Did you hear the one about the good Greek girl who walked into a tattoo parlour to celebrate the anniversary of her discharge from a psych hospital? No? Well that’s not surprising because it’s not a joke, there is no punch line. It’s a true story about Maria Katsonis, the good Greek girl who grew up above her parents’ milk bar and shared a bedroom with her yiayia.
That is until university when she discovered her rebellious side and her true sexuality. Summoning the courage to come out as a lesbian to her Greek Orthodox family and community, Maria was not met with love and support, but was ostracised.
Embracing her imposed independence, Maria became your typical type A over-achiever. Furthering her studies later in life, Maria graduated from Harvard University with a Masters degree. Little did she know, in five years time, Maria would be alone on a bed in a white psych ward fighting for her life.
Maria had experienced a complete mental breakdown, shattering her professional and personal identity.
The Good Greek Girl will make you laugh, cry, gasp and smile, written with the honesty Maria’s story deserves, and the elegance and craft expected from such an inspiring public intellectual.
Now a senior executive in the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet, an ambassador for beyondblue and advocate with the Australia Council for Mental Health, Maria has more than conquered the forces that held her back, she owns them.
While she now lives with a chronic mental illness, Maria leads an active, meaningful and extraordinary life. Her story of triumph over adversity is nothing short of inspiring.
Maria enjoyed a traditional Greek childhood, living on top of a milk bar and sharing a bedroom with her yiayia. She was a good Greek girl throughout high school until university when she discovered her rebellious side and abandoned nine-tenths of an economics degree for a career in the theatre. She managed theatre companies such as Anthill and Arena Theatre Company and then became an independent arts management consultant and theatre producer, touring shows to Asia, Europe, and South America. After a decade in the arts, Maria decided it was time for a career change and became a bureaucrat, joining the Victorian Public Service. In 2008, Maria experienced a severe episode of depression and was hospitalised for over a month. She now lives with an ongoing mental illness and has become a vocal advocate for mental health. Maria is a beyondblue Ambassador and a consumer advocate with the Mental Health Council of Australia. While she lives with a chronic mental illness, she leads an active and meaningful life. Maria Katsonis is a senior executive in the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet and a public policy lecturer at the Melbourne School of Government.