Growing up in an environment where survival was on the forefront, mental health seemed to be less of a priority.

Acknowledging the sacrifice and struggles that her Cypriot parents went through when they fled war and poverty, to come to Australia with nothing but a hope for a better life, Koraly Dimitriadis admits that “for a long time there was a shame talking about anything other than the glamour that Australia brought to our lives.”

“From a cultural perspective, I’m more concerned about the intergenerational trauma, than not having the conversations that we need to have with our children,” says Koraly to Neos Kosmos.

Koraly Dimitriadis is a Greek-Cypriot artist and author of the poetry books “Love and Fck Poems” (also translated into Greek) and “Just Give Me the Pills,” who wishes to break that cycle and help others do the same.

“When you are young you hate your parents because you don’t understand.”

“Then you realise that everything was done out of survival, and that’s why it’s so hard to talk about these things,” she explains.

Over the years, human survival has been based on the ability to adapt.

Although triggers that cause high levels of emotional distress, might be a vital response to protecting oneself and family, being on “survival mode,” is an adaptive behaviour that can be physically and mentally harmful on a long-term condition.

These adaptations may be passed on to future generations, and thus create a cycle of trauma, that manifests itself into mental illness such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD.

These trauma responses create a hostile environment for personal growth, and emotional wellbeing.


Koraly stepped into motherhood at a young age, allowing her to gain a better insight and tap into the unique parent-child relationship.

This experience “changed” her “whole perspective in life” and made her think “what role model” she wanted to be for her teenage daughter.

After she got divorced, “she knew something was wrong,” an esoteric call for confronting what would later lead to a healing experience.

“I want to have those conversations now around healing which might be difficult for some people to have, because it’s easier to look at the shiny car than look at this stuff.”

“You can run away from it, go get another shiny car, but in the end of the day, it catches up with you.”

Using this knowledge as a weapon against the perseverance of pathological behavioural patterns, she supports an approach that is proactive in removing the stigma around mental illness, replacing it with transparency and honesty.

“We might not be able to get our parents to shift their mentality in that regard, but we can definitely do it and stop the cycle for our children,” she says, suggesting that “that these conversations need to happen in an honest and delicate way.”

The Greek-Cypriot artist, published an article in the Today Show (USA), sharing her own personal struggles with mental health issues while hoping to raise awareness about the importance of mental health.

Koraly filming “Yiayia mou” in Cyprus. Photo: Supplied


Growing up in an environment that “you weren’t really encouraged to ‘find out who you are’, but to go to university and get married,” she soon realised that “”in order to understand who, you are, you first need to understand where you came from.”

According to Koraly, “learning and understanding” her parents, seemed to have been an integral part of her self-discovery journey, admitting that “seeing where they’re coming from,” allowed her to talk about these issues “in a less angry way,” and created space for reconciliation.

“I don’t want my parents to die and have a hostile relationship with them. I couldn’t think of anything worse.”

Koraly made the decision to “work really hard” on herself and her family in order to create a relationship that will somehow have a redeeming effect on both sides.

“It is now that we are starting to understand the trauma that our parents and grandparents experienced.”

“Before it was about survival. Now it is about healing.”

“I think our culture is transitioning from survival to healing.”


What also contributed to raising awareness around mental health struggles, was the pandemic.

“I think it brought mental health to the forefront,” said the Greek-Cypriot artist, as it created a condition where “everyone suffered some kind of impact.”

“You can’t be in lockdown for two years and come out without being affected.”

Koraly says that just as our physical self-care needs must be met, our emotional and mental self-care needs require attention too, highlighting the importance of integrating mental health care in our everyday routine.

“We must look after our mental health like we do eating. Like if you don’t eat for the day, you’re not going to function.”

“Mental health must be part of the everyday routine of your life,” she adds, referring to meditation and physical exercise as being mentally healthy practises that people can engage in.


Even though Koraly has seen a positive “shift” to nowadays’ culture surrounding mental health issues, she also feels “there can be an improvement.”

Seeing how both men and women can be wilfully blind, when it comes to their own mental challenges, she focuses her attention on the catastrophic repercussions that are caused particularly by male neglect.

In her opinion, there is an even bigger issue with men who struggle with acceptance when it comes to their own mental illness, raising the issue of abuse that can be directed to their partner or children.

Koraly feels that this is a result of a deeply ingrained inability and denial of men to seek for professional help when needed.

“I really worry about mental health issues, and how you can’t show emotion, how you need to be tough.”

“That kind of mentality turns into domestic violence and abuse.”

“We really need to tackle that stigma.”

“Acknowledgement is fundamental, and is the hardest step, in my view.”

Koraly Dimitriadis performing her theatre work, Koraly: ” I say the wrong things all the time”. Photo: Di Cousens


“Art is my saviour. It’s how I process things.”

Koraly admits that seeing the ways in which her work has helped other people, also helps her “heal” in return.

This triggers a memory, that seems to have come as a personal revelation of truth about the deep healing effect that she has shared with others through her art.

“Once I performed this poem and a Greek woman came up to me, thanking me for everything that I do,” she recalls.

At first Koraly, responded in an appreciative manner to the kind words of the woman, but didn’t pay much attention, as she casually continued interacting with the people around her.

It was when the woman firmly grabbed her hand and said “No look me in the eyes. Thank you,” that she felt the power of that moment.

Looking deeply in that woman’s eyes, the Greek Australian artist was stricken by intense emotions.

“It always stayed with me.”

“That’s why I do it. Through helping myself I’m also helping people.”


“The Koralation Party” is Koraly’s latest upcoming event, and will be held at Theory bar, on Sunday 26 March, between 6:30pm and 9:30pm.

“Yiayia mou” will be one of the films that will be premiered at “The Koralation party,”and appears to hold a special place in Koraly’s heart.

“I can’t even put to words what it means to me to be able to create that film,” she says.

“Yiayia mou” which means “My grandmother” in Greek, was filmed in Cyprus on the ancient theatre in Paphos, with the support of the University of Sydney.

It explores the intergenerational trauma, referring to the forced marriage of her grandmother who was stripped of her freedom of choice.

“My grandmother didn’t have a voice. This film is giving her a voice,” she says.

Koraly proudly mentions that her grandmother, her mother, and aunt, together with herself and daughter, all left a four generation “fingerprint” on that film.

For further details of the event, you can follow this link.