Movember and a short history of facial hair

Fourteen years ago a couple of Aussies came up with ‘Movember’ – a campaign to raise awareness of men’s health issues including prostate cancer and depression. There are many ways to take part in Movember (which lasts for the month of November). The most visible way is to join other men who are growing a Mo for 30 days and ask people to pledge support. No better time to introduce Grandad Wilson (;left), posing in…

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Odd socks stamp out mental health stigma

My choice to wear a matchless pair of socks today was a deliberate tribute to Mental Health Week. Odd Socks Day is just one of the many events sponsored through October to remind us that one in five Australians suffer a mental health disorder in any 12-month period. I’d never heard of Odd Socks Day, but spotted a flyer in a café somewhere and tucked it away for future reference. It’s a national anti-stigma mental…

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Bipolar disorder and gout

This may seem an odd way to approach an essay about bipolar disorder, but I had forgotten that lithium was at one time prescribed for gout. Not that I’ve ever had gout, but a couple of relatives who do have it tell me it is not something you would wish upon your worst enemy – or even Donald Trump. Gout is a painful inflammation of joints caused by an excess of uric acid which forms…

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Talking to the empty chair

A good few decades ago, I’m having time off work; my more attuned friends describe it as ‘having a rest from his mind’. Friends have come to visit. Some kind of coincidence, the four of them – all psychologists – sitting around the table on the back veranda. I’m wearing the top half of a pair of pyjamas, a Sulu (Fijian garment) and slippers. I’m doped to the eyeballs – diaze-something, a blobby sponge soaking…

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