FAQ (Freaked-outed-ly Asked Questions)
What is the Big Feels Club?
We create spaces (online and off) to explore different views about crisis and distress, in the company of fellow travellers.
Big, uncomfortable feelings can be isolating, lonely. But in our experience, they're also an opportunity for profound connection with other people who've been there too. We want to make those connections easier to come by. And we have a few ideas.
For now we're experimenting with 'little bets', to see what people want more of. There are a few things bubbling away. At this point you can check out:
Our newsletter - comes out every few weeks, with news about what we're doing, and one or two ideas about crisis, distress, and big feelings. Sign up to our mailing list below to get this. Click here for past issues.
Our book club for feelings - We explore different ways of thinking about crisis and emotional distress, with fellow travellers. Our ‘readings’ can be anything from NPR's Invisibilia to Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun, talking about how lucky you are if your life falls apart. Read more about how to get involved here.
Our online courses (coming soon!) - due to popular demand, we're working on some online courses about how to make sense of big, scary feelings. Find out more here.
Where is the Big Feels Club?
We're based in Melbourne, Australia. We're also currently exploring how we might start some experiments elsewhere in Australia, New Zealand, and around the world. Some of the things we have planned will be available online too. If you’re a particularly keen bean who’d like to get something happening in your hometown, send us an email with some information about yourself and your idea.
Who are you people?
Honor Eastly is an artist, writer, podcaster, and professional feeler of feelings. She's also worked in the mental health system as a peer support worker, and now trains mental health workers. Honor talks often about her own experience of crisis and distress, and her work opens up important conversations about human distress, online and off. She's particularly interested in the role of new media in fostering connection and community. Find her on Instagram here.
Graham Panther has ten years’ experience as an innovator and researcher in the mental health sector in Australia and his home country of New Zealand. He consults to government and not-for-profit mental health agencies, and has published with some of the leading voices on mental health and recovery. Graham experiences periods of profound distress, which he sees as very much part of being human. He believes that given the right conditions, crisis is an opportunity for connection with others who've been through something similar. Read his op ed on the Big Feels Club here.
We also get help from a few other wonderful people who volunteer their big juicy brains from time to time. And our office dog Bodie, who ensures cuteness levels meet workplace health and safety standards.
Why are you doing this?
Here’s the thing. In our society, we still make people feel like crap for feeling like crap. And that’s not just stigma, it’s the whole way that we think about this stuff. It’s all about what’s wrong with people.
Now, we get it - when you're desperate, it makes sense that you want a fix, you want an explanation. We have been those people! (We often still are, to be real.) But the thing about trying so hard to fix yourself is that, after a while, you start to see yourself as broken. And all the awareness-raising in the world can't change the fact that's a lonely place to be.
At the same time, mental health research says that talking to other people with similar big feels can have profound effects on how you see yourself, and how you experience the world. What's the quickest way for a sensitive cat to feel they belong? Give them the chance to meet other sensitive cats! But it's still bloody hard to find those nourishing convos - and that's what we're looking to change.
We figured, what if there was a place you could go that didn’t make you feel like there was something wrong with you? Where exploring your messy scary stuff wasn’t seen as something only desperate people did? Where you could meet people like you, and feel like you actually belong on this earth? That's why we're building this little feelings ship. It's the thing we always wanted ourselves, but never found.
Can I come to a book club?
Right now the book clubs are in prototype mode, so spaces are very limited. We've got trials happening in Melbourne, Johannesburg, and an online-only version for people who don't want to leave their bedrooms (I mean why would you really?).
What we learn from these will help us set up more chapters. We've had interest from people wanting to start book clubs in 15 different cities so far around the world - feelings travel fast! Register your interest over here on the book club page.
Watch the newsletter for more updates. Also a lot of our discussion makes its way to the newsletter, so that's another way to explore these ideas in the meantime.
What groundrules do you have in your discussion spaces?
Check out our vibes for group discussion here, for both online and real-life meet-ups.
Is this a mental health service?
We are both technically mental health professionals, but this isn't a mental health service. It's a community of fellow travellers.
We don't claim to have any answers. Instead, we're a group of people asking the same sorts of questions. Many of our club members (including ourselves) still use more traditional mental health services, alongside the things we offer. Others are Solo Feelings Adventurists, exploring their inner wilds alone. There's no eligibility criteria here. If you like what you see, you're in!
What's the evidence base behind what you're doing?
Our approach is primarily based on first-hand lived experience of what worked for us, as well as constant conversations with our club members. We ask people what they want, and we design it with them. Nonetheless, our approach is also consistent with the practice of peer support, an emerging area of mental health support. As consultants in the mental health system, we have been strongly involved in the ongoing development of peer support as one of the fastest growing disciplines in mental health.
For more information, check out our page about the evidence base of peer support, and our own involvement in the advancement of this discipline.
Can I help?
There will definitely be things we need help with in the near future. If you’re good at a specific thing and you’d like to offer that thing to help build this thing - we would love to hear from you!
Send an email to hello [at] bigfeels.club with the subject line ‘I WANT TO HELP BIG FEELS WITH…..’, and fill in that blank with whatever. Event planning? Web design? Accounting? Dog grooming? Let us know!