Schizophrenia Awareness Week

Colour wheelHi there. May 24 is World Schizophrenia Awareness Day. To mark the occasion I wrote a letter to schizophrenia. You can find it on the Satellite Foundation website where it will be published today. (I’m an ambassador for them.)

It’s the time of year where you deposit some thought to the gentle complexity of one of existences most cryptic yet vulnerable conditions. Why don’t we talk about schizophrenia more? Ever wondered that? I do, quite a bit. It seems to go under the radar quite effectively. There’s a whole stack of destigmatising to be done – or – to conjure a more handsome phrase – rehumanising.

I mean, I’ve been up close to someone with schizophrenia and honestly, my heart still weeps. I reckon my Mum is brave as all fuck for withstanding the atomic martian wildness of her own mind warping itself to fit through the eye of the needle of life. 

These are real people. On the ground. Suffering. Trying to be good parents. They are gobsmacked by confusion. Their personality has secret mirrors growing like gills. They are x-men and women, able to see through time. Heaven and hell are storybook wonders compared to the cheek scolding heartbreak of disappearing in plain sight from the very people who love you more than anything.

Anyway, big hugs and NDIS support to anyone who is experiencing hard times. 

We can be superheroes, just for one day.

g r o u n d h o g __ d a y ? 


AT A GLANCE (STAT!): 

  • Schizophrenia effects 1 in 100 people. The same ratio as autism. 

  • It comes from the Greek word meaning ‘split mind.’ It’s not multiple personality disorder, it’s about the schizophrenic person having a split view of reality. There is the real world and then there is their world. This results in them convincing themselves that they are not sick. Therein lies the paradox of trying to care for someone with this condition. You’re yelling via cup and string to a rogue astronaut on opposites day.

    “I’ll be alright after a sleep tomorrow, I promise.”

    In response to the comments beneath my Sky News soundbite. No, it’s NOTHING like Trump voters thinking their world view is right and everyone else’s is wrong. That is an extreme political ideology. At least Trump exists in our reality (I never thought I’d say that.) People with schizophrenia have psychosis. They experience auditory and visual hallucinations. This is why using ‘schizophrenic’ as an adjective is problematic. Voting for Trump isn’t a medical condition, it’s a personality trait – as much as the ‘hilarious’ jokes to be made would hint at the former.

  • Statistically they are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. The cliché of the unhinged guy on the bus or whatever – it’s a worst case scenario or its comic book fiction mate. When we went to the bank Mum would be very composed, even at her worst. People with a mental illness generally work twice as hard as the rest of the community just to be themselves. Australians love a hard worker, don’t they?

  • They are likely to be conduits of bizarre behaviour. Talking to themselves, nervous tics, agitated, scattered, paranoid thinking; things of the like. One friend said his Mum used to communicate with Jupiter. Another said his Mum would see a little man and woman walking around her flat, an inch tall, shining lights in her face and shapeshifting into animals. My Mum once told me she was ‘on the line’ to Mozart. This level of psychosis is creative at least and makes for a fascinating story.

    Like a creature in captivity, schizophrenia is a lot less threatening when you spend some time up close. There is love in curiosity and I spent a lot of time observing my Mum. She would be laughing to herself as if having a tea party with her voices. I would have liked to have been invited. It’s a malfunction pantomime and who are we to judge the mind unknown and its methods to cope. There are worse contributions to the universe.

  • Schizophrenia is not full-time. Mum was well half the time and sick the other. She was still a wonderful individual with autonomy, functioning as best she could and getting me breakfast while navigating the extremities of humanity. Mum used to be ‘Mother’s help’ and visit my primary school and help kids in my class type their stories up on the computer.

    As a listener to my radio version of Get Up Mum wrote: “I remember a Mum who would take me to sporting activities, cook dinner, have afternoon tea ready for me after school, and take us for swimming lessons at the beach. I also remember a Mum who would sleep all day, yell and scream, and a Mum who spent months at a time locked up in a high security psychiatric hospital.”

    It’s a split world for everyone.

  • Caring is full-time. Two words: hyper-vigilance. Part of Schizophrenia Awareness Week can be devoted to carers who are most likely family members and in the most urgent cases – kids. If someone you know has a mental illness and they also have children – I’m telling you now – that child is a carer by default and most definitely in need of support. If you are unsure about resources, Satellite Foundation is a great place to start. Don’t be shy!

  • Hearing voices is more common than you think. Apparently 10-25% of people will hear voices at some point in their lives. Amazingly, it’s not always linked to schizophrenia. This was news to me when I watched the SBS Insight episode.

    (If you can track down the full You Can’t Ask That schizophrenia episode it’s also a terrific resource).


  • Schizophrenia is devastating. Especially when used in Scrabble. You drop that thing on a triple word score and it’s WALK AWAY RENE!
     

A FEW LINKS TO PAST THINGS I HAVE CONTRIBUTED: 

  • I was interviewed on Sky News during Schizophrenia Awareness Week in 2018, days after releasing Get Up Mum. I don’t get to go on TV much. (Spicks & Specks in 2010 featuring myself and Marcia Hynes together at last and me dressed as a cat on Channel 31 in 2017). 

  • An interview (with fellow only child Elizabeth Flux) in the Guardian from 2018 which is all about my book and lived experience. 

  • I wrote a column about schizophrenia for The Big Issue in 2019.

  • There aren’t that many movies about schizophrenia (I will not watch The Joker but can only imagine it has set the empathy cause back miles) but Sally Hawkins did a wonderful job in 2020’s Eternal Beauty where she portrays a colourful character. (Is it interesting how when Sia cast a non-autistic actor everyone went hyper-nuclear but the fact that an actor without schizophrenia represented this community didn’t ruffle a spacebar. It’s almost as if that particular aspect of the mental health spectrum is i n v i s i b l e .

    Do-gooders be like – we’re championing this cause because it’s SO COOL right now, but that one over there is FAAAREAKING US OUT.)

    There’s an article about how schizophrenia is represented in cinema here.

  • Other fine movies about mental illness include Angel Baby (AU 1995), An Angel At My Table (NZ 1990), Sweetie (AU 1989), Benny & Joon (US 1993), Birdman (US 2014) & Donnie Darko (US 2001). I really enjoyed Girl, Interrupted (US 1999) the other day, even though the reviews are subpar – (who doesn’t love Winona?) I recommend The Sunnyboy (2013 Australian documentary about Jeremy Oxley, lead singer of The Sunnyboys who emerges from a 30 year battle with schizophrenia).

  • I Never Promised You a Rose Garden is a way out film from the 1970s. The book was always sitting dramatically on the bookshelf at Nan & Pop’s. (The girl on the cover gave me my biggest ethereal crush since The Childlike Empress from Never Ending Story.) Anyway, I read it as an adult and it’s a most artistic deep-dive into the psychedelic secret world that I touched on previously. Greenberg writes in the voice of the ‘voices’ which I found thrilling.


I know you’ve got to be in the right headspace for these subjects. Or perhaps you don’t. Maybe there is never a convenient time. Goose step out of your comfort zone, throw some paint around in the studio of understanding and fan your aura to the experimental frequencies of the meek and neurologically diverse.

Schizophrenia is a cause that needs everyone to come together with education, patience and some emotional heavy lifting. Fire up lovely, I know you have it in you.

That’s about it. If you keep scrolling down this page you’ll see some of the soft hitting articles I’ve unpacked in the past six weeks about my own mental health philosophies. I know you’ve got a toasted sandwich on the go and about six kids and animals to pick up from the mall so I’ll save you time and let you jump straight into:
Depress Conference
Liquid Mental
How Do You Talk To A Depressed Person
&
i Is The Loneliest Letter


Bonza. Take care. x

ps don’t forget to tag me on linkedin

pps if you are still feeling overwhelmed or frustrated that you simply have no tangible emotional construct of what the heck anyone is talking about when it comes to this specific topic with the word which is even complicated to spell… Well, there happens to be a real easy fix to that one (for a change):

📖 buy my book 📖

(It’s 32% off at the minute, much like my mood)

and i don’t cry for yesterday / there’s an ordinary world / somehow i have to find: duran duran, ordinary world

carers: empathy through determination

And now the Schizophrenia Awareness Week dancers 💃💃💃👻 … oh no they disappeared.

🔵 🟠 Radio Edit Of My Soul 🔴 🟡

Dude stepped up to the plate armed with his musical bat and a mouthful of truths. The daytime spotlight. The resting curious faces. What do you have for us, they challenged? Oh, how he’d dreamed of introducing himself to the rest of his generation.   “I……….” he began.


It’s 20 years since I kicked things off winning ABCs Heywire competition. At twenty one I freestyled into the foyer of the AIS and had a national microphone pointed at my heart. I’m freestyling a release (in its honour). Here is an EP from an urgent, colourful time in a gangly, smart/anxious life. May it elicit the same stereosyllabic electricity I conducted from my battle pyjamas.

out now on Dino Records

//YOURS TO BORROW ON BANDCAMP\\

I am doing a nostalgia about my two decade long approach to folk entertainment. Thanks for your support, sport.

Phonze! – Birthmark ’22

This is an album I made when I was eighteen and my nickname was Phonze! I’ve reimagined / remixed it with never released tracks and field recordings from the era.

Suss it out on Bandcamp

Kurt Cobain, Shane Warne, stoners and skaters – girlfriends and god references – it’s a rough and tumble time capsule from the late 90s by a dude right into Beck and Radiohead exploring his own internal cosmos while honouring friends and Volkswagens with whatever means necessary. Brought to you by Sony Walkmans, Washburn guitars & Windows 95. 

FOLLOW YOUR HEART OR PULL IT APART

Cliché

get up mum is a play 🎢

Yeesh, not long to go now till the super dupe Get Up Mum show at Theatre Royal Hobart. There’s a piece in TasWeekend in the Mercury today. As well as an interview situation on ABC HOBART i guess.

Check out the ad below.
Disclosure: I am a brand ambassador for Ansett and received a promotional trip to 1992.

And what else – the latest version of my gazette!

Enjoy the full Get Up Mum promo video playlist series….

GET UP MUM LIVE SHOW = 2022

Forgotten what it’s like to be twelve? Hey hey it’s a-ok – Heazy’s remembered for ya.
It’s not back to the future but we can fast forward the past. Climb aboard the cassette space machine as it rewinds an ocean of time. It’s 1992 and Mum’s up and down like a yoyo. The problem is ” Justabout ” can’t do tricks and his getaway skateboard’s caught in the gutter. Oh well, guess it’s spag bol & Beyond 2000 in the beanbag while patting Blossum.

A one of a kind, twice in a lifetime, triple-threat theatre show is watersliding to a dreampool near you. Premiering in Hobart in March. Based on the acclaimed memoir and radio series. This is the show and tell extravaganza where a never ending story finally gets the beginning it deserves.

Get set 🥉 it’s gonna be GOLD !!!

Stay tuned for updates via the fuzzy logic gazette.

“It’s not a bad sort’ve day.” Pop

“Don’t put your cards out in the wet, that’s what ruins a pack.” Nan

Get Up Mum – Brought to you by Microfreeze Thickshakes.

Cats are in lickdown

A new study by James Cook University has found about half of cat owners reported feeling their cats were "put out" by their increased presence during the height of COVID-19 lockdowns.

The study surveyed nearly 400 people living alone during lockdown and looked into how pet ownership interacted with reported levels of mindfulness, depression and anxiety.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-07-08/study-cats-felt-owners-were-invading-their-space-during-lockdown/100275392

A right royal commission

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System launched today. I gave a statement and interview for it which can be found online. The intention is to build a whole new system from scratch, which could inspire universal change.

The damage has been done, but hope is pretty cool.

I’m honoured to be able to contribute to this brave new world. I hope the report can make waves from butterfly wings and pour light on the darkest hours of the human mind and the systems that govern our hearts.

In the spirit of the vibe, you can carouse a package of my mental themed columns here (there) everywhere.

IMG_8578

 

IMG_7020

That’s good Justin how are you going?

Oh alright I think. The usual baseline of atomic stress endurance and a horizon line of potential difficulties to high jump over.

Yep.

I have a lot of dreams where everyone is sitting down and participating in something like school or a gig but I’m unable to participate as there is some huge dilemma like a conflict or haphazard preparation and I’m in a total panic.

Gotta love dreams.

At least dreams tell it how it is. Honesty overrides platitudes.

Did you like high jump as a kid?

Not so much. It’s a bit like backstroke in that you can’t see where you’re going. Still, I fared better than javelin. There was one day in PE where I threw it and the back of the pole smacked me in the head.

Did everyone laugh?

They’re still laughing.

I’m so glad you could make it

I’m up and about and ready to stop. Stop collaborate and listen, that is.

200928_Vic Mental Health_Justin_025

Photo courtesy of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

There’s news afoot and updates aplenty, providing you haven’t been paying attention – which is okay because I’m on the ball / having a ball (a wrecking ball, that is). Knocking over walls and kicking goals and shifting goal posts and not posting on social media. Are we cool? “Are We Not Men? We Are Devo!.” Here we go (again) for the first time (in a long time).

  • The latest issue of my rebooted mailing list Justin Heazlewood’s Fuzzy Logic.
  • An episode of RNs All In Your Mind podcast which I recently contributed to.
  • I’m an ambassador for Satellite Foundation. They’re an organisation based in VIC who help kids of parents with a mental illness. They’re running a six-week online program for people aged 17-23 (living anywhere in AUS). If you know anyone who might benefit from such connections, there’s info HERESelf-care-alphabet
  • A newly separated, individual, lowly tailored social media page, to dwell the nature of my own intellectual property within.
  • Some quiet reading (about reading) for you.

A dedication to my artist brethren who might be doing it tough at this (or any) time.

Hear the Funemployed EP in its entirety HERE

GET UP MUM SIDE STORIES

To mark two years since the release of my childhood memoir, I’ve made there be a soundtrack album on Bandcamp. For bonus amusement, here are some beside the scenes tales of nostalgic and emotional interest.

747

In primary school I clocked my transition into maturity as switching over from ABC cartoons (repeating Wizard of Oz for the 10th time)  to the Southern Cross antics of Monty the weatherman and Roscoe the newsreader. The Today Show with Steve Lieberman and Liz Hayes had a clock in the corner which helped me track my timing to leave for school. I had a game where if it read 7:47 I’d sing the line ‘riding along in a 747’ in my head. It was from some country song Uncle Ken must have played when I visited his place in Canberra in grade four.

I wanted to include this detail in my book (I’ve probably been singing the line ever since). As you can imagine, I was pretty keen to hear the song again – the first time in 30 years. Thing is, I had no way of tracking it. I googled the lyric in many variations but there were no matches! (Not you Beatles 909! I’d be late for school.) I wasn’t in touch with my Uncle, so asking him was moot.

Over the time spent writing, this was the white whale of nostalgia trips, which is saying something considering the most obscure Commodore 64 games are on YouTube these days (you mean Trapdoor did have gameplay, you didn’t just wander around aimlessly opening and closing the door?)

Late in the piece I had another cheeky search ‘riding along on a 747’ and found a hit! It seems the Australian singer/songwriter Kevin Johnson (no, not the Phoenix Suns point guard) had launched a new website which included the lyrics to Man of the 20th Century. He was a bit of an unsung Australian JJ Cale type best known for Rock and Roll I Gave You The Best Years of my Life. The song and album are fantastic. Do yourself a favour.

Deep Deep Trouble

My favourite moment of ‘constructive procrastination’ was listening to one of my many tape recordings from the 1992/93 childhood season. In the one marked SLIDES with NIGEL POP JUSTIN – Pop, Uncle Nigel and I (funnily enough) spent an evening in the summer before grade seven clicking through the family slide collection. We’re up late being silly and eventually wake up Nan! Uh-oh. Uncle Nigel is pretty funny and pins the blame on the infamously placid Pop. “We might be able to get away with it, with a few swingin’ words,” he jokes, “but not you pal, you’re in big trouble.”

You then hear squeaky lil’ me sing “you’re in Deep Deep Trouble.” When I searched I was pleasantly reminded that The Simpsons put out the single in 1991. Do The Bartman gets the attention and reruns on r a g e (it was written by Michael Jackson you know?) but I’d completely forgotten about the difficult second single. From this discovery I was able to reference the ‘Bart in hell’ scenes as a reference point for my childhood understanding of the afterlife. So, within that session you could surmise that twelve year old me was helping with the writing of his own story. Coolness!

My Friend Jenna

At the Fitzroy Writers Festival launch of Get Up Mum in 2019 I met a fellow only child with a Mother with schizophrenia. This ultra rare combo match twin was exciting for a lonely Gemini. Consider that until this point I was only friends with about two other only-children (we’re quite rare in my generation) and I knew of only two other people who had a Mum with a mental illness. Between striking up a friendship with Jenna and the several other mental health organisations such as Satellite Foundation who reached out to me (all of which I wasn’t previously aware of), Get Up Mum really did act as a distress paper firework of light and hope.

The Kid and the Whip

I liked the Sydney book launch because not only was the effervescent Benjamin Law hosting but a lady came up afterwards and said that Jon Faine was really unfair to me during the notorious Funemployed interview from 2014, which was one of the nicest (and most accurate) things anyone had said to me in a while. DSCF0927

It was one of the few launches where small children were present. These weren’t just small kids but restless ADHD-ish youngsters. Towards the end they were running around getting glasses of water and being a bit nuisance. I drew them in by holding up a blank tape and describing in detail how magical it was that this brown ribbon could trap magnetic particles and turn them into sound. The kid had a good look before peering up and asking “could you use it as a whip?” IMG_0083

In a troubling snapshot of the post-Fortnight generation’s mindset, the kid had managed to weaponise a TDK 90 cassette. Ha ha! A whip, I dunno mate, maybe torture someone to death with Michael Bolton.

Amanda Palmer’s Post

[Now, just because I am preternaturally conscientious and self-aware doesn’t mean I’m not immune to some straight up ego-shooting and name-dropping, as I am well within my rights to do as my jaded friend Jo accused me of in 2005 after returning from tour with Tripod and daring to refer to them by name in answer to the question ‘so how did the tour go?’ No sheepishness present from the presence of excommunicated friends at this juncture, just an alarmingly unguarded and unsolicited outburst of conscious rationalising, for which you can assume a psychologist would be all like ‘you go girl.’]

[[Think what you like but as Kurt Rambis said ‘you miss 100% of the shots you never take.’ Kurt, Kurt he’s our boy, if he can’t do it no one….will.]]

kurt rambis

my dad (approx)

[[[Rest assured that being me, I will still manage to self-deprecate my social standing to its lowest possible ebb. Cover up that light people – COVER!]]]

Amanda Palmer posted out of the gates early, having been given an advanced copy. It was a rather confronting time as I contemplated sharing my secret life story with the cosmos. From my furtive glances betwixt the slits in my pillow case, I noted there were what seemed like hundreds of comments below her post which almost entirely consisted of impassioned confessions of American experiences of mental illness. The only comment mentioning me said that my promo photo (sans glasses) made me look like Paul Dano (which is true). This was mildly exciting in that it was the first time I had been assigned a famous person I look like without glasses. (For the record I used to like to think I had a Christian Slatery vibe.) Oh, I have been assigned about (last count) 102 people I look like with glasses. Austin Powers anyone?

NOTE: Paul Dano’s 2012 film Ruby Sparks is pretty close to a documentary on me. Although I’d attest that if I was ever invited to Annette Bening’s house and had a hot girlfriend like Zoe Kazan there, there’s no way I’d just sit around reading a book while everyone played in the pool. NO WAY!

Honesty Training

Being such an intensely personal book, I was shaky about the thought of doing interviews. To assist me with this my publisher Affirm set about preparing me. (Cue Rocky style montage with More Than This and me pushing myself on a swing at Burnie Park laughing and crying.) This was the first time I’d been given any kind of media training in my life. My publicist Laura transmitted me a set of practise questions to cut my heart on. I found the support helpful.

There was an eclectic spectrum of emotional niceness from journalists. “You should have expected being asked about that,” was fired at me accusatorily a couple of times. Journalists desensitise themselves as an upskill. It sure was weird being trapped in my favourite restaurant on a blind date digesting invading personal questions about my Nan. (Did you know I have a secret conspiracy theory that media goes harder on me because I’m a comedian and because I’m a boy but there’s no way to prove this until the next life?)

Others like Myf Warhurst were especially warm. This approach coaxed no lesser potency of frankness out of me. Arguably more. “Warmth will get you further than shock” as Charlie Pickering once told me. Would I do it all again? Shit no. Justin 2.0 I’m going straight into advertising and learning to drive.

Read my Age Lunch Feature interview about Get Up Mum if you like candidness to the apeshit.

Metallica Email

We were trying to get permission for using lyrics to popular songs included in the manuscript. I was actually sending an email to Metallica’s management at one stage (unforgiven_2@hotmail), which is a pretty rock and roll thing to do on a Wednesday. I was trying to imagine James Hetfield flicking through my book about caravan trips and Nan going on about the mossies. In the end there wasn’t really much time or budget so we just did a bit of paraphrasing.

Funfact: The song Unforgiven is h e a – v y.

That Question

Everyone (everyone) wanted to know what Mum thought of the book.

So what does your Mum think of the book?

“I’m not sure what Mum thinks about anything” was the preferred reply (come up with months after the event.) Thanks media training! Look at me go like a swimmer at the Olympics just taking it one lap at a time.

Mum read the book, which was a lot for her considering she may not have read a whole book since Mozart’s biography. (To which I found her in her room laughing more than anyone in history over the reference to his brisk walking style as ‘old scissor legs.’) Laughter is contagious and the memory is beautiful.

Mum thinks my book was well written. Of course there was a pause when we finally met up and spoke about it. She said, in as many words as she was comfortable with, that she was happy if the book was going to help others. You may want a neat little answer to put in your compartment (sorry ‘you’, I know you’re a card-carrying individual with rights to a separate autonomy, I was just amalgamating the last few women and Auntie staff I’ve met), but almost nothing in my life works that way. Please assemble pieces into an esoteric hexagon.

To be honest I’d say that there was a little guy inside me secretly disappointed that not a single person thought to ask ‘so what do you think about the book’ but that would be saying a lot more about me than it would about the audience which is beside the point and out of bounds on the full.

Izzy from Art School

Way back in the day Mum was friends with Izzy from Art School. They lived together in a sharehouse in Hobart when Mum was working in the Miss Fitz & Co shop (at Fitzgeralds, a Tasmanian department store) and training to be a Mothercraft nurse. They used to push each other around in shopping trolleys and have paper sailboat races along the sodden streets. In the chapter in the book which gives an overview of Mum’s history I made sure to name drop Izzy.

The two had long since lost touch and Mum wasn’t even sure of her surname so there was no way of tracking her down. Izzy ended up reading Get Up Mum and reached out to me by email. It was from there that I was able to set up a reunion lunch between the two in Burnie. Paper firework to the rescue! Seriously, write a book – it’ll do cool things.

Love Graffiti

There’s an iconic bit of graffiti along the beige cement walls as you head to Wynyard after passing Burnie Park (the best way to see Burnie haha). During my childhood the thick paint always read 1981 ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE with a peace sign.

For NYE 2001 Someone ‘updated’ it artfully (not) turning the 1981 into a 2001. Disastrously, this only drew untoward attention towards the freshly complicated missive triggering the wrath of the local council who covered it up like a streaker at the football.

The unnecessariness of this maneuver was matched only by its lack of execution. The graffiti wasn’t hidden. All they did was leave a scar of the love, a lighter shade of beige. I referenced the message in my book, going to the trouble of using Windows 95 Paint spray can feature to render the original as authentically as I could. (Thanks Mr Badcock.)

A few months after the release of Get Up Mum someone spray painted over the words in white paint! I chose to assume that my book, which had been received surprisingly passionately and positively in Burnie, had somehow shone a light on the cultural significance of the artefact. All you need is John Lennon.

There’s no year this time. The message is timeless. Love is for all ages.

  • Check out the Google Map reference to the graffiti pre-2019 makeover.

Thanks old mate Dion McCall for this pic

LYNX

Get Up Mum is available from Booktopia.

Check out the RN radio series and freshly minted soundtrack.

You can hear some more tape samples and promotional videos here, here & here.

BONUS: Man of the 20th Century (or 7:47 as it can be known) was released in 1976 and came during a very cool era for smooth rock dudes penning songs about air travel. See also JJ Cale’s Travelling Light (1975) and Steve Miller Band’s Jet Airliner (1977).