In this episode of GET REAL we meet Heidi Everett, who has lived experience of psychiatric wards and what she describes as living with a “psych reality”. Melbourne-based Heidi is an advocate, writer, poet, producer, performer, public speaker…and that’s not all.
“My creativity and mental health advocacy are joined at the hip. Both require a little bit of courage and a cheeky attitude to have a go and not fear failing.”
She’s written a powerful debut book called My Friend Fox about her experiences. This book goes beyond Heidi’s mental health file and tell in her own words and memories the living, breathing experience of her life. It takes readers beyond a person’s diagnosis.
Heidi ended up in a public psychiatric ward when she was in her early 20s, with what she describes as an allergic stress reaction.
“I’d been struggling quite a bit living on the streets, hanging around some pretty interesting people but life wasn’t really quite how it should be attempted,” Heidi explains.
She was diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder, though Heidi prefers to refer to it as schizo-affective, taking out the clinical term.
“I think (stress reaction) is behind so many diagnoses of mental health realities…we talk about complex trauma a lot in this world today and I feel that’s behind everything.”
Heidi wants anyone who reads her book to see people in the mental health system, “not at victims of a mental illness but as survivors” and to see that those in psych wards and on the street have “Deep and ancient trenches etched into our lifelines”.
With creative expression at the heart of all she does, Heidi encourages others to tell their story in whatever way they’d like. “It’s your story, you tell it”.
CONTENT NOTE: if you have been affected by anything discussed in this episode, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or go to lifeline.org.au
Schizy Inc is a collective of creative advocates, started by Heidi, with diverse lived experience of mental health.
ermha365 provides a range of mental health services designed to help people experiencing mental health challenges to thrive in the community.