Shona Innes, psychologist, Bendigo Psychology No one goes through life unscathed. There have been times when I just feel so overwhelmed by the work and balancing that with managing family, relationships, friendships, mortgages, the dog, the car, all those things. When I have got really low it is probably when I haven’t practised what I preach and I have taken on too much and not asked for enough help. What I have tried to do is learn what the early warning signs are. They usually start with my husband telling me. I can become a bit of a work machine; quite driven, writing lists and ticking lots off. Work starts to creep too much into the time that it shouldn’t. I think I have the same fears as most people - it is part of our biology. All of us have that fear of being abandoned or left on our own. I see it in the little kids I see who are upset because they have no one to play with, I see it in the teenagers I see who are upset because no one is talking to them or they are being bullied or excluded, see it in relationships where people are worried their partner is going to take off. It is much easier to do things for someone else than it is for you, which is why I think people need psychologists sometimes. Working with young people I have struck up deals: if you are going to work on your fear, I promise I am going to work on one of mine, which has included making an appointment at the dentist. I have licked doorhandles for people who are worried about germs – to prove a point it is the fear of the germs getting in the way of life, not the germs. It is different for different people. I might be seeing someone who has sexually assaulted someone and they are coming here because they have to, not because they want to, so engaging with them is very different from engaging with someone who wants to come to get over a fear or a phobia from something. I am aware I’m like a duck on the outside: I am looking cool, calm and collected but on the inside when I am talking to someone I am running by all the theories and I am processing what I know about them and I am looking at all the different variables that could line up together and then trying to chart my way through them to the point I think, OK this is where I need to take this person in terms of the skills they need to learn or the facts they need to hear or the feelings I need to tickle up within them. People spend a lot of time trying to avoid their feelings and that is why I am so busy. There is a lot strife here in town. There is a lot of sadness and loneliness and suffering in town here that people don’t see like September 11 on the TV. I might go to watch a local concert. I see kids I know have had massive, horrible problems and I see them up there on the stage doing a little dance and I have to hold back the tears. I think, wow, because I know it means a billion times more for that child than all the others.
68 | bendigo magazine - issue 25
Bendigo Magazine Issue 25 - Summer 2011