Book Launch

Natasha Simon’s new book “My Story Isn’t Over” is now available in paperback and eBook.

The book is an autobiography and mental health guide for non-professionals.

Come along to the official book launch on Saturday 19th October 2019 3:30pm – 5:30pm at Mid-Mountains Neighbourhood Centre, 9 New Street, Lawson NSW 2783.

Guest speaker will be Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill (BMCC).

Afternoon tea provided, so please RSVP to natashasimon.mh@gmail.com by Oct 1st.

SIGNS

Firstly, I want to say thank you the page, and thank you for bringing so many of us that suffer with mental health issues together. I find it very inspiring reading stories and how this page brings people together. It really is a lifeline. So thank you.

I wanted to reach out today, to share with you who I am and about my work, and why I am contacting you.

My name is Leon Else, I am a singer/songwriter from London, and I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder about a year and a half ago, and just before I wrote my song “SIGNS”. I was scared, I was frightened, and I was worried about what everyone was going to think of me. The stigma. The judgement. Looking back now, asking for help was the best thing I did. I came so close to taking my own life. But so thankful I didn’t. Now I’m learning to embrace myself and who I am and make no apologies.  I want others to know they are not alone. I wanted to send over my new song because I hope this song can be someone else’s sign, like it was mine. A sign of hope to start a conversation and be proud of who they are. I believe music is healing and can help so many people in dark times. I hope to contribute to this.

As a member of this community, I’d like to use my platform and my music to help others. It has opened great and deep conversations with my supporters online because of this song, with many of them contacting me telling me how this song has affected them, helped them, and gave them hope.I know what it’s like to be suicidal, to feel lost, confused, alone. I truly do want to make a difference. I really want to stand up for this subject that is so dear to my heart and I would like you to consider sharing this song with the group to spark a conversation. I wanted to ask before I posted it and I would also love to maybe start to be able to work together and find ways of us pushing, reaching more people, and trying to make a difference and to tackle the stigma, through music and any other ways. Happy to set up a phone call to talk further, if this is something you are interested in.

here is a link to Signs, it’s a lyric video I created:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEfMooRWris

Am I?

Late November, my big toe started to hurt but I felt foolish going to the doctor for a sore toe but the next day it was swollen and twice as painful. So I hobbled to the medical centre. He looked at me and said “you are too young for gout” and sent me off for blood tests and xrays.

The following day I went to get results. He looked a bit sheepish. I do love proving people wrong even if I’m the one to suffer for it. This is the 4th time I’ve been told I’m too young for one of my conditions. As soon as he said the sentence he jinxed me.

So, Gout it is. Life long meds and another notch on my medical belt.

I’d have a bigger pity party but I just had my 5th blood draw for my Iron Storage Disease, which I am too young for. My results from last blood draw weren’t great because I had just had a colonoscopy a week beforehand; because they were looking for more giant serrated polyps, which I am too young for and yet had at least 10 removed a few years ago.

I finally came home to pass out on my new bed; which I bought for my bad back – extra vertebrae and severe disc degeneration (yep, too young to have that too)

I think I deserve a pity party. I’m not too young for depression, am I?

In a few months I go back to the liver specialist. I expect he will say my liver is 64 and I’m too young to have it.

I may be too young for my illnesses but I have them and they are killing me, mentally and psychically. While my brain is still young I’m gonna save as many lives as I can before I go. One semicolon at a time.

Irlen Syndrome

Irlen Syndrome.

Finding out I had Irlen Syndrome changed my life.

As soon as I put on my blue tinted glasses I could see everything in detail, I could see textures and corners and depth. The light didn’t affect my eyes and reading was easier.

I turned to my mum and said “Is this what life looks like?”

My tint is blue. From my understanding everyone with Irlen has the colour that they need to correct their perception, it’s not an eye problem it’s a brain miscommunication. The colour you need is either missing or lacking in the connection from brain to sight. But when I put on my glasses I don’t see blue, I see what you see and now when I take them off everything is yellow and bright and I wonder how I survived so long without them.

Driving now I smile from ear to ear because I am not afraid of the other cars, I can see distances. I don’t squint anymore, it’s so weird to not squint.

I don’t bang into things anymore because I can see how close or far they are. I can see corners!

If I had these glasses all my life things wouldn’t have been so hard; reading, clumsiness, light sensitivity, headaches etc. My parents had me tested for everything under the glaring sun when I was young. I probably wouldn’t have worn them back then but I am so grateful to have them now and can see how they could have helped me with school and life and maybe things would have been better for me. Now they are better, I have them now and I finally see what everyone else sees. 

My GP has never heard of Irlen Syndrome, my neurologist and ophthalmologist both looked puzzled when I asked about it, also not heard of it. So I am here to change that. To make sure people know about it and kids get tested for it because everyone should see the whole world not just slivers. 

Go to http://www.sidc.net.au/

Get info, get tested, see.

Inspiration

2 things changed the direction of my career last year. 

1st “13 Reasons Why” – the show made me want to work with bullies and try to help the suicidal. 

2nd the semicolon movement. This symbol saved my life, this tiny little dot and a dash can save lives because our story isn’t over.

Watch S2 of “13 Reasons Why” and looking closely. I see ; in every episode. I see hope.

So I decided to do something with this new inspiration. I decided to paint 30 paintings with a semicolon and sell them at an exhibition then give half the proceeds to a suicide charity. Then I got a semicolon tattoo. Then I organised the event. Look for the paintings on my blog and stick around for the announcement of how much I raised. And after? You’ll hear all about it because my story isn’t over!

Semicolon Charity Exhibition:

June 2&3, 11am-3pm 

The Gardners Inn, Blackheath NSW

Half the proceeds go to SAP (Suicide Awareness Project)

Buy a painting, help raise funds for a really important cause. 

Paintings

28

Minis

LGBTIQA+ minis

 

29

30

18 – donated

20

21

Donated

23

24 – donated to Ben Roberts Cafe

Donated To Mayor Mark Greenhill

 

Miniatures – mostly sold

19 – donated

Donated

25

26 – donated to Ben Roberts Cafe

27 – donated

2- sold

3

4

5 – donated

8

9

11

12

13

14 – donated to Myst Katoomba

15

One Dark Hour

One Dark Hour.

Things are good in life. I have my Diploma, I have my pool, I have job prospects, I have good friends and a loving family.
I am on meds and should be stable and I am but the lately I have been teary at night and feeling a mixture of a heavy weight and a piece is missing.

I see beauty in things I never noticed before like a flower with so much detail and several colours or the way my cat sleeps with one eye open and follows me everywhere I go. I taste every bite of food and enjoy every mouthful (if it’s good) I make plans and am excited about what comes next… but then a wave of sadness and I can feel all the pain in the world for just a moment. As I cry I feel every inch of pain I’ve ever felt, every time I was let down by someone I cared about, every time I thought too highly of someone, every mean word the bullies said, everyone I have lost and every physical health issue. They flood my thoughts and my tears flood back and I am overtaken by it.

This mental illness is so evil. Even when things are good I can still feel so low. I allow myself an hour of being sad and then I have to put it away until tomorrow. If there is a big loss I give myself one day to mourn it then put it away.

I use grounding exercises to bring me back to right now and remind myself that things are good and that I have been through worse, and I am ok. I sleep and then wake up ok. During the day I am ok.

But every night the sadness creeps back in, the flood begins but I only let this beast have one hour. Then I close the flood gates and am a fully functioning stable human being.

I wish I could balance it with one hour of mania a day, oh man so many presents from eBay would come. But no!

I have it under control. I check in with my doctors and I am ok. This is just a thing I have to do now so that I can have 23hrs of ‘normalcy’ or peace. It’s a very fair trade.

I feel guilt and shame because I know people have it worse. I hate my dark hour but I need it to have light.

It never gets so dark that I want to leave. I want to live. Having the semi colon symbol has helped so much because MY story isn’t over yet. My story has many more chapters, many more happy days and only one hour a night off.

Study Girl

Anyone who knows me and my sister would tell you she was the studious one. I dropped out of high school while she got 99.5% on her HSC UAI, a scholarship to uni and completed a double degree and later her CPA. She always worked really hard and did really well. I was always jealous of her, thinking she was the smart one.
I was a high school dropout who barely scraped by. I hated studying, homework or any work. I liked the creative subjects and mostly lunch time. I never really admired how much work she put in to get the grades she did. I had difficulty concentrating for long periods of time. Well for any periods of time. School was hard. The social side of things also made things harder because I was more focused on trying to fit in rather than concentrate on class.

After I dropped out at 16 I did a chef’s course. I loved cooking and really enjoyed the practical side of the course but I didn’t do great in either the prac or the theory. I just wasn’t a student.

I did a director’s course and passed but not with flying colours and no with confidence about my future in film making.

I tried mini courses in French, drawing, writing etc and passed because everyone passed but nothing to write or draw home about.

I did a UPC at 21 – university preparation course in Psychology for a year twice a week to make up for not having an HSC. I got a credit even though I had a mental break down towards the end.

I did a hairdressing course but managed another break down and never finished it.

When I was 22 I did a childcare course at TAFE. I freaked out on my first day and had a full blown panic attack. Mum raced to save the day and negotiated with a great supervising teacher that I would do the course over a year part time instead of full time for 6 months and that I could have little breaks if I felt overwhelmed.
I got my first ever distinction. It felt good. I enjoyed the course and thought maybe I was ready for Uni. Ha.

At 23, Uni was a whirlwind of essays as long as your leg, tutorials with these teens that talk like they swallowed a textbook, lectures filled with hundreds of kids and anxiety and more reading than I have ever done in my life. It was so full on and I went back into old habits of thinking I was too dumb for this and panicking because deep down I knew I couldn’t do this. There was a part of my psych class that required me to do an experiment and the one I picked happened to be for inducing anxiety, wish they had told me that first because I would have told them there is no induction necessary. I freaked and spiralled and after 6 weeks of hell I quit.

After uni I focused solely on work and staying well.
After many years working with little kids I decided to study again.
Can’t say I’m not persistent.
I did a Youth Work course and knew early on that it wasn’t the path I wanted to follow but completed the course and stored the knowledge in my brain for future use. I went back to work in childcare.

I adored working with kids with disabilities and did a little online refresher childcare course. It was great, I watched little mini tutorials and answered some easy questions on what I had learnt and passed without a second glance. This made me feel that maybe I could study online, maybe I had the discipline we all doubted I had.

Stress caused my left ovary to twist and become septic and needed to be removed. When that happened my love of kids was also removed. I continued working with kids for a few years but never felt that bond. Kids became a sore spot and then became nothing. I knew I couldn’t stay in this profession.

I searched for a long time for my next move. As you have just read I have tried so many things. But what did I love? What would I be good at? What could I really see myself doing?

And then it hit – counselling. I love helping people, I’m great at listening and giving sound advice/guidance and I would make one heck of a counsellor.

I found a great online course, there are a few seminars down in Sydney but mostly it’s reading workbooks and filling in assessments then sending them off to be marked.
Not only am I killing it. I love it. I jump out of bed in the morning, get my bottle of water, open the curtains, prep my notes and spreadsheet of progress, I get my stopwatch app open and I sit down and read or fill in questions. I am interested and engaged. I really enjoy the context of what I am reading and learning and even the studying itself.
I’ve had 2 push backs but come back fighting and managed to get Competents in all 8 out of the 18 workbooks I have. After this I will have a diploma. Me a diploma. WTF? No one can ever call me dumb again. Most importantly I can’t call myself dumb again.

And the oddest part of me becoming a study girl? I’m considering doing the Bachelor’s Degree. Not for the credit or extra pay but because I want to learn. Weird right?

 

 

 

21 months later…..

So this high school dropout, who spent my youth being bullied and called stupid so many times I believed it; can no longer believe it!
I have a UPC in Psychology
I have a cert 2 in cookery
I have a cert 3 in children’s services
I have a cert 4 in Youth Work
And I now have a DIPLOMA in Counselling.
Not dumb. Not stupid. And not done. Contemplating doing a Bachelor of Psychology next.

I keep saying “no-one can ever call me dumb again” and people reply “no-one calls you dumb” but I did, I called myself dumb.
But not anymore.

Study girl out! Or am I?