One of the most important things I learnt in Psychology was during a course on Behavioural Neuroscience at the University of New England. My lecturer, a gentle-hearted Scottish man who was very fond of mice, paced the laboratory while us students hung off his every word. We were in an anatomy lab, and in front of us was a brain. A real-life, once in a human, brain. It was harrowing.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it,” he said in his thick accent, pacing back and forth. He pointed at a piece of the hindbrain, a wonderful spreading system of white matter. It was called the Arbor Vitae. …

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As recent global events are leading us to pursue more and more isolated lives at the moment, I thought I would share my own experiences about living by myself. Some of these may apply to you and help put things in perspective.

About six months ago, I decided to drop everything (work, most of my belongings, virtually my life back home) and move to Newtown, Sydney. It was a quick process, like tearing off a band-aid. I was in the city one day and saw an apartment. That night I was signing the lease. …

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When we were young, we did not have the mental ability to make sense of a largely ambiguous, diverse existence. In order to understand the world, we created generalised rules. These rules (called ) helped us navigate life. For example, we may have adopted the core belief that our caregivers are trustworthy and can generally help us meet our needs for affection, care and nourishment. This is helpful and kept us safe.

For those that displayed any kind of transgression from the norm, the core belief of “I’m defective” may have developed early in life. As children we are often unaware of we are different, we only have this general sense of difference. And, as any one will tell you, difference is not celebrated among children. For me, growing up gay meant that I felt like I never really fit-in into the sporty or religious groups at my school. …

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Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

When something goes wrong, we often have a compulsive need to “fix” it. The self-help industry is well aware of this, and for every problem there is something you can buy to help you approach the supposed crux of modern Western existence: “Wellbeing”. There is nothing wrong with pursuing wellness, but more often than not we need balance as opposed to something extra.

This became apparent to me in my first year of as a Psychology student. I was studying behavioural neuroscience and my studies mostly centred around stress and mindfulness. …

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Our current psychology-influenced discourse has enabled us to discuss our internal states with each other more clearly than ever before. But, there is a price to pay for our age of Mental Culture. We have been exposed to hundreds of new terms that even the industry can’t agree on the definition of.

In a previous story I discussed the crucial difference between guilt and shame, and how understanding this could free us from its oppression. After these terms, I think one of the most misunderstood concepts in mental health is stress.

What is stress?

Our bodies inhabit a dynamic, ever-changing world. Our brains rest within our bodies, and the two of them must meet certain conditions for things to run smoothly. Ever try to work when you didn’t sleep the night prior? That’s when our body-brain relationship is out of sync. …

I had my first day off in a while, and I planned to spend it as individually as possible. Mentoring is very rewarding, but a break is needed from time to time to avoid becoming cold and insincere. There was a book fair on at one of the campuses of the uni I work at, so I packed my bags and got in the car and just drove.

The first hour was liberating, but then it became rough — my fingers twitched for my phone, trying to dig their way into my bag. It was the first stretch of time I had spent by myself in a while, and I wasn’t too happy with some of the thoughts that automatically arose. …

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As a new member of the Medium community, I was surprised to see how little literature there was about life as a gay man. Of course it shouldn’t have surprised me: Even though I have the luxury of being in one of the most socially-accepted variations of human sexuality and gender (homosexual and identifying as a man), there is very little “out there” in regards to books, movies, art, et cetera.

Originally I thought of writing a feature article on this, but I realised that the scope of this is far beyond me. So instead I thought it would be a good idea to share how being gay plays out for me on a day-to-day basis. We all only have the authority to represent ourselves, and I figured the best way to share my thoughts is through sharing some things I learnt after coming out I hope you like it and I would love to hear your opinions. …

Photo by Gantas Vaičiulėnas from Pexels
Photo by Gantas Vaičiulėnas from Pexels
Photo by Gantas Vaičiulėnas from Pexels

The concept of exercising for health, aesthetics and wellbeing is a social construct. Sociologists label this as “Physical Culture”, a movement that reached international levels in the 19th century. Books and studies all preached the value of exercise in a world that, even back then, was becoming sedentary. The Ancient Greeks advocated “a sound mind in a sound body” but this global pre-occupation with health was something different. Bodies became social objects, reflections of our inner self.

Just like Physical Culture, I believe that we are now in the age of “Mental Culture”. Industries associated with mental health are growing exponentially, generating billions of dollars and a tsunami of both positive and maladaptive information. …

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When was the last time you imagined something just for the sake of it?

When I was a kid, my imagination used to dominate most of my waking hours. I had an imaginary friend, wrote comics, played make-believe games with my real friends and just spent time wondering about things. I was a bit of a space cadet (still am, to be honest), but there was a period of my life where my imagination was cast aside and survival took the limelight.

In high school I was a textbook closeted gay man. I attended a religious school, and concepts like homosexuality or gender were rarely discussed. I was pretty lost. I had friends but I struggled to fit in and relate. Like many teenagers I was angsty and biting but it all seemed to have a deeper undercurrent, something I couldn’t quite place my finger on. My mind became consumed with proving my heterosexuality through lifting weights and (quite fruitlessly) trying to date. …

I have always loved old things. Be it typewriters with their clattering awkward keys or my Walkman that plays cassettes just off-speed (it changes everything), I often find myself developing a soft-spot for objects well beyond their period of usefulness. What I most like is how these objects serve only one function each. My record player does not dim the music whenever I get a message. My journal doesn’t have the ability to insert links or post to my socials. My lava lamp heats up a chunk of paraffin suspended in groovy yellow liquid. Nothing more, nothing less.

And that is why I hate my smartphone. …


Max Woods

22. Mental Health Support Worker. Gay. Qualifications in Psychology and Education.

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