Acknowledging My White Privilege in Southeast Asia

Red and gold Thai temple

I’m considered exceptionally beautiful in Southeast Asia. Multiple local men stare at me as I walk down the street, and I have been propositioned by men several years older than I. My Thai cooking teacher referred to me as a “supermodel”, because I have the long legs that Thai women do not. I don’t attract this attention at anywhere near the same level at home in Australia. I get it in Southeast Asia because I am white. This is a...

Reasons Why a Diagnosis is So Important

A view of a Thai temple with a golden spire in the middle.

A psychiatrist didn’t give me a diagnosis for borderline personality disorder (BPD) until I was detained in hospital on suicide watch in October last year. They called it voluntary admission, but if I had refused to speak with the psychiatrist, I would have been held against my will. I suspected for many years that I had BPD, but many mental health professionals are reluctant to suggest the diagnosis because of the stigma attached. I had assumed that you needed to...

How To Be (Mostly) Sober in a Society Obsessed with Alcohol

A black Japanese castle set against the background of a pink cloudy sky.

Alcohol is poison. It numbs your brain and your senses, and creeps into your brain to whisper lies in your ear. When you are living with chronic mental illness, drinking alcohol is one of the most harmful things that you can do, and you should try to eradicate it from your life.  Alcohol makes me stupider, more impulsive, and more vulnerable to the negative thoughts that constantly swirl around my brain. I have burst into tears or started heavily dissociating...

5 Misconceptions About Travel in South America

View of the giant waterfalls of Iguazu in the jungle of Argentina.

Many of my friends and family were terrified when I said that I was travelling alone to South America for ten weeks. The media is full of so many negative misconceptions about the continent, which mainly focus on drug-fuelled violence, political instability, and crippling poverty. With the popularity of TV shows like Narcos, which follows the life story of the cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar, many Australians’s view of the region is related to drugs and violence. This is coupled with...

Perfectionism is Killing Me

Autumn leaves and a religious statue in Tokyo, Japan.

Perfectionism is slowly killing me inside. My psychologist refers to the phenomenon as ‘unrelenting standards’, which means that I set a standard for myself that can never actually be attained. These standards also do not apply to other people in my eyes. This covers all aspects of my life, from relationships to academic achievements. I could view perfectionism as a positive, other than the fact that I experience constant stress and anxiety because of it. I have quit so many...

The Transformative Power of Nature-Based Travel

A dirt path leading through dry, arid land, with a flat-topped green tree the main feature.

It took three hours of trekking in the Borneo rainforest of Bako National Park for me to fully realise that I had broken my first boyfriend’s heart. Up until that point, I hadn’t understood why he had acted so cruelly when I broke up with him. I resented the lies that he had told about me to his friends and the cruel words that he wrote about me on the internet. I resented all of this without ever understanding how...

How to Travel with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

A night view of a black and white castle over a reflective lake.

I laid naked in the foetal position on the floor of the hostel shower, crying uncontrollably while my friend stood over me to supervise. I had made the mistake of going out drinking on a pub crawl in Buenos Aires, against all my better judgment. Alcohol amplifies the symptoms of my borderline personality disorder (BPD), and makes it so much harder to block out the intrusive thoughts that I am ugly, unwanted, and unlovable. When these thoughts had taken over,...

How Backpacking Reduces Body Dysmorphia

A girl standing in front of a brown and gold Japanese temple, with several trees on the side.

When I was 17 years old, I thought I was obese. Irredeemably fat. I weighed only 58 kg. At 172 cm tall, this was far from overweight. But when I looked at my body in the mirror, all I could see was weight ballooning around my waist and stomach area, making me look pregnant. I weighed myself a few times a day, every single day, and any gained weight made me feel horrific inside. This is what is known as...

Why I Never Want to Go Back to Bali

Green rice paddies with trees in the background.

My knee dislocated for the second time while I was staying in Pemuteran, on the north coast of Bali, Indonesia. I was staying alone in a small, family run guesthouse, and my phone was on the opposite side of the room. I had to scream for five minutes at the top of my lungs before the guesthouse owner came running in. He took one look at my leg, gnarled and at a strange angle, with the knee cap protruding off...

An Open Letter to My Rapist

An art piece of a girl holding a black umbrella, on a background of blue lines.

Trigger warning: this post contains graphic descriptions of rape.  You killed me on the 10th of May, 2014, and yet there will never be a trial. You will never be tried for murder, for the murder of a life that I once had. It’s been a few years since we last spoke, and yet I have the sneaking suspicion that I will never forget our last meeting. How could I, when I’ve replayed it in my mind every day for...