Health

Lack of Appreciation: Where Does it Leave Us?

by Dr Amelia Stephens

Recently, I was talking to a friend about preparing for a self-care event that she was due to speak at as part of her work role on that day. She was admonishing herself for leaving things to the last minute, and feeling the tension of not being as prepared as she would otherwise have liked. The lack of pre-preparation now meant that she felt ‘squeezed’ into doing things within a certain timeframe, which I am sure we can all relate to.

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Easter Time – What brings the Joy?

by Dr Amelia Stephens

Easter time is seen as a family time. We have days off and school holidays that allow us to come together as families and communities to enjoy what has been a festivity for what seems like many aeons. Easter is when all sorts of chocolate eggs, bunnies and alike treats line the walls of our supermarkets, making it very much part of our societal playout at this time. Schools give out Easter egg treats and families have Easter egg hunts. Giving and receiving more sugar than most of us would normally otherwise contemplate is commonplace, and we really do need to ask, why?

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Preciousness

by Dr Amelia Stephens

Last night when going to bed, a particular word came to me to consider – and this was preciousness.

This is not a word I have spent much time thinking about in the past, and was certainly not a word that I felt pertained to me. Being ‘too precious’ is something I know is not encouraged, and people still tease others for this apparently being the case.

What does it mean to be precious then, and why do we as a society still not value this quality within people?

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‘Designer’ Vaginas: Whose design is it anyway?

by Dr Amelia Stephens

An article recently published in the Medical Journal of Australia showed the increased frequency of vulvoplasty in New South Wales, Australia (1). The intention of the study was to look at potential complications following this procedure and outcomes of the women who had the procedure done related to births following. What was interesting about this study, was seeing how the rates of vulvoplasty have increased, not only in Australia, but in other countries such as the U.K and U.S.A since the early 2000s. So from here, we need to ask a few questions. One you may be asking, rightfully so, is – what on earth is vulvoplasty?

What is vulvoplasty?
Vulvoplasty is an operation that changes the shape of the vulva, the external part of a woman’s genitals. It can be done for the purpose of correcting anatomical malformations that women are born with, that may affect their function or quality of life significantly, or, assisting with correcting scarring or malformation resulting from female genital mutilation. You may have heard the term ‘designer vagina’ and this is also associated with vulvoplasty. Strictly speaking, the vulva is a different anatomical location to the vagina, but it is common for the two to be considered the same thing.

‘Designer vaginas’, and vulvas, have become a more common cosmetic procedure, and as this study shows – it appears the incidence is increasing. As one could appreciate, this area of a woman’s body is quite sensitive, so undergoing surgery would be considerably painful at times.

So why are women lining up to have this procedure done?

 

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Would You Like Some Sugar With That?

by Dr Amelia Stephens

No thank you – I’m sweet enough.

Recently I was looking at attending a medical education event for GPs. These events are needed as we of course require ongoing education as part of our working lives. What is accepted as the ‘best practice’ in medicine changes rapidly – and as we know changes are being made all over the world in medical fields on a daily basis, as new things are ‘discovered’, or we become more aware of what we need to be doing for our health.

Now, I was quite impressed by the line-up of presenters and topics as there was a broad range and some good quality presenters that I recognised. I was all set to fill out my registration form until I saw some of the fine print, which made me quite uncomfortable.

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Who’s Paying For Lunch?

Every day, doctor’s lunch rooms around the world are filled with the aroma of various delightful foods. From pastries to sandwiches, to your favourite Thai takeaway – it’s all on offer.

But who is offering, and what exactly? 

The lunches I am referring to are those sponsored, paid for or conducted by pharmaceutical companies.

It has become common practice for pharmaceutical companies to sponsor breakfasts, lunches, dinners and even coffee breaks with a small to large sprinkling of their own input as to the latest medical therapies and evidence supporting their products.

Many people welcome these seeming donations of food with open arms, and mouths, as no doubt they have grumbling bellies after being on ward rounds for 5 hours, seeing a long list of patients or not having time to make breakfast let alone lunch in the morning.

However, in truth, what effect does attending these lunches and consuming this food have? 

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Big Pharma/ Bad Pharma – What is Our Way Back to True health?

Currently we are in a position in healthcare where big, billion dollar companies – including pharmaceuticals and private health conglomerates – are funding and governing many important decisions, health care models and trials for up and coming medications.

More and more as people we are realising that the outcomes of many of these decisions are not what serves us and our health truly – first and foremost. We are swiftly coming to the realisation that we have been had on many levels, and are looking for the truth in where our medicines and health care decisions lie.
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Misogyny

Misogyny means the hatred of women and the word as we know it in the English language is derived from the Greek ‘misos’ meaning hatred and ‘gyny’ relating to women, and can also be related to the female physicality expressed through the ovaries, womb (uterus) and cervix.

There is a culture of misogyny that runs deep and wide across our globe. It can be expressed differently depending on the location or nationality, but essentially women the world over are abused on a moment to moment basis which displays this clear hatred and complete lack of love, decency and respect. How and why does this abuse occur? (more…)

Cyber-Abuse: A Very Real Threat to Our Health

The effect cyber-abuse has on our society is something that is emerging more and more, but is not yet fully seen for the immense damage it is creating amongst young people and adults alike. A recent global survey conducted by ‘All Rise: Say No to Cyber Abuse’ of over 12000 people showed that 3 in 10 people had images or media published about them without their consent on the internet, and just under ¾ of participants expressed they had witnessed or were aware of cyber abuse happening. See more about these survey results here.

With an estimated 3 billion internet users, you can imagine how many people over the globe are actually affected by cyber-abuse.

So what effect does cyber-abuse have?

As someone who has experienced cyber-abuse first hand I know my own feelings and reactions to being written about maliciously on the internet. I felt contracted, powerless and like I had in some way done something wrong to deserve this. It highlighted how I needed some support to address this abuse, and not allow it to dictate or suppress how I very naturally and lovingly live my life.

 When lies are created about you, that are in fact the opposite to everything you stand for and operate under – and are apparently powerless to remove them, it certainly can have an effect.

So why am I apparently powerless to remove the harmful lies that have been written about me on the internet?

When someone writes false claims about you, there is currently little that can be done to correct them or have them removed. Essentially, people are still able to choose to use the internet environment to attack, demean and belittle the work someone does and who they are, and not be called to account under the proviso they are deemed to have ‘freedom of speech’.

So what about my right, and that of every other person living on this planet to live a life free of abuse?

We have come to a point in society whereby those that abuse on the internet are given equal right to those they seek to harm in many situations – unless of course they are making direct death threats or similar. We know that much harm can occur from abuse well before physical violence or death threats are manifest, yet there is currently little able to be done about abuse in the setting of the world wide web.

Currently, law enforcement in Australia is lagging in what it is able to do regarding people who choose to abuse in the online environment. There are initiatives and systems set in place via the Australian Police such as ACORN (Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network), but these have been unable to assist all those abused online thus far. This inability to assist is multifactorial and involves the way that the laws surrounding cyber-crime are specifically worded and set out, meaning very specific criteria have to be met before someone can be prosecuted as having committed a criminal offence of cyber-abuse.

These criteria do not encompass the spectrum of abuse that is possible, and happening on a daily basis.

It’s not surprising to me that crimes on the internet aren’t given the same importance as those played out in the street every day as the amount of practical workforce required to deal with this would be huge, and costly – in a seemingly already overstretched system.

At some level we do need to get serious about addressing this, and not wait for our systems to catch up.

Already every day I see the effect abuse has on people. From childhood to adult relationships, abuse contributes to all manner of serious emotional and physical problems that we try to assist in managing. Sometimes we are successful, but for many the damage that has been done is unable to be healed in full by our current means. This can have disastrous consequences – including self-harm and suicide. Cyber-abuse is no different in this regard, and is proving a very real threat to the wellbeing of a whole generation, with increasing use of technology as a means of social interaction.

So what can we do? Slowly over time our systems need to change, and this can only happen if we unite and call for it. Initiatives such as All Rise – Say No are key in this process, and show what is possible by a group of people dedicated to ensuring the abuse happening everyday – likely from a keyboard near you – has an end point.

We can support our young people especially to recognise abuse, and to know how to deal with it appropriately.

As adults, we need to know that cyber abuse can equally affect us. More cyber-abuse occurs towards adults than many realise, and so we also need to know what avenues are available to us in reporting and seeking support if it does affect us in any way.

Individually, we can each choose to be more aware of our behaviours, patterns and reactions. If we are speaking to someone in a way that is not loving or supporting of them, then why is that? Ultimately when we allow ourselves to move away from a loving way of being with everyone, abuse is possible and happens more than we realise. We also have a responsibility to support those around us to not interact in an abusive way – whether this be our parents, children or partners. Abuse starts well before a voice or hand is raised, and we definitely need to be more aware of this in our day-to-day lives.

Ultimately, we by the series of our choices can create a world that is free of abuse. So what will our next choice be, in the quality of our every thought, word and action?

If you or someone you know is experiencing cyber-abuse be sure so speak up and get assistance. Your local GP is a great place to start if you need psychological support or any of the support organisations listed below. If you are being abused it is also important to report it through the appropriate avenues. See the ACORN website for more information about this, or investigate the processes at your workplace or school for reporting abuse. The more abuse is reported, the more that can be done about it.

au.reachout.com/cyberbullying

www.eheadspace.org.au

www.lifeline.org.au