Verse Magazine Edition 35 - The Mental Health Edition

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Edition 35 Free

VERSE

FREE

Caitlin O’Connor

Scars of separation

Mental illness

mental health edit ion

Frances Cohen Nicola Sutcliffe Truc Truong


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Verse Magazine acknowledges the Kaurna, Boandik and Barngarla First Nations People as the traditional custodians of the unceded lands that are now home to the University of South Australia’s campuses in Adelaide, Mount Gambier and Whyalla. Verse Magazine respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past, present and emerging. Verse Magazine also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia. It was and always will be Aboriginal land.

Editor’s Letter Toenail moon I may be broken, yet I am still beautiful Imagine: Frances Cohen Imagine: Nicola Sutcliffe Imagine: Truc Truong Playlist: Songs to enjoy the sunshine Interview: Caitlin O’Connor Taboo: Mental illness Humans of UniSA The love within sinners Scars of separation One / two / three My mind is a fish bowl Review: How do you drink your tea? Puzzles Horoscopes: The signs according to Bojack Horseman 58 Clubs Feature: Raising the Barre 62 USASA Calendar 63 USASA President’s Letter 02 04 06 08 14 20 26 28 34 36 44 46 48 51 52 54 56

Cover: Abdurrahman Mohammadi


At the start of 2020 the Verse team sat down to plan the year ahead. As the ideas flowed in, we, like everyone else, never could have anticipated what kind of year 2020 had in store for us. Seven tumultuous months later, I’m more grateful than ever that Verse had the foresight to prioritise a mental health edition in our planning. At the best of times, mental health is a topic we should all be thinking, talking and acting on. At the best of times, mental health is a topic we should all be thinking, talking and acting on. Now, as the world has seemingly turned on its head, robust discussions about mental health are more important than ever, as we all try to adapt to a changing world. On behalf of the Verse team, we hope that this edition reminds you, whether you’re doing okay or you’re not, that we can get through hard times, together. Before you dive into these pages, I’d like to leave links to Beyond Blue and Lifeline. I’d also like to take this chance highlight that UniSA also offers free counselling services to all its students. If this edition raises issues for you or if you need assistance, please remember that there are always people available to help. Call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14

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Verse Magazine

Created by students for all students. Verse Mag is your UniSA magazine. It’s unusual, unconventional and pretty damn cool. Submit your work and stay up to date with everything Verse, including the latest stories, reviews, release dates and heaps more at VerseMag.com.au Facebook.com/VerseMagAdelaide Instagram.com/VerseMagazine


Toenail moon

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When my thoughts are too much for my bed to burden, I meet my mother before January’s sheet lightning. Citing the beauty of the world, she recalls a rain dance from her youth. Bursting with contagious, confident laughter like An empty bon-bon, my friend promises me that ‘depression gets better,’ and looks up at the toenail of a moon. ‘I’m afraid I’m losing you,’ I tell my Grandfather. Of course he doesn’t really listen, he just sits sullenly in his home of forty years, counting the cracks between each double-brick. I meet his worn, foggy blue eyes And peer, gently, into his soul. I notice how grandfather Clock of a man he is: all these careful ticks and compulsions inside a battered, elegant frame. Waiting restlessly, counting each tick. Words Jordan White Artwork Oliver White

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I may be broken Every morning I awake up with the feeling of hope. Hope that today will be a good day, that the black, blue and grey fog stays away. I am hopeful that the feelings of panic and not ever being good enough will be replaced. Replaced with the feeling of success and courage to go out into the world and be. Just be me. On days where the weight of depression is so heavy sucking the life right out of me. I am reminded of what my niece once said to me. Sitting on the grass a million miles away, my niece looks up at me with her big inquisitive blue eyes. My niece, she asks me “why do you look so sad Aunty?” I tell her that I am a little broken. She looks up at me and says, “you might be broken, but you are still beautiful to me”. I may have days where I am clawing my way up and out of the darkness that is surrounding me. Yet, that is where you will always find me. Why you may ask me? Because I may be broken, yet I am still beautiful. There may be days where I feel that I cannot move from the crushing weight that is upon me. Yet, you will always find me fighting through this dark debris. Why you may ask me? Because I may be broken, yet I am still beautiful. Every day is a struggle. I may stumble and I may fall and feel that I may just lose it all, yet I will always fight through it all. Why you may ask me? Because I may be broken, yet I am still beautiful. I may be broken, with cracks and all, yet I will always fight through it all. Because I am still beautiful. Words Leanne Windle Artwork Vinica Teng

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yet I am still beautiful

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Frances Cohen

Interview Christina Massolino Right: “Jaded� 2019, acrylic and ink on magazine print, 22cms x 30cms

Frances Cohen is a third-year Contemporary Art student at UniSA. Attending uni while struggling with anxieties can be exhausting, particularly for art students, as creativity is often extremely personal, causing you to feel even more vulnerable when attending classes or producing works for assessment. Frances is well versed in these experiences and has shown extreme resilience through seeking help and channelling anxieties into art.

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Left: “I’m Tired of Being The Person That Everyone Thinks That I Am”, 2020, acrylic and ink on magazine print, 30cms x 41cms

“I want new artists to see that there is no right way to be an artist. Just because you can’t paint like Heysen doesn’t mean you can’t paint; the ideas that underpin your work are more valuable than the technique.”


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How do your mental health experiences inform your art? My mental health is the filter through which I experience the world, so my art is informed by it because it comes from me. My therapist told me I live too much inside my own head; that I wear myself out thinking in circles. It can be hard for me to make sense of my thoughts because I have so many swirling around at once. So, I journal a lot to figure my shit out. While I’m writing, I start to notice recurring patterns in my thoughts and behaviours. These motifs are what I end up basing my artworks on. What has been your overall experience of attending art school while battling anxiety, particularly in relation to accessibility of services and class participation? I failed a lot of classes in my first year due to my inability to participate. I would make it 20 minutes into a two-hour class before my anxiety would get the better of me, but it also made me unable to reach out to anyone. I was going to be dropped from the program, but at the meeting they put my first Access Plan in place instead. It has made me miss out on a lot; I wanted to learn ceramics, but I was getting physically sick having to work in front of others, so I had to drop it. Do you think there’s a lot more students struggling with this than we realise? Definitely. I think, even though we are making incredible progress in opening up the conversation around mental health, there is still a lot of stigma attached to being the person going through it. I have found a lot of people are happy to be on the “listening end” of the conversation, but will pause when it comes to opening up about their own struggles. To add to that, mental health can make it hard to talk to people full stop. I was too anxious to talk to my teachers, so they couldn’t help with something they didn’t know about. You’ve become quite open in talking about your experiences. Was there a specific moment in attending art school where you felt you needed to be more open? I started my degree in 2015; in 2018 they put a contributor call out for that year’s mental health edition of Verse and I submitted a piece about my experiences. I received a couple of messages from people who read it and saw themselves in it. Knowing I wasn’t the anomaly gave me the confidence to be a bit more open. Then, I found that the more open I was, the more reciprocal people were. All I wanted in my first years was someone I could relate my experiences to, so I decided I would be that guy.

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I feel like no matter what course you do, struggling with anxieties and other mental illnesses can be extremely difficult. In my experience though, with art being so personal, it can be even more daunting to attend or share your works. Have you found this too? For sure. I really struggle with feeling inadequate; like I’m a fraud and I shouldn’t even be pursuing this. I have tried very hard to change my thinking, but I can’t seem to shake the fact that how I feel about my work and my ability is directly correlated to the praise and validation it receives from others. Which is terrifying, because art is so subjective. It doesn’t matter how many hours you put into creating something, not everybody is going to understand it and nobody is under any obligation to like it. How do you hope your art will help or impact viewers? I want new artists to see that there is no right way to be an artist. Just because you can’t paint like Heysen doesn’t mean you can’t paint; the ideas that underpin your work are more valuable than the technique. I hope my art encourages people to be more open and honest, with themselves and with each other. We are all messy and we are all just doing our best. Most importantly, I hope people who are struggling can find something to relate to in my writing or my weird art. I’m one of you, and I’m here for you.


Imagine

Left: “Speak Up” 2020, acrylic and ink on magazine print, 22cms x 30cms Right: “Hot Mess”, 2020, acrylic and ink on magazine print, 22cms x 30cms

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Nicola Sutcliffe

Interview Christina Massolino Right: “Embracing Growth (vessels 1, 2 and3)”, 2018, stoneware, dimensions variable, photographed by Nima Porkar

Nicola Sutcliffe is a ceramic artist determined to express self-growth through her art. She graduated from UniSA’s Contemporary Art degree in 2019, and is currently completing a Master of Design (Contemporary Art). During Nicola’s ceramics specialisation as part of her undergraduate degree, she created strange, yet beautiful, spiralling, bendy clay vessels that spill off tendrils and roots. These objects were Nicola’s way of expressing ‘sad spells’— artwork of reflection and self-growth. Nicola discusses the importance she places on sharing experiences around mental health and inspiring artistic evolution with us.

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Right: 2020, stoneware, 15cms x 6cms

“Ceramics has this flow that forces you to be gentle and calm with it. It’s taught me to let go of perfection and, by opening myself up to these imperfections and delightfully unpredictable surprises, I am much more content.”



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What is it about the quality and process of clay that is so therapeutic to you, particularly the hand building technique? What are you battling or working out through this? Being such a tactile person, I’m always drawn to touching things, so I find working with clay is a very calming process. It helps me express my emotions (clay therapy, if you will) and just be present with the clay and my thoughts. It can be a frustrating medium to work with but I always learn lessons from it. It’s my escape from the business and confusion of other aspects of life; somewhere I can organise my thoughts and often express them through the clay. You’ve mentioned to me previously that you experienced what you called at the time ‘sad spells’ during uni, and looking further back, high school too. Upon reflection, do you think these times were depression? If so, why did you find it easier to label them ‘sad spells’? Yes, these ‘sad spells’ were depression. I didn’t want to label them as depression because I didn’t feel they were ‘bad’ enough. I always thought of others who have worse depression than myself and didn’t think mine was valid. The reality is though, no matter how ‘bad’ or ‘not so bad’ you think they are, it’s still so important to acknowledge it and not compare it to others. Using the term ‘sad spells’ helped me then to not be overwhelmed by the word ‘depression’ but now it’s important for me to accept it as that. You previously worked with jewellery but switched to ceramics. How did this change affect you and your personality? I went to uni to study jewellery but my first ceramics elective changed my whole view of creating. Jewellery is a tedious process which appealed to my detail-oriented self, but it made me feel restricted. Ceramics has this flow that forces you to be gentle and calm with it. It’s taught me to let go of perfection and, by opening myself up to these imperfections and delightfully unpredictable surprises, I am much more content. You can’t control everything, so I enjoy the natural flow of ceramics and life. Have you ever accessed mental health services provided by UniSA, if so, what was that experience like? Yes, in my undergraduate course, I was seeing a UniSA counsellor. It was so refreshing to talk to someone external and receive guidance that had my best interests in mind. It was a safe space to be emotional in front of someone who could help identify my feelings and thoughts and give me processes to move through them. I’m a strong believer in being present with our emotions,

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we have them for a reason, and they’re all there to teach us something, so I listen to them, untangle them, and let myself feel them. My counsellor was amazing at helping me do this and helping me see how important this is. Is it sometimes too much to rely on your own art as your only source of help? As much as I love using art as my therapy for selfawareness, talking about my feelings and thoughts is just as important to me. Talking to friends, family, and people in mental health services addresses the issue in a way that working with clay can’t. I would, however, still recommend anyone to try clay therapy as well, whether it be stoneware, polymer, or straight from the earth. What are you currently doing in your clay practices, and what does the future as a ceramicist hold for you? I’m currently exploring themes of tactile therapy and making art more accessible to a broader range of people. In the future, I would love to teach classes (perhaps clay therapy) and have my own shop/cafe. At the moment, I’m just enjoying the present because who knows what the future holds!


Imagine

Above: 2018, stoneware, dimensions variable Below: 2020, stoneware, 28cm x 17cm


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Truc Truong

Interview Christina Massolino Right: “Archer (detail)�, 2019, pig intestines and ceramic, dimensions variable

Truc Truong is a talented artist with an unwavering voice. Since graduating from a Bachelor in Contemporary Art, Truc has been selected for the Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition (2020) and a resident at Hyphenated Projects (2020). As well as undertaking Honours in Art and Design (2020), Truc has blazingly erupted into the art scene. Through all these triumphs though, Truc has struggled with mental health issues, particularly relating to racism and cultural identity as a second-generation Vietnamese Australian, born and raised in Adelaide. It is these struggles which she explores through much of her art.

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Imagine

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Left: “Cheap Drunks (detail)”, 2019, book print and jetstar tape, dimensions variable

“In regard to anyone who may struggle with matters of colonisation, you will probably continually be met by people who don’t even think it’s real, but if it has been your experience, that is your truth, I hope you can find people who can walk with you in that space.”


Australia has a long history of racism since British invasion, particularly towards Asian individuals, refugees and immigrants e.g. White Australia Policy and ‘Yellow Fever’. Vietnam also has a history of French ‘ colonisation’. Have you experienced racism? If so, what does it look like, and do you think it holds ties to lasting effects of ‘colonisation’?

help, and we found a doctor who really cared about my physical and mental journey back to recovery. My doctor helped me recognise how experiences stemming from colonisation/racism had affected me; prior to this, I had always believed I had already worked through my trauma.

I have experienced and witnessed racism directed toward myself, family, friends and strangers. In saying that, the experience varies depending on the situation, sometimes it’s really obvious, and sometimes it’s subtle.

When I first started my journey through mental health, my doctor had prescribed me with anti-depressants and explained to me what was happening in my body and how the medication was helping me balance out my hormone levels. Even with the medication, he wanted me to understand that therapy and physical health were very important in this process and I shouldn’t be relying on the pills. The gym was mentioned in quite a few of our sessions but I had no interest, I’ve never had a good relationship with exercise. During this time, I was in my first year of Primary and Middle School Teaching and had chosen to enrol in Ceramics as an elective. From struggling to leave the house and always wanting to be by myself at home, I found myself in studio for 10-12 hours without even realising. My doctor laughed when I shared this with him, and he linked the gym to studio, something that my mind and body could exert energy into.

For example, an obvious experience I had happened while going on a walk with my dad. We were probably a 10-minute walk away from home when a car sped around the corner filled with boys, and before we could even register what was happening, we were getting egged and told to ‘go back to where we came from’. That is a really difficult memory for me because it was one of the first times I noticed the look of embarrassment on my dad’s face. I think for my dad, the issue wasn’t necessarily getting egged, it was that he couldn’t protect me from what he wanted so badly for me, which was to be considered a real Australian. A subtle experience, which still happens today, is being told, ‘you’re alright for an Asian.’ This reminds me of being in year 7 when a beautiful Polish girl came up to me and a few other Asian girls, with her fingers pushing down on her eyes and nose saying “my older cousin told me Asians are ugly because they have slanty eyes and flat noses”. For me, that’s just one of the many recognisable products of colonisation, it’s a comment that has been said by both sides, a very Eurocentric view of what is considered beautiful, or even normal. How has your experience of racism affected your mental health? I began to hate my Vietnamese heritage. I was embarrassed and ashamed of my family. I began my journey of wanting to become white and rejecting my Asian culture at a very young age. This didn’t only cause problems within me; it caused my family to argue over how to raise me in order to fit in, I would hear my parents argue about what food I should eat, what sports to play, what religion I should be in, just so that the world around me would accept me as a real Aussie. I definitely internalised these negative ideas and didn’t realise it had affected me until much later. In 2016, a few traumatic experiences had occurred, and I became very suicidal. It was a really upsetting and unexpected experience, sometimes I would be totally fine, and then suddenly I would find myself writing letters to my family and friends saying goodbye. I was lucky to have my sister recognise my change in character, she booked me in for

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How has that journey led you to become an artist?

You’ve mentioned to me previously in conversation that some Asian artists try to be ‘invisible’ by hiding their ethnicity within their art to become more successful. Why do some artists feel this way? Have you ever done this with your own art? It’s a very complex topic with so many different experiences and views attached to it. In an ideal world, coloured artists shouldn’t need to think about it, but many do. I can’t speak for others but from my understanding, using certain colours, textures, iconography and themes can put non-white artists into the category of ‘multi-cultural artist’ as opposed to just being considered an ‘artist’. I definitely took this on board in my first year of my arts degree; I would only look at what was recommended by my tutors, revering artist like Tuttle and Twombly, studying the way they worked and colours they used. I tried to be invisible for a while, steering away from the aesthetic that I grew up with and was surrounded by as I had internalised that everything at home was Asian, and therefore ugly and cheap. In 2019, our final year of undergrad, you won the ‘President of the Friends of South Australian School of Art Prize’ and were also selected to be in the Helpmann Academy Graduate exhibition. These are extremely honourable accomplishments; however, you have expressed to me that some people have said you won these because of the ‘diversity card’. How did this affect your mental health and confidence?


It was really hard to hear, and for a moment I wanted to throw in the towel and leave the arts. In terms of my mental health, I’ve had to work really hard at separating the criticism I’ve received for making what others consider tacky or cheap looking art. It’s still a process. I have found a really good group in Melbourne called Hyphenated Projects, and when my confidence is shot, I’ve been able to go to them and find a place of belonging. What do you hope to see more or less of in our contemporary arts society? Particularly in relation to galleries, arts organisations and arts education systems within Australia. I’ve had quite a few opportunities to see exhibitions with artists of colour, but I have rare access, especially living in SA, to organisations, management, and tutors who I can look to for advice on my work and themes. You would think it’s diverse, and I’ve had tutors mention they believe it is, but it doesn’t match up. Only this year 2020, during class, I had a couple of people tell me my research proposal needed to go in a different direction because the arts is the one of the most diverse sectors in Australia. “You guys are winning stuff.” It’s not about winning. When will people realise wanting people of colour in positions of leadership is not a competition? Your resilience and strength is genuine and moving. What do you wish to say to our reader who may struggle with some of the themes we’ve discussed? How important is reaching out for help and sharing your experience? It’s important to reach out for help, but I know it’s not the easiest, and sometimes even possible to do. There is hope in the middle of everything, hold on! I would be careful of telling someone to ‘get over it and get help’, everyone’s experience is different. In regard to anyone who may struggle with matters of colonisation, you will probably continually be met by people who don’t even think it’s real, but if it has been your experience, that is your truth, I hope you can find people who can walk with you in that space. Above: ““Fears, Tears and Careers (detail)”, 2019, mixed media, dimensions variable Right: “The God of Prosperity”, 2020, acrylic on plastic tablecloth, 110 x 240cm

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Songs to enjoy in the sunshine

Every once in awhile there’s a cracker winter afternoon where the sun comes out. Smoosh on your beanie and head outside to soak up the sunny rays with these chilled out songs of self-love and appreciation. Life’s good, homies. Playlist Anna Day Photography Christopher Filosi

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Playlist

Thelma Plum Electric Light Orchestra Israel Kamakawiwo’ole Japanese Wallpaper Nina Simone Kanye West, DJ Premier Norah Jones Bobby McFerrin Corinne Bailey Rae Alex the Astronaut Gloria Gaynor Skegss

These Days Don’t Bring Me Down Over the Rainbow Breathe In Feeling Good Everything I Am Carry On Don’t Worry Be Happy Put Your Records On Happy Song I Am What I Am L.S.D Follow us at versemag on Spotify.

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Interview Nina Phillips Artwork supplied by batyr

In an Australian classroom of 30 students, seven will be dealing with a mental health issue, yet only two will reach out for support, leaving the other five suffering in silence. This is largely due to societal stigmas surrounding mental ill-health. Founded in 2011, batyr is a youth mental health organisation, operating nation-wide, that was named after a talking elephant in Kazakhstan. It aims to raise awareness about the “elephant in the room”— mental ill-health stigma—and empower young people to lead mentally healthy lives. As someone who thrives helping others, undertaking a degree in social work at UniSA was the natural progression for Caitlin O’Connor following high school. Currently in her second year of university, Caitlin is the Mental Wellbeing Director of batyr UniSA. And although 2020 has thrown quite a few academic curve balls at her, she has managed to not only stay afloat during this coronavirus-riddled semester but thrive and maintain a sense of normalcy by connecting with friends and family. As borders begin to open and pubs regain the pintclinking ruckus of bevvie fiends, Caitlin believes in the importance of finding quality self-care strategies and strengthening connections with those closest. Verse caught up with Caitlin to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped her year thus far and efforts batyr UniSA have taken to operate as a team, albeit online.

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Caitlin O’Connor


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Can you tell us about yourself: Where did you grow up? What are you studying at uni?

I grew up in a small, quiet suburb by the beach. It’s awesome! I’ve got a little pub and a café on my street, which is great. Yeah, I don’t really want to live anywhere else right now. I’m in my second year of a Bachelor of Social Work at the moment. I’m minoring in children, families and society. I’m loving it. I’ve met so many really cool people, I’m learning something new every day and it’s really shaped me into who I am today—without sounding too cheesy.

What made you decide to study social work?

I actually went to see a social worker a couple years ago, at Headspace. She was super amazing, so warm and attentive. I felt really listened to and heard, and thought, “I’d love to help other people feel like this”. I’ve always been interested in mental health and wellbeing too, so I thought I’d just give it a go.

How have you found the online classes this semester?

It’s okay. It took me a while to get the hang of it. Once I did, I think I adapted to it quite well. My tutors were really great, and all my classes remained interactive. But it took a lot of motivation to keep going. There’s lots of distractions at home.

Looking forward to going back on campus?

Oh, definitely!

How and why did you get involved in batyr?

Last year, I went to a career advisor at UniSA. I wasn’t sure what kind of volunteer opportunities I should be looking at to “enhance” my career opportunities and she suggested batyr. I hadn’t heard of them before, but I applied for the 2020 student exec and got an interview. I wasn’t expecting anything out of it. I thought I was so out of my depth. I was super anxious about it and nearly didn’t go, but I’m so glad I did. I’m learning so much from being in batyr. It’s a great organisation and team environment.

Can you tell me more about the organisation?

And it operates nation-wide?

What’s your role?

Was it difficult to adapt to the online format?

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We’re a group that aims to promote positive, safe and healthy conversations around mental health. We promote services such as Head Space, Beyond Blue and UniSA support services. So, we’re not a “service” per se ourselves. We’re just there to let students know that different mental health services exist and it’s totally okay to use them. And that it’s okay not to feel okay. Yeah, creating a space for students to talk about [mental health], comfortably and safely. Yeah, there’s student executives all over, not just at UniSA. We operate nationally from Sydney and provide workshops for people that, I guess, want to be heard— who need guidance and support on where and how to get help. The Being Heard workshops empower people. Then there’s the Being Heard Pathways workshop— they’ve just introduced it. It’s for young people that are unemployed and maybe haven’t finished school. They’re both normally in-person but are now online. Originally, I was the Volunteer and Engagement Director. My job was to engage students with batyr on campus, through on-campus events, and to get volunteers to help with these events. Yeah, helping to plan events and of course, being an on-campus advocate for mental health. But since everything became digital, we developed new roles. At the moment, I’m the Mental Wellbeing Director. So, all of the mental health and wellbeing content on our social media, that’s content I come up with. We’re also doing digital events now. We ran one about a month ago, the Feast of Strangers. At the moment we’re posting content about exam stress. Yeah, it was actually. It’s been really difficult to figure out how to engage students online. We have an event coming up for O-Week for study period 5 so we’re trying to figure out how to engage students who, not only may never have been to UniSA before, but may never have heard of batyr before. So, it’s about putting ourselves in new students shoes and figuring out what they might want.


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I think, with the whole COVID-19 isolating, it’s been really hard on everyone individually as well. Watching other exec members going through it and not being able to give them a hug or anything. We’ve really been there for each other and acted as support systems while we’ve been operating digitally. What’s been the most rewarding thing you’ve experienced so far with batyr?

Definitely us growing as a team. It’s been challenging, having to operate digitally, but we’ve come together. our friendships have really grown. And through something so strange and unexpected! I think it’s the teamwork.

How are you keeping connected with other exec members?

We run our meetings through Zoom now, which has been different. We play Jackbox games sometimes and we’ve always had Slack and a group chat on Facebook. It’s been kind of fun to find new ways to interact.

Would you say those different interactions are silver linings of working online?

Totally, social media is great for this kind of stuff. I’ve also discovered a new outlet. Canva—we use it a lot to develop our social media posts, but I’ve not been comfortable using it. I’m not a design person at all. But I’ve had the time to learn and be creative.

And how are you practicing self-care during this time?

I’m really family-oriented. So, for me, it’s all about making time to see with family and friends and keeping in contact with them. I also love—random—but I also love cleaning. I think now is the really perfect time to clean, so I’ve been doing a heap of cleaning and organising, things like that. I’ve been doing Pilates a lot as well, which is nice. Just trying to tap into things as much as I can that I was doing before. Keeping that little bit of normalcy.

How are you seeing this pandemic impacting other students?

It’s been really subtle, I think. I went out to lunch with a friend who studies with me the other day and she was saying, “you know, I don’t actually know of any good selfcare strategies”. There’s all this buzz about self-care and implementing it into your life, but she hasn’t really found anything practical or relevant to her. Some people aren’t exactly sure of how best to take care of themselves. This is something that we’ve been focusing at batyr. Like last month, with our Insta takeover of the UniSA Instagram page. At the moment, re-integration anxiety back into our social lives is a little bit daunting too. I know I’m feeling that. We’ve been hibernating for four months and now we’re expected to jump back into this new norm. It’s a little bit still unknown. Maybe we need to focus on some ways to manage that stress and anxiety, return to our daily routines.

Any advice for someone who’s struggling to find that sense of routine?

Try and write things down. Make lists at the beginning of each day. I find having a visual of what I need to do or what study I need to get done really helps to deescalate stress and anxiety. I think writing down a list or even drawing it at the beginning of each day or week, whatever works best for you, is a really non-timeconsuming way to get on top of things early.

For our taboo column this edition we’re talking about stigmas around men’s mental health. Could you speak to this topic a little bit?

I recently attended a suicide prevention summit and they spoke on this topic. They said the first thing we need to do is to rid the stigma that men don’t seek help. They absolutely do. Men are seeking help, but they’re slipping through the cracks. There’s research that suggests we don’t necessarily need more mental health services either. We just need better equipped services and clinicians. And we need to start acknowledging and normalising conversation around mental health and physical warning signs. That’s the number one thing: awareness. But I think we also need to be sensitive about what mental ill health means for transgender men, gay man, men with disabilities, indigenous men, men of other cultures, and not just that straight white man we think of when we think of treating mental illness in men. We need to have more of an intersectional approach.

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Interview

Are conversations around intersectionality in mental health becoming more common?

Totally. Anxiety, depression or feeling down­—it’s not the same for anyone. No matter how you identify. But cultural factors do have a role in defining what mental health means for an individual. It’s definitely something that needs to be incorporated into treatment as more of a collaborative process and less of a top-down “I know what you need” type stance.

What’s next for batyr UniSA?

At the moment we’re focussing on the O-Week event for students starting midyear. We’re unsure at the moment whether that’ll be online or in-person, but definitely keep an eye on our social media to find out more about it. We’ll be posting about it soon. We also post on there when we’re looking for volunteers. RUOK Day is coming up as well, so definitely check-in with us via Instagram or Facebook. Support batyr UniSA via their social medias. Instagram: @batyr.unisa Facebook: @batyrUniSA

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Mental illness |

Edition 35 2020

Words Jordan White Artwork Oliver White

Content warning: This piece discusses suicide and may be triggering for some readers.

M

y father was many things; placid, artistic, caring. But he was also mentally ill. He lived with major depression and borderline personality disorder. These illnesses were a part of him; they didn’t make him. But the sad reality is, in the end, they were internalised enough to break him. During an episode, he sought help at a hospital but was turned away as many people with mental illnesses are. It was summer and I still wonder whether or not the sun was really shining that day. Alone and distressed, he allegedly robbed a video store of $120 with a screwdriver. He died by hanging at the Adelaide Remand Centre six weeks later, still pending trial for an apparent petty crime. I’m not here to point fingers at the cracks in our mental health systems or society. And I know it’s not great to pave the past in ifs and hypotheticals. But maybe that one bad episode could have ended differently, had mental illnesses been less stigmatised. The worst part is my Mum never knew about his illness. Naive, some might say, but mental illnesses were so shameful that Dad couldn’t show that part of himself, even to the people he loved. Society deemed his suffering shameful and so he suffered silently. For far too long, mental illnesses have been stigmatised and hidden by society. In the middle ages, people with mental illnesses were apparently possessed by the devil and therefore burned at the stake. In the nineteenth century, asylums designed to nurse the ‘insane’ back to health gained popularity. During World War II, hundreds of thousands of people with schizophrenia were sterilised or killed in Nazi Germany.


Taboo

All of these horrific circumstances have operated around the assumption that people with mental illnesses are inherently ‘different’ or ‘wrong’. This is where the stigma—a societal connotation of disgrace and shame—stems from. Some view people with mental illnesses as black sheep, a mark on society.

I mean not to undermine the progress society has made towards breaking mental health stigmas. We have national days like R U OK? day. There’s brilliant organisations like Beyond Blue, who educate people about mental illnesses to help break down misconceptions. But we still have a long way to go.

Indeed, our understanding of mental illnesses has certainly come a long way since the grim instances mentioned above. Maybe society has certainly come a long way since the early 00s, too, but the stigma lingers.

Any suicide rate is far too high, and outdated gender stereotypes persist, although we know they do more harm than good.

People are still defined by their illnesses. Words like ‘psycho’ and ‘crazy’ are thrown around in the comment sections of social media. In pop culture, characters with mental illnesses are often portrayed as violent or harmful (look no further than Psycho or Split). Painting people with mental illnesses as ‘the other’ is not trivial. The unfortunate consequence is people who are too afraid to speak out; people suffering silently because they’re too ashamed of how society views their illness. I want you to imagine if cancer was stigmatised. Imagine a person with cancer not seeking medical help because they’re too ashamed of their illness. Some might even choose to suffer in silence, feeling shameful and hopeless over something they have no control over. Sounds ridiculous, right?

We need to make more progress to end the stigma. Fixing the problem begins by acknowledging that there is one. Accept mental illnesses as normal and valid. Remind people that it’s okay to not be okay, and never be afraid to talk about your emotions. Next time you ask someone ‘how are you?’ ask them again: ‘how are you, really?’ Remember: Sometimes the hardest conversations are the ones most worth having. Maybe if we can begin talking more about mental health more, and slowly eroding the nasty stigma that surrounds it, my father’s suicide won’t just be another statistic. If this piece has raised issues for you, please call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

For many, it’s still a sad reality. People are discriminated against or reluctant to seek help because their mental illness is stigmatised by society. 20 per cent of Australians aged 16 to 85 experience mental illness any year, according to the Black Dog Institute. 54 per cent of these people do not access any treatment, perhaps because they’re too ashamed or scared to. It goes without saying that a disorder left untouched cannot get any better. Each day, six Australians die by suicide. There are a further thirty attempts. Every day. Someone loses a child, a parent, a sibling. Men are particularly vulnerable. The suicide rate of males is more than three times greater than females, according to ABS data. Men are known for bottling things up and are less likely to seek help. We’ve all heard it. It’s not “blokey” to show emotion. Men don’t cry. Firstly, fuck these outdated gender stereotypes and the notion of masculinity. And fuck fragile masculinity, too. Of course men cry. Everyone does, we all feel emotion and struggle from time to time. It’s a part of the human condition. 35


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Artwork Abdurrahman Mohammadi

Everyone has a story. Humans of UniSA is a deep dive into the lives of our fellow students to unravel the threads of their personal history, quiet ambitions, and their hopes, worries and joys. Take a fleeting glance into the vivid lives we pass by each day in the hallways and classrooms of UniSA.

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|

Edition 35 2020

W

hen I was a kid, all my spare time was writing books. So, I was like ‘well, journalism seems like the only degree that I can get academically where I can get the creative side as well.’ I started off writing the normal, usual kids’ ones but then as Twilight and everything came out I used to write fantasy ones but yeah my dad always said I was like the next J.K. Rowling. He was born in Scotland. He was 15 years older than my mum when they got married. When I was maybe seven, he started drinking a lot, and his dad was an alcoholic, and his brother was also an alcoholic, so it was just in the genes, unfortunately. I think it started when he lost a lot of jobs and turned to drinking and from there it just escalated from when I was about seven to when he passed away when I was 15. So, it was seven or eight years of just pure hell with him. I think I was angry a lot. My whole life at the start, it was very much trying to be understanding—trying to understand alcoholism as a disease. I remember being 11 and sitting in an AA meeting with my mum because she would go to them to understand how to help him and then I would also go to try and support her. And I remember sitting in this room with all these recovered and current alcoholics, and I think they were distraught that someone so young was sitting in a room with them trying to understand such a complex disease. And that’s what we always said, ‘it’s a disease, alcoholism is a disease’, but when he went to rehab and then booked himself out that’s when it felt like that is not a fucking disease, that’s a choice. I think angsty little Anastasia was very angry about that, all the time. And then, of course, we didn’t have my dad anymore, like, it wasn’t him. And everyone was always like ‘your dad was so great, your dad is amazing’, and I was like ‘I don’t really remember him.’ I only know seven years of my life with him, and I don’t really know what he was like without the alcohol because him drunk was the only person I knew, and I didn’t like him. I can only imagine, now that I’m older, how he felt not being able to be who he wanted to be and having that addiction just pulling him under. He couldn’t get out of it, and there was no getting out of it. When he passed away, it was almost like, not a sigh of relief, but we didn’t have to think about if he was alright anymore because he was just gone. We moved out a couple of years before he passed away and I was working at Kmart. And I remember my mum had Aunty Lucy in the car and I was like ‘oh! Aunty Lucy what is up?’ and I got in the car in the undercover carpark at Tea Tree Plaza. We drove to get out then Aunty Lucy just pulled over and they both looked at me. Mum got out of the car and then she put her hands on my shoulders and I just knew immediately.

My mum, yeah. We don’t always get along but she is my role model. If she was stressed about money or if she was stressed about my dad she did not let us see that. I commend her for that because I think if she added that onto my shoulders, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it. I think she did amazing and still to this day if she’s struggling with anything you can see it but she won’t lay it on me. You know, I lost my dad and my brother lost his dad but she also lost a husband who she thought she was going to spend the rest of her life with. I don’t know who it is harder on. Oh god, oh, there was this one that I wrote I think her name was Ava and she went away to her auntie’s house and her aunty turned out to be angel. Because I was obsessed with the Fallen books, so, prime Twilight time. And you know the book Hush, Hush? I loved that book. Oh my god. I don’t know how her aunty was an angel— fuck you. Ask eleven-year-old me, I don’t know. I wrote 250 pages of this book and it’s just sitting on my hard drive and that is about as extensive as it got. I don’t think I have the creativity anymore. Yeah. I don’t think so. I’m reading again. I just bought a Kindle because I haven’t read a serious book since high school. Yeah. I used to go through two books a week. Nose in my book all the time. I wanted to be reading and I wanted to be writing but I wasn’t. But I’m reading Eleanor Olliphant is Completely Fine. Did you like it? I’m halfway through. Yeah, I’m getting that vibe. She seems like she’s fucked up. And when she asks for Mrs Brown because she’s at Bobby Brown. She’s so socially awkward—I love it. And when I’m reading it, I’m like ‘I wouldn’t be able to write like this’ and I think that’s what puts me off now. Maybe one day I’ll write a book. I’ll put you in my acknowledgements. And I think the other thing is with my dad because he thought I was the next JK Rowling—yes, so bad. It breaks my heart because I loved her but she’s sucky. The fact that she felt the need to be vocal about being transphobic and now she’s ruined her entire fan base. I read this article on Buzzfeed about trans people who have Harry Potter tattoos and now they’re completely detached from it because they said ‘Harry Potter was my life growing and made me feel like I belong somewhere and now the person who wrote it is transphobic.’ I can’t even imagine what that would be like. Hectic. Anyway, don’t want to be the next JK Rowling because she’s transphobic. But my dad was a writer. He used to write poems for my mum and they were amazing. Seriously amazing. That’s where I get all my creativity from. He used to read books after books. You should see my front room, it’s covered in three massive bookcases. That is all he did is read books. I reckon until the day he died, which I obviously didn’t see him a lot, but I reckon he would’ve been reading. Interview and Photography Anna Day

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Humans of UniSA

Anastasia Monaghan

Bachelor of Journalism and Professional Writing & Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing and Literature)

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James Karas Bachelor of Business (Design and Marketing)

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Humans of UniSA

I

enrolled in Business Management, but I’m changing it up next year to do Business, Design and Marketing. It’s a business degree... with... brackets. Basically, I realised that dedicating my career so far to hospitality hasn’t really paid off, and I—in I trying to get out of hospitality and move into a sales-based job, or repping, something like that, trying to move into the 9-5 life—I found that I just wasn’t even getting a look-in with my resume, despite having a lot of experience. Twenty years of experience at management level hospitality, you know I was going up against people with degrees and, ‘sales experience,’ and I mean you can argue that hospitality is sales, but unfortunately, hospitality doesn’t really have much validity in other people’s eyes outside of hospo, which is really frustrating. So yeah, I made the leap. If I don’t do this now I pretty much will be stuck in hospitality forever. I’d always aspired to own my own business but you know, seeing a number of businesses that I was on board with through the opening and whatnot I realised what a struggle it is, how much is involved and how much money you actually need behind you to do it. I didn’t have any money behind me. I’ve had debt. So, I thought ‘put that on the back burner and try to get a degree.’ I think, there is still that kind of desire to create a space and an offering and an experience within hospitality, but I think I need to step out of hospitality for a bit and look at doing it potentially later when I’m in a better financial position or when I’ve established myself in another career path. I think at the moment I’d just be doubling down—putting everything in on trying to start up a business now, if I was to continue down that path... it’s kind of all or nothing, you know what I mean? It’s too much of a gamble to take right now. Despite everything that’s happened with COVID, I’ve only ever done one thing, and I feel like I’ve done it well but now I’ve got an opportunity to kind of diversify and try and step into other fields and gain some other knowledge and things like that, which will all, in turn, help me in the long run if I do decide to come back to starting my own business. I’ve actually got a pretty clear goal as to what I want to achieve at the end of it. I think the real reason I’ve always wanted to have my own business is to create something, create a space and a name and a brand, an environment, an offering that people can come and enjoy, but it’s never really been about me wanting to wait tables and carry plates and scrub dishes and all that stuff seven days a week.

that, and I made some connections through doing that which I hope I can tap into, and I’d like to build a career out of doing that for other people. The other parts of my personality?! Um, I don’t know... music is a big thing, are we just talking personal stuff? Okay. Like, music is massive for me, and that’s also another reason I wanted to have my own space, so I can just crank the music that I like, you know? One of the best parts of when I was, well essentially the general manager of Mimasu, I had total autonomy of how I ran that business and I used to play my music in there and customers would comment all the time and it gave me such a thrill to know that people were digging my music. I’ve been collecting records for a couple of years now hoping one day maybe I’ll be a DJ but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen... just at home, living room DJ... I think I’ve chosen hospitality, and stuck with it so long, because I’m a people person. I like interacting with people, I like meeting people, you know? I’ve been able to build good relationships and good rapports with people over the years who have only ever just been customers. You know, customers who come into the cafes or restaurants that I’ve worked at and for some reason they remember me, and when they see me somewhere else they recognise me and say hello. Walking down the street in Adelaide, everywhere I go I bump into someone that I know somewhere and most of the time it’s because I’ve served them somewhere. I guess I’ve taken a lot of pride in that, that I’ve been able to build those relationships, and you know it kind of made sense for me to ‘capitalise’ on that if you want to talk in those terms. When I thought about having my own business and being the face of something... you know I feel like I’ve built up something over the years. I’m a recognisable character to a lot of people. If I could be the face of something I thought that might give me an advantage. I don’t know. I guess I kind of like the attention! I like being recognised by people, I like people! I also like recognising people. I’ll always stop and have a chat with someone in the street, that’s just, that’s who I am I guess. Interview and Photography Emma Horner

Through some past experiences, when I was on board to set up a venue for someone else, I’ve had the opportunity to oversee the fit-out and the branding and you know, establishing some of the initial processes and whatnot involved in opening up a hospitality venue and I loved

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Edition 35 2020

I

was born in Ethiopia. I moved to Australia when I was nine months old. I went back to Ethiopia when I was three. I haven’t been back since. I went to Canada and Alaska on my 18th birthday. I went to Cambodia a few months later to do—what do you call it—I was working in hospitals and such, like community work. And then I went into Asia a year later with my best mate. We went to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia again. And then I went to Peru about a year ago now. When I was in Japan, I was probably there longer than anywhere else. It feels more homely, I guess. It felt like the safest place I’ve been, ever. Now it’s winter, I will look out my window, and it’s always raining and I’m like ‘that kind of reminds me of Tokyo,’ because I lived in Tokyo for four weeks. That was the first time I saw snow, and the first time I’ve properly lived out of home. I was a bit more independent. Japan is really important to me because it was a bit of a step. It was my first time backpacking, my first time doing a lot of stuff. Also, I made a great bunch of contacts and friends who are also into writing and creative works. I was working with Global Hobo, which is cool. My best mate just moved to Geelong, so I want to go there and hang out with him for a bit. When talking about proper travel, I’ve always wanted to go to Jordan and Egypt. Because you know, everyone goes through their Egyptology phase when they’re a kid. Also, one of my favourite movies is Indiana Jones and they shot a lot of that in Jordan so, why not! We’re always really open with each other. One of my favourite parts of my friend group is that they don’t really hold back, and not in a bad way. Like, you can be as real as possible around them and it’s a really friendly environment. One of my best friends, she studies psychology and she runs this little mental health blog, Embrace The Mess, by the way, if I’m going to plug anything. It’s streams of consciousness and thoughts, and being active about how you’re feeling and stuff. That’s always empowering. It’s always great to talk about how you’re feeling. I’ve never worried about my mental health because I know that I can open up to people. It’s been hard for some people, I know. But the more you branch out, and connect with others outside of school, and become more of the person you’re meant to be, the more comfortable you will be being able to express yourself. I like being able to hang out with myself sometimes. Like I said, talking to my friends about stuff, that is super healthy. But sometimes I just need time for myself. I’ll go for a long hike for a day, or go to the park and read a book, or listen to music. My favourite things? I went through this phase when I was a kid when I read a lot, like my room is basically a

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library now. After that, I had eye surgery so I couldn’t read for a little bit, so I started getting into music. After music, I got into film. One of my favourite books is probably Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, a big reason why I’m interested in journalism, because of how crazy you can make it. I’m always finding new music. One of my favourite performers is Bon Iver, who I got to see live in Tokyo, which was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I really love rom coms, actually. But not like weird Matthew McConoughey early 2000s movies, but like proper rom coms. Like 500 Days of Summer or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, things like that. I think film or art, in general, is about the human condition. And the best way you can find out about the human condition is through romance and how people develop through that. What influences me? A lot of the time I like writing after I’ve travelled. Because obviously if you’ve been in another world for a while, that gives you inspiration. Well. My thoughts are pretty—pardon the pun—but they’re pretty black and white. I can’t really think anything more to it; it’s pretty straightforward because it is my life. It’s also my life that I’m having to protest for, actually. So, when I think about BLM, like when I was saying to my friend the other day, I’m not sure exactly where I belong in this argument. I’m not African-American, I’m Australian, but I’m not Indigenous. So, what am I fighting for? It’s pretty rough. I was saying to a friend the other day, you know, I didn’t realise how much this affects me. But I can’t help but think about the cycle of racism that has filtered through my life. What I have experienced here, is people saying racist things and not realising they’re racist. They’re just being stubborn, or not educated. It’s not like people are going out of their way to be a horrible person, which isn’t to say that hasn’t happened, but a lot of the times it’s not realising how racist they’re sounding. Don’t say ‘I understand’ because you don’t. You can say ‘I don’t understand, but I will help.’ It’s just knowing what is right, and what’s wrong, and doing something about it. Rather than just sitting there on the sidelines. Love. Pretty much. That’s cheesy, but I always love watching the movie Love Actually. Like I said, I love rom coms! But how love actually is everywhere. That’s what gives me hope. The majority of things in life aren’t pushed by hate. They’re pushed by love. And even if it’s a bad thing which is being pushed, at least they’re pushing it because they love something or are passionate about something. Rather than ‘I hate that person so I’m going to be like that, it’s I love that thing so I’m going to be like that.’ Interview Jordan White Photography Georgia Ristivojevic


Humans of UniSA

Nahum Gale

Bachelor of Journalism and Professional Writing & Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing and Literature)

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The love within sinners

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When all that is holy had forsaken them they looked to each other and built their own religion Treating their bodies like the cathedrals they couldn’t step in on their knees they prayed to a God who’d finally listen They built a city of angels on the backs of their demons and kissed hymns along scars to the melody of freedom From their lips broke their final confession: “Your soul is my God your body my cathedral only in our sin could I finally heal” Words Kate Newman Photography Christopher Filosi

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i wear the scars of separation on every surface of my skin, buried deep within my pores rests wells of devastation and pools of desperation. there are well worn tracks of worry, ridges of broken promises and shattered dreams so deep fear rests comfortably in the ruts of melancholy. there are mountains built upon my greatest torments that cast the shadows of doubts and discontent through the valleys of woe and floods of sorrow threaten to drown the anguish trapping trauma in the grotto of my soultreading along the trails of deprivation

seized by the throat and strangled by irritation, a body plagued with fury, trapped by the grinding stress and caught in the continuous loop of problems and punishment. vulnerability cowers in the corner burrowing into my heart, while negativity makes its home in the furrows of my impatience, all the while animosity builds and fills the caves with resentment, leading to cycles of self-loathing that have you choking on the venom of hatred and antipathy, leading to self-harm... and hatred manifests itself, overwhelming and overtaking sense. there are caverns haunted by my woes and rimples of vexation

dripping into puddles composed of dread, and swathes of trepidation vacate against rims of painful agitation, overcome by the anticipation of danger. guilt hangs off my frame like a second skin, plastered by my shame. upon these wrinkling seams of terror sees thread through needle eye piercing skin, running train tracks sealing bloody woundsfor every scar there is a thin line of stitches where someone has fracked through my body’s armour to repair the irreparable woundwar wounds that only bleed to remind me of the pain of separation; the thieving of

scars of separation 46

Words Tabitha Lean Artwork Oliver White


time that can never be returned. even at the day’s end where the earth in my bones returns to the ground, where my ashes turn to dust and my carbon meets compost and I know days no more, that long and lonely rest the only reprieve from sleepless nights and pacing anger, sweating stresses and itching worries, even then I will not be healed, even then I will not be whole, even then I will not be free, of the scars of separation.

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one / two / three

Poetry

i / despondency bring me today in a brown paper bag. lean it up softly beside last night’s bottle; gently – carefully so you don’t wake me. come and watch the rain fall slowly with me while i think myself into oblivion; quietly – carefully so you don’t break me. ii / vicissitudes heaven exists in the afternoon. a cup of tea on the counter, the garden untouched. swans birthed from bills and crinkled back again on the rosewood table. television whispering softly enough, rain and soft moonlight creeping through, the windows ajar, clouds angelic, days slow and lazy. i’ve seen the resting sun, the future and all, we were youthful; vulnerable. i was alive, please take me there. iii / ambiguity nobody warned me these days were never ending; so dizzying, lovable nowhere but from a distance. nobody told me life is this fragile, fleeting, thing; head swimming, stomach sinking, this free-falling kind of feeling. this endless echo of ambiguity, because we’re all thinking, feeling, fragile beings.

Words Jordan White Artwork Oliver White

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Free help with your tax return* Tax help appointments for UniSA students available City West every Monday from 27July - 19 Oct City East every Wednesday from 29 July - 21 Oct

Find out more

USASA.sa.edu.au/TaxHelpBooking *Eligibility criteria applies.

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my mind is a fish bowl my mind is a fish bowl / an aquarium whirlpool, compounding miniature maelstroms of raging tides / violent caressing’s of the glass walls and barnacles suckling chill panes / and a great pain would sweep over in ocean waves / with a rusted anchor, in chains, and harnessed to my membrane, plummeted / deep below, (deep, deep, deep below) where the goldfish flowed / a cavernous hold, where sealions would stray far from home / and the only blood was cold and blue / and the hearts of one octopi beat hourly for I / I and all / all under pressure from the great absent deep / the black hole trench that swallowed us, a single piece / a migraine clutch on the metal tin can of a submarine, leagues alone / alas, he was alone / lost at sea / the lonely submariner, kid scuba diver who resembled a far off astronaut / too far gone, with the glow worm stars, running milky ways through tremor currents / and a chemical reaction ushered somewhat a slow sinking / down to a seabed that seemed almost infinite / and a silver pool of misplaced oxygen dripped back to the surface / torn away from the bronze sphere of one oxygen mask that eroded so clear and so so / and it was so hard to breathe / it was so hard to breathe / so hard to see those goldfish, up there in them reeds, were jaguar sharks / appraising a life aquatic / more-orless, a victory rose / dribbling down a vast puddle / something you could call the transatlantic cosmic / or simply a fish bowl / so simply a fish bowl / with a crack crying down its walls / as I hoped so desperately to escape it’s suffocating hold / it’s winterish cold and lack of an end / its lack of an end / its lack of an end / its lack of an end / its lack of an end / its lack of … / pardon me / pardon me and my stream of consciousness as it yet again flows down into the sea / I see it now, the stream / the stream from iris taps / left on over midnight, so they trickle down to the bowl / and overflow / oh dear one, they overflow / and it felt good to see it leak / see the fishbowl shattered, before it did so / because my room was not built for the sea / and, I thought this all, laying quietly on my linen seabed / listening to whale songs, the echoes of samskeyti / like a sonar, crying to the blue / and the blue drowning it all

Words Nahum Gale Photography Angela Compagnone

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How do you drink your tea?

Can I just say you’re tea-rrific? Puns aside, I’m writing this at the pointy-end of the semester and things have been a lot lately. Protests, pandemics, ever polarising politics. Maybe checking the news constantly doesn’t help, but most days my mind is a riot. I recently read The Book of Ichigo Ichie by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. That wonderful little olive book introduced me to the idea of making the most of each fleeting moment, and chanoyu—the way of tea—wherein one consumes tea ritually and mindfully. I’m still working on the former, but mindfully sipping a cup of tea at the end of each frenzied day has become a ritual. It helps me escape it all, at least for a little while. So, whether you’re in need of creativi-tea, want to feel like royal-tea, or need a little positivi-tea, I’m here to spill the tea on… well, tea. Words Jordan White Artwork Emma Horner

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Review

Chai Tea Tea leaf rating: Exotic. Spicy. Need a nightcap? Add a splash of whiskey. Enjoy it in the bathtub, before the rising sun, or spilling everywhere from your keep cup as you frantically run after the train. Mmm, fragrant. As for chai tea’s inbred cousin, the chai latte? Don’t even chai and convince me, brew. Adding so much milk to so many spices was a steep in the wrong direction. At least you chai-d.

Matcha Tea leaf rating: Oh matcha, where have you been all my life? A fine powder of green tea leaves, this silky smooth blend has enough caffeine to keep you going without the added coffee-induced anxiety. Check out Phat Coffee on Hindley for a mean soy matcha latte. Have fun paying $6.60, though.

Earl Grey Tea leaf rating: Described as ‘heaven-sent’ on the label, and ‘like the scrapping from a dirty floor’ by Karen B on ProductReview, this tea is average at best. Meek and mild, legend says it can never be brewed the same twice. Stay away from the Twinings Earl Grey blend. In fact, stay away from Earl Grey altogether. Save yourself $3, drink your own piss*. It’ll be the same temperature and might hopefully taste like something.

English Breakfast Tea leaf rating: Everyone has their English Breakfast moment. Mine is sharing a tea with my late grandmother before the humming heater every Thursday growing up. Oh, the nostalgia. Anyway… you can’t really go wrong with this timeless classic.

KOMBUCHA Tea leaf rating: There’s obviously a correlation between the rise of this ‘drink’, and Melbourne losing its place as the most livable city. If earl grey tastes like piss, kombucha tastes like the smell of mouldy skunk piss. I really can’t comprehend why people drink this. Invited to a party you’d rather not be at? Nothing says fuck you like a DIY kombucha kit clad in the cheapest, nastiest bow you can find. Trust me. 53


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The signs according to Bojack Horseman Artwork Emma Horner Words Nina Phillips (an existential nihilist astrologer)

“I need you to tell me that I’m a good person”

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Horoscopes

Aries Mar 21 - Apr 19

“When you look at someone through rose-coloured glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.” Much like employing beloved character actress Margo Martindale to sabotage your friend’s rock opera, learning to recognise negative forces in your life may seem like an overly complicated and perilous mission. However, it’s important you do and we’re rooting for you Aries!

Taurus Apr 20 - May 20

“It takes a long time to realise how truly miserable you are, and even longer to realise it doesn’t have to be that way.” Embrace your inner Cuddlywhiskers this month with a bit of introspection. Ask yourself, wassup bitches?

Gemini May 21 - June 20

“Well, that was another in a long series of regrettable life choices.” Ah Gemini, don’t beat yourself up. A regrettable life choice today is a guiding force for tomorrow! Tell those annoying voices in your head to go suck a dick, dumb shits!

Cancer Jun 21 - Jul 22

“Now if you excuse me, I need to go take a shower so I can’t tell if I’m crying or not.” Let the tears flow Cryanne, we see you. It’s okay not to be okay.

Leo Jul 23 - Aug 22

“Sometimes life’s a b**** and then you keep living.” Challenges, like an ocean filled with spaghetti, may flood your world this month. Keep your head held high and house stocked with as many pasta strainers as possible.

Virgo Aug 23 - Sept 22

“The universe is a cruel, uncaring void. The key to being happy isn’t the search for meaning; it’s just to keep yourself busy with unimportant nonsense, and eventually, you’ll be dead.” Don’t be a sad dog. The moon is in Virgo today, it’s time to get busy, busy, busy!

Libra Sept 23 - Oct 22

“Look, for a lot of people, life is just one long hard kick in the urethra.” Whether you’re a Zoe or a Zelda, groin protectors—in the form of fun, friendship and love—may come in handy this month.

Scorpio Oct 23 - Nov 21

“It gets easier. Every day, it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day— that’s the hard part. But it does get easier.” Getting in shape, setting up a brick joke, becoming the governor of California, it all takes time and effort. Stick it out Scorpio, perseverance is key.

Sagittarius Nov 22 - Dec 21

“I’m responsible for my own happiness? I can’t even be responsible for my own breakfast!” Mercury may be in retrograde, but ultimately it is your actions, and chocolate chip pancakes, that determine your future.

Capricorn Dec 22 - Jan 19

“You turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about.” Todd Chavez and the Hokey Pokey gods have spoken. Change comes from within.

Aquarius Jan 20 - Feb 18

“Fool me once, shame on you, but teach a man to fool me, and I’ll be fooled for the rest of my life.” Self-determined foolishness is as ludicrous as a Halloween store in January. This month, step back, remove your blinkers and examine your actions.

Pisces Feb 19 - Mar 20

“My life is a mess right now and I compulsively take care of other people when I don’t know how to take care of myself.” Though admirable, sooner or later your benevolent nature will run you dry. Treat your inner Princess Caroline to a good dose of self-care.


Club Feature: Raising the Barre

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Clubs

Who are Raising the Barre?

We’re all about ‘Raising the Barre’ on mental health through dance, providing opportunities for students to get involved in eliminating stigma and creating awareness about mental health and its challenges, and also providing members with a safe space to go to. Each of our dance session involves a sit down aspect where members can talk about day-to-day life with mental health, ill-health and illness. Additionally, students can reach out to executive members on their own if they would like to speak privately. As the executive are also students, we stress that we are not trained professionals, although have executive members with some levels of training such as Mental Health First Aid and work in mental health. Of course, we will provide services when necessary, but the idea is to help students keep on keeping on! Research shows that exercise is as good as anti-depressants for mild to moderate depression, and also helps with various other disorders and issues. Dance is, of course, a form of exercise, and allows for expression of creativity, thoughts, and feelings. Through dance, people are able to share their experiences, good and bad, and communicate to others what it might be like to be in their world. So we use dance as a platform to express ourselves and to maintain well-being!

How did Raising The Barre start?

Raising The Barre was designed in 2017 by our prez, Joanna Gladwich. This is her story: When I was a teenager, I went through some trying times and experienced poor mental health as a result of that. At that time, I really struggled to reach out and talk in fear of being judged because of the stigma that was surrounding me. After some time though, I decided that I needed to reach out for help, but I didn’t have the tools to adequality express myself through words. As I grew up a dancer, I did what I did best and created some choreography to show people how I felt. And while I wasn’t physically listened to, I felt heard. Because of that, I felt like I was ready to conquer my fears and talk to someone about what I’d been going through. But there was a quote that really spoke to me—Shane Koyczan says “If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces.” It took me a while, but I picked up the pieces and I drew up the design for Raising The Barre, using dance to express your mental health in a nonjudgmental space—because the truth is talking to people can be hard and scary for some. The way you express yourself is up to you! Naturally the very first dance piece we put up on our YouTube page was that choreography that started it all. And now, as an organisation, we’re doing all we can to help others get through their challenges, as well as get rid of that stigma that so often stops people from reach out for help.

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How did social distancing alter these goals?

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, we were unable to continue with sessions face-to-face. But, we did our best to keep members involved and having fun! Thankfully we were able to stay in touch with members and still offer support to anyone who needed it through our socials. Our prez whipped up some choreography in a style that allows you to dance without needing a lot of space, called Tutting, and started a Tutting Tuesday’s campaign on our social media platforms, with the tutorials on our YouTube page – which are still available for you to learn!

What is Raising the Barre looking forward to the most for the rest of the year?

We’re keen to get back into sessions when it’s safe to do so. But we’re mostly excited to keep eliminating stigma, supporting students, and having fun! We want students and non-students to feel like they’re supported and that they have somewhere to turn when things get a little too much, but also when things are fine. We’re here to support you at any time in your mental health journey!

How can we get involved with Raising the Barre?

The best way to get involved is to sign up with us through USASA on our club page! You can also stay involved on our socials and keep up to date with our tips and choreography at home. We don’t just post choreography, we post information about mental health, tips for study, funny memes and more!

What would you say to those of us who have two left feet but would still like to be involved?

Dancer or not, you can still come and have some fun! We can help teach basic dance technique, if that’s what you want to learn. In some sessions we use everyone’s abilities to create awesome choreography as a group, other times we’ll teach choreography made by the exec team. But we believe that everyone can dance! And the choreography is made so everyone can get involved! If dancing really isn’t your thing, that’s okay. While we focus on dance, we also support any healthy and creative methods of expression! We want everyone to feel like they can get involved.

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Nominate a USASA club or society for an award to acknowledge their great achievements.

Nominate now: USASA.sa.edu.au/ClubAwards2020 Nominations close on August 31, 2020.

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Online USASA is Empowering You Online. We are helping you stay connected. Explore USASA Club events plus other great opportunities and activities for you to get involved with.

SOLUTIONS

USASA.sa.edu.au/Events

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Crossword Solutions Across

SUDOKU Solutions Easy

Not So-Easy

2. The name of a talking elephant in Kazakhstan (batyr) 6. Any activity that deliberately takes care of our mental, emotional, and physical health (Selfcare) 7. The process of purposely bringing attention to experiences occurring in the present moment (Mindfulness) 9. A phase of the moon (Toenail)

Down 1. A strong, widespread disapproval about something, especially when it is unfair (Stigma) 3. (Beyond) Blue is an Australian mental health organisation 4. A feeling of pensive sadness, typically for no apparent reason (Melancholy) 5. A type of fermented, sweetened black or green tea (Kombucha) 8. The northernmost state in the United States (Alaska)

Puzzle Master Anna Day


President’s Letter Another two months gone, another edition of Verse, and another President’s Letter. The issues surrounding COVID-19 and the implications of that on students are still making themselves felt, and USASA has been at the forefront of ensuring that the University of South Australia is accountable to students, and puts their wellbeing at the forefront when responding to the challenges that present themselves during this period. We’ve had some big wins for students, particularly the creation of the census date grace period, the adoption of Non Graded Passing (NGPs) and Fail Grade Conversions, and the continuing implementation of financial support. The Student Hardship Fund (SHF) and the International Student Support Package (ISSP) are still operational at the time of writing, so if you need support, make sure you check them out. The Federal Government seems intent on undermining universities and the students that attend them, so going forward, I’ll be advocating that we continue to provide students with the support that they need to ensure that they can succeed in their education. Likewise, I’ll be continuing USASA’s work with the National Union of Students to pressure the Government to extend their support to students, particularly our international student cohort. This edition of Verse is all about mental health. Being a student is stressful at the best of times, and throw in COVID and isolation? You’ve got a wild combination. It’s important to make sure you’re taking care of your mental health, especially now. Make sure you access the services that UniSA has on offer such as counselling and the medical clinic if you’re struggling, they are free to access as a student. Also, remember to check in on your fellow students. Isolation can be gruelling to endure at the best of times, so reach out to your classmates and friends to see how they’re doing. Clubs are another great way to meet new friends and create connections whilst at university and break up the monotony of isolation and study. As always, I’m here for you all, and if you’ve got any issues, feel free to reach out to myself or any of the student board. We’re here for you. — Noah Beckmann

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USASA Clubs & Societies

Find your flock. Make friends with like-minded people, celebrate cultures & boost your resume by joining a student-run club! Find your flock with over 90 special interest, cultural, academic & social justice clubs. To join a club visit USASA.sa.edu.au/Clubs

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RETAIL VOLUNTEERS NEEDED • • • •

Gain retail experience Stand-out to potential employers Morning or afternoon shifts available Saturday or Sunday shifts available

In South Australia, Save the Children have 18 Op-Shops and a State Warehouse which are currently in need of volunteers as shop assistants, pricers and stock-sorters. These are vital positions to ensure the smooth running of our Op-shops, raising invaluable funds to help. Save the Children support children at home and overseas.

For further information please contact: Hermina Bolton – hermina.bolton@savethechildren.org.au

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Abdurrahman Mohammadi Anastasia Monaghan Angela Compagnone Anna Day batyr Caitlin O’Connor Christina Massolino Christopher Filosi Emma Horner Frances Cohen Georgia Ristivojevic James Karas Jordan White Kate Newman Leanne Windle Nahum Gale Nicola Sutcliffe Nima Porkar Nina Phillips Noah Beckmann Oliver White Raising the Barre Tabitha Lean Truc Truong Vinica Teng

@abs.jpeg @anastasia.monaghan @_angelacompagnone @_anna_day_ @batyr.unisa @ christina.massolino.art @cpfilosi @emmahorner @francescohenart @thedeparturedesk @jimikrackers @jordan.white306 @thefelttipsword @yinagaalang_birrang @nahumspoetry @nicolaclaireceramics @nima.porkar_ @ninaphillips27 @noahbeckmann @oj.white @raising.the.barre.00 @haveachattabs @truc.fakeit @vinica_teng

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