Peris Nova and Mental Illness

Peris Nova and Mental Illness


Peris Nova is an Aboriginal Australian woman who born in February 25, 1971 at Darwin in the Northern Territory. Nova’s family lived in a specific Housing Commission unit belonging to a popular building identified as ‘The Kurrigal Flats (Peris, 2000). In addition, Nova is a descendant of Cobourg Penisula, which is the traditional land that owned by the Murran people. In fact, after reconnecting with her biological father known as John Christophersen, Nova started visiting that place frequently bringing her teammates with her. This land remained a significant part of her life because whenever she was attacked by negative publicity, she would find solace there. Nova has had an interesting life with her stepfather as well as with her intimate partners such as Sean (Peris, 2000). Despite having pressure from her family, friends and from her sporting career, Nova was battling with a mental illness commonly known as anxiety disorder. This paper will evaluate Nova’s sporting, family and personal life in light of anxiety disorder illness. This is by evaluating and assessing how she was able to manage the mental illness despite immense pressure from her life (Peris, 2000).

Anxiety Disorder

During hockey games, anxiety forced Nova to hyperventilate and thus, she was frequently seeking medical attention from sporting psychologists. However, most of the time she would consider herself fit and would thus; shun the hockey games protocol of making regular visits to medical practitioners. It is important to understand that anxiety is a normal reaction towards stressful conditions or situations and may sometimes be considered beneficial to a person experiencing it (Antony & Rowa, 2008). However, Nova’s anxiety was a form of mental disorder as it differs to normal feelings that indicate nervousness (Wittchen, 2003). In Nova’s case, it was mainly characterized by excessive anxiety or fear especially just before the inception of games. It may be that she was very fearful of failing in her life and particularly, in her sporting career (Chong & Nixon, 2011).

Having been raised by strict and sometimes physical stepfather, Nova may have developed the fear of failing. Moreover, she had gotten married at a young age to Sean with whom she got her daughter at 18years and called her Jessica Nova (Peris, 2012). The most common cause of anxiety is the uncertainty of future prospects, which Nova had so much expectations. It is for this reason that anxiety disorders are considered the most common forms of mental disorders that have been estimated to affect about thirty percent of adult individuals during a point in their lives (Wittchen, 2003). The fact that Nova kept psychologists nearby during hockey games indicated that the disease is treatable although, through various treatment procedures. The aim of these treatments is to ensure that individuals or patients are able to lead normal productive lives (Christie, 1995).

After moving to Queensland aged 17 together with her boyfriend Sean Kneebone, Nova felt discriminated against and she also felt alienated (Peris, Heads, & Australian, 2003). This is by her family and friends who never approved that very decision coupled with the then existing racism. Nova was trying hard to develop her career and that move had been particularly prudent as it contributed immensely towards her career growth. It is important to note that while everything that was happening in her life was bringing pressure, Nova was still struggling with anxiety disorder. In fact, this was heightened during that period when she had too much anticipation for her future concerns in regards to her sporting career. Anxiety disorder is mainly characterized by avoidance behavior as well as muscle tension. This explains the reason why she chose not to heed her step-father’s and friend’s advices and instead followed her own counsel.

In addition, this mental illness normally forces patients to try avoiding situations that have high probabilities of worsening or triggering its symptoms (Antony & Rowa, 2008). This typically results in strained or broken relationships whereby patients tend to alienate themselves. This explains Nova’s decision to leave Melbourne in Victoria in 1996, while escaping the atmosphere that she termed to be poisonous. This is was a result of the breakup happening between her sporting friend Cathy Freeman with her boyfriend Nic Bideau, who was also her manager (Peris, 2012). It is important to note that people who have panic disorders normally experience unexpected panic attack that are usually characterized by periods of intense fear that are coupled with a pounding heart, palpitations, sweating that normally end up with irrational decisions. In this respect, despite the fact that Nova was training for her upcoming games at Melbourne she was forced to escape.

Anxiety disorders have specific risk factors that may include environmental as well as genetic factors that mainly interact with each other on a daily basis. The most common risk factor among many patients is childhood behavioral inhibitions (Christie & Michael, 1984). In Nova’s case, she did not fully grow up having both of her biological parents. It is possible that her parent’s separation will have had impacts on her. Secondly, as a female she could have been overwhelmed with her desire to prosper in the sporting world, which was uncommon for women during her career. In this case, her stepfather’s pressure coupled with her own aspirations as well as expectations could have continually triggered the illness frequently.

In addition, her own love life proved to be yet another risk factor concerning her mental health. Nova had a complicated and unbalanced relationship with her husband due to issues in their lives. Consequently, her divorce and separation from her husband could have intensified her mental condition because she was expecting that she was going to share her future with him. It is important to note that Peris got married to Sean despite her step-father’s constant warning (Peris, 2012). This means that as an anxiety disorder patient, she was likely to suffer from social phobia. This is a situation where patient in such situations expect to feel judged, embarrassed, fearful, rejected or fearful of offending others. More importantly to note is the fact that although Nova was in bad relationship, she opted to stay for the sake of her daughter. In this case, she was engulfed by the fear of causing hurt to her daughter and thus, stayed in a relationship that was not clearly working for her. Additionally, in the case of social phobia, Nova confronted her feelings and returned home after her separation from Sean.

Indeed Nova’s story illustrates an individual who was cumbered by very pressurizing events in her life despite the fact that she was suffering from anxiety disorder (McCallum & McCallum, 2000). This illness often makes people to react in a variety of ways in different situations. However, Nova who is also a public figure was able to manage and control her condition that neither disrupted her sporting career or her private life and as a result, inspiring many other people who suffer from mental illness.


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