Taking a life of love in Australia

Written by By Laurence Vittes, CNN Written by Lor Sabourin is a director and video producer for Live Astronauts. Were you a typical Australian kid who went to college in the States, and is…

Taking a life of love in Australia

Written by By Laurence Vittes, CNN Written by

Lor Sabourin is a director and video producer for Live Astronauts.

Were you a typical Australian kid who went to college in the States, and is now heading back to your home country? Or a broken down, broke-down New Yorker who actually settled in Australia?

Climbing got me to find my true identity.

I’d grown up living in the city of my birth. The world of science seemed distant. But that might actually have been one of the reasons for wanting to move away, to escape the stifling, urbanized environment.

So I knew something about growing up in a big city. But I wasn’t happy. I had all the education and all the experience I needed, but I still felt like I needed to grow up, personally. I wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life, and rejoin the place I came from.

“To me, mental illness seems most manageable when it’s completely invisible.”

So I moved to the country, to the small Victorian town of Melbourne. Not large by suburban Melbourne standards, but definitely small. To be honest, I didn’t feel particularly settled. I wasn’t happy. I hated leaving my family and friends and I just didn’t feel like I fit in. But that’s just my own personal story.

To me, mental illness seems most manageable when it’s completely invisible. Someone saying I have a mental illness doesn’t mean I am an emotionally challenged person. You can’t pass judgment on someone without knowing the whole story.

In a big city, if you aren’t part of a social circle of people going through the same thing, it’s easy to fall to the side as one that is “normal.” There’s no hiding.

However, when your city-based network is fairly bad at recognizing signs of mental illness, you feel more alone.

This is where my family really helped. My sisters have always talked a lot about my mental illness, they’re very aware of it.

When I was in hospital last year having my gallbladder removed, my sister was able to explain the symptoms to the nurses, and my sister’s husband also helped.

The fact that I was lucky enough to have strong family support around me was a big part of helping me find my inner self. I’m someone who deals with my stress through visual arts and drawing. Taking pictures or creating a physical story, combining feelings of distance or isolation with images that bring me joy, is a major part of how I deal with things in my life.

I think an artist person is born. It’s not something you get. Like hanging out with a group of people in a building or at a night out, creative people tend to know one another.

I’m the kind of person who puts a lot of effort into my own brain health. I meditate, I work with a guided imagery app, and I write letters to myself. Writing my letters helps because I channel all my internal experiences into a photograph, or a screen, that helps me remember and stay connected to that moment in time.

I’m lucky that my workplace has been really supportive. I’ve worked there for the past six years.

What I love about my job is that I get to use my skills to create content for YouTube channels that are entertaining and exciting, but also relevant and in-depth. I try to give people a raw, not salacious look into mental illness.

Through my video series, The Selfie Story , I’m hoping to make mental illness more visible in modern society. My ultimate goal is to get people talking about it more. After all, as a society, we should be talking more about every illness under the sun, why mental illness, well, only affects the mentally ill?

If we all take responsibility for educating the public about mental illness, we can help people from suffering alone, instead of finding that voice in a parallel-universe between our own mental illnesses.

As you can imagine, moving to Australia wasn’t easy. I had to be willing to face all my doubts and fears, and embrace the unknown, and help myself be self-aware, rather than just trying to hide from it.

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