more but at the end of the day I got their in my own way and perhaps that was the lesson they were trying to teach me. Whilst you can help someone as much as you like at the end of the day if they aren’t willing to do it for themselves they’ll never truly do it.

Along with my grandparents they instilled in me great morals and values. In essence they’ve helped to mould the man I am today. There have been others along the way from coaches to friends and family as well as heroes and idols. They all played a part in shaping who I am, but ultimately I was and I am responsible for the person who I’ve become. I don’t blame anyone or anything for my journey and how things have now turned out, after all everything happens for a reason and I would not be who I am today without the lessons life has taught me. The older I get the more I can look back at moments in life and recognise those life lessons and specific events in which they happened. I also have a lot of hindsight moments after the fact but that’s part of being human.

So what does all this have to do with A Mind of Its Own well the answers lie below. When we look at a piece of art, we all see it differently, we interpret the artists intentions and message differently. I guess that’s what it’s like living inside my head as thoughts and feelings whirl around doing back flips, forward flips and somersaults or perhaps that’s what it’s like for everyone living with anxiety and depression in general but I can only speak for myself. While many people are organised and methodical with their thoughts and feelings, my mind is more like a Jackson Pollock painting with paint flying everywhere across the canvas. That’s probably how the first draft of this blog will look before it’s tidied up, spell checked and proofread. A scattergun approach of thoughts on a page to be deciphered and reordered to make some semblance of sense. But that’s the thing with life right?, sometimes it just doesn’t make any sense, no matter how many questions you answer.

I guess I’ve always known there was always something there, a demon lurking within, that was destructive and angry always threatening to pull me down into the dark pit of despair. From a young age there were signs and indications that I can look back at now and identify for what they truly were. From Anxiety attacks when I was younger and forced to do things I didn’t want to, some I now see as silly (The kindergarten Zucchini in Bikini attack comes to mind, a good story for another day) to the day after day of crippling depression that I would cover over as exhaustion or over doing it from training too much.

The funny thing is that there has always been a sport to mask it whether it be cricket, hockey or footy, in fact looking at it now sport or keeping active whilst being great for my mental health just helped to cover up what was really going on inside me. I would feel great from working out and getting a release of endorphins for a day or two but would come crashing down if my routine was thrown out of whack or things became out of my control. I would focus on burying myself in work, assignments and the latest video game in order to not have to admit to myself or deal with the fact that there was something that I was struggling with. That there is something that I will always struggle with.

Our parents and their parents and their parents, parents never spoke about their feelings or thoughts. It was just something you never talked about, there was and still is a stigma around mental health.It was almost like if you did talk you were crazy or losing your mind and on the off chance you found the courage to talk about your inner demons, there was a good chance you were shunned or called some not so nice names, before they threatened to lock you up in the mental asylum and throw away the key. Being male you were probably told to grow a pair and man the F*ck up. It was never ok to talk about your thoughts and feelings. Whenever I hear the saying “Children should be seen, not heard” it always reminds me of the stigma associated with mental health issues and that it’s still seen in certain circles as being not ok to talk about.

The older I got the easier i thought it would be to ignore the pain, thoughts and feelings that often dominated my mind, but that wasn’t necessarily the case. I would analyse everything and question myself and those around me. Have you ever been alone in a crowded room? Well I have, well at least that’s how I often felt and sometimes still feel. I could be surrounded by friends and family and yet still feel completely and utterly alone and that no one understood me. One would think that would be a clear indication that there was something wrong but being a somewhat wannabe tough guy, I would for many more years continue to ignore that there was something wrong and that i was not ok. I was of the elk that it was weak to speak and men didn’t cry despite the nights I’d shamefully hide my crying in the shower. It wouldn’t last long I would meet my match and someone that would push me to my limits until I would become physically sick and finally break.

To date I’ve truly loved two women, what does this have to do with anxiety and depression you ask? Both have managed to bring me to my knees and both times I tried to be someone I am not. I tried to hide what was going on within me and I changed into someone I thought I needed to be not who I truly am. Compared side by side both these women are actually quite similar in a lot of regards. Which had me questioning whether I have a type and whether that type is someone who is not a good match for my mental health but that is a question for another time and place. The one good thing to come from one of those relationships was this here Blog and the fact that I finally found a reason to get the help I needed. It would set me on a path of recognition and respect for myself and the battle that I’ll continue to face throughout my life. It wouldn’t be an easy journey but it certainly was, and is a necessary journey and one that will continue to answer a lot of questions about myself and where I want to go with my life.

Ultimately it would take me sitting by the toilet, tears streaming down my face, throwing up for no apparent reason whilst thinking my chest was going to squeeze the life out of me or my heart was going to explode out of said squeezed chest while my mind whirled with thoughts of what ifs and worst case scenarios before I finally realised I needed help. In hindsight it should have been sitting in the shower crying that did it but no it was becoming so anxious that I was physically ill that did it for me. The next challenge was speaking up and asking for help, which isn’t so hard in theory but something that I struggled with for a long time and with practice have gotten better with over time. I am thankful to the man who helped me through it all and put me in touch with one of Australia’s leading psychologists, he has become a true friend and someone that I can lean on. If I am honest the reason I first sought help wasn’t for me but more for the woman in my life at the time, yeah part of it was my want to be in a good place with my mental health to ensure we had a future together.

Whilst the marriage didn’t last the coping mechanisms and process to help combat the highs and lows will always remain. I would take the first steps to ensure I was on the path to a better, healthier relationship with my mental health. It wasn’t the easiest of journeys I’ll be honest about that. I would wage several skirmishes within myself before I finally accepted what was happening and what needed to be done. When the suggestion to go on medication was tabled I was strongly against it at first. The fear that it would numb me to the point I’d lose my creativity, just created more and more anxiety. What would my friends and family think? Would I be less of a man? Why did I need to do this? All the questions that ran through my head and which I would over analyse for days and days until speaking with the shrink who calmly outlined the benefits and gave me some assurances that I would still be me.

Welcome to my world Sertraline, a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) commonly used to treat anxiety and depression. Yeah what the Fork is an SSRI? I asked that question when I first heard, thankfully good old trusty Google was there to inform me. Along with the leaflets and information packs handed to me by both the doctor and chemist. SSRIs treat depression and anxiety by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is one of the chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that carry signals between brain nerve cells (neurons). SSRIs block the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin into neurons. This makes more serotonin available to improve transmission of messages between neurons. SSRIs are called selective because they mainly affect serotonin and not other neurotransmitters. So I was now on drugs to help me out for a period of time to be determined by the psychologist, my doctor and I. The good thing was I was still feeling like me and I had time to think rather than reacting straight away to things happening around me. I wasn’t experiencing side effects, my creativity was there, my sex drive and even my emotions.

A plan was beginning to form as to how we would tackle my mental health and whilst I was still feeling a little emasculated being on antidepressants and having to talk to a psychologist on a regular occurrence. I was slowly developing techniques and strategies to combat the day to day effects of anxiety and depression. I would also find myself doing plenty of things I never thought I would like meditation and yoga for example. From cognitive behavioural therapy(CBT), Mentalisation Based Therapy (MBT) and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy I would try them all. I would take little bits and pieces from the sessions and build my own tactics and techniques for dealing with things. I would also find out what worked for me whether it was a release or coping mechanism if you will.

I would still have days where I would fall back into the pit attempting to claw my way out, but they would be few and far between. Over the months following my official diagnosis of general anxiety disorder or GAD as it’s known and depression I would rediscover my love of writing. At the suggestion of the psychologist as a way to deal with recognise and acknowledge my thoughts and feelings at the exact moment. I began to write things down What started out as a journal or diary of thoughts and feelings that were noted and then left on the page never to be thought about again until they were or are discovered in a box months or years later would bloom into something that has now become a piece of pride to me. As I sat one afternoon watching tv and flicking through the unrealistic lives of a lot people on social media, my ex wife said to suggested to me a blog would be a great way to get everything out and could potentially help others going through the same daily struggles. I was going to write a blog, I was going to write for others and not just myself. There was just one slight problem that I would need to overcome.

Whilst the idea of a blog was exciting and gave me something to focus on and pour all that unharnessed and often wasted energy into. I still had my anxiety and depression to deal with. As I wrote piece after piece they sat there waiting to be posted and this is where my anxiety would kick itself into overdrive. I would start to overthink and over analyse what people might think of the blog, of the topics and most of all of me. As I battled with myself whether to post or not to post, it eventually came to the point where ‘Dutch Courage’ or drunk Tim as he is better known pulled the trigger and hit the big post button.On the 13th of March 2018 the first post hit the website much to the disgust of my anxiety. I read that post as I typed this one out and laughed at the poor grammar, spelling mistakes and the fact that my life has changed so much since that day.

In what would become a voice for the people, an educator to the masses and a soapbox for the downtrodden. A Mind of Its Own was born out of a want and need to write. It would go through a couple of iterations before it became what it is today and over time a writing style would develop that is fun, factual and engaging. Well at least I feel it is all of those things. As we’ve said before no topic is safe from the Mind of Its Own twist and the more taboo the topic, the more likely we’ll write about it. The research that goes into each piece is a constant reminder of the research that I did when I was trying to understand and build a picture of what was wrong with me. As it turns out there is nothing wrong with me and writing A Mind of Its Own each week has helped me to see that I am ok, I will be ok and if I’m not ok that, that’s ok too. Living with an anxiety and depression is a common occurrence we just don’t talk about it enough.

I still get a little anxious putting things out there for the world to read and judge me upon but for me that is part of the healing process. The moments of pure vulnerability before I hit the post button each week remind me that I’m alive and that no matter what the world throws at me I’ll get through it. But in all honesty I could never have done any of this on my own.There have been a few people who pushed me along the way and to them I am thankful. There are my friends and family who read every post including the ones I warn them not to and show their love and support constantly and then there are the fans. Without them this blog doesn’t have a purpose. It is for you that these are written. Some of the topics have been suggested and some we’ve just winged from the start but every single one is for the people.

What started out as an outlet for me, has grown into a giant manchild of a blog that will continue to tackle the things that you don’t want to talk about but are quite happy to read about as you take your afternoon toilet break as a way to escape from your job for just a few minutes. It’s also got me thinking that a career in writing could be on the cards after all women love a struggling writer don’t they? Or is that just in the movies? Either way I’ll continue to put out the content week in, week out as it helps with my mental health and if people want to read it all the more better. And if they don’t they are missing out. Where else can you get some slapstick humour, digs at celebrities and actual facts all in one place? I literally spent the last ten minutes wracking my brain for an answer. I couldn’t find one maybe the Onion?

And so ladies and gentleman that is the origin of A Mind of Its Own, it started out as an outlet and soon grew legs and some courage to stand up and take its place alongside the fashion blogs, travel blogs, beauty blogs and the boring blogs that live in the dark corners of the interweb to be a blog that can literally take on a mind of its own and isn’t afraid to stand up and say it’s not ok. That’s the story folks, I needed another outlet that I enjoyed to help with my depression and anxiety and this here blog became just that. We’ve covered a wealth of topics and as previously stated will continue to cover any topic that sticks its head above the parapet.

So from all of the team here this Movember pull out your wallet and donate to someone doing Movember. It’s one less coffee, beer, wine or spirit this week and a great cause. The funds raised go to research into various men’s health issues (Cancer, mental health, suicide prevention) as well as support programs. and Hey it’s a great reason not to shave and raise some money. There’s a link below to my page or you can hit up someone else’s but please, please donate today. Until next week ensure you check in and ask someone if they are ok? Do it for me or someone else you know who’s battling. A single conversation can change someone’s life. Adios Amigos and until next time, thanks for taking the time to read my blog and if you have any suggestions for blogs you’d like to see written hit us up in the comments section.

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