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For those who have been here before, and for those who are just starting – welcome. As you take your time through this mental health issue, we want you to know that it’s okay that it might feel too much. It’s okay for you to cry. It’s okay if you need to stop. We want to destigmatize the kōrero we’re having on mental illness. To do that, we have to acknowledge the pain and re-traumatisation that can occur when engaging in mental health discussion. We love you. We cherish you. From wherever you’re reading, we’re thinking of you.

CONTENT WARNINGS: anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder,

suicidality, death, self-harm, human rights abuses, institutionalisation, environmental anxiety.




BORDER I was 21 the first time it was suggested to me that I might have borderline personality disorder (BPD).

THE AMAZON IS KEEPING ME AWAKE I haven’t been sleeping well for the past two weeks.

LIQUID SADNESS How sadness shows itself in liquid form.

CHLÖE SWARBRICK Chlöe on life as a politician in the epoch of stigma


MILLENNIAL FEMINISM Feminism is for everyone.



Three years ago, when I moved into my PhD office for the first time, I discovered...

PRESCRIBED There are 24 hours in a day. There are 24 pills in Emma’s day.

HOW TO SURVIVE ECO ANXIETY Existential crisis starting at seven? Saaaame.

POETRY PORTFOLIO A Sisterhood Collection

EVA'S SASS SECTION Monthly Moon Bullshit / Quiz / Opinions.... What else could you want?

Karen Legenderriere Sebire

TARMAC Zara Collinson

I normally take a shortcut home. The one with uneven slopes and cracked concrete, shrouded by a crop of trees that were planted as an afterthought when planning this sprawling, ugly city.

The trees would have been small at first, but now their roots heave at the footpath, fighting desperately for release from their underground prison. I don’t like those trees. They feel sad. Instead, I walk along the winding path that clings to the edge of the motorway. The smell of car fumes dulls my senses a little, and the damp night air settles on my skin. It starts to spit. The water droplets run down my glasses, muting my surroundings, and refracting the streetlights into glimmering yellow beacons. It would almost be beautiful, if it didn’t mean I couldn’t fucking see. I give up frantically wiping them on the bottom of my shirt; all it does is make it worse. I make it to the motorway bridge and relief floods through me. The apartment block I live in overlooks this bridge; if I look up into the mass of looming buildings, I can vaguely make out my little window. My rent is cheap because people don’t like to live in places where they’re constantly reminded of the ugliness

of humanity. I think it’s comforting. I look down and see the neverending stream of cars, people stuck in their little metal boxes driving to jobs they don’t want to feed families they can’t afford. At least we’re all suffering in the same way. “Hey Jane. You finish early?” It’s my flatmate Toby, walking towards me from the direction of our apartment building. “Yeah, just an hour or so. Weeknights are always pretty dead.” He nods in agreement. “Where are you off to?” He looks tired. He hasn’t left the flat in a few days now. I’m surprised to see him out. “Not far. Figured I needed some fresh air, and you know I like it when it rains.” That much is true. The wind starts to pick up, so we say our goodbyes and I head up to the sixth floor and into our flat. I look out of my tiny little window and I can see Toby still on the bridge, staring out into the traffic. ... “Jane. Jaaaaane. Jane.” I'm snapped out of my daydream by my mother. She’s several feet below me. She hasn’t tried to get 

into this slo hou se sin ppy ex cuse ce I old. for a was She tree abo ’s ho sand u ldin wich g a p t seven es. H years late ere of w e go “I’m . not hun She gry. purs I alr es h ead doe er li y to s wh ps in ld yo en s argu the u.” he’s men way com t tha trum in g up she t wil pw w l h im ith a a my med n moth tever y ia ou ju tely er sp teen st sa ent ag id. I mos prob e years thin t of with k ably m y purs forg them otte ed li in th e firs n how to ps. She ’s t pla rela ce. x “It d oesn ’t m hun atte gry r if y Jane o Doc u’re , yo tor’s not orde u need to e rs.” at. I roll my e yes. doe “And s he kno min w? H what th utes e fu e sa befo ck hea wm re to pw e fo it ssin r five h all only gm the wen e on othe t be th r e cau shith se y ead ou m She s. I sigh ade s. I lo me.” can o opy k up abo at th have ve m e tre bee e. Th e n he pare e oa re lo nts k tre ng b mov em The efore ed u ust tree s my in -h to th ouse My m is ho was othe use. alre r is fa buil a d so dy h meth r too ri e re sk a too. ing vers like e to "Jan this. e, I k now but… you’r ” He e r still voic dow hurt e ch n be ing, ime low. s ag I tw ain itch from "Don and ’t bri cut her ng th off. at u p. D on’t talk to

me about that. I’ll eat the damn sandwich if you just leave me alone.” Under normal circumstances I’d never hear the end of talking to her like that, but today she leaves it. When I turn to look at where she’s standing, all I see is the small plate of sandwiches in her place. ... Mum forces me to come to the supermarket. Apparently trawling behind her as she tries to decide between ciabatta and croissants for lunch is her idea of ‘getting out and about.’ At least it’s fairly mindless. I follow behind her with her constantly annotated shopping list, throwing in whatever item she points to. If it keeps her pacified, it’s worth it.

Dinah. I thought she needed some fresh air.” I cringe internally at my mother. I suppose she’s trying to be helpful. She’s probably made things worse. Dinah snorts.

“What’s for dinner?” It’s Toby, already dressed in his pyjamas, his dragon breath revealing the poor insulation in our small two-bedroom apartment.

“I see. Looking after number one. Just like always.” My tongue is jammed to the roof of my mouth, like a concrete mixer pouring cement down my throat, reducing me to a speechless idiot. But I can’t talk to her. What would I even say? I can feel the fire in her eyes burning a hole into my face. I raise my eyes to meet it, and I watch her tease out her next sentence, a sentence that becomes a tightrope, a tightrope I fall off every single time.

“Curry. I figured if I make it spicy enough, we might be able to drain some of that sinus infection.” His laughter echoes throughout the room, reverberating through my head.

“Dinah I’m sorry, you know I…” “You could have helped.”

I’m in the middle of trying to figure out why the lite and the normal sour cream are in different shaped tubs when I hear my mother hissing my name. “Jane. Over there. Look.” The words are climbing from the edge of her mouth. She’s trying to be subtle, but not doing a good job of it. I look over in the direction of her nod and immediately feel a pair of eyes on me. Our eyes meet – hers stone cold and grey, a mixture of sadness and anger. My body turns to ice. “Mum, we need to leave. Now.” But when I look over, she’s frozen still as well. Toby’s mother, a fierce lady with dark hair and those piercing grey eyes, is making her way determinedly towards me. Didn’t think you’d have the courage to show your face around here.” She starts speaking before she reaches us. Her voice is low and trimmed with steel. Toby’s brother, a small mousey boy, reluctantly takes up her left flank. “We’re just doing some shopping,

“Always looking out for me, aren’t we Jane. Not sure how I would have made it through high school without you constantly feeding me.” I feel my eyes tracking his skeletal physique. Toby has always been skinny.

Her words are knives slicing into my lungs; each breath escaping through my wounds, leaving me breathless. I want to tell her that I know. I want to tell her that I’m sorry a million more times. But all that comes out is a pitiful wheeze, and she turns and walks away. That night I lie awake thinking of winding roads and sad trees. I like the feel of the roads in my mind – it’s like running away within myself, away from my thoughts, away from my own mind. Trees line the road at every twist and every turn, and I can’t help but think that people are a lot like trees. Our cities are forests of people and our children are seeds. We live in a cycle of chopping down and re-growing and regenerating – an endless, haunting cycle. It should be beautiful, but we are still plagued with sadness. Why do our roots spend their whole lives trying to break up the tarmac? ... I'm sitting at the table in my flat, my laptop in front of me. There’s a recipe for Thai green curry on the screen.

“Food makes everything better. That’s why I’m so fat.” His laughter is less amplified this time, and he shakes his head. I look at him, his face, his eyes, his mussed-up hair, and I want myself to ask if he’s okay, but before I can open my mouth, I feel water creeping into my shoes. Dark water blankets the floor, slowly rising around my ankles. “Toby, what’s happening?” My frantic tone spreads into panic throughout my body. The water is cold and it chills me to the bone, but I can’t move. “Toby? Toby listen to me!” He just smiles at me with sad eyes, his head shaking ever so slightly. I’m glued to my seat. The water is at my neck. “Toby! TOBY!” The water travels up my neck. I take one last breath before it covers my face entirely. I see Toby close his eyes and fall back into the water.

The Amazon is keeping me awake I haven’t been sleeping well for the past two weeks. I know it’s not a painfully long time, in the grand scheme of things at least. But for someone like me, who is known for passing out on chairs at parties, this is quite a big deal. At first, I didn’t know why I couldn’t sleep. At first, I would just go to bed and fall asleep, and then I’d wake up two hours later in a pool of sweat, dragging myself out of nightmares populated by deadly earthquakes and ferocious hyenas.

palms would start sweating and my heart would speed up. I would need lots of time alone. I’d be grumpy and withdrawn. I’d go home and lie on the floor for hours, ‘Space Oddity’ softly playing in the background. But in the past two weeks, not even Bowie has been able to lull me away from the current state of the world. I’m going through one of those phases where I’m torn between wanting to do more and wishing I didn’t know anything about anything.

Sleepless nights would be followed by restless days. I’d be on edge the whole time and the tiniest inconvenience could set me off.

Lately I’ve been feeling like every time I want to make a difference, I’m actually making no difference at all. I’m here ordering drinks without a straw and in the meantime the Amazon is burning. I bring my own container as the Australian sky looks like the dawn of the apocalypse.

Soometimes I’d just be walking down the street and suddenly my

On top of all this, I already have my own problems I need to deal with.

Then I started struggling to drift off. I would switch the light off and just lie there, eyes wide open, unable to slow down my thoughts.

I’m at a point in my life where even having three meals a day requires a ridiculous amount of effort. When most of your energies are focused on therapy and trying to take care of yourself, it’s incredibly exhausting to also have to worry about the fact that the world is on fire.     I wish this piece didn’t sound so hopeless, but to be fair I don’t really know how to cope with how powerless I’ve been feeling.   Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that maybe writing an article on environmental anxiety at three in the morning on a Thursday is all you can do.   Maybe lying on the floor and listening to ‘Space Oddity’ on repeat is all you can do. Sometimes, you just have remind yourself that you’re just doing the best you can.




Switch off



Existential crisis starting at seven? Saaaame. Thanks, The Guardian.

Seek out a community garden to dig yourself out of despair or search for environmentally aware groups restoring riverbanks and reserves.

Alleviate that anxiety by getting out and marching when there are marches (unless you have crowd anxiety, then best not), sign petitions, submit to council submissions, advocate, keep posting wildly into your echo chamber on social media…

Put your phone down. Turn off your notifications. Give yourself a break from the information overload. Just don’t look.

Play Find some grass

Everyone’s favourite Christmas movie (Die Hard, I’ll fight you if you disagree), suggests getting over jet lag by taking off your shoes and making fists with your toes. Why not do similar in one of Welly’s patches of grass? It’s a great grounding exercise and, if you’re really lucky, you’ll meet the infamous kitten that is Mittens.

Join a support group

Climate Anxiety groups exist and work much the same way as AA, enabling people to “build emotional robustness”. If that’s all a bit much, find yourself a community of likeminded people and talk about it.

Like finding some grass but on a bigger scale. Screw your responsibilities for the day (or week) and awaken the child within. Swing on the swings in the park, find a meadow and skip and sing your heart out, or spin around until you fall over dizzy. If you’re slightly more inclined to sensible stuff, take yourself on a museum date.

Spend wisely

Make good choices with your money and where it goes. Forget fast fashion and scour the op-shops, go to the farmers’ markets and only buy what you need, bank with an ethical bank, gift experiences rather than things people don’t really need.

Don’t be ashamed

You’re doing what you can! We believe in you! You’re part of the system but you’re not responsible for the system. Be kind to yourself. And, if all else fails, fuck it – become a climate change denier. Think how much happier you’ll be if you believed there was nothing wrong with the world! Ignorance is bliss.


Chlöe Swarbrick on Life as a Politician in the Epoch of Stigma Maddi Rowe I was lucky enough to steal 30 minutes of Chlöe Swarbrick’s time

She gestures to a bag of cotton balls and a small bottle of clove oil.

to ask her about her life as a politician




public eye, mental health, and climate change, and how these issues intersect.

MR: Thank you for agreeing to interview with us, we really appreciate it. CS: No worries. MR: We’ll jump right in. So it’s no secret that being in politics can be exhausting and really emotional – I just wanted to ask you how you’re doing? CS: Currently, actually, why I’ve got all of this on the table.

CS: I’ve got my wisdom teeth coming through. All four of them are scheduled to come out. It’s been gnarly. Chlöe then describes the process in which the dentists would have to remove her wisdom teeth, and for the





readers, I’ve decided to leave that part out.

CS: There’s that, and then there's the general exhaustion – I was in the middle of an interview on live radio a couple of days ago where I just totally forgot I was saying which is just the case when you feel like you’re always on.

Yeah, uh, I feel good about this past year on reflection, like, you end up getting trapped, I think, on a day to day basis evaluating things in a notvery-relative-way where things can feel very overwhelming and intense, but the way that my grandma puts it is that it’s like your life is this massive, windy line, and, you know, just try and take the days on that macro scale of stuff, and then you realise that actually, today wasn’t that bad. So you can step outside of it. MR: Get that perspective. CS: Yeah, and today is huge. MR: Medicinal cannabis, right? CS: There’s another thing coming

as well, so it’s massive – it's the stuff I’ve been working on ever since I came into Parliament, actually. There’s medicinal cannabis, the thing that’s coming later today, there’s the Election Access Fund Bill, which we got through Select Committee stage about a week or two ago. Obviously we’ve got the draft regulatory stuff for – the exposure draft for – cannabis legalisation and control. There’s a bunch of stuff I was involved in around changes to the tertiary sector, we actually just instituted changes to pastoral care for those who live in [Halls of Residence]. It’s really gutting that it took a [death] for that to be triggered. There’s been a lot of moving parts this year. MR: A lot of moving parts. Wow, big day for you today! CS: Today’s one of those weird things, where lots of Facebook memories are popping up on my phone, and a lot of stuff happened in the same, sort of, time period as last year. MR: Okay, to change tact a bit – in my research I noticed that in mainstream media, they title articles involving you with “Chlöe Swarbrick vs. BLANK” or “Chlöe Swarbrick takes on BLANK”, like it’s very aggressive. We always notice that women with higher profiles tend to be shown as aggressive or over-emotional, like we saw the Serena Williams thing. What are your thoughts on that? CS: I mean, it’s interesting, I guess, because the Greens, in particular, are in a unique position in this term of Parliament because we’re outside and inside Parliament. We get to push [the Government] on stuff. Inside the political institution, you have to try and change people’s minds externally so you create an environment where it’s conducive to political change.

So you have to create a space where it’s either permission, or force, being used to make another minister do something. In terms of the




thing like



do and

Marama get it more than I do because of the other layers of marginalisation. I get a lot of sexist stuff, but Golriz and Marama get the





[comments]. MR: I can only imagine it’s really challenging. CS: Yeah, in my new role as musterer and strategist, I see my major role as breaking down the silos across all of our individual work streams. We have eight MPs, but we have mirrored the portfolios of all the other parties. We have the exact same amount of portfolios as you’d find in Labour or National, but across eight of us. All of our people are really busy and don’t really have enough time to cross-pollinate, in a way that I think would be really constructive. The other weird thing about politics is that you can be doing all this stuff internally, but it’s not necessarily reflected externally. I think the greatest example of that is the work Jan Logie has done with domestic and sexual violence. She is amazing, she has just knocked it out of the park. But in terms of her mainstream visibility, it’s nowhere near what she deserves. Anyway, sorry, I’m gushing love for everyone here. MR: No, that’s good, you want that. CS: I genuinely love our people and speaking of how challenging it can be, there is such a depth of care for the kaupapa and for each other. That, I think, is where you find solace in the middle of absolute madness. MR: The general public doesn’t get much of a look at it, so it’s good to 

know that MPs are taking care of each other. Chlöe and I continue to talk about the ins and outs of navigating the public eye as a young, progressive politician. The conversation moves to legislative cannabis reform. She notes the irony of being the MP to take on cannabis reform as the Baby





encouraging adult, serious debate over the legalisation of cannabis. Chlöe points out a cartoon drawn of her in the NZ Herald by Rod Emmerson after she announced the intention to reform the laws surrounding consumption.

cannabis She



smoking a giant bong. It’s no wonder







an Opposition MP, when she’s being


demonized by cartoonists of the Baby Boomer generation. We talk about




destigmatisation around cannabis and addiction in order to have constructive


There’s a sombre, reflective pause before she continues.


politician who said “OK boomer” to constantly

Health and Addiction Inquiry the Government commissioned, the major findings out of that – there were tons of recommendations, about 43, and we’ve implemented a number – the major drivers of mental ill health and addiction are trauma and isolation. And presently, our response to addictions, particularly in illegal substances, is to further stigmatise, traumatise and isolate people. Which, obviously, compounds the problem. So I think there’s that, and also recognising that there’s a humanity to people who – I feel weird saying “suffer” – but who deal with and work through these things.



MR: Speaking of, in your maiden speech you talked about how being open with your mental health isn’t what makes you a strong or courageous person, but what makes you normal. Because everyone struggles with mental health. With your mental health portfolio with the Green Party, how have you seen changes in the kōrero around stigma around mental illness in New Zealand? CS: I think the biggest change around stigma in the mental health space has been around addiction. I take my mental health portfolio as inclusive of addictions, whether that is in substances, legal or illegal, gambling, gaming or pornography. Addiction is primarily a form of escapism. If you look at the Mental 

CS: In that maiden speech, which I reflected on not too long ago, because I was quite seriously contemplating leaving Parliament, I think I talked about how the opposite of mental ill health, particularly manifesting in problems, is community. The thing that has really resonated with me is that we talk about resilience as if it’s a commodity that can be purchased off the shelf. It’s this bizarre notion that’s, really, corporatised, that, you know, if you get a massage or do yoga that you can still work 60-70 hours a week. It’s bullshit, and it’s harmful. To talk about it like that. The reality is that we live very unhealthy lifestyles at the moment, because we have continued to force people to work harder and longer in order to worship some abstraction of what the economy is. For me, resilience isn’t an individual thing. It’s about community.  Her words resonate and hit me in the





recognise corporatised ideals being forced on us in every facet of our daily lives. Chlöe has described the frustration and disillusionment so eloquently and succinctly. Chlöe then begins to talk about the

mental health of those existing within






where and

communication are sparse.

CS: I very much, therefore, see the problems that we’re experiencing in terms of this massive pipeline of people experiencing poor mental health – particularly in the regions, where economic opportunity is being desecrated and people are being isolated. [I also see this] among young people, where you can’t afford to make a mistake – whether it’s literally financially or in terms of your head space or the expectations lumped on you. Whether it’s by your academic institution or your workplace or your parents. We have to recognise there are inherent changes that have to occur, within our economy and our approach to all things, if we want to change that. That’s a conversation that not many people want to have. But it’s ultimately about the environment we’re living in, which produces all of these things that we’re living in, in terms of precariousness around employment, education and housing in particular. As a writer, it seems simple for me to be able to conceive my feelings into words. But I’m rendered speechless. It is increasingly apparent to me in this interview that Chlöe is passionately involved in alleviating crises that affect New Zealanders so deeply. The fire behind her eyes is almost tangible.

MR: What advice or insight do you have for people who might be feeling disillusioned or disenfranchised by climate change? CS: It’s really hard. The first thing to recognise is that – for all of those folks who do individual things – ride the bus, ride their bikes, use Keep Cups – those things are cool, and good. It will not get the change of pace that we need to actually tackle the climate emergency. That’s where systemic engagement is really crucial. So, the best way to look at it is, things like our oceans being clogged up with plastic, the refugee crises, the climate crisis, the housing affordability crisis – all of these things that are reaching the peak of problems – they are not natural. They are all man made. Recognising they are man made, that can obviously lead to frustration, where we go: “why did we do this historically?”, but hopefully it should lead to a sense of empowerment because it means that things can be changed.The next step, logically, is for people to say that politics and politicians never change. I mean, look at me! If I can get into Parliament I genuinely believe that anyone can. And I think that’s a good thing.

rambles is means you’re

Chlöe then discusses the environment in which change is fostered relatively quickly in a country like New Zealand, where there are two degrees of separation between most people. She then begins to talk about the conversations we are having surrounding the climate crisis, mental health reform, drug law reform, housing – and how the discussions we were having even two years ago were “markedly different”.

CS: I’ve got a lot of passion. 15 minutes are to go on the clock, so I change tact.

CS: To get to the punchline, I know a lot of people who refuse to vote or engage in politics because they don’t trust politicians. Well, cool

MR: Wow CS: Sorry, I’ve got the rambles. MR: No, no, good. Rambles passionate.

protest, bro. You’re giving away your one power that makes you equal to anyone else in this country, regardless of how wealthy they are – if that is your only protest, you’re giving up your power. If you want to actually protest, actually go protest. Show up in the streets. Do some form of advocacy. Change someone’s life, or change your community. Being angry on Facebook or Twitter, as much as it may help to amplify a message, unless that’s translated into real world action, it doesn’t mean much. MR: What would you name this chapter in your life? Chlöe laughs. She pauses to think. CS: “The Grand Experiment”. MR: What are your methods of selfcare? Chlöe notes the three tenets of selfcare – diet, sleep and exercise. She is so serious about taking care of herself that she’s regimented these into her packed calendar. MR: What about your job gets you up in the morning? CS: Potential. Potential for change. MR: What are you leaving behind in 2019? She pauses for a very long time. This






carefully mull over what she needs to glean from herself for 2020. Her response




heartbreaking. It speaks to just how



she as

carries a



around with her, outside of office hours.

CS: The guilt that I can’t get things done as fast as I would like for the people that need it the most.

CW: borderline personality disorder, suicidality.


T H E Tara O'Sullivan

B O R D E R I was 21 the first time it was suggested to me that I might have borderline



(BPD). I had spent the night in the emergency room after a breakdown, and a woman from the mental health crisis team came in to assess me the next morning. She told me she thought I may have BPD. And then she left. And the hospital sent me home. We all knew full well that I’d be back again in a month or two. People are always shocked when I tell them that story, but this is the reality of living with a mental illness in New Zealand. A few weeks ago, I was referred to the community mental health team by my GP, only to be told that the waiting list for the therapy I need (dialectical behaviour therapy) is so long that they’re only putting highrisk people on it. I’m not considered high-risk, because I seem to be fine, until I’m not, and then I’m very very unwell. I can go from feeling fine to being a suicide risk within five minutes.

Brain scans of people with BPD

As someone with BPD, it feels ironic

– would be a great middle ground.

have shown that we have smaller

to label myself one of the “lucky

There is respite care in NZ, but again



ones”, but I am. I spent my 22nd and

it’s not something that everyone can

emotions being felt more intensely

23rd birthdays at the Ashburn Clinic

access easily, and it’s far too difficult

and for longer than most people.

where I learnt how to sit with my

in a crisis moment if you don’t have

Our hippocampus is in a constant

feelings and keep myself safe. It

a case manager.



saved my life. But the Ashburn

perceive threats where there may

Clinic isn’t cheap, and it’s not easy to

I don’t believe that I would still be

not be any, and our pre-frontal

get funding – my treatment cost

here if it weren’t for the financial

cortex, the part responsible for

over $130,000 for 14 months. I am

support of my parents. I’ve had










incredibly lucky that my parents

friends in less privileged positions

inefficient. All these abnormalities

were able to afford to pay for me to

than myself lose their battle with

are caused by the high levels of

be there. Back in the ’80s, Ashburn

mental health. Ashburn and DBT

cortisol in our system, generally

was government subsidized and

won’t fix everything for me, BPD is a



you could afford the treatment on

lifelong disorder, but they have


the sickness benefit alone. Now you

helped immensely. Because of the


can either go privately or try for

support I’ve had over the years, I’ve



There isn’t really a place for people

which are difficult to get. My family

wonderful things that I think many

like me in the mental health system

has also offered to put me through

people would take for granted – like

because there’s a massive gap in-

DBT privately which will cost $150 a

working a full-time job or having


















session, probably weekly for the

close friendships. Just because my

services. Being borderline means

next year. Again, this isn’t something


cycling through lots of big emotions

that most people with a mental


throughout the day. I can wake up

illness can afford.

doesn’t mean that it’s less serious or

feeling dread about going to work, then







as as


obvious heart



life threatening, and the care should Crisis drop-in centers with trained

Facebook, onto paranoia when a


friend cancels a coffee, happy when

incredibly helpful for those of us

The state of mental health care in



with disorders like BPD, where we

New Zealand is, in my opinion,

evening, and despair at night when

can go from 0-100 quickly. I know

shameful. It feels incredibly cruel to

everyone is asleep but me. For

for certain that I don’t want to end

leave people in such horrendous

people who aren’t used to massive

my life, there’s so much good in it.

pain, and it makes asking for help

mood swings, it can be exhausting.

But when I’m having a meltdown, I


It’s like doing a triathlon with no

can’t remember any of that. My

hope to see some drastic changes,

training. I’ve had partners who really

feelings are so overwhelming that in



that moment, they are all I know. I

People like myself can do great

because I’m so quickly onto another

do everything I can to keep myself

things and deserve to lead lives with

big feeling and there’s no space to

safe during my meltdowns and,

less pain and more meaning.

breathe. What needs to exist in New

with the right support, I don’t

Zealand for people with BPD are

need/want to admit myself to a

government funded


therapeutic communities – like the

where people could stay a day or a

Ashburn Clinic in Dunedin – and

few days – somewhere where there

crisis drop-in centers.

is extra support should they need it














be to the same standard.







- Nothing but growth ELESQ

How to handle a panic attack when alone Breathe Focus on your breathing. Take a deep breath in for four seconds. Hold onto it for a second. Breathe out deeply for four seconds. Repeat.

Recognise Recognise it for what it is. Say: “Aha! I’m having a panic attack. I know what you are, buddy o’ pal.” Take away that fear by knowing what’s going on.

Object Hold an object in your hand and focus all your energy on it. What does it feel like, look like, smell like, what is it used for?

Lavender The greatest natural relaxant in the world (according to Kate!) Keep lavender oil handy and dab some on your arms. Drink lavender tea (or chamomile if you prefer).

Tell Tell someone what's happening – they might be able to help you get through it.

Medicate If you have medication – benzodiazapines – take them (sparingly, they can be addictive).

Relax Clench and release – start at your toes and work your way up every muscle in your body.


As trite as it may sound, try to find your happy place. Where would you be at your most relaxed? Are you a beach, forest, or mountain person? Picture it in every detail.

Eyes Panic attacks often occur when you're overstimulated. Close your eyes to mitigate some of the stimuli.

Mantra Make a mantra to repeat. "This too shall pass" might work for you.

Ground Find a familiar physical sensation that you can use to ground yourself. Focus on your feet in your shoes and how they feel.

helping someone who is having a panic attack Model Don't panic! Stay calm. Model the behaviour that they should be returning to. Be patient, it could take time.

Composure Keep your cool. Be predictable: don't make sudden movements, gestures, or loud noises!

Rational Ask rational questions of them. Ask them what's going on and why they're panicking. Ask them how they've dealt with it before. Ask them about consequences.

Breathe Help them to breathe slowly and deeply. Deep breath in for four seconds. Hold onto it for a second. Breathe out deeply for four seconds. Repeat.


Tell them they're doing a great job. Tell them they're safe. Tell them you're proud of them. Remind them it's the thought that's scary, not the place. Be positive, understanding and encouraging.


Make sure you're safe too! Take care of you.

Stick around. You might need to cancel your plans for the next half hour or so, but this person needs you for the next little while.



If they aren't already getting professional help, point them in the right direction.

Ask them what they need. Do they take medication to help? Do they need space? Do they like to be touched or hugged? (Skin on skin contact is great for some people, not for others.)


Simple Talk in short, simple sentences. Keep it easy.

CREATIVE CARE Here at Sisterhood, we are firm believers in the place art has to support mental health. Art, regardless of its form, can be a place to relax, to discover, and to express the subconscious without the need for pressure or expectation.

Suggested colour associations:

Pure Calm Sadness Happy Anger Anticipation Trust Joy





AUTISM Patience: is a virtue. You might struggle with what your friend considers to be acceptable behaviour. You can’t change them… Communicate: and do so clearly. Speak at a reasonable volume and pace; use short sentences. Speak literally – many people with ASD find it hard to pick up on facial expressions and tone of voice, and they may not understand sarcasm and humour in the same way.

Make plans: they want to be included but might not know how to ask. Spend time with them on a regular basis – just hang out! Don’t assume: it makes an ass out of you and me (couldn’t resist). You don’t know what’s going on for them, just like everyone else. They know what’s going on for them, all you have to do is ask.

Autism/autism spectrum disorder: Characterised by challenges with social skills and speech, repetitive behaviours, rigidity. Research: be prepared! Read as much as you can about the type of ASD your pal has.

Wait: for them to process the information or question you are asking. It can take longer. Sensory differences: are common. People with ASD are often more sensitive to sounds, sights, touch, taste, and smell. Something like an emergency siren might be as intolerable as nails on a chalkboard. Learn what your friend struggles with.

Not a project: to be worked on. Friendship with an autistic person is not your good deed for the day or a charity service. It must be a positive, healthy experience for both of you! Also: If you’re an expressive loudmouth, take more care around them. Sudden noises can be terrifying.

BPD Research: be prepared! Don’t take our word for what BPD is and how your friend experiences it. Communicate: and communicate honestly, let them know when you can’t be there for them and why, tell them you love them – give them tangible forms of affection like love notes or drawings. If they’re mid-rage, wait for them to calm down before having an honest and open discussion.

Borderline Personality Disorder: characterised by unstable moods, impulsive behaviour, unstable relationships; “splitting” views things from one extreme to another. BPD FP: favourite person: relies on them for support, validation, advice, and attention.

Empathy: think about what you say and how you say it, explain things thoroughly so that they know the whys and wherefores. Shit happens: they’ll split, they’ll have mood swings, they’ll be jealous. It’s all valid to them even if you can’t understand or relate to what they’re going through! Your job is to stay as calm as you can while it all hits the fan.

Boundaries: every relationship needs boundaries to survive, just remember to communicate what those things are. You matter: and your needs matter, people with BPD know that friendship is a two-way street and that you your needs must be met too. Take care of yourself and learn to manage your own stresses.


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: characterised by flashbacks to a traumatic event, hypervigilance, insomnia, nightmares and much more.

Everyone’s different: and reacts differently to trauma. Learn what your friend’s experience of PTSD is so that you can best understand them.

Research: be prepared! Most people think of flashbacks when it comes to PTSD but it’s quite a complex mental illness, this one.

Triggers: try to figure out what they are. If you know what triggers your friend, you can help them better when they’re overcome.

Be there for them: just spend time with them. If they want to talk, be the listening ear they need. Otherwise, just being can be comfort enough. Let them know you’re in it for the long haul. Do normal things: take a class together, set a regular lunch date, go dancing anything that has nothing to do with the traumatic experience.

Listen and keep listening: they may need to talk about it and talk about it and talk about it. It’s all part of the healing process. Stay calm: they might struggle managing their emotions. Do your best to stay calm, give them space, and ask them what they need. Take care of you: because you don’t want to burn out. It can be intense.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: characterised by a lack of attention, inability to sit still, and issues with selfcontrol.

ADHD Patience: is, again, a virtue. People with ADHD can be forgetful, impulsive, or inattentive – they don’t mean to be! They’re often terrible at timekeeping too. Remember that intention and impact are two very different things so... Communicate: clearly. If their behaviour is affecting the relationship, call them out (calmly). But remember to cushion the blow by telling them what you like about them too!

Know their strengths: and use them. Invite them to do what they’re best at so neither of you are disappointed if they fuck up. Self care: is key. Make sure you're okay and getting enough support.

Research: be prepared! Read as much literature as you can and talk to them about how ADHD affects their day. Knowledge is power!

Figure out: whether you’re understanding them or enabling them. Support is good, but they, like everyone else, need what’s best. Laugh: with them at the snafus. Their brains are wired differently and their memory can be chaotic and therefore fucking funny.

OCD Communicate: don’t shy away from the tough stuff. Discussing the important shit will help your friend feel more understood and less alone. If they’re struggling to tell their story because they’re afraid, help them look for someone else’s words (e.g. a blog post) Be kind: they’re fighting an internal battle. It can be a confusing, hellish, and epic battle that they’re waging. Tell them you love them.

ANXIETY Love them: by being open and welcoming. You’re there to support them, so let them know it! Acknowledge that their anxiety is hard to handle but also... Challenge them: and their thoughts with rationality. They might be anxious about something and you can help them see that anxiety as normal, while challenging the extreme end that they’re at.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: characterised by recurring, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) that drive them to do something repetitively (compulsions). Research: be prepared! Read up on the symptoms, triggers, and intrusive thoughts that lead to repetitive behaviours.

Empathise: something simple could make their thoughts spiral. Try not to dismiss or minimise their pain but acknowledge what they’re feeling. Get help: for both of you. They probably need a psychologist because OCD attacks your moral compass. You need support as well! They're going to be overthinking, ruminating, and repeating. Make sure you know care for your emotional wellbeing.

Anxiety Disorder: characterised by an ongoing feeling of fear that can be intense, sometimes debilitating, that can cause someone to stop doing things they enjoy. Ask: what they need. If they’re struggling to communicate, sit with them for a while. Be the consistent, calm, reassuring presence that they’re currently not. Ask if they want a listening ear or advice.

Celebrate: their successes. If they’ve been able to do something for the first time in a long time (like go on a bus), throw them a fucking party! Tell them you’re proud of them. Don’t panic: check out page for what to do if someone’s having a panic attack. Remember to take care of you when there's time, because you matter too. Do the self care, check in with other people, and make sure your needs are being met.

Budget planner 2020

Income Income 1: Income 2: Housing rent/mortgage utilities internet/phone other

Monthly income

Monthly expenses

Monthly savings

Living expenses groceries entertainment clothing

travel Long-term expenses car insurance health insurance repayments savings gifts holiday fund other Summary Total income Total expenditure Difference


Quynh Anh Tran Le

















PhD: Pretty Huge Depression? FAIROOZ SAMY Three years ago, when I moved into my PhD office for the first time, I discovered that the person who used it before me had left their art on the noticeboard. Amidst the ironic Britney Spears pictures, the poster for Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and a photograph of Foucault on a chaise lounge, I found a beautifully drawn sketch. It showed a broken pen, a stack of books, a vine on which a range of flowers grew, and a noose, all surrounding the words “If you were going to quit, you should have done it last week”. The sketch is still there – as is its illustrator, fortunately. They managed to move forward from the stressors that compelled them to draw that noose (and to situate it so firmly as part of the post-grad experience). But for many others, the stressors remain. That fact can be easy to forget, especially during graduation season. Twice a year (May and December) Wellington plays host to the whānau and friends of graduating students, celebrating academic success with the kind of low-fuss pomp and circumstance that only the ‘coolest little capital’ can. This December, around 80 of the people walking across the stage at the Michael Fowler Centre will be


CW: suicidal ideation, depression, self-harm newly minted Doctors of Philosophy. Their reward for threeplus years of hard work will be a one-minute reading of their research summary and an invitation to sit on stage at the ceremony, before a reality check in the form of academic job applications, short-term contracts, and job insecurity. With shaky prospects and massive burdens of current expectations on them, it’s no wonder that post-grads and students in general – suffer some of the highest rates of mental health illness in the country. In 2018, the Kei Te Pai study released by the NZ Union of Student Associations found that over half of tertiary students experienced high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression during their study. Of the 1636 students surveyed about mental health, 686 reported having suicidal ideation and 672 had thoughts of self-harm. Worryingly, only half of these students had shared these thoughts with health professionals, citing fear of discrimination and embarrassment as reasons against seeking help, despite ad campaigns like ‘Just Ask, Just Listen’ and ‘Find A Way Through’. Almost 40 percent of students were taking medication to manage mental health

symptoms. The New Zealand example mirrors what’s happening internationally. Over the past decade, the UK, North America, and Australia have seen an average median increase of around half of their tertiary students reporting mental health struggles and experiencing higher levels of mental distress. On the university side, some support is available. While mental health services are particularly understaffed, mental health professionals are committed to providing the best standard of care they can, despite limited financial resources. This must change. Tertiary institutions need to prioritise the mental well being of their students, and that begins with increasing student health budgets and making counselling services more accessible. One major stressor for post-grads has been the increased costs of living in the city. Rent prices have more than doubled in some of the most popular suburbs and risen substantially in areas with historically affordable (and sub-par) housing. At best, cash-strapped students are left with little choice but to pay inflated rates for increasingly low quality accommodation. At worst, high demand and low supply drives

them to farther areas like Johnsonville, Porirua, and Lower Hutt. This means higher transport costs and more time in transit for students who work in the central city or increased social isolation for students who decide to work on their research from home to save on bus/train/gas travel. Governmental safety nets have let post-grads down. Student allowances are capped after 200 weeks of full-time study – excluding study above Honours-level, effectively excluding Masters and Doctoral students from receiving support even if they haven’t exceeded the lifetime limit. Labour, Greens, and NZ First have all voiced support for the reinstatement of NZQA Level 8 and higher student allowances, but little progress has been made towards safeguarding post-grads from further financial burdens, not accounting for their existing student loans. The problems around treating and preventing mental health issues are magnified exponentially for international students, students from ethnic minority backgrounds, Maori and Pasifika students, women-identifying students, and students in the LGBTQIA+ community. Respondents in the Kei Te Pai study cited cultural disconnection, language barriers, financial worries, and discrimination as major hurdles, all of which are exacerbated by the socio-economic systems that entrench heteronormality, poverty, and Eurocentricity. Post-grads whose research focuses on identity politics – class dynamics, feminist ideologies, colonialism, etc. – face the extra emotional labour of unpacking systemic injustice on a daily basis, for years at a time, with no external support or recognition of the

mental health toll that such work takes. Combined with imposter syndrome (a misnomer, since powerful institutions are designed to be exclusionary towards historically underrepresented perspectives, like those from women) and the and the mental health risk for marginalised groups increases even more. Such blind spots are not surprising given anti-intellectual social disregard and the way that postgrads internalise it. Your scholarship is undervalued, seen as an obscurity that will have little impact on the world. Your title remains stagnant until you finish. There are no promotions to be had, no salary increases that reflect good work, so your family and friends have no identifying concepts of how to judge your progression, let alone validate it. Theses-level study doesn’t just isolate you socially, it isolates you from yourself. When you’re performing solitary research, on the same topic, for four years, you begin to lose the ability to objectively judge yourself. Enter your supervisors, who are the only other people engaging with your work, whose opinions you depend on, and who you constantly worry about letting down. While the experience of crying in your supervisor’s office is practically a rite of passage, it speaks to the intense, prolonged dread of PhD study. You willingly put your life into arrested development for the sake of intellectual pursuit, and you’re only freed once you’ve successfully defended your thesis (basically a modern Herculean labour). Despite the massive impact my own journey has had on my mental health, I’m heartened by the solidarity of my fellow post-grads. I’ve been immensely proud of my graduating Doctor friends this

month, knowing the literal blood, sweat, and many tears it’s taken to get to that single day of acknowledgement. I’ve also been immensely proud of friends who’ve begun the journey and decided the mental price was not worth paying. They’re why I’ve kept the sketch on my office wall these past three years. The choice to quit and the choice to continue are equally valid, but mental health – mine, and everyone’s – must come first.

For help from Lifeline, call 0800 543 354 or free text 4357 (HELP). Free call or text 1737 for 24/7 for support from trained counsellors.

CW: traumatic events, human rights abuses, institutionalisation, self-harm, sexual harassment, suicidality.

Prescribed AN

There are 24 hours in a day. There are 24 pills in Emma’s day. Clonidine HCl 2mg x2 Escitalopram 20mg x1 Gabapentin 300mg x3 GINET x1 LOGEM 50mg Disp x3 Loperamide HCl 2mg x6 M-ESLON 10mg SR x2 Omeprazole 20mg x1 Quetapel 100mg x1 RITALIN 10mg x4 That’s the stuff she needs just to function. There are also extras, if she needs them (which she generally does) Sevredol 10mg TDS Lorazepam 1mg Panadol 1g QID Diclofenac Sodium 75mg BD She took the Ritalin five minutes ago. It hasn’t kicked in yet. She is unfocused, distracted, scatty. I’m told it’s a good day for her, one of





her best. She took an extra Lorazepam last night because she was sad and lonely. Emma is our editor’s twin sister. She jokes that she’s got so much to say about the New Zealand mental health system she could write a segment every month for the next three years. I listen to her and Ollie’s conversation. It’s not a joke. “Emma, focus” Ollie encourages, “we’ve got deadlines. Tell Kate about Te Whare Maiangiangi.” Te Whare Maiangiangi is Tauranga’s notorious mental health ward for adults. Emma was 15 when she was held there for eight months. “I’m looking into the multiple human rights breaches that were made there,” Emma says matter-offactly. “My brain remembers traumatic events in great detail.” She lists them.

Underage in an adult facility Solitary confinement No access to phone calls No access to time No fresh air for the first month One book allowed after two weeks No human interaction (except with her parents once a week) No contact with twin sister (even on birthdays/Christmas) Not allowed to move from her bed (except for her daily shower, but only if there was a staff member available and only if the available staff member was comfortable taking her to the shower) No cutlery with meals (not even plastic cutlery – it’s hard to eat a stew with your fingers) No choice of food (for context, prisoners have a choice of food) Staff who were rude to her Staff who would laugh at her Staff who didn’t want to “watch” her (staff members were posted at her door but weren’t allowed

to talk to her, even when she was trying to talk about her feelings, they would dismiss her and tell her to go to sleep) Taken off all meds cold turkey and given high doses of quetiapine, causing arrythmia Told that she was faking arrythmia and left alone in pain, Other clients sneaked into her room (her bra was once found in someone else’s room, covered in ejaculate) Any self-harm was met with 72hrs in isolation (“Did you know you are not allowed to legally punish for self-injury?”) I suspect there is much more. Emma’s assertion that she remembers all the details doesn’t mean she’s ready to share all of them. Her mental health is delicate, but she is well aware that she has been mistreated, misdiagnosed, and mishandled. She wants justice but doesn’t know how to get it.

“Well, I’ve found it impossible to understand my emotions as a result. All I’ve been told is to ‘get over it’. Now it’s hard for me to leave the house and it’s hard to be social.” Emma has complex mental and physical health needs. She has Asperger’s, ADHD, OCD, a prolapsed herniated ileostomy, chronic pain, chronic nerve pain, and fibromyalgia from head to toe. She needs help. Better help than she has been given in the past. Emma turned 24 last month, but the effects of her experience with the mental health service when she was 15 are long-lasting. “We have to go now Emma,” Ollie says, “don’t forget to send us all the things.” Emma is still talking as we hang up. She has so much left to say.

(Emma will be a feature writer in

“CAMHS admitted to my parents that they’d lied. They lied about Starship. They told us that Starship didn’t want to take me on, but they never called them. I was 15 and being kept in an adult ward and that shouldn’t have happened.”

Sisterhood and will have a two-

She gets distracted and starts talking about her medical records and wondering where they are. Ollie centres her again.

For help from Lifeline, call 0800 543 354 or free text 4357 (HELP). Free call or text 1737 for 24/7 for support from trained counsellors.

“Did you know that teenagers with mental health issues struggle with their cognitive abilities and emotional understanding?” She sounds like she’s reading from a textbook.

page article monthly for as long as it takes to tell her story. For any questions, advice

complaints, please











understand, what is stopping us from moving towards a sustainable




collective of cultures?

To understand the whakapapa of our internal biases which lead us away from harmony with nature, we need to examine four principles that make up an effective artivism model – love and power as it intersects with culture and nature. All of our biases affect these principals and their expressions in our lives with each other. They are directly concerned with balance and our ultimate resilience and survival as diverse cultures and a singular species. We know the science, and people still deny ecological destruction in favour of economic growth. The environmental protective movement is no longer about western revelations of science, because science will continue to prove the symptoms of what indigenous people have been saying since colonisation, that it is our Western colonising economic

industrialised culture that is a sickness on the planet because it’s based on patriarchal principles that conquer, separate, compete and exploit. It’s based on a competitive notion of evolution and progress. The greater question remains. What will motivate us to collect together to foster a culture that nurtures and co-creates a bio-diverse and lifethriving planet again? There are four principles of Kaitiakitanga to examine: culture, nature, love and power. 1.

Culture: Tangata (People of the land).


For Tangata Whenua, everything is imbued with the spiritual elements and has whakapapa leading to their source, the realm of Te korekore expresses “our spiritual connections to ourselves, our lands, our responsible trusteeship obligations comes through the whakapapa frameworks of values and beliefs fashioned and lived in their times by our ancestors…to the beginnings of our cultural times, to Io the source of being.” – Pohatu  (2011) Shamanism could be defined

as the healing quest for empowerment through restoring balance between matter and spirit enacted through culture. This journeying between the realms of spirit and matter, past and present is what is referred to by Grey as shamanism, “The worldview of shamanism is that health equals balanced relationships with all living things. When someone is ill, shamanism attempts to restore power to them by putting them back in harmony with life.” (Grey n.d.) In this same way, a Kaitiaki (whom I label a procreative artivist) seeks to restore balance through being a seeker and guardian of personal and cultural knowledge through the process of relationship building, critical questioning, spiritual opening and intuitive journeying towards creating spaces that are holistically working towards biodiversity to balance reciprocity between human and non-human wellbeing. The constant opening to the spiritual realm in that way is what I I consider Kaitiakitanga, spiritual 

and healing artivism, a cultural practise of balancing the power for the purpose of restoring right relationship between peoples, culture and nature, and in doing so, moving towards deeper union with life and the creation of an ecological soul.

Artivism aims to explore the interdependence between love and power through our environments, to create art that has living ecological and spiritual impact rather than just symbolism and metaphor which may mean nothing in a few hundred years.

Just as species are disappearing in an extinction crisis, so is our humanity and consciousness with it. Being without the presence of diverse species and experiences which are becoming lost forever, the human heart and mind cannot be opened nor shared again in that exact way. To foster life in our environments is to also foster our our own diverse spiritual engagement in every possible way.

Using the models’ principles of love and power and culture and nature we can examine the bicultural relationship and its artistic balance as an attempt to restore mauri within our relationships and ecologies.

The Kaitiakitanga artivism model is a practise of creating culture and ecologies in support of nature’s need to thrive. An historical masterpiece painting in the future could become meaningless garbage if there is no human culture to appreciate it as ‘Art’. It is within this crashing civilised context eco-artivism seeks deeper meaning, that all art going forward may only have value and meaning if it is contributing to life flourishing or being protected. Art that, in its creation and existence, is Kaitiakitanga. 

2. Nature; Tangata Whenua (People of the land) and Mauri. In the effort to heal the rift and balance of power between the people of the land and the newly arrived Pākehā, te Tiriti sought to re-integrate balance between nature and culture and the peoples of Aotearoa; in other words practising Kaitiakitanga, and in this way a Kaitiaki must also align with this principle of reciprocal relationship no matter their cultural heritage; to seek continually to balance the power between the Tangata Whenua and all other residents in alignment with nature As a Kaitiaki it is my role to practise appreciation and respect for the land and her people so I can express the balance of power

(culture) and love (nature) to create works that are respectful to life and relationship alongside Iwi and Hapu. Through this process of gaining knowledge and supporting empowerment through examining the relationship between indigenous cultural values and all others, it is my responsibility as Kaitiaki, to bear witness to the relationship that is continually evolving between Tangata Whenua, the land and all others within Aotearoa. There were and continue to be tensions between the principles and values that inspired the Iwi and Pākehā to sign the treaty, and the powerful notions of hierarchy which justified Pakehas oppression of the people and the land. Those tensions and oppressions are still enacted today across most sectors of society and are symptomatic of our environmental and cultural challenges. The economic expansionism despite shared and finite resources is a perfect example. How is my work contributing to classist economies, ravaging the environment or  denying the potential for mass extinction? How is my work connecting with indigeneity and its core values of living custodianship of future generations?



Adam Slocombe

Feminism is for everyone. It is about equality for women. It can also be about the celebration of characteristics marked as feminine but that are also healthy for men – such as crying. Considering what is at stake, more work can be done to open the discussion on feminism to those that may be wary to engage. Specifically, I am referring to younger millennial males that are aware of the need for change – as a result of humanity’s oppression of women’s rights throughout history – but don’t necessarily have a resource of information and advice that they can rely on and that will inform their own input when getting involved with this discussion. I’d like to help communicate an idea of what feminism is and why the conversation on feminism can

become limited, as well as suggest how we may overcome this. I’d also like to provide advice on producing change from within and finding inspiration for positive dialogue. I believe an appropriate way to do this, and, rather self-indulgently, to better educate myself in the process, is to talk to a few people in my life that can help thaw out the ice for a more informed and engaged discussion. The interviewees: Coming from a background in theatre, many of my influential experiences come from work in the arts and as such I focused my interview questions towards those that I managed to work with personally. However, Melissa Harward studied law at Victoria and kindly obliged my desire to broaden the range of those interviewed. The following insightful voices include 

Stevie Hancox-Monk, Melissa Harward, and David O’Donnell. Stevie starred in Hamlet as the titular character during the 2018-19 season of Summer Shakespeare. I was a member of the cast and I got to watch her rehearse and perform one of, if not the, most traditionally gendered roles written for males. Melissa Harward is a recently graduated law student, and member of the Victoria University Feminist Organisation and VUFLS (Feminist Law Society). David O’Donnell, Associate Professor in Theatre at Victoria, directed the production of Hamlet. By presenting a female Hamlet he helped enable a fresh look at the power structures of the play and allowed the themes of the play to open up to feminist issues. Adam: What is feminism?

David: Feminism is the belief that

women should be treated equally with men, with equal social status and opportunity. Feminism is a political response to the repression of women’s rights by men throughout human history. More broadly, feminism proposes that all people should be equal regardless of gender.

people for whom 'feminism' is a dirty word. I believe this stems from a misunderstanding of what feminism is. We limit ourselves when we make assumptions, when we don't investigate or fact check, or when our snap reactions are to mock, attack, rather than approach with empathy and kindness. David: Discussion of feminism in

Stevie: I ascribe to intersectional

feminism, which, as defined by my very smart friend Maggie White is "an acknowledgement that all aspects of our social and political identity (class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, disability) overlap and inform the extent to which each individual is discriminated against or disadvantaged (depending on their intersections)." In certain scenarios, the intersections of our identity mean that we are more privileged than others, and vice versa.

recent years has been limited by a sense that the battles of feminism have been largely won, but the #Metoo movement and subsequent revival of feminist energy has put an end to that perception. There is still a huge battle to ensure true gender equality. Melissa: Defensiveness will limit the

conversation. Its similar with racism. People who take systematic oppression as personal are going to struggle to have those conversations.

Adam: What do you think limits the

Adam: In your life, where do you

discussion of feminism?

find inspiration change?

Stevie: There's a wide group of








Gadsby. Ericka Hart. Deborah Frances-White and her podcast The Guilty Feminist. David:




providing the most inspirational leadership in the world at present, articulating a clear and hopeful vision for the future, underscored by values of social justice, fairness and common sense (e.g. Jacinda Ardern, Greta Thunberg). Melissa: I’m inspired by women

who stand up to justice. From policies at university and in the workplace through to Pania Newton leading a movement at Ihumātao. And by working mums. What a bloody mish that must be. Adam: Is there something you think

men can do to help – either in general or specifically? Stevie: Yes – listening is a big one.

Genuinely listening to and reading about experiences and actively thinking about your own privilege

as a young, Pākehā, queer, nondisabled woman, there are many ways in which I am privileged. Go online and do the Harvard Implicit tests. Learn about your unconscious bias, and be kind to yourself while you do it, so you can teach yourself to be better at including others in thought and in practice. David:





constructively with women to solve the vast problems facing the world. This means listening, cooperating rather than arguing, and may mean taking a supportive back seat position rather than assuming positions of authority. Adam: Do you have an example of

a positive action taken by a male that helped progress this movement/discussion? Stevie: Recently I worked a gig, and

a male colleague of mine brought up that the gig had run for many years employing four men and two women, where the women were tasked with something far more emotionally aborious than the men. He initiated a change to see more balanced casting and task distribution, including non-binary and trans folks. He's awesome. Adam: David is someone I look at

and know he wants positive change and equal opportunities. I saw him prove that continuously, multiple times a week over the course of

a few months. During rehearsals for Hamlet I was able to note his etiquette and collaborative qualities. David: As a male director, this

production was only possible through close collaboration with female artists, especially Stevie as Hamlet and Lori as Assistant Director/Dramaturg. Adam: David backs up his own

words, often taking a back seat as director when Lori and her expertise were required and fruitful in discussing matters specific to our representation in discussing matters specific to our representation of the play. His approach to working with and supporting our female talent was continuous, thoughtful and kind, and, as a performer new to this environment, felt like I was a part of something much bigger than a typical production of Hamlet. This interview is published in the hopes of helping young men push through any hesitancy in engaging with the discussion on feminism though the takeaways available are no doubt relevant to a wider audience. It can be easy and instinctual to get defensive when getting involved with these conversations. We can aim to counteract this by limiting the effects of our preconceived notions, by fact checking, and by  

communicating with empathy and kindness. We can keep in mind that this ‘feminist energy’ is a positive force that can fuel us as we continue to fight for equality. We can look towards leaders that speak of hope and fairness and that demonstrate values we admire. We can engage with positive media, and we look to people in our own lives. We can do this by listening to the experiences that women discuss and thinking on our own privileged positions, by further educating ourselves, cooperating with and learning from rather than falling on our defensive verbiage, and letting go of any preconceived notions of authority. Finally, I’d like to reiterate what Stevie spoke about: whilst getting involved, it is important to remember to treat ourselves with kindness. We care and we are motivated to bring about positive change, but mistakes are common and continuous. We can look to each other for inspiration, and with one last thanks to Stevie, David and Melissa, we can aim to better our awareness, thoughts and practice.


















Loved and Lost

And somewhere in the future A circle of masochists put the elephant in the room to rest  Raise a glass to the girl they loved and lost  Draw the curtains and throw the key down a well  We entered the smoke filled room as keen eyed firefighters  Leaving as shadows of our former selves High on the haze  Comfortable in our collective pain


[Insecurities : a cleverly crafted compilation of convenient conversation starters] Today bestowed upon me is the gift of five minutes of fame I become the punchline when your pick up fails to do the trick Friend turned anecdote I watch you play pass the parcel with my life's experiences Pawn off my grief as entertainment Feeling second hand embarrassment for every smile cracked Snide comment passed I am the unintentional comedian Yet my audience is more wrapped up in the way you tell the tale Some type of spokesperson you are My words sound funnier when they drip from your lips Until I can no longer recognise they were once mine  These are not your stories to tell They are mine And I Am not Yours



POEM FOR DANNY (& RUMINATIONS ON MY EARLY POLYAMORY) My primary school graduation was a pool party & I was ten years old in a bikini the colour of sunset all the boys liked (I was showing off as they wolf-whistled through the fence, one of the few in our class with anything resembling tits) & I remember Danny in his board shorts getting into the pool beside me & we were floating there treading water & he said to me do you like me & I thought yes but then he said or do you like the other guys? you keep talking about some guy from that theatre show you’re doing I guess I’m just kind of confused & I realised in this moment how much I’d played him round but didn’t know how to tell him that I liked him but that I liked the guy from the theatre show too I liked them simultaneously but differently & didn’t know how to weigh them against each other didn’t get the concept I didn’t know was called monogamy how could I love one when they were both so lovely? Yet I had no words or understanding to communicate this idea I think I replied saying something like I like you both no passionate giving of my heart no proclamations of truth just floating, floating in early-Summer blue & I’ve always regretted that vague withholding of affection cos the truth was that I loved him I Loved Him knew it since year four sitting on the hall floor & if I could go back & have that moment to make again I’d say I like your freckles & your red hair & your chubby cheeks my sister mocks me with & the conversations we have so easily all that endless laughter when the seating plan was you & me & Beatrice all across from each other & I sure had a million crushes in primary school there was Arlo & Christian & Cameron (that latter one in particular an early example of my leanings toward sadomasochism within relationships) & there was Gabriel the guy from the theatre show who I wanted to talk to so bad I took off my watch just to ask him the time & wrote a song about four years later & there was the scrawny kid from Minutemen & Edmund from Narnia & Klaus Baudelaire

& Josh Hutcherson & the blond kid with the eyebrows who got way more famous & is famous for his eyebrows & when I was five (maybe first) there was Juni Cortez but at the end of the day Danny there was you the sun I found myself revolving round the one I should’ve been with the one I should’ve stayed with but I left primary school behind & it all ended & I missed you for years wishing I’d said something different wishing I’d been there for you to give those flowers to ’cos you made me smile & you made me blush red as your hair & I was your girl Danny I was always your girl.

K A T E Green

rustling leaves, a dirty track the smell of earth and soft decay bird call loud, sun on our backs as we walk later through the day a quiet fading out and down the light it dims and dips its head the sun in free fall hits the ground and ever-gentler steps we tread   i dont think we will ever know where we go when others grieve or if we rest there, just below or if its there or make believe   if we get to carry on no one knows and no one's seen but heaven knows wherever i've gone i hope to god it's somewhere green


K A T E The Tale of You You pack a bag, a sleeping mat A toothbrush and a fading hat Step out the door and don’t look back The world it calls and beckons you And you yearn for that To shed the fear, the blurry haze To see for miles and walk for days As all around the views do change And some are good and some are bad And some are strange Flowers bend and twirl and dance The bird calls loud and sometimes harsh Leafy ceilings as you pass And open, let in sun and light And sometimes dark   The top of the mountain rises now The tallest peak, the highest brow Overbear and stare you down For you are small and young and unsure And you wonder how   The path winds up, the track is hard You’re out of breath, your hands are scarred But the clearer air beckons you forward The track winds round and flattens now The view unmarred Those eyes of yours are open wide The dropping rugged mountain-side The taller trees, the great divide Like the first man who ever stood here And how he cried Tears for good and tears for bad For how he’d laughed and when he was sad To see his journey mapped out on land A backpack and a faded hat And his own scarred hands Someday you’ll tell them all of this The open road, the sparkling bliss Of the sun on water and the wide abyss A story of hope and timelessness The tale of how you lived  




Morphine Forests

And then, she was gone. Cord cut through a three day vigil where breath was replaced by the gulp and hiss of the ventilator. Wading through the morphine forests, she had finally found her way home, perhaps into the arms of the man in the khaki coat with the whirl of smoke. Or at least that’s how she had described him to me. She had become a shell of who she was, the shell of who she was. Still skin and bones and flesh and hair. But I had already taken the parts of her I wanted to keep and locked them away inside just for me. The numbness came heavily. Darkly. There were no tears, no tolerance. I felt like the soul of me had been lifted from my body momentarily, perhaps it wanted to follow her. I had to leave. I was done. The sea had always been her solace. Story telling times when we were young, wishing we lived closer so she could hear the ebb of the tide. Gathering us girls up in the car, with the premise of an afternoon full of sand and driftwood and sea smoothed glass. If only I had known then what I know now. How her mind worked, how she could be one person to some, different to another. I let my love for her flow from me, down along the stones and deep into the sea. She was the one that was like me. I was the one that was like her. Our love for each other had always been held at arm’s length but it was love all the same. I still feel her in me, around me. Every day. Parts of her make me who I am. It only seemed fitting that this would be the place that I would go to give my grief. It is from this point that the moments became lucid. I remember the smell of the ocean, the salt-razed bench. The tiny, cold talisman that I held tightly. All the tears that had been stifled by the harshness of the hospice light and the sound of soft sobs came to the surface; a steady stream of salt. A tear for each memory. I remember the breeze, on the cusp of winter and the air was cool. And this is where I lose track of time. How long I stayed there delivering my eulogy to the waves, I can’t recall. It was light by the time I returned home, he was there in the bed waiting for me with an apprehensive embrace. And so I reached for my phone. And I switched to silent. And in that moment, there was a shift. One world ends, another world begins. My grief was deceptive and came in many forms. No one facade any more difficult than the other but combined, broke my heart into a million parts. Cider, sex and spa on the deck under the trees were like a Band-Aid, temporarily stopping the flow. He didn’t know how to handle me but he tried. I have never had to console someone close to me through a loss like this. I can only imagine how gut-wrenching and frustrating it was for him; the engineer just wanting to find a solution, fix the problem. But grief can’t be fixed. It can only be endured. And it never goes away. And it never gets any easier, only masked by the normality of life as everyone around you migrates from its epicentre and rebuilds life around you. Fond memories of her, yes. But the forgetting begins. Her smell, her mannerisms and then finally, her voice. It was here that I began to despise the words “I’m sorry for your loss”. I know they never meant it this way but to me it felt like she was an item, something I had left behind at a bus stop or in a bar. Frantically searching for it for days, retracing my steps and racking my brain to figure out where the fuck I had put it. No, she wasn’t a bag. Or a coat. I knew where the fuck she was. She was in my brain, in my heart, in the eyes that looked back at me whenever I was in front of a mirror. So you lose a bag, or a coat. And you grieve for it before accepting that you’ll just have to replace it. But she couldn’t be replaced and I didn’t know what to do. So like a reptile, I shed my skin. It only seems fitting that I visit the sea when I want to feel close to her. She flows with the sea; her salt will heal my wounds. Her waves will pull me to her. My mother. Your mother. Our mother.



The truth about disconnection Decolonisation rings in your ears In the words of your shaking whakamā Your soul of overflowing mamae Tears on the soul Cleanse e hoa You’re allowed to feel Allowed to cry   Glaring eyes in their own world Where do I belong Am I lost or will I find my way back   Hyperventilating under reconnecting Am I depressed Am I anxious   Or is colonialism the root of my pain A C O L L E C T I O N O F P O E M S And if it is shall I share space with people or grow on my own   And so existence is an act of bravery you are always meant to be here After so much pain   E hoa, remember you carry the weight of your tūpuna Tapping into the energy of the earth Breaking toxic generational cycles is hard Mental illness is tough Years & years of unwrapping disaster in survival mode is a nightmare Growth is uncomfortable   But you are here to stay So be patient with yourself Because you made it and you’re a survivor A warrior A changemaker & a dreamer  



The Battle shower the tears off my body wash the hurt down the drain                    salt will not stain my face tonight                         sorrow will find no place this fight will be won by strength fist clenched          against waves of anguish             pulsing stance of defiance              to prancing fools of brain telling of my                worthlessness           that mock most in my weakness quelling fears by gritted teeth                            grinding away unspoken words of own worst enemy lips pursed poised to spit forth fury of their own knees locked             standing stock still               unwavering          refusing to fall stomach steeling itself                                            for one-two sucker punch                           of self-loathing and self-pity                   who always lead this merry dance of despair ears closed, mind set ready to vanquish venom of whispering devils of fear and doubt agony will not dwell here tonight                      body not wracked         with sobs           ache of heart nor vanish into a curled up heap         of unrecognisable form       taking shelter from world  yes! tonight I have stood firm     conquered               this attack but I know another is not far off the battle, for now, is won but the demons will forever         shriek and rage                         the war inside will eternally wage                                                        

T A R A Borderline blue is a poem I wrote after watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I heavily relate to Kate

Winslet’s character Clementine Kruczynski who dyes her hair three separate times in the film, having blue, green and red/orange hair at different times. Those of us with BPD struggle with chronic emptiness and an unstable sense of self, and I believe that Clem dyes her hair as a way of creating an identity for herself in the same way that I do.

Borderline blue

Everything is racing around me. Time is throwing pushing me forward like a rip in the ocean. The hole in my chest is back, it speaks to me as a dull ache, the only thing that’s constant. Today bleeds into tomorrow, bleeds into the next day. I am out of control, spiraling away from myself with nothing to hold onto. I continue on as best I can. I drag myself to the store, “You have to eat” I tell myself. That’s when I see it, the bottle of blue. Where did she come from? I look around to see if anyone else can see it. What is she doing here? This bottle of blue, this liquid soul, this medicine. I stare at her for a long time. It’s calming just to look at. With this bottle of blue, I could be whole for a while. I take her home and bring her into the bathroom. We just sit there with each other for a few minutes, then I take a deep breath and open her up. I begin to apply her. She permeates my hair all the way to the root. She continues up into my scalp, my brain, and down to the hole in my chest. She cradles my head, my mind is slowing and time begins to flow in individual seconds again. I count each one as it passes by. 45 minutes later and we get in the shower to rinse. I wash myself like a soldier after a battle. The blue dye swirls around my feet with all the dirt and mud and blood of the war. The warm water cleanses me of my sins, of any remnants of the old me. Inside I sparkle. I am clean, pure and new. And then, there she is. Borderline blue. I lock eyes with her in the mirror, and I am immediately full. She smiles at me with a mouth that has only ever spoken wise words, and eyes that know exactly who they are. You can tell she’s intelligent. She moves with confidence and grace. "MY CHEST FELL FAST, FELT HEAVY, AND I COULD Her actions are premeditated and collected.


Everything she touches is permanent, her existence is as solid as the ground itself. I sigh heavily with contentment. Borderline blue will look after me now. She knows what we need to do. She gives me something to hold onto. I am safe, if only for the next few weeks.


Sisterhood presents

Every m onth!

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Opinions you didn't ask for, and honestly, you probably don't need.

It feels like every second person is writing about depression these days. It’s great, it’s healthy, and it’s cathartic. The trouble is, that doesn’t leave me with much to say. At least, that’s how it feels. Why would anything I have to say be important? You know what? It’s not. It’s not important, because nothing I have to say is new, or interesting, or probably very helpful. But that, really, is not the point. A culture shift toward a space where we can talk about our mental health the way we talk about headaches, or eczema, or a broken leg, can only be good. A world where we are open and honest, and as forgiving of each other’s mental health deficiencies as we would be of a sprained ankle, is the dream. Since starting my job (in which I write for a living) I’ve been trying to be more active on social media, to keep up with Wellington’s chatter and immerse myself in dialogue on social issues. I tweeted an anecdote the other day about picking up some antidepressants from the pharmacy, and before tapping the blue button I paused, and my mind ran through the worst-case scenarios like ticker-tape. Could I get fired for admitting I’m struggling? Could I get told off for revealing too much of my inner world on the internet? Was I giving myself a “bad name” for talking about this illness over which I have no control? I hope the answer is no. And because I cannot safely call it a yes, I am going to keep talking about my mental health. I’m going to tell my little stories, admit I take meds, and freely ask people for help. The more we talk, the less we will need to say.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: If you got to the end of this article and realised my opinion is fucking brilliant, hilarious, well written, accurate, or maybe that I have changed your entire outlook on life within 500 words, then email me with things you would like me to babble about next month: ollie@sisterhoodnz.com


Aquarius: Are you feeling like a fish out of water this month, Aquarius? Feeling like it’s sink or swim? Let me let you in on a little secret. Some fish don’t need water to live, Aquarius. The Mexican Walking Fish be doin’ jusssss fine. Take a walk along the beach and learn to adapt.

Gemini: Ahh, the twins are on the same page this month, but that page might be the weekly ads section. Think twice before you buy this month, Gemini. Consider whether it will really bring you happiness. And then don’t look back.

Aries: There’s a smell on the breeze this month for you, my fine Aries pals. It’s the smell of enlightenment. The answers you seek are just around the corner, but they aren’t going to reveal themselves. Sometimes, you just gotta ask.

Taurus: How do you lose so many Pump bottles? Stop doing that. Buy an aluminium one.

Cancer: The sky seems blue for you, Cancer, but it might be those stupid aviators perched on your nose. Take them off for a clearer view of the world. Listen to your retinas.

Leo: Living a lie is harder than it looks, Leo. Embrace honesty, days off, and milkshakes this month.

An astrological prediction of your future as told by Eva Charles. Admittedly, someone who knows nothing about astrology.

Virgo: Your lucky number is four this month. Have you ever heard the saying, “Third time’s a charm?” It’s bullshit. What if you stop at three, and it could have happened on the fourth? If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, TRY again.

Libra: Were you obsessed with some weird animal as a kid, Libra? Maybe the koala? Were you really into skunks? Embrace your ~weird~ this month. Pick a thing, talk about the thing, and don’t stop pushing the thing until everyone around you loves it too.

Scorpio: Are we still mean, Scorpio? Treat ‘em mean, keep yourself clean, right? You’re putting up walls this month in the hope someone might smash them down. Why not smash them down yourself? It won’t take much, you’re not great at structural integrity.

Sagittarius: The sun on the horizon is beaming on every patch of ground but yours this month, Sagittarius. Perhaps it’s because your bloody star sign is so hard to spell? Make do, and enjoy the shade. Everyone else is getting burnt.

Capricorn: Have you cleaned your shower drain recently?

Pisces: The ocean is vast, and so is your brain. Your patience, however, could use some work. Take a breath, and remember how it feels to learn. Give a little this month, Pisces.

QUIZ TIME, BITCHES*! *that's all of you, regardless of gender

1. Which of these is not an antidepressant? a) Fluoxetine b) Venlafaxine c) Citalopram d) Sumatriptan

2. True or false: New recruits to the NZ police force must have been off meds and symptom-free for two years after suffering depression? 3. Which ethnicity has the highest rate of suicide in NZ? a) Pākehā b) Asian c) Māori d) Pacific Islander 4. True or false: Electroconvulsive (electric shock) therapy is still used to treat depression in New Zealand? 5. Links have been shown between depression, and an imbalance of chemicals in the brain – which of these is not a chemical found in the human brain? a) Serotonin b) Norepinephrine c) Anthocyanin  d) Dopamine

1. D – Sumatriptan treats migraines 2. False – but that policy was only revoked in 2017 3. Māori 4. True – and it can be effective 5. C – anthocyanin creates the blue-purple colour in plants  

















Share what you feel

Speak from

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the heart.

Listen to feedback.


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others stories.


Think about what

Give us your content

people could learn

warnings if your work

from your experience.

contains triggers.


REMEMBER: These are the months the submissions are due. If you submit work for any of the topics your work will be published the month following.

January: Sex, Relationships, Religion

Prompts: Domestic violence Polygamy Non-binary/gender diverse love Compulsive heteronormativity

Febuary:Â Art, Therapy, Intersectionality

Prompts: Artist poverty Intersectionality Capitalism + consumerism + the attention economy Transforming pain into art The emotionally taxing side of art The importance of local support

March: Wahine in Comedy, Sexism, PC Culture

Prompts: Sexism in the comedy sphere PC culture + cancel culture Comedic poetry Comedic social commentary


April: Reproduction, Gender Identity, Children

Prompts: Transgender reproductive health Reproductive rights (abortion, freedom of choice) Menstruation The intersex experience The trials and tribulations of contraception IVF treatment, surrogacy, ectopic pregnancy

May: Reclamation, Coming Out, Identity

Prompts: Coming out Struggles with identity Religion + learning to come to terms with sexuality Land reclamation Sexual identity Not identifying and how that is an act of reclamation

June: Addiction

Prompts: Struggling with addiction Being family to/friends with someone struggling with addiction NZ’s gambling problem Poverty and its relationship with addiction Pornography/sex addictions Binge drinking culture Isolation Tips on coping with addictionSubstance alternatives


July: Indigeneity, AllyShip, Decolonisation

Prompts: Decolonisation Neo-colonialism The indigenous experience Allyship to other indigenous peoples


Carrying the life and love of t puna Growing up in te ao P

ākehā & learning about Māoritanga in adulthood The gender binary + indigeneity

Self love/body positivity and neutrality + indigeneity Intergenerational trauma

August: Mens Health Month, FTM, Prostate

Prompts: Bisexuality Toxic masculinity Patriarchy Gender roles Male performance Erectile dysfunction Prostate health The trans man experience

September: Bewitched

Prompts: The “taboo”Kinks + fetishes Magick Astrology Numerology The supernatural realm Cultural attitudes toward the afterlife + spirituality Spooky short stories Horror film reviews


October: Neurodiversity, diagnosis, invisible disability

Prompts: Living with a mental disability How to cope with neurotypical societal norms Accessibility“Silent illnesses” How to help people with neurodiverse traits + disabilities Ableism

November: Grief, Loss, Coping

Prompts: How to cope with the holiday period Methods of grief processing Losing a loved one during the festive season How to approach the new year Positive approaches to grief

December: 2021, Anniversary, Features

Note: In this issue Sisterhood will approach writers from the past year and fill the magazine with throwbacks, feature pieces, and some more of your favourite content from 2020

There will also be holiday deals to make the most of, prizes to be won, and events to attend...Keep an eye out!




Ollie McCormick Kate Spencer Eva Charles Shanti Gore Maddi Rowe

Tanya Putthapipat Kata Brown Sophie Turner Zara Collinson Giulka Ebdus Heidi Threlfo Janhavi Gosavi Katie Thomas Eva Charles Emma McCormick Kate Spencer Adam Slocombe Chloe Swarbrick Tara O'Sullivian Rosina Buchanan Devon Webb Fairooz Samy

Wellington Vic Deals About Print Canva Be Alarmed

To submit for next month's Sisterhood issue please email us at ollie@sisterhoodnz.com

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