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Introducing: Extremely Human
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In this first episode, we chat about what Extremely Human is all about.

Extremely human is a conversation about the profound experience of extreme states. When we speak about extreme states, we want to explore a more humanistic way to understand people’s experiences that aren’t always shared by others. Each extreme state holds different meanings for each person, including those related to psychosis, depression, grief, and addiction. As we chat with a variety of humans, we explore the important question: “How can we respond to distress with greater compassion and humanity?”

Come and listen with:

Lucy (She/Her) – A big fan of pickleball, ice cream and storytelling

Rachel (She/Her) – Social Worker, Dialogical Practitioner, mad footy fan and wildly passionate about transforming the culture of mental health services to be person-led and human rights informed.

Incredible artwork @sharleencu_art

 

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT – Introducing Extremely Human

RACHEL    discovery college acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to lands, waters, and community. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to the elders past and present. They have never seeded sovereignty.

LUCY    In this podcast, we share stories that help us learn from each other, connect us, and inspire growth. We want to acknowledge that this way of being, of coming together to share knowledge and stories is a tradition that has already existed on this land for hundreds of thousands of years as a part of the culture of First Nations people. 

RACHEL    discovery college acknowledges. The views shared in this podcast are about mental health experiences, but are not a substitute for professional mental health advice and support. The views in this podcast are not the views of Alfred Health, but are the views of the individuals we’ve had conversations with.

MUSIC

LUCY    I am Lucy and I’m a co-host on the Extremely Human podcast. I work at discovery college and I’ve definitely tipped my toes in some extreme states myself. I feel like it’s fitting that I’m on a podcast called Extremely Human ’cause. My best friend actually used to call me the Extreme Artist and used to make comic strips of me doing extreme activities like chasing after Rubbish that had blown away in a storm. A little bit about me is that I love story sharing, ice cream and my inner Nana loves sleeping.

RACHEL    And I’m Rachel, also a co-host on the Extremely Human Podcast. I’m a mental health social worker at Alfred Health. I chose social work as a profession because of my values of social justice and human rights. I believe in the importance of social connection and relationships. I’m also an open dialogue practitioner. This helps me to bring my values, beliefs, and all of myself to my work in mental health. I’m a mad footy fan and some of my best friends have fur and four legs.

LUCY    For those wondering what discovery college is. discovery college is a learning space that creates and runs courses with and for the community on mental health and wellbeing from these spaces. The seed for a podcast grew. So Rach and I ended up deciding to make a podcast, which is the extremely human podcast. And it’s basically just a conversation talking to different people about their experiences of being in an extreme state. And I think when we first came up with the idea, you sort of spoke about the extreme states and it wasn’t a term I’d ever heard before. Can you please sort of explain what an extreme state is?

RACHEL    Yeah, I’ll do my best. Uh, you know, I think it was for me, I really like the term extreme states. I don’t know where I first heard it or how I first came to start using it, but it really helped me because I was a bit troubled by the labelling of human experiences as symptoms of illness. And you know what? I meet people every day who have different ways of expressing distress or psychological distress or emotional distress. And they’re often met by services and society in a way that’s labelling and pathologizing of those experiences. When I first heard the word extreme states or the term extreme states, it felt like it really freed things up. And, you know, for things that we would usually refer to as psychosis or bipolar or depression or eating disorders or anxiety, you know, it, it really helped me to think about those things a bit differently.

LUCY    Yeah, I really love the way that you’ve phrased that ’cause it just, it makes it more of a human experience rather than trying to put it in a box and a label. I think it’s just such a nice way of looking at things. I’m so glad that we finally got the opportunity to actually make this podcast. Finally, because I’ve, over the years I’ve spoken to so many people who have been in their own extreme states, all different kinds, like psychosis, grief, addiction, and they’ve told me stories about being in that state and they haven’t always received the best care and haven’t been able to speak about those experiences. So I’m glad that we’ve had people on this podcast that gives them a voice to share their stories about what they’ve been through and what they find helpful in those moments.

RACHEL    Yeah. Voices that are really, um, I think silenced. Yeah. And not easy to hear. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> sometimes and or not easy to say what they think or what they need. So I’m, I’m really glad we’ve been able to hear those voices too. You know, Luce, I’m, I’m sure you feel the same way. I am not, but I don’t wanna speak for you. But these conversations have really changed me. Definitely. Definitely. You know, I feel like I’ve been really impacted and in a really positive way and it’s really made me reflect on lots of things. It feels like so generous. The people that have talked with us have been so generous in, in how they’ve, what they’ve shared and what we’ve talked about together. I really hope people feel, who listen, feel that this is impactful for them too.

LUCY    Absolutely. I just wanted to touch on the question that we ask each guest at the start of every episode. We wanted to start each episode by asking our guests if they’ve ever had a disproportionate reaction to something. So by disproportionate reaction, we just mean a reaction to an event, which was maybe a little bit over the top. Maybe they might give an example of something that was a little bit funny, but if the examples aren’t always funny. Yeah. Sometimes they’re a little bit more on the serious side. And we asked this to people because some of us may not relate to being in an extreme state, but we can all have moments of feeling extreme emotions. 

RACHEL    Yeah. It’s just part of being human. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. And so this question sort of helps us start to think about, you know, sometimes we can all be a bit over the top and sometimes we have extreme reactions. Um, totally. And so, you know, I think it’s a really nice way to start the episodes and a little bit of fun sometimes.

LUCY    I think so too. I feel like I might be the Guinea pig and put forth my example of being in a disproportionate reaction.

RACHEL   Oh, I’d love to hear it.

LUCY    A while ago I thought it would be a good idea to purchase a cardboard desk. A cardboard desk. A cardboard desk, which I thought would be really easy to assemble ’cause it’s made of cardboard. I thought it was gonna be like origami. And it came with these instructions, which I could barely see. And the pitches made no sense. And I think after like two hours of trying to construct the cardboard desk, I’ve had like full, full meltdown mode. And I was like on the brink of tears and I was so distressed by it that I was going to put in leave and have the day off work. And I’d never even had a sick day or taken any time off work at this point. And I wasn’t gonna do that just ’cause I was full meltdown mode and cracked it and basically gave it some time. And when I came back, put the desk together and it actually worked and it was no big deal, but it was maybe top two stressful things of that year. <laugh>.

RACHEL    It does sound stressful. I’ve gotta be honest, I’ve never heard of a cardboard desk. 

LUCY    Yeah, you don’t wanna know about ’em. Okay.

RACHEL    <laugh>

LUCY    Not worth knowing about. Do you have, have you been in an extreme state or an extreme moment, Rach?

RACHEL    Uh, yeah, I’ve been in a lot of extreme mo reactions to things I think. Um, but I guess the one I wanted to share, it’s a bit different to yours but, um, you know, and, and a number of years ago, I actually, my husband and I, we were, we were going through some fertility treatment and, you know, so this is a pretty tough time for us. And, you know, going through, um, getting help for our fertility was a really difficult time. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I used to get these calls from the clinic that we were seeing and you know, there were always different people calling me, you know, and they, it was never the same person. And they would call and they would ask to speak to me to either make it, you know, talk about some results or plan some things that we were gonna be doing next.  And I’d answer the phone and they’d ask to speak to me and I’d say it was me. And then before anything else happened, they’d ask, what’s your name, date of birth and address. Yeah. And every time they asked me that, I’m not kidding, I would lose it. I was like, you called me. Why? How do you not know who I’m, and you know, it was actually quite embarrassing now to think back and I think they must have be be so worried about calling me whenever they called me <laugh>. I think it was just so depersonalised

LUCY    For sure.

RACHEL    And just so dehumanising. Definitely. Definitely. And you know, going through something so difficult and sensitive like that, you know, you wanna kind of know that people know who you are, <laugh>,

LUCY    You know, and yeah, I think to be honest, it’s not actually over the top at all.  I think that’s exactly the, the appropriate response for a situation like that.

RACHEL    I dunno if they felt  that way. <laugh>

LUCY   I think they would

RACHEL    <laugh>. Yeah. Thanks Luce. That’s very kind of you. But it does, you know, it it, I wasn’t in my best self, you know, so I was reactive and stressed and really,

LUCY   I’m sure they get it a lot though

RACHEL    You know? Well, yeah, maybe, maybe. But I’m kind of on the other side now that I’m not in that I kind of think about, you know, they have to do that, that, you know, there are the laws and the rules are around protecting rights and privacy and you have to double check people’s identity. So the rational me really knows why it happens. Yeah. Um, but the, you know, the sensitive and just, and stressed me felt like I was just this number on a page and Yeah. That no one really cared.

LUCY    Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s very understandable.

RACHEL    Thank you <laugh>. 

RACHEL    There’s a couple of things that I often, um, say to myself and say to other people that I meet who are having a hard time, you know, and that’s be brave and be kind. And I I really wanted to maybe finish this conversation today by thinking about those things. ’cause I think there’s a lot of people who’ve been brave by talking with us and maybe being brave by listening to the episodes. And I really hope our, our listeners can be kind and be kind to themselves and to each other.

LUCY    I love that. That’s a great sentiment.

MUSIC

LUCY     Thank you for listening to our podcast. If you wanted to stay in touch or learn more about discovery college, please head to our website, discovery.college.

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