Mental Health Journey || Kath, California.

Kath, California. Film photo by Birralee Hassen. 

Kath, California. Film photo by Birralee Hassen. 

What do you think of when I say mental health journey?


I’d say that this is a mental health journey right now, this bike trip I’m on. Being not really depressed, but not happy or content either, with what I was doing back in Australia. So shaking it up, doing a trip on my own was definitely part of that.


It forces you to deal with your shit. And it makes you realise that you can. Especially when you’re in a relationship and you’re used to having someone make you feel better when you’re sad.


I think also being away, I’ve been able to see more clearly how I’ve been, back in Melbourne, and what I would like to sort out.


So kind of taking inventory on your own life?


Yeah, and then taking it seriously too. I’ve been setting up appointments to talk to a counsellor when I go back, a counsellor who is recommended by someone. Rather than a random that has been Googled, which tends not to lead to the desired outcome.


What is one of your biggest mental challenges?


I find the world really sad. I feel like I’m pretty much constantly in grief at how fucked up everything is.


I’ve noticed that a lot with travelling, that so many of my conversations are turning to how fucked up everything is.


I feel like most of my conversations are like that all the time, so doing this I’m trying to avoid them, because I feel like my whole fucking life is talking about it. You go camping with friends, sitting around the fire having a few beers, and ultimately the whole conversation leads to the apocalypse; it can be like “Wow this is really getting me down”.


I was thinking that too, I want to bring some lightness into conversations, there is still so much good that we could be talking about. Obviously, you do have to be educated on both the positive and the negative.


Its funny, it’s hard to figure out. Whether it’s - Yeah you’re actually talking about it, and facing up to how tings are, or if it’s actually doing something else, that’s still not useful. Like “Yep were talking about it so it’s fine”, rather than figuring out other ways to deal with it.


Yeah, so this trip was definitely about reminding myself that there are really beautiful things and good things.


They’re always there if you look for them. You just have to choose to see them.


Definitely, but at the same time, when you see the beautiful things, it’s like “there’s another beautiful thing that’s about to disappear forever”. So it feels like if you are aware of all of this stuff, it feels like we’re living in a time when it is fucking really hard to be a person who cares about those things. Who is also informed about them. You have to learn how to live with the possibility that the world will end, and that’s OK. You have to be OK with the fact that it’s dying, and the same time, not being OK with it at all, and then still trying to do stuff. That’s a pretty fucking massive mental health challenge, trying to deal with your own world’s mortality.


So where do you feel like you are on your journey now, as you near the end of your bike trip?


I feel heaps stronger, more independent. I feel like I can start whatever I want. So I guess it feels more like a beginning than an end.


Taking control back in to your own hands.


I’ve been studying heaps, and working in jobs that I don’t like. I’ve been kind of really stuck in what am I going to do next, feeling like I had to do something along the same lines. Now I’m like “nope no way”, and it feels really nice to feel like I could just go back and get a job in a market, or whatever.


Always, you can always start again, it is scary and daunting, but every new breath you can start again.


Yeah, well if you remember that, it feels pretty amazing. Although it is actually quite hard to remember that.


It’s always the hardest to remember the things that we need. It’s a constant thing, mental well-being. It’s not like I can be like “oh I’ve meditated once, I’m sweet”, it’s every day that we need to put a bit of effort to our mental state.


Yeah, and reminding myself that looking after my mental state is a legitimate use of my time. It might feel like it’s not, but that’s because the whole world is telling you that it’s not very productive or it’s not useful or whatever. Instead of it being pretty much the only thing in the world that matters. How you feel is ultimately the only thing that actually means anything.


Birralee Hassen