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Forums / Multicultural experiences / We Are More Than We Are!

Topic: We Are More Than We Are!

12 posts, 0 answered
  1. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    22 December 2017

    Looking back at my life I see diversity within diversity. I have always been 'a bit of this and a bit of that' but not completely. Often the various roles of my life are in antagonism. My birth was unplanned and not welcomed. My mother was a teenager. My father in the army. Grew up in Greece but my parents had embraced a protestant faith. Grew up feeling 'different', culturally, spiritually, religiously, socially, and sexually. A minority within minorities. This deeply engraved in me feelings of shame, guilt, fear, void and a sense of not-belonging. An abusive childhood, migration as a teen, attempts to 'fit in' by getting married, later falling in love with someone of the same sex and 'coming out' in my mid thirties, divorcing, bankruptcy, life-limiting illness, death of my partner and having full custody of my child whom I raised are some of the significant elements that shaped my path and perhaps contributed to my depression, anxiety, panic attacks, including night terrors, and mood swings that have tormented me for a number of decades. Entering middle-age as an empty-nester, widower living with chronic illness and as someone not defined by my ethnicity, cultural background or faith and with no family in Australia to support me as I face the challenges of aging, I can say that the thing that gives me hope for the future is that I have always being resilient and bounced-back no matter what the challenge. Traumatic experiences and stigma have forced me to embrace and honor my personal truth and remind me daily of the importance of staying true to myself regardless of how others may view me. My experience can be summarized in three stages: 1) overwhelmed by anxiety, depression, fear and shame and trying to 'hide' from these through denial; 2) compensating, by trying to work hard to neutralize the effects in my life by being more successful etc. in a desperate attempt to forget or soothe my internal pain and endeavor to escape it; 3) cultivating authenticity, by beginning to build a life based upon my own passions and values rather than trying to 'fit in' to cultural or religious norms. Until I was able to re-examine my life, I was not able to realize the undercurrent of shame that has carried me into a life that often wasn't fulfilling. I had to accept myself for the person I am, not the one my community, church or family wished for. I feel honored to be able to share my story and give and receive support through this forum.

    Thank you for the opportunity.

    3 people found this helpful
  2. blueskye
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Hong Kong
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    blueskye avatar
    67 posts
    22 December 2017 in reply to Donte'

    Thanks for sharing, Donte.

    You've been through so much and I am in awe of how resilient you are after multiple tumbles and hurdles.

    "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is what I thought of when I finished reading your post!

    You have all of my support and I hope whatever comes your way next is all good things.

    Accept who you are. You're you, not them.

    Have a Merry Christmas and stay strong <3

    2 people found this helpful
  3. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    22 December 2017 in reply to blueskye

    Thank you BlueSky,

    Ditto! We can only work with whatever we have in our hands right now. We are not our past even if it has shaped in many ways our present and influences our future. We are here. Now. Having survived. Resilient, stronger even if changed by the process. It is a unique gift indeed, our experience, and once the shift is made, once we are able to see it as an opportunity for growth, then miraculous change takes place, but first had to acknowledge, accept, embrace and own the wounds. Hope you also enjoy this holiday season. :)

    2 people found this helpful
  4. Hayfa
    beyondblue Connect Mentor
    • beyondblue Connect is a FREE service that puts people living in Victoria's Greater Dandenong community, in touch with mentors. They can support your wellbeing and help you achieve your goals.
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Lebanon
    Hayfa avatar
    120 posts
    23 December 2017 in reply to Donte'

    Hi Donte'

    Wow! what an amazing journey to experience, you really have gone through so much!
    Your story is so inspiring, it really does demonstrate that no matter what challenges life throws at you there is no such thing as an end, rather a new beginning.

    Well done for becoming the person you are today and using your knowledge and experience to support others. There is much that people can take from you to use in their life situation to make things better.

    so happy and glad to have you in the forum!

    2 people found this helpful
  5. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    23 December 2017 in reply to Hayfa

    Thank you Hayfa,

    I’m truly thankful to have this opportunity to be part of an online community of people from diverse backgrounds and walks of life who despite our differences can relate so much through our unique journeys which have so many common threads. Fear of stigma can be a big step to overcome in many people’s lives and especially even harder in collectivist cultures and within certain religious groups. It prevents us from seeking help and hinders our growth as it paralyses our spirit and numbs our hearts pushing us into hopelessness and despair. It is very difficult to reach out and ask for support when you are petrified that you’ll be criticized, judged and treated as an abomination or as someone sick, abnormal, broken, in need of repair or repentance. Unfortunately in many instances the very source of support and acceptance, ie our family or faith or community can become a barrier. One of the many benefits of this forum is that it creates the environment to share and thus allows us to connect with each other while simultaneously continually dissect our thoughts and develop further our resilience and coping mechanisms. Like a rock that we throw in the water creates ripples that reach far and beyond. My wish is that others from diverse backgrounds could potentially benefit from my experience and join us to walk hand in hand along this path we call life and maturing. We have become the persons we are today because of our individual experiences and using our knowledge and life stories to support others can enrich our existence collectively as we strive to understand, learn and expand our spirits. I truly hope that there is much that people can take from me to use in their life situation to make things better as I also do the same. These are indeed exciting times, having the technology and means to support us in such ways. Looking forward to further engaging effectively and meaningfully with various members of our diverse communities who may be vulnerable or disadvantaged and/or feel isolated in their struggle. We are more than we are. We are more than our struggles. We can rise above our illness and negative impact and indeed turn them into opportunities for learning, growth and accumulation of wisdom which leads to peace and happiness. This is my wish for all. :)

    2 people found this helpful
  6. Peppermintbach
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    Peppermintbach avatar
    4566 posts
    5 January 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hi Donte’ and all,

    What inspiring, moving posts. Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I was born in Australia with mixed heritage (both my parents were born overseas).

    I particularly liked the following excerpts from your posts on this thread:

    I had to accept myself for the person I am, not the one my community, church or family wished for.

    ...build a life based upon my own passions and values rather than trying to 'fit in' to cultural or religious norms.

    Thanks again for sharing,

    Pepper :)

    1 person found this helpful
  7. Peppermintbach
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    Peppermintbach avatar
    4566 posts
    5 January 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hi Donte’ and all,

    I may have accidentally cancelled my own post just now. Oops...anyway, I just wanted to visit to express my appreciation for your posts :)

    I won’t try re-typing what I wrote in case I did actually post it. Lol.

    Caring thoughts,

    Pepper

    1 person found this helpful
  8. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    9 January 2018 in reply to Peppermintbach

    Hi Pepper,

    Thank you for your kind words. The longest relationship we will ever have is the one with ourselves! Through my experience, this is what I have learnt. Partners come and go. Children grow up and move on with their lives as they should. But we remain. Finding the balance, accepting our good and bad aspects, warts and all, embracing and loving who we truly are, is the essence of coming to terms with happiness and peace. I believe we are our own benchmark and all experiences, positive and negative, are beneficial if they teach us something and help us to grow. I am thankful for my traumatic experiences for they have shaped me and made me who I am today. I wouldn't wanna live a different life to the one I lead. It's beautiful to be able to share in this forum and listen to others' stories.Thank you for your encouraging words. :)

    1 person found this helpful
  9. Peppermintbach
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    Peppermintbach avatar
    4566 posts
    9 January 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hi Donte’,

    You’re welcome :)

    What a lovely response from you. I agree with your point about how our longest relationship is the one we have with ourselves.

    You sound as though you have come a long way. Well done :)

    Caring thoughts,

    Pepper

    1 person found this helpful
  10. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    19 January 2018 in reply to Peppermintbach

    Hi Pepper,

    Thank you. That's what I've come to understand through my experience. All the relationships we have teach us something about ourselves, our boundaries, and certain aspects of ourselves. As we engage with others we learn to communicate and accept parts of ourselves in the process. Each person we meet is like a mirror that shows us various aspects of us. At the end of the day it all leads to our happiness and peace and we learn our worth. Eventually, we learn to love who we are warts and all and I think the various relationships at different times in our lives all teach us something. I'm thankful for every single one of them as they brought me closer to me. :)

    1 person found this helpful
  11. Hayfa
    beyondblue Connect Mentor
    • beyondblue Connect is a FREE service that puts people living in Victoria's Greater Dandenong community, in touch with mentors. They can support your wellbeing and help you achieve your goals.
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Lebanon
    Hayfa avatar
    120 posts
    19 January 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hi Donte' and Pepper,

    What wonderful reflections on life.
    I agree with you Donte', our life situations teach us to understand our experiences and learn something about ourselves that transpire from the engagement and learning with others.
    I view life as a movie, you direct, produce and star in it. you choose who is in it and throughout your years you are continually starring in it, changing scenes, working on it, enhancing it and engaging with others. The movie won't come to an end until it is supposed to get ready for a brand new director to take it over in its next life of a new movie and once again the cycle begins, you again become the creator of all opportunities set before you.

    life really is about intentions and for me choosing the right ones by asking myself the right questions make for what I hope are good decisions. In my community and culture there is much emphasis on following a spiritual journey with emphasis on being true to yourself and those around you, reciprocating love and help to others because the deeds in your life will determine what things you may be challenged with in the next life.

    You may not know what is coming but by choosing with good intentions you are sure to create something that is good, feels right and is perfect for you at that time.

    Hayfa

    2 people found this helpful
  12. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    20 January 2018 in reply to Hayfa

    Hi Hayfa,

    Thank you for your beautiful feedback! That’s a lovely parallelism - life/movie.

    Beautiful way of seeing the self within its context and placing responsibility of our actions to ourselves - the Directors, but also taking the steps to put things into practice - the Producers and act accordingly - the Actors.

    Of course not everyone in a community has the same views and outlook on life as no group of people is ever homogenous. But this is such a great way to see things. I am sure many can relate from your own but also other communities and backgrounds.

    Going with our gut feeling and instincts and having good intentions no matter what the outcome may be, could indeed leave us at a calm place with peace of mind that we have done the best we can despite of what will happen next. I believe this is a great way to live and learn. And if our good intentions fail us then we learn to forgive and forget and accept consequences initiating change and move on trying by something different.

    I believe the best way we can have peace of mind is when our heart (emotions), our mind (logic), and our gut feeling (intuition) are all aligned and we proceed in that knowledge as we have evaluated and examined all aspects prior to making a choice and acting out a particular deed. This process surely minimizes anxiety and fear of outcome, depression and feelings of disappointment if we fail and mental anguish.

    All this is a life-long process that assists in self-awareness and acceptance, helping us to understand and embrace our true nature and live authentic lives based on our individual truths the way we have experienced them within our group setting and life’s context.

    Thank you for such a great insight.

    1 person found this helpful

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