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Why Mental Health?


This year, in Australia alone, 65,000 people will attempt to take their own lives. Out of the eight that die every single day, six will be male. The number one cause of death for men in this country aged 18 to 44, is suicide. Not cancer. Not substance abuse. Not car accidents. Suicide.


As a mother of four young boys, these statistics terrify me. As a parent, the thought of having your child predecease you is unfathomable. But having the person you were put on this earth to nurture and adore and die to protect predecease you by their own hand? Always wondering what signs you missed, how you could have saved them, why they didn’t come to you, what was going on in their mind, how sad and desperate and lonely they must have felt in those final days and minutes and hours… That kind of agony is something you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy.


If 65,000 Australians a year attempt to take their own lives, how many people a year contemplate it? How many are unhappy? How many are stressed and anxious? How many are struggling mentally? How many are confused, lost, searching for answers? How many are drowning in depression? How many need help but don’t know where to look for it or how to ask for it?


Mental health in this country is in a quagmire. Conditions such as anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and clinical depression are skyrocketing. I know little kids who are so lacking in confidence in who they are that they’re terrified to go to school. My friend’s eight year old is so anxious about the meaning of life and his very existence that he cannot sleep at night. There are teenage boys out there who are struggling to get their heads above water but believe talking about their feelings, asking for help, crying, are all signs of weakness. We are quite literally raising a generation of young people who would rather die than admit they need help.


Something’s got to give. How do we raise strong healthy children who are comfortable in their own skin? How do we make the world, the universe, a much less scary place, and death, life and their place in it a much less terrifying thing? How do we make our children understand how vital talking to us— to anyone— is, how important it is to scream and cry and express their feelings?


And it’s not just mental health that’s in decline. People are getting physically sicker and sicker- cancer, autoimmune disease, diabetes, asthma, eczema… the list is endless. So many ‘incurable’ illnesses that have the medical industry scratching their heads. I should know, I suffered from one of them myself, an ‘incurable’ autoimmune disease I was told I would never recover from. A disease that took me to a very dark, very hopeless place where my mental health, too, greatly suffered.


And so I find myself here in my forties, a mother and a wife, with years of studying and researching and reading and searching and learning and doing under my belt. I’ve spent decades pondering the meaning of life and I guess descended is my interpretation of the world, an interpretation that helps me sleep at night, that helps me make sense of the universe, to see the point in the seemingly pointless. I’m not offering the keys to the universe, I’m merely expressing what helps me.


When I started planning this book I envisioned the main character would be a young girl, but the universe had other ideas. I have spent the last fourteen years of my life creating boys, it turns out that that is where my strengths lay.


As I began to write, it turned out the main character was in fact a young man, a young man who was as put together on the outside as he was broken on the inside. A young man who shows incredible strength by showing his vulnerability, his pain, and his weaknesses. A young man who embarks on an extraordinary journey of discovery, who with the help of the remarkable people who come into his life is able to find his place in the world, demystify the universe, and figure out why he’s here. 


There is more to us and to this world than the physical. I like to believe magic does exist. Maybe not on the Hogwart’s level we’d like it to, but in the serendipitous way the universe works, in that we’re exactly where we’re meant to be, doing exactly what we’re meant to be doing at any given moment. No matter how broken we may seem, there is a way to put ourselves back together. There will always be people out there who care, who love us for the glorious mess we are. We just need to find our tribe.

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