Put yourself out there

 

When I woke up this morning it was dreary, rainy and cold. I felt tired, lethargic and sleep deprived. Fast forward a few hours and I feel refreshed, rejuvenated, relaxed, fulfilled and stimulated. All because of one little choice I had made earlier in the week. A decision to 'put myself out there' so to speak.

                  Earlier in the week I contacted a family friend I hadn't seen in years, but had known quite well when I was younger. We had chatted sporadically on social media, but not face to face in what could easily have been 10-15 years. I asked if she would like to catch up sometime. This act itself always gives me anxiety; not just with new connections, old friends I haven't seen in years or loose acquaintances. I often get nervy asking well established friends to hang out or catch up. Sounds ridiculous right? 

                  To me, not so much. As I've mentioned in previous blogs, I am quite an unconfident person (I'm getting better!!) and I regularly second guess myself. So whenever I go to pursue a social gathering, a meet up or attempt to create a connection there's this a little voice inside my head that makes we wonder whether they actually want to see me, whether I am worth someone's time or whether I'm too 'boring'. The list of ridiculousness is extensive. 

                  However, lately (particularly in the last 6-18 months) I have begun getting far more comfortable with putting myself out there and just 'going for it'. I'm not sure where it has come from exactly, but I' enjoying the ride it is taking me on. I haven't yet read 'The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck' by Mark Manson, but I genuinely look forward to the day I do. Because I think that is one hell of a message! And somehow, I think it's starting to sink in. I'm starting to worry less about what others think of me and more about what I think of myself. And with that has come less of a concern with how I am seen by those around me as compared to how I see myself. 

                  There's a really beautiful freedom in that notion. I can't say I'm an expert at it, the confidence ebbs and flows like the tide, but those moments of grit, sheer determination and self assurance are amazing! I really think that the most important thing in life is to be authentic to who you really are and what you are really about. And I will openly tell anyone who will listen that I could talk under water with a mouthful of marbles and that I really enjoy meeting new people, making new connections and learning new things. There are few things in life I enjoy more than a stimulating conversation where you have NO interest in looking at your phone, you lose all track of time and you are just genuinely, unequivocally in the moment. 

                  So, embracing that fact and continuing to pursue friendships and experiences that grow me as a person, I sent the Facebook message and was met with a 'that would be lovely'. Always a lovely thing to hear when you're unsure of what the outcome will be! Consequently, we met up with this morning I grabbed a take away coffee and went on about a 7km walk in Malabar and Maroubra with a friend. At different points it was windy, drizzling and raining, but we decided to commit to the walk anyway. And I am beyond grateful that we did!

                  Not only had I visited the beach properly for the first time in quite a while, but I hadn't been on a good long walk. I hadn't stood or walked in the rain without caring. I hadn't had a conversation that I couldn't tear myself away from or that had my mind whirring with possibilities or that made me consciously neglect my phone. I got all of that this morning and more. I was simply buzzing with positive energy and gratitude by the time our lovely walk sadly came to an end. 

                  Before lunch time I had:

·      Reconnected with an old friend

·      Driven to a beautiful location I rarely visit

·      Had a lovely time outdoors walking

·      Meandered a new track/path to any I had done before

·      Enjoyed the rain on my face and skin

·      Talked intensely and passionately about a wide range of topics

·      Been completely mindful of my present circumstances and not been living in the past or future (how rare!!)

·      Completed my entire 10 000 step count 

·      Not been able to wipe the smile off my face

What a Sunday morning! All because I put myself out there!

                  Funnily enough, that was somewhat of a common thread/theme to our conversation throughout the morning walk. Discussing self confidence whether socially, professionally, athletically etc. Backing yourself, your personality and your abilities is such an important thing in life....yet it's something I struggle with so much in life. And because of this, and my mental health issues, I find it really hard to put myself out there.

                  If someone was to examine my life they would see just how safe I played it for so long. And anyone who has really known me over the past years would know how often I stayed in the 'box' because it was easier, safer and more comfortable and I feared the judgement of others. Consequently, it was relatively easy to put me back in my 'box' and make me stay there. However, playing it safe, staying in my box and going with others' flow never grew me. Being comfortable never made me a better person. If anything, it just made my personal development plateau....

                  There are many quotes and saying about comfort zones: "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone", "success happens when we leave our comfort zone", "the magic happens when you step outside your comfort zone" and "everything you've ever wanted is one step outside your comfort zone". All with the same message - don't play it safe! Take a risk! Do something that scares you! Get out there!

                  It's taken me a long time, and I will admit that I regularly regress, but I realise now that life isn't meant to be lived 'safely' and 'securely' all the time. We aren't here to merely work, eat and sleep; as many fall into a pattern of doing. There's no one, 'right' way to go through life. And there's so much more to be gained by cutting your own path in life, rather than following the path of everyone else.... 

                  As Robin William's character reminds us in 'Dead Poet's Society' - 'Carpe Diem'; seize the day! We live so that we can suck the marrow out of life and live life to its fullest. To breathe, live, love, see and feel deeply. To explore, investigate, ponder and examine fully. To find what creates a fire inside us and throw ourselves whole heartedly into it, whether it is a mission, hobby, passion, vocation or profession. To discover who we really are and wish to be, then set out to become that 'best' version of ourselves. 

                  Equally as relevant, is Matthew Broderick's character Ferris Bueller. He reminds us that "life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." So many of us live our lives pay cheque to pay cheque, or bill to bill. We repeat a series of daily routines like robots, drifting through life almost with our eyes closed. 

                  It's a sad indictment on society how busy and bustling our lives are, how quickly our weekends become a time in the past and how frequently we cut out the things we love due to responsibilities and restrictions. I am repeatedly reminded of all the things I used to love to do that I feel like I never get time for anymore- reading, writing, (blogging!), outdoor adventures, art, photography....

                  As we get older we become so focused on having 'the life' in whatever version we have been sold it e.g. husband, house, dog and 2.5 children, single and travelling for years at a time, multiple property owner. And somehow, over a period of time and before we really notice what is happening, we've traded who we were as children, who we are at heart and who we are really destined to be for someone else's dream and someone else's ideal of 'perfect'. Society sells us what we 'should' be, have, want and need. 

                  For so long I fell for it. Hook, line and sinker. I hid my intelligence to make and keep friends. I felt awkward about participating in traditionally 'male' sporting pursuits. I felt inadequate next to others due to the way they dressed and what they owned. I cut time from things I loved in order to work, study, meet each deadline and ultimately fit in. Over time I attempted to shave my square edges to fit that damned 'round' hole. And I stayed standing with both of my feet planted firmly in my comfort zone and ultimately the 'box'. 

                  That was until I started addressing my O.C.D, Anxiety and Depression. The more I talked about the issues, the more I effectively discussed myself and the more self aware I became. As a chain reaction, I found myself talking about my issues more openly and identifying myself by them, not in a negative sense but as a part of myself. I owned them and I was even able to identify positive effects that came from them. 

                  Consequently, the more these conversations occurred and the more I reflected, the more I realised I was trying to make other people happy. The more I realised how often I had stopped my own progress or created my own 'glass ceiling' because I was worried about what might happen if I took the risk/'leap of faith'. What others might think.....

                  But why does it matter? As 'The D.U.F.F' gently reminds us (I'm on a movie roll today, bear with me), it is not about what others think of us. First and foremost, it is about what we think of ourselves. Our lives weren't created so we could make others happy and follow all of their rules. We're on this Earth for our own purpose, to find our own truth and to venture towards our own version of happiness. 

                  If it's one thing I'm learning in all of this, it is that this life is MINE and that ultimately, I should answer to myself and not others. It's my mind. My body. My journey. And my decisions are my own. I shouldn't have to feel the need to justify myself to others. (Yet I do!!!) I should just live my life to the fullest; however that may be.

                  However, for us to truly to do that, we need to own our life. Own our story. Accept what has happened, be mindful of what is happening and look forward positively to what is yet to happen. We need to know ourselves in order to grow ourselves. And a large part of that is putting ourselves out there! It is showing the world who we are and following our hearts. Authenticity is the essence of true happiness and a fulfilling life. 

                  As a wonderful work colleague of mine regularly reminded me; 'your beliefs, values, actions and visions should all align. The vision will pull you forward.' And it is so true! The more in tune you are with your morals, values and beliefs the more fully you are able to follow and manifest your visions. And sure enough, because it is inevitable, your actions come to reflect your true soul, self and spirit.

                  So my message is simple. Don't be a sheep! Be a shepherd. Find your own path to travel in life. I have distinctly distasteful memories of Advanced English in the Senior years because of the theme of 'journeys' and having to memorise and decipher Robert Frost poems. Yet, ironically, here I am at 28 (11 years after graduating High School) finding that I understand the concept and the poems far better than I ever thought I would. "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-, I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference."

                  Don't settle! For safety, for security, for someone else's dreams, for second best, for being an option instead of a priority.....for any of it! Get out there, back yourself and go for it! No matter how much it scares you, 'make it happen!' 

                  I'm not going to lie, you'll be nervous/anxious at times. You'll feel sick to the stomach and possibly want to throw up your lunch at times. You'll worry yourself sick or stop yourself sleeping soundly at others. It'll take more mental strength than you thought you had sometimes. People will try to talk you out of it. Others will try to convince you that it's safer to stay where you are. Some may even venture as far as to try to knock you down a peg or to undersell your abilities and experience.

                  Don't listen. Don't take notice. Stay the course and you'll be glad you did. There's going to be rejections and they'll hurt - they'll sting like hell and make you second guess EVERYTHING. But people aren't successful the first time; 'Rome wasn't built in a day!' People are successful because they failed again and again until they found the best way to do something. 

                  As a less confident and self assured person I marvel at some of the marvels of the human race - Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Vincent van Gogh, Albert Einstein and Walt Disney. They persevered despite the opinions of others, countless setbacks and many obstacles. Almost impossibly, they stayed their course and look what they now have to show for it! Look at all they have created and where it has taken their respective fields, let alone society!

                  So whatever you want to do right now or in life, throw yourself into it whole heartedly! Own yourself and your story - the good, indifferent, bad and mess bits! You are a work of art - don't EVER forget that. Find you passion and your mission in life and work towards it/make it happen! Stop worrying about what others think, do and say and do what makes you happy. Take that solo trip overseas. Go back to University. Get that tattoo. Quit the job that makes you unhappy. Hold out for the 'dream' job. Keep perfecting that manuscript. Start painting again. Unpack your camera. Say yes to that date you were offered. Wear that 'bold' outfit. Ask that long lost friend for a coffee date. Try that new gym class that scares you. Sign up for a new hobby. Book in that new piercing. Pick up your life and move. Cut out the toxic people that surround you. Start that business that's been a 'pipe dream' for half your life.

                  Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Be you. Do you. 'Those that mind don't matter and those that matter don't mind.' You get one go round, at the end of it do you want to be asking 'what if?' and regretting, or do you want to smile at all the silly mistakes you made, laugh at all the times someone underestimated you and celebrate all of your wins and all of the times that life rewarded your hard work.

                  I'll never forget the day I was discussing 'precepts' with my class. We were brainstorming all of the positive quotes we knew and all of the wonderful things to remember as we travel through life. I asked for students to suggest some sayings they liked. Straight up went the hand of one of the most anxious, non-confident students I have ever taught. Confident and clear as ever he said "Challenge your limits, don't limit your challenges." I could have cried. I hope one day I come across him when he's all grown and I can see/hear about how he put that into a practice. It's funny how we seem to get it all as a child and somehow we forget it all as we become adults. 

                  So what are you going to do? Stay precisely where you are or start to push the boundaries? Zig Ziglar has a beautiful quote that sums it all up beautifully - "The Three C's of Life: Choices, Chances, Changes. You must make a Choice, to take a Chance or your life will never Change."

By Carly Jeffrey.

Who we are

 I'm currently reading the book 'Wonder' by R.J Palacio with my students at the moment. And I can honestly say that all of us (me included) are loving it. Early in the book, August's English teacher Mr Browne introduces the class to the idea of 'precepts', which he explains are rules about 'really important' things. The one he uses as an example is 'who we are'.

                  Perhaps that all began at the age of 7, when I sat in my year 2 Catholic scripture lesson on a Thursday morning. I think my catechist was trying to get the immenseness of God's love and heaven across to us, but it went horribly wrong. In all honestly I can tell you that I found the concept of time difficult. Kids often do at that age. So when my teacher told me that one day the Sun would shrivel up and die (running out of gas for combustion) and that everything on Earth would cease to exist, it struck home. Admittedly I didn't realise how far off that event was from happening, but I understand the magnitude of what she was saying...

                  You see, I hadn't been introduced to the concept of 'mortality' yet. Anyone who didn't exist in my life had 'passed away' and heaven was a rather abstract notion for a 7 year old, who was still in her 'egocentric' stage of learning. Later that year I would come to know it's meaning a little better, as my great grandmother passed away from cancer, but still I wouldn't fully comprehend it.

                  I still remember the impact of my catechist's words. She was a lovely lady (and still is) who I have the utmost respect for. And I'm sure she would be mortified if she knew her words would have such an adverse affect on me, as it would never have been her intention. No sooner had those words slipped out of her mouth, than the whole room began to close it around me. My heart started to beat a lot faster, my palms became a bit clammy and a had this awfully nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach. A sinking feeling. 

                  That was my first experience with anxiety. And it would plague me for years to come. In fact, I still experience it now, 21 years later. It's that nagging feeling deep within me making me second guess my choices, my actions and my feelings. The shady sensation in the pit of my stomach that churns, eating away at my confidence, my courage, my charisma and my resilience. That nasty voice in my head making me wonder if indeed I'm good enough or I've tried hard enough.

                  At the age of 7, I suddenly understood that from a Christian standpoint (which I was brought up to identify with) there was only one life. One go round. So you had to make the most of it. You only got one shot, so you had to be the best person you could be. And in that moment was born my Type-A personality and my OCD tendencies, because perfectionism was key and you had to get it 'right'. I wanted to live my life successfully and to have an impact, I wanted to make a difference in my numbered days.

                  So as a result, for a lot of my life I've wondered what the meaning of it all was. Not in a Monty Python 'The Meaning of Life' way, but in a genuine 'why am I here?' kind of way. I mean, we're born at a precise time out of this incredible combination of genetics that makes us uniquely us. And then day by day we make our way through a multitude of decisions along a mysterious path that stretches out in front of us for an unknown number of days. 

                  We have a vast range of experiences- good, bad, happy, sad, euphoric, depressive and heart wrenching. People come in and out of our lives from our first day until our last, some for a short time, others for the long haul while some are a lesson and others are for life. And whilst some believe there is a divine plan for us, others don't feel like there is one.

                  So I guess it all kind of clicked for me when I read those three little words 'who we are'. Perhaps a large part of the whole mysterious meaning of life, is that it is this marvellous journey of self discovery. A constant change of who we are and what we are about. A flux in identity, until one day (and who knows when for some of us - especially me) we become happy and confident within ourselves - our values, beliefs and actions.

                  And possibly there is a far more significant meaning than that.....I'm not saying I'm an expert. However, if you think about it, the concept of who we are underpins everything we choose to do in life and consequently the impact we have on a small or large scale. The more self-assured and confident we are, the more likely we are to pursue our dreams and enact change. 

                  But then I found myself thinking about my own identity. Recently I've admitted to a number of people, including my psychologist, that I feel like I've lost my sense of identity. Over the last six months I've noticed myself using words such as 'lost' and 'confused' a lot, particularly about who I am, what I am about and where I am heading. 

                  Upon reflection, I know I've never been confident within myself. People find that hard to believe at times, because I public speak, I have used my voice to address my concerns in the workplace and I constantly put myself out there, but no - I'm not a confident person. Not yet. And honestly? I think a lot of that comes down to the fact that I'm unsure of my identity. It's hard to be confident in yourself, if you're not sure who you are.

                  Discussing this notion with my psychologist, I stated how I had begun thinking about who I wanted to be and become. I came to the realisation that a lot of my life has been lived according to other people's opinions. I have always wanted the acceptance and approval of other people; since day dot. I lived for reassurance from my parents, praise from my teachers, compliments from my friends and inclusion from my peers. But sadly, somewhere along the way I lost sight of who I was and what I was about, because it didn't fit in with what other people's ideal was. And I wanted so desperately to belong that I began to hide. 

                  I read a really interesting article the other day about Alicia Keys and a revelation she had had. It reported that she had once taken to social media to discuss her self-reflections on her life and a revelation she had come to. Expecting a typical 'click-bait' article, I was pleasantly surprised to find a really raw reflection that hit home. HARD.

                  In the social media post Alicia Keys talked about how over time she had hidden parts of herself, little by little. The parts of herself that she mentioned as being hidden were:

- her intelligence so she wasn't favoured by teachers or used as an example, worried that she would be made fun of or looked at as 'different'

- her looks and body so as to not gain unwanted attention from men on the street; jeans and played down hair instead of makeup, pretty hair and dresses

- her thoughts, feelings and opinions

                  It resonated with me so intensely, because I could relate. I was Alicia Keys and she was me. I had had the same set of experiences, I just hadn't grown up to be famous. My anxiety had created this need to be seen in a positive light; a want and need to please. Not just academically, but socially. And therein lay the potential for some very unhealthy patterning and some very unpleasant memories.

                  In hindsight, I've had a very poor relationship with myself - not just because of my OCD, anxiety and depression, but because of my desperation to 'fit in' and 'belong'. I gave away my power to people who didn't deserve it, because I was trying to be something I wasn't for the sake of making 'friends' who were honestly not the kind of people I should have ever wanted to associate with. Real friends don't make you feel poorly about yourself, they don't put you down, they don't exclude you and they don't make you dislike aspects about yourself that you are unable to change. But most of all, they don't humiliate you for being exactly who you are.

                  Over the years I have been ashamed of and tried to hide a vast number of things that make me who I am:

·      My intelligence

·      My work ethic/study habits

·      My sporting ability

·      My body shape/type

·      My 'tomboyish' habits

·      My dress sense

                  I wouldn't say my relationship with myself has improved all that much, despite many years going by. But I know I'm on my way. So I find myself at the age of 28, almost on the cusp of turning '30' experiencing what can only be deemed as a 'quarter life crisis' or as a dear friend of mine reminds me 'a quarter life clarification' (because you know, positivity is key!)

                  That being said, I have learned a few things in my time:

- The most important relationship you have is with yourself 

- You need to work at being your own best friend, not your own worst enemy

- Despite what society tells you, life is not a competition so don't get caught in the 'comparison trap'; just work at being the best possible version of yourself

                  Which brings me back to my first concept. Life really does revolve around who we are. So I'm starting there. With my identity. 

                  Having discussed this with some of my close friends, I was grateful to get their advice and ideas. My best friend was quick to remind me that I beat myself up a lot and that I really, really need to stop. She told me that I need to be confident. And I love her for it, I do. I just wish she realised how hard that is for me to do.

                  Another one of my best mates told me that I just need to 'own it'. To be unapologetically myself. He's always telling me 'just do you'. And again, he's right. I'd just really like to know what it looks like.

                  Then came one of my other best girlfriends. We were sitting down to lunch and she was telling me how she had been given some 'homework'. She too was unsure of her identity and who she was, and had been called out when stating 'but who does?' The person she was speaking to said, 'I do.' So my beautiful friend found herself having to write a list of a things that she 100% knew about herself. 

                  Discussing this task with her, I found myself drawn to it. It sounded like a really healthy challenge. But we both baulked at having to work in 'absolutes'. Nevertheless, the idea got me thinking a lot and I started a list:

·      I have a loving husband

·      I love my dog Astrid

·      My parents are supportive

·      I am a teacher

·      I enjoy playing sport; particularly Soccer and Hockey

·      I enjoy being creative

·      Writing makes me feel good

·      I am family orientated

·      I am self aware

·      I worry a lot about what others think

·      I am a hard worker

·      Sarcasm and cynicism come easily to me

·      I have a good sense of humour

·      Beaches make me calm

·      I am a water baby

·      I love long, hot baths

·      I love singing and dancing, but am too embarrassed to do it in front of people

·      I am incredibly self critical

·      I have high expectations, first and foremost of myself, but of others as well

·      I live my life in spite of my OCD, Anxiety and Depression

·      I mean well

·      I like bright colours and bold patterns

·      I am intelligent (and I cringe every time I admit that)

·      My '5 favourite people' are quality friends who always have my back

·      I like my hair and my eyes

·      I am making a difference

·      I love 80s Molly Ringwald movies

·      Sunshine makes me happy

·      Summer is my favourite season

·      I enjoy watching 'Chick Flicks'

·      I think Jane Austen novels make great movies

·      I love reading (when I get time)

·      I don't think that 'self help books are for losers'

·      I have a love-hate relationship with crossword puzzles

·      I like the feeling of sand between my toes

·      I love eating eggs, despite my intolerance to them

·      I like to travel

·      Being outdoors and in nature is a favourite past time

·      I want to feel 'conscious' not just on a 'self' level, but a community or world level

·      I don't like being told what I can't do or being restricted by others' mindsets

                  And whilst most of you who read this will think it is the most random list ever, it tells me a lot about myself. It tells me who I was before I started worrying about what others thought. It tells me how I should be spending my time, instead of how I do. It tells how I should dress to express myself instead of subscribing to the 'societal ideal of feminine beauty'. It tells me how the flaws I worry most about matter least of because of everything else I have going on.

                  So my point is this. Despite the OCD, the Anxiety or the Depression (or whatever the hell else you have going on), find out who you are by whatever means necessary and own it. Stop hiding parts of yourself because others make you feel like you should! Don't ever let anyone dull your sparkle!

                  "Does the Sun ask itself, "Am I good? Am I worthwhile? Is there enough of me?" No, it burns and it shines. Does the Sun ask itself, "What does the moon think of me? How does Mars feel about me today?" No, it burns and it shines. Does the Sun ask itself, "Am I as big as other suns in other galaxies?" No, it burns and it shines.

                  Be too busy working on your own grass (or shine) to know if anyone else's is greener! Because in the end, it's about whether you were who you wanted to be.

Written by Carly Jeffrey.

For when you believe you can't, because you can

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I see you as you tuck your head into your hands

I feel the way your mind scrambles

As you try to overthink every possible situation

I feel the way your self-doubt seeps into your chest

Making your heart heavy

I know who you are, who you really are

Beneath the insecurity that you wear as a mask

I see your beauty, your imperfections,

Your flaws and your scars

If I told you that you are beautiful

Would you believe me?

If I told you that you are enough

Just the way you are

Would you believe me?

If I told you that you are smart

Would you believe me?

If I told you that you are capable

Of achieving so much more than you think

Would you believe me?

When will it be your time to start believing in yourself

To start believing in the strong heart that beats for you

The same heart that keeps you awake day and night

The same heart that has felt broken and weak

The same heart that you were born with

The same heart you feel beating in your chest

The same heart that gives and loves without

Asking for anything back

Start believing in your mind

It has the power to change your world

You have the power to change your world

Hey beautiful, you’re extraordinary!

Have I got your attention yet?

It’s time for you to dream bigger than the night skies

Wish upon a star and think like a five-year-old again

Hold on to your hopes and dreams

One day not too far away they will come true

And you will think to yourself

‘I am so glad I didn’t give up’

Remember when you wished for what you have now

Remember how hopeful you felt

It’s a beautiful blessing when hope turns into pride

And something bigger than you are

Can make all your dreams a reality

All you have to do is believe…

 

Written by Emily Vassallo

xx

Inspiring Interview with the beautiful Amy Dangerfield

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What are some of the experiences you went through to reach depression

My name's Amy, I'm 22 years old and I'm currently recovering from an 9 year battle with depression, complex PTSD and anxiety. It all began when I was 3 and my father passed away unexpectedly due to a heart attack... I don't think that my mother ever truly recovered, and her pain allowed her to easily fall victim to the years of physical, sexual, mental and spiritual abuse that were to follow. I was 7 when she introduced me to the man that would become my step-father. I will spare you of the details, but it was a painfully traumatic experience that occurred ongingly over a period of 7 years. I was 14 years old when I made the difficult decision to leave my mum and sister, and move out of home. 

During those 7 years, my psyche was damaged almost irreparably. Judging by the aforementioned forms of abuse, you can probably assume a great deal of what was endured. However, most of the mental disorders I experienced were more so correlated to the spiritual and psychological abuse. For example, from as young as eight years old, I was told that I was a slut, a tease, a disappointment, not good enough, a bitch (you get the idea) and these lies forged a core part of my identity and beliefs about myself. This resulted in a low-self image and lack of self-respect. The choices I made in the years to follow were a clear reflection of my feelings about myself. 

I started drinking and using drugs regularly as a defense mechanism and means of escaping the pain; including the guilt for abandoning my mother and sister. I neglected my own basic needs from a nutritional standpoint, refusing to learn to cook despite being on my own from age 14. I lived off soda and fast food, didn't exercise, and acted with total disregard for my body and mindset. Daily meltdowns soon followed until I attempted to take my own life at 17 by overdosing on 30+ arrhythmia pills.

How long were you battling with depression?

Here's the thing about overcoming trauma... there's really no such thing as getting over it. Major life disruption can only leave you with a new version of "normal." I was 18 when I began to consciously pick up the broken pieces of my life and experiment with different techniques to deal with my daily anxiety attacks and meltdowns. It wasn't until much later that I actually mastered them. In total, I would say I experienced the symptoms of depression for nearly half of my lifetime (9 years).

What/how did you do to seek help?

A friend of mine gave me a book while I was in hospital on suicide watch called 'The Power of Now' which started me on my journey of self-discovery. I began studying of the interworking's of the human mind/psyche, and quickly realized that with every passing day I was feeding my depression. First and foremost, I was extremely malnourished, which lead to deficiencies in my ability to think rightly and make make assertions about myself and the world around me. I also learned that people's suggestibility is powerfully influenced by the environments in which they find themselves; I was associating with people, listening to music and exposing myself to stimuli that resonated with the level of sadness I felt inside. 

What was one of your biggest life lessons?

One of my biggest life lessons occurred when I realized that it's not what happens to us that determines our life's future, it's what we do about what happens. I started researching people who'd been through forms of abuse that were similar and even worse than my own; many of whom were living happy, purpose-driven lives. In fact, many of these people went on to achieve great things not only despite their depression, but because of it. Rather than neglect their feelings, they used them as inspiration to become the best versions of themselves possible, as well as a beacon of hope for others who were facing similar demons. 

How did you “find yourself”

I began to consciously design my environment and grow my awareness of the factors that were influencing me on a conscious and subconscious level. I surrounded myself with positive people, places, and stimuli that would reprogram my mindset and the ingrained beliefs that were holding me back from healing. I listened to success driven books and audios night and day, I attended events motivational events and put myself in situations that would force me to grow mentally. For example, I started doing promotional work and taking on roles that involved public speaking and sales abilities... when just six months earlier, I couldn't even make eye contact with the person who was serving my food at a restaurant. 

I took control of my health by learning to cook and consuming foods that nourished my body and mind. After trial and error, I discovered that a 70% alkaline diet worked best for me. These are foods that are raw, natural and found in nature. In addition, I began consuming about a gallon of ionized, living water per day. Our bodies are made up of 75% water and our brains are 80% water. 1% lack of proper hydration can cause a 5% loss of cognitive function in the brain. Water is one of the most vital and underrated beverages; it's impossible to have a successful day without drinking the appropriate amount and type of water. I only recommend consuming ionized living water as this specific type of water contains healing properties that are not found in tap or bottled water. 

What do you do to help prevent yourself from sinking into depression?

There were days I didn't want to get out bed. There were days where I would go to work with a cloudy sadness looming above my shoulders. I experienced meltdowns that physically shook me. On occasion, my feelings of distress would wipe me out for days, to the point where I had to pray for the strength to get up and feed myself, or take a shower. There were days I relinquished all my control to the depression and c-PTSD/anxiety attacks. As easy as it was to put on the labels and wear them like a coat during these times, I realized the importance of reminding myself that my mental disorders did not define me. 

Nowadays, I only experience episodes of this nature maybe once or two per year. When I feel them coming on, I practice journalling, meditation and mindfulness to recenter myself. Dancing, working out and physically exerting myself also helps because it interrupts my mood and forces me into "gear shift." Exercise also stimulates the body's release of endorphins; chemicals that have a naturally relaxing and calming effect on the body. 

What inspires you?

Nothing inspires me more than seeing people succeed when the odds are against them. Next to that, it's community. When a group of people come together because they like something, believe in something, support something or want to create positive changes. 

Do you have inspiring advice you could give someone who is still trying to find “themselves”

Foster an attitude of gratitude. Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude, and can increase our happiness and well-being by doing so. Trials and suffering can actually refine and deepen gratitude if we allow them to show us not to take things for granted.  I'm not suggesting that gratitude will come easily or naturally when you're in crisis. But it's vital to make a distinction between feeling grateful and being grateful. We don't have total control of our emotions; we cannot easily will ourselves to feel grateful, less depressed, or happy. Feelings are a result of the way we look at the world, and gratitude provides a perspective from which we can view life in its entirety and not be overwhelmed by temporary circumstances. This perspective is hard to achieve, but trust me, it's worth the effort. 

Can I Get a Refund?

Yes, strange title but I’m hoping you’ll catch on in a minute…

 

Body Image (noun) - the perception a person has of their physical self and the thoughts and feelings that result from that perception.

 

Body Image; it sounds like such an ugly word, but why is that? Maybe it’s because more times than not we associate body image as something negative, the way we view our self, the way we are constantly comparing ourselves to everyone else. It feels almost as if we are playing tug of war with our mind and when our mind wins we feel like the ultimate failure sending you spiraling into an anxiety attack.

 

How can we stop this? How can we stop the torture chamber that we are constantly putting ourselves through? Let me ask you this. If your friend started putting themselves down and saying “My legs are fat, I wish I could be like a model and not put any weight on” would you:

 

A)   Put them down even further and agree with what they are saying

OR

B)    Encourage them to think and view themselves the way you see them (in a positive light)

 

Fill yourself up with that same over flow of positivity that you shoot out to your friends and loved ones. Stand in front of a mirror and give yourself three compliments (note: they don’t have to be about your physicality). You are so much more than your body or your appearance, how you act towards others and most importantly towards yourself shows your true beauty. Beauty is not defined by dozens of chemical makeup, hair products or designer high heels, beauty is about wearing your heart on your sleeve and giving to others unconditionally, beauty is passion, beauty is love, beauty is compassion, beauty is simplicity, beauty is understanding, beauty is in everything you see.

 

Imagine you are walking down a garden and you spot a flower - just one amongst all the others in the garden, what do you admire most about it? What features made it stand out so gently? It grabbed your attention in a subtle way and now you can’t stop but smile and literally ‘smell the roses’. YOU are that flower, gently growing and blooming in your own unique and beautiful way. I like to refer to myself as a sunflower because like a sunflower I am constantly growing and thriving off positive energy, love, happiness and sunshine and before you question; yes, I too have bad body image days. I have been on my own personal, emotional roller-coaster with my mind and body (playing a rebellious game of tug of war). There was a time period last year where I couldn’t face myself in the mirror without crying or feeling some sort of hatred towards myself. I would constantly receive genuine compliments by others around me and instead of saying ‘thank you’, I would let the compliment wash away like water down a drain because I simply could not see what they saw and because of this I became severely depressed. I wasn’t loving myself in any manner. So what changed?

 

Self-love and a whole lot of hard work (and time because nothing changes overnight - you are human), but to get back to my point self-love saved me!! It reminded me of my worth on my lowest of days and helped me to push through onto the next. I suddenly became a magnet for people that were also practicing self-love and fell in love that so many others like myself were learning and feeling the same radical emotions as I was, my heart knew strongly that this was my truth and I am forever grateful that it has helped me to heal, to grow and to strengthen- not just my heart; but my spirituality and relationship with the Universe.  

 

Another thing that helped to change my perspective and see myself in a different light was the experience of getting a professional photoshoot done. The preparation, the atmosphere on the day and then seeing the results moved me to tears. It was almost like someone had opened a new door and for the first time I could breathe in fresh air, I was seeing and understanding what others saw and from that day it started to become easier slowly but surely to understand that self-care isn’t selfish. Throwing myself a compliment when I’m wearing a bomb a** outfit is perfectly acceptable and that even when I have my bad days, I know that there is hope for a new tomorrow. Now I’m not saying that you have to go do as I did as I’m well aware that it’s not exactly in everyone’s budget, but another alternative would be to start an album in your phone and title it ‘Body Positivity’ as I did two years ago and then start filling it with photos of yourself (not limited to selfies, glamorous pictures, no makeup pictures etc.). Once you start to view yourself in different perspectives other than the one you are used to viewing, your world will change!

 

Here are some other things you can try to improve your body positivity:

·       Have a mini photoshoot at home or simply whip out your phone and start snapping

·       Thank your body for the amazing gifts it has and provides

·       Moisturize/pamper your skin and practice being mindful

·       Follow people on social media who also practice body positivity (I recommend watching ‘Embrace’ by Taryn Brumfitt)

·       Focus on the positive aspects of who you are

 

Nobody else is you!! Nobody else can do the brilliant, and amazing things just like you can. You are on this planet for a purpose. One of my all-time favourite quotes says “Everything happens for a reason” and to me that translates to mean that in any given situation the outcome will happen as its meant to. It gives me a moment to breathe and have hope again, knowing that everything will be okay.

 

Last week on two separate occasions I was sitting down with a close girlfriend and somehow the topic of body image came up. The first time the conversation looked like this “Oh my gosh I want your boobs and your figure” - to which I replied “I want your waist and stomach”, almost as if to imply that we can exchange and refund our bodies for another’s. Your body is yours, you have the ability to change and modify it through healthy forms, but you are unique and beautiful just as you were made.  On the second occasion a girlfriend opened up about how she disliked certain body parts of hers and then we started talking about it until it struck me that no matter what shape or size you are today you are doing the best that you can and that is enough and it’s likely that your Mum, sister or best girlfriends might be feeling the same as you so it definitely helps to lean on each other.

 

I’m grateful that my friends felt like they could turn to me and open up about how they were feeling. Please help someone you care about today to start “that awkward conversation” and know that you are beautiful. Today & Always!!

 

Unconditional love,

E xx

 

Written by Emily Vassallo

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Interview with Taylor Williams from Soul Purpose

Tell us a little bit about your story

Hi my name is Taylor Williams, I am 24 (almost 25 but we will keep that on the low) I live with my partner of 6 years, we have the most beautiful puppy dog, I am currently studying journalism at the University of South Australia, and I work casual in a retail store. I have anxiety. I’m not afraid or embarrassed anymore. My anxiety is part of who I am. I was diagnosed about 7 years ago and I have been on a journey ever since. I have seen a psychologist, counsellors, been on different anxiety depressants. At the moment I’m not seeing anyone and I am currently free of any medication and I’m living my life. It may seem like wow she has everything together but trust me; it has taken 7 years to get to this point of actually being able to live an everyday life.  

What are some of the experiences you went through to reach anxiety?

After seeing my psychologist for 12 months, he suspected that some of my anxiety is from my past. My parents split up when I was about 16-17 and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. At the time I never really coped or let it sink in and feel the emotions as I was trying to be supportive to my parents and be there for them. Not knowing at the time it was effect me in my future. To be honest I personally really don’t know what the everyday cause for my anxiety is, and I’ve spend 7 years trying to find the root to my anxiety and nothing, so I’m just trying to not obsess over it anymore.

How long have you been battling with anxiety?

As written above, it has been about 7 years.

What/how did you do to seek help?

At the start I did nothing, I let my anxiety completely take over. Then after months of being stuck in bed I started to see my GP first and they referred me to counselling and medication. For me, my medication never worked it only made it worse but that’s not saying it won’t help some people. All this stuff never really did a lot, therefore my GP referred my to my psychologist and that was honestly the best thing that ever happened to me. Tim was my psychologist and he didn’t try and get rid of my anxiety as no one can do that, he taught me how to cope with my anxiety and introduced me to mindfulness; Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one's attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training. This is life changing, and everyday since when my anxiety is really bad or having a panic attack I use the techniques I was taught and it 100% helps.

What was one of your biggest life lessons?

I would have to say learning not to give up. YOU need to push yourself and you have to want a better life. Yes there is people for support but I learnt it’s 100% up to me.

How did you “find yourself”

To be honest I have found myself through my anxiety. I have been at my absolute lowest with my anxiety and I mean loosing 8kg and I weigh roughly 43kg, and I’ve came back out on top better then ever. I’m so proud that no matter how low I feel I can always pick myself back up.

What do you do to help prevent yourself from spiralling into anxiety?

Usually I can feel myself about to spiral so firstly I’ll use my mindfulness techniques. Then I’ll go onto relaxing myself, so taking a bubble bath or lying on the couch watching Disney movies. Finally, do things you love and surround yourself with the people you love. I’ll catch up with my girlfriends, or head up to victor harbour to see my brother in law, sister in law and niece, go see my mum or dad, go to movies, have a date night with my partner etc. anything that makes you happy and keeps your mind away from your anxiety.

What inspires you?

Writing – 100% I write everything and anything.

 Do you have inspiring advice you could give someone who is still trying to find “themselves”

Give it time. I never thought I would be in a place I am now and it’s been a massive journey, but the journey is what has shaped me into the person I am today. Believe in yourself and love every part of yourself. Even your anxiety or any other mental health condition you may have. If you can’t change it learn to love it.

 

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or want to follow my journey follow my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/taylorjanewilliams/ or check out my blog at https://soulpurpose00.wordpress.com.

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Interview with Becky from Driven To Happiness

HAVE YOU EVER JUST WANTED TO PACK UP, LEAVE AND START A NEW JOURNEY? WELL BECKY BEAN HAS DONE JUST THAT. SHE WAS SICK OF LIVING GROUNDHOG DAY AND LIVING IN DEPRESSION... SO SHE SOLD EVERYTHING AND HAS BEEN DRIVEN TO HAPPINESS EVER SINCE.   I FIND HER INCREDIBLY INSPIRING AND SOOO FRICKEN FUNNY (YOU NEED TO WATCH HER INSTAGRAM STORIES) SO I ASKED HER FOR AN INTERVIEW AND HERE IT IS.... MEET BECKY.

HAVE YOU EVER JUST WANTED TO PACK UP, LEAVE AND START A NEW JOURNEY? WELL BECKY BEAN HAS DONE JUST THAT. SHE WAS SICK OF LIVING GROUNDHOG DAY AND LIVING IN DEPRESSION... SO SHE SOLD EVERYTHING AND HAS BEEN DRIVEN TO HAPPINESS EVER SINCE. 

I FIND HER INCREDIBLY INSPIRING AND SOOO FRICKEN FUNNY (YOU NEED TO WATCH HER INSTAGRAM STORIES) SO I ASKED HER FOR AN INTERVIEW AND HERE IT IS.... MEET BECKY.

   Tell us a little bit about your story

After spending 14 years in the rat race binging on alcohol and taking drugs, I had a rude awakening in 2016 and realised life needed to change there and then. I chose to break free from everything I had known and live a life of freedom and self development. I was sick of experiencing chronic anxiety and bouts of depression week in week out due to the way I was living my life. I continuously numbed my self through intoxication and ended up having a few near death experiences because of this. This behaviour was seriously effecting all elements of my life. It got to a point where I began to feel incredible shame. I realised i was not taking care of my self and my needs and I needed to under go some huge changes. I basically decided to strip life bare and start working on old wounding.

 

  What are some of the experiences you went through to reach depression

I come from a family with a history of alcohol abuse. I grew up around a lot of stressful and scary situations which conditioned me to live life as though I was on a big rollercoaster. If things were going well I would rush with excitement, get so high and happy and cherish every moment to the point that when things were not feeling so positive I would hit crazy levels of doom and gloom. Expect everything to go drastically wrong and constantly feel on edge. Balanced, neutral environments were unfamiliar to me and so if things started to feel balanced, it would feel abnormal. I'd get incredibly uncomfortable and either have to make the situation exciting some how or push for drama and stir emotions to get my fix of normality.

 

     How long were you battling with depression?

I don't really look at is as a label of "depression" anymore. To me, the dark periods of my life were opportunities for growth. I would say collectively over the years I have been up and down most of my life although my most darkest moments were probably around the age of 16 to 20 after my parents had separated and I chose to live on my own. I was incredibly vulnerable and out of touch with my self and spent most of this period intoxicated, the sober days were always horrendous. So much self hate. I have huge black out periods from this point in my life.

 

          What/how did you do to seek help?

In my teenage years I tried speaking with some CBT therapists but found these made me feel worse. My go to was booze and drugs as therapy. It was only just 18 months ago, in June 2016 I realised I really needed to work on my self. I first spoke with a life coach and started to take my self for long hikes in the country side to get away from my usual environment and reflect on the situation. I then went to an Ayhauasca retreat (this is a natural plant medicine) and EVERYTHING began to change. I soon realised there is a whole other level to 'being' that i'd been missing out on all along. Ayahuasca helped give me some very important messages and insights which I needed to work on with my self, alone. The real work occurred when I sold everything and hit the road, I lived in a car / campervan for nearly 10 months and this lead the way to some quality introspection time.

Seeking help can be a very important part of the journey however, most of the work needs to be done by you.

 

          What was one of your biggest life lessons?

Wow. Hard question as I've realised I've been given so many. I guess it would be the realisation that alcohol should not play a part in my life in order to break a very destructive pattern that has occurred throughout most of my family in the past and still carrying on today... I have lost a family member and friends to alcohol and I have seen it destroy relationships over and over, to then destroy my own and create a negative ripple effect on everything I do. I see now, that is the universe literally screaming at me, NOT THIS! I don't wish for these patterns to be continued through to my children, my children's children and so on...

In the past year, on the few occasions I have drank, every time something has gone wrong. I've finally got the message.

   How did you “find yourself”

Through months and months of alone time, working through old trauma, journalling, working with plant medicine to gain insights and then spending 10 days losing my mind in a silence retreat. I've found the real Becky, but now the hard part is holding on to her. She slips away from me sometimes as she's so used to her old ways. I'm getting there though... I am wide awake now and just need to stick to my new value system.

        What do you do to help prevent yourself from sinking into depression?

OK, I am not going to call it depression as I feel this word has a real negative stigma attached to it. I think when we label it, there's a lot of assumptions that go with that, like we're in it for the long haul or it's the worst state you can be in... all those negative associations with the word depression can keep us stuck in a rut. I've learnt it is totally possible to consciously transmute this state of mind.

Personally, I now feel in to the low moments I have, I embrace them. Emotions and energy are there for a reason, they are not to be ignored. The body is trying to give us a message. 

I now make sure that when negative stuff starts to surface, I let it flow through me. I give it acknowledgement and work with it by trying to understand where it's coming from so I can release it. 

Life is Yin and Yang... there is no way it's smooth runnings for anyone and there's no way we should hold back or prevent our selves from having down days. It's how we handle those down days that's important. Flow is key. Saying "i'm ok" all the time or attaching it to a label such as depression, isn't allowing it to pass through you. This is why I named my page "Driven To Happiness" as happiness requires constant drive to work through the ups and the downs. I've realised there is no final destination, we need to keep moving with time and embracing the bumps and pot holes! 

 

          What inspires you?

My journey through life has inspired me to get to a point where I feel confident enough to hold space and offer compassionate help to those who may be struggling with a similar background as my own. I have a strong calling to be there for youths who are moving in to independence / adulthood yet come from troubled backgrounds and could be easily attracted to fall in to the same habit patterns they grew up around. 

I believe that's why the universe actually makes us deal with a lot of bull shit, so we can learn and teach others how to grow consciously. It's time to stop history repeating it's self.

Russell Brand is my guru, just look at his journey and teachings? SUCH a powerful and inspiring being! Huge man crush.

 

         Do you have inspiring advice you could give someone who is still trying to find “themselves”

I won't start off by decorating this subject with frilly shit...

Stay strong and determined. This is like opening a can of worms, particularly if you have have had a troubled past. Be prepared to feel incredibly confused and alienated from everything for a while. Finding your self is no easy feat! I am not fully found, I think it takes years of hard work and dedication. Learning about every element of your personality, your triggers, your passions and dedicating plenty of time working through the insanity that comes with shedding layers of conditioning has been scary and confronting to say the least. You will find those you are closest too may not like it either, they can feel uncomfortable about your decisions and try and convince you not to change. Don't let that put you off! 

The rewards of working through all the scary stuff is SO worth it. I have to refer back to the feeling of fear / doom being a message from your body that you have to work with it. If you take the time and courage to do this, you will discover a new level of strength and pure confidence. 

You will find you can be completely comfortable with who you are as a person, there is no longer a need to pretend about anything and you start to discover and embrace your true gifts and creative talents. You begin feeling pure unconditional love for your self and others around you. I have never felt love quite like it, real genuine human connection. I guess it's because I am not hiding behind a mask anymore! 

If you're serious about this, I would highly recommend going to a 10 day Vipassana (silence) retreat to get you started. I have to say this played a HUGE part in alleviating a lot of my overthinking and anxiety. I will be writing about this experience soon so keep and eye on my blog.

https://driventohappiness.com/


 

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Be You

How you see your body is perceptual body image. Which basically means how you see yourself is different to how other people see you. We are our worst critics and this can have a huge effect on how you feel day to day. While some aspects of your body can be changed and altered like muscle definition and weight. Other body aspects cannot be changed. It is so important that you understand there is no right or wrong and there is no ‘perfect body type’. Learning to accept your shape is the first step towards not only a positive body image but simply being happy J

 

I view my own body image like a roller coaster ride. Some of you may believe I do not struggle with the way I look. I am human just like you and I struggle exactly the same as you. One day I will be at the top of the roller coaster feeling free and feeling like I could conquer the world, then I get to the loop dee loop and I feel like I want to hide from the world.

 

There is nothing more toxic and damaging than self-hate/low esteem. The biggest issue is social media. Social Media is great but it can also be detrimental to your self-esteem, you view all these gorgeous people living what you perceive to be the ‘perfect’ life.  I fell into the habit of idolising many Instagram models and I have had many days where I don’t feel adequate enough and I don’t feel pretty, smart, funny, thin enough. Just like all of you I have my days that I struggle to. However, when I feel like that I repeat to myself my favourite quote - “another person’s beauty is not the absence of your own”. I am learning that I am unique, and that’s a good thing. I need to remember that my beauty is different to other social media girls. This does not mean I am less though. You can admire another person, but avoid comparing!  You are all so beautiful in your own unique way and that makes you, YOU!

 

In this article I would like deal with your negative body image, rather than dwell on it. So let’s move on and start now! Start to feel confident and amazing:

 

-       Focus on the positives (I know this is hard to do but try) By focussing on your positive and amazing qualities you can start to accept your whole self.

-       Say at least 1-2 positive things to yourself a day. For example – I am funny – I am caring.

-       If social media is an aspect of your life that diminishes your self-perception of your body, then take some time away from it and don’t go back on until you believe you are awesome.

-       Count 1-2 things you are grateful for. For me its my family and my dog.

-       Avoid negative talk, as soon as you feel yourself beginning to degrade yourself. Stop. And think, “I am worthwhile, I am worth loving, I’m freaking awesome”.

-       Set achievable, healthy goals. My biggest issue is my mindset. I have recently started training with Jacob (JT fitness) and he has been great to get me on the right track of a healthy and happy mindset.  The more I exercise the more I feel happy and healthy. Not saying never eat bad foods! Popcorn and Maltesers are amazing and they’ll never go! I never went to the gym much due to my anxiety. I now feel comfortable to train with Jacob as he encourages me and empowers me to love my body and test my body to its limits.

-       Surround yourself with loving and supportive positive people. My family, friends and my boyfriend, are all-supportive in helping create this positive and healthy environment.

-       Accept your body shape. Accept yourself – own it!

 

With all this, yes look after yourself and yes love yourself but the way you look does not define you. If I have learnt anything from my mum it’s not what’s on the outside that matters, it’s the inside that defines you. I am beautiful because I care about other people, I am beautiful because I love to laugh. How you feel about yourself is a big thing, however it is so important to not make this your sole aspiration. Life is to be enjoyed! Try new experiences, and meet new people.

 

To work on your self-love, you should work on your sense of self worth. Your sense of self worth I believe goes hand in hand with self-love.  This is all about recognising that you are valuable and to quote my man man Dr. Seuss  

 

“Today you are you, that is truer than true, there is no one alive who is you-er than you. Shout aloud, I am glad to be what I am. Thank goodness I am not a ham, or a clam, or a duty of jar of gooseberry jam. I am what I am, what a great thing to be. If I say so myself, happy everyday to me”.  

 

Find qualities within yourself that you think are important. Let go of the things you cannot control: what others think of you, what others will say about you, and the environment around you. Enjoy having the freedom of the things you can control: your self-talk, your view of yourself, the people you surround yourself with. Get out of unhealthy habits of “I am an idiot”, “I can’t do this” (I do this a lot and pinch myself every time) or “why doesn’t he/she like me?”. As soon as you come to realise the only opinion that matters if your own, the better off you will be. You realise that being happy for you is much more important than anything else.

 

I am passionate about helping young women love themselves whole-heartedly. It breaks my heart to read the statistics of young women who have eating disorders, display negative self talk in their daily lives, have zero self confidence. We as women need to be empowering one another and empowering ourselves. I read a blog posted by one of my favourite Instagram women that said: “what are things you would change about yourself…. Now would you say this about your best friend”. You should be your own best friend. I know when I read that; I said to myself “well damn, no I wouldn’t say the same thing about my best friend. My best friends are beautiful and I love them for them, I wouldn’t change a thing”… this is exactly how I should look and view myself and how you all should view you’re own body image. Self love! Be your own goal.

 

If you are struggling with your self worth, your body image, it helps to talk to someone. I talk to my family, my sister in law who I am very close with, I talk to my partner, I even see a psychologist once a month to just get some perspective and keep me grounded. Please remember you are not alone and there is support out there because at the end of that day you are worthwhile and you are worth loving and being loved in return. 

 

Help break the stigma and "Start That Awkward Conversation" 

xx

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Drops of Life

Hi! My name is Sarah and I am the owner of Drops of Life!

I am a distributor for Young Living essential oils and my aim is to educate as many people as I can on the amazing benefits of using essential oils, and also how to cut out many chemicals from your homes.

Did you know the average person uses 300 chemicals a day?!

Yep! And 80 of these are used before breakfast! Most chemicals are found in your shampoo, face wash, make-up and hair care products.

I am here to show you that there is a better way, the answer is pure therapeutic grade oils by Young Living.

 

3 WAYS TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS

  • Inhale: You can simply breathe them in, either by putting on your hands and inhaling, using a diffuser to disperse into the air, or inhaling straight from the bottle. 
  • Topical: Our skin is our largest organ- what we put on it gets taken into the system and is either used, stored or filtered out.  This isn't new science, think of the nicotine patch or a birth control patch.  Medicine is routinely given through the outside of the skin.  We use carrier oils to apply oils to the skin.  A carrier oil is a quality vegetable/fruit oil used for diluting your essential oils. We prefer coconut oil, but you can also use grapeseed, hemp, avocado, jojoba, sunflower, apricot kernel, sweet almond, extra virgin olive or Young Living’s V-6 blend that comes in a convenient pump.  Apply oils topically to your feet, spine, chest or area of concern.  We always recommend using a carrier oil when applying oils topically to children, until you feel comfortable doing otherwise.
  • Ingest:  While there is lots of information on the topic of ingestion, we believe that essential oils do benefit you when taken internally.  You can do 1-2 drops under the tongue or if you don’t enjoy the taste, try adding the oil to a vegetable capsule.  If this is not something you feel comfortable doing, applying topically or diffusing are 2 great ways to get the benefits of these oils.  

Now, there are so many essential oils on the market these days, how do we know which ones to go with? Easy! Do your research and make sure the company makes their own oils and owns their farms, so they are in control of the entire process. This eliminates any cross contamination. You can check out Young Living’s oil process here: www.seedtoseal.com

Basically, all oils are broken down into 4 categories;

A) is therapeutic, made from organically grown plants and distilled at low

temperatures.

B) are food grade but may contain synthetics, pesticides, fertilisers or carrier

oils.

C) are perfume oils that often contain adulterating chemicals. They usually

use solvents, for example; hexane to gain a higher quantity per harvest. May

be diluted with alcohol.

D) is called floral water which is aromatic only and is usually a byproduct of

grad A distillation. After all the oil is pulled out, the left over trash water is sold

to companies which will fill 5% of a bottle with the trash water and the rest with

carrier oil and label it pure!

This would be like grabbing a nice glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, diluting it by 95% and expecting to get the same health benefits as the pure stuff.

Essential oils support our entire body; our skeletal system, muscular, endocrine, hormones, immune and respiratory, everything!

Chemicals play a huge role in our emotions and how we feel!

All the side effects to those 300 chemicals impact our health and emotions.

We can use essential oils to support our emotions.

Let me show you how.

Here are some very basic lifestyle choices we need to make, our health depends on it:

  • Rest:  Get enough rest and downtime. Sleep, think, create...yes, creativity is a form of rest, stimulating the right side of the brain releases serotonin which is uplifting and calming
  • Eat:  Eat well, drink water and limit alcohol, caffeine and processed foods.
  • Move:  Exercise, stretch, add a few steps every day, get out from behind your computer or TV
  • Connect:  Nourish your relationships, spend time face to face or on the phone.  Be a joiner and volunteer at a local place.
  • Pray and Reflect:  Nourish your spirit
  • Engage your senses:  Surround yourself with what you find to be beautiful with all of your senses. Design and decorate your living space in a visually pleasing way. Listen to uplifting music. Get your physical touch in - hugs from family and friends, self-care, holding a pet, etc. Eat foods that nourish you and please your tastebuds. Fill your home with scents that are uplifiting or stimulating, diffuse oils!

Did you know that your emotions affect every system and organ in your body? We are so used to paying attention to physical symptoms and responding to them, that we sometimes ignore or repress our emotional symptoms. Sometimes we don’t even allow ourselves to “feel” because we are afraid to admit that we are human, we have weaknesses, or that we deal with stressful or traumatic situations just like everyone else. Emotions greatly impact our health. 

"When we inhale the fragrance of an essential oil, the odor molecules travel up the nose where they’re registered by the nerves of the olfactory membranes in the nose lining. The odor molecules stimulate this lining of nerve cells and trigger electrical impulses to the olfactory bulb in the brain. The olfactory bulb then transmits the impulses to the amygdala - where emotional memories are stored - and to other parts of the limbic system of the brain.

Because the limbic system is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance, essential oils can have profound physiological and psychological effects.  Olfactory responses to odors induce the brain to stimulate the release of hormones and neurochemicals that in turn alter the body’s physiology and behavior."  Taken from the Essential Oil Desk Reference, 4th Edition

Did you know that 90% of serotonin is developed in the gut. Serotonin carries signals along and between nerves - a neurotransmitter. It is mainly found in the brain, bowels and blood platelets.

Serotonin is thought to be especially active in constricting smooth muscles, transmitting impulses between nerve cells, regulating cyclic body processes and contributing to well-being and happiness. Serotonin is regarded by some researchers as a chemical that is responsible for maintaining mood balance, and that a deficit of serotonin leads to depression.

So, is it important to take care of our gut? Our digestive system? YES! Taking care of your digestive system nourishes your emotional health.

What are the most important things we can eat or take as supplements to nourish our digestive systems to support emotional wellness?

  • Organic, whole foods, lean meats, fruits and vegetables
  • Prebiotics and probiotics, fermented foods
  • Healthy Fats
  • Water
  • Young Living products:
    • Digest and Cleanse
    • ComforCleanse
    • Ningxia Red

 

I hope this was educational, I also have some amazing blends to help support your emotions;
Roller Ball Blend:
15 drops StressAway
8 drops Lavender
Fill with coconut oil in a 10ml roller bottle.

Diffuser Blends:
Stress be gone;
Valour and Frankincense (1 or 2 drops of each)
Add to diffuser.

Good Night;
2 drops Lavender
1 drops Cedarwood
Add to diffuser.

Meditation blend;
3 drops Cedarwood
2 drops Patchouli
3 drops Lavender
Add to diffuser and run for 30-60 mins at a time.

Grief;
3 drops Bergamot
2 drops Lavender
2 drops Frankincense
1 drops Cypress
Add to diffuser and run for 1 hour at a time.


Oil blends already made by Young Living;
Forgive:
Forgiveness
White Angelica
Acceptance

Peace:
Peace & Calming
Peach & Calming II

Passion:
Mister
Jasmine
Lady Sclareol
Sensation
Ylang Ylang

To get your GIFT or purchase any of these oils please contact Sarah Leys @:

IG: @_dropsoflife_

FB: www.facebook.com/dropsoflifeoils

E: sarahleysoils@gmail.com

www.myyl.com/sarahleys

BiPolar & The Corporate World

BiPolar & The Corporate World- you CAN have a fantastic career & live with mental illness !!

This is an issue that needs to be talked about more. Small business, medium business, large corporations, whatever business structure and size you are, it's time for me to say that IT IS OKAY to employ people with mental illness. People just like myself are functioning and can be a fantastic asset of your business. To anyone who thinks a person with bipolar, anxiety, depression, psychotic mental illness and so on can't do their job because they have mental health issues, then you need to fucking wake up and realise that if you don't know of someone with mental illness then wow you must live under a rock because 1 in 4 people suffer mental illness ! 

Stop the stigma and offer to help even if its just listening because those who suffer mental health illness need your understanding and support. 

Take it from me who studied at Uni, has great experience in the corporate world and has an amazing career, I can fully function at work and suffer Schizoaffective bipolar type disorder ! 

So give someone a chance and please don't judge based on someone's mental health because if you judge YOU are part of the problem !!!

Take care of you and let's do this!

Cheers,

The BiPolar Queen xxx

The girl with the Camera

"When you don't show up to work you let the whole team down" 

"Well at least working for yourself you'll only let yourself down now"

The words spoken by someone who clearly doesn't understand mental health. I have just recently quit my job to go out on my own and pursue my own dreams as my business is booming. The last few months has been, let's just say less than impressive at work, events that occurred and words that were spoken really gave me that push to trust myself and get out of a toxic environment where my anxiety seemed to breed. 

I enjoyed my job... most days but the bad days were really bad. Being in an environment where you go to work questioning "what reception will I get today" is not a nice way to live. It makes it hard to get out of bed, it makes it hard to walk in with a smile on your face and greet people like you are happy to be there and it is soul destroying to fake a smile and hide your beating chest, fast breathing and sweaty palms. 

A few months ago my anxiety decided to really ramp up. I was dealing with my business getting busier and work getting more demanding as well as trying to juggle my social life plus have time to myself (which I desperately need) it just became way too much. I had a few sick days in the past few months because I have been unwell and was finding extremely difficult to drag my fat ass out of bed! I've found myself in my doctors office a few times in an absolute mess of a state which were mostly bought on by bullshit unnecessary situations at work. I try to explain to people that what might happen to you, you can brush it off and move on but if the same thing happened to me, I brew on it and think so much into the situation like you couldn't even imagine to the point where I will have an anxiety attack and when people say "get over it" or "don't worry" unfortunately it ain't that easy. So my doctor gave me a few days off here and there which I hated taking because the thought of picking up the phone to call in sick literally terrifies me and the reception I get going back after my days off just doesn't seem worth it. So here I was literally at breaking point, my doctor prescribed me anxiety medication which I never got filled because honestly I will try anything else but I am not a fan on pills at all. Not that I judge anyone at alllllll if they are on them but they just aren't the option for me. So this particular time I had 3 days off and when I returned I was awaiting the dreaded call to "have a catch up" and yes It came and I heard stuff like "you let the whole team down when you don't come" "do you think you have taken too much on" "do you think going part time will even help you" 

Even writing this I'm tearing up because hearing words like this when I had just come back after I started to feel a little better and not to mention these feelings were coming from a ridiculous incident of rumors started by the same person saying this to me honestly just took me right back down to where I was before that. I wanted to say so much like "if someone broke there leg or had the flu would you say this to them" "just because you can't see I have an illness doesn't mean I don't" "do you understand anything to do with mental health" "do you have mental health issues yourself and do not know how to deal with them" but do you know what I did. I started to say this and than I shut my mouth and said "no worries" because I had already made the decision up in my head to quit. To leave a awful place that didn't understand about how to deal with its people, instead they just make them believe they are the problem and pile the pressure on them. I stayed in my job for so much longer than I should have because it was "safe" "security" and I got and would get "good benefits" when I decided to buy a house or have children but I decided, fuck that. It is not worth it! 

So I handed my resignation in and honestly can say that moment felt fucking great!!!!! For like a day than my little friend anxiety slowly creeping back. You see it makes you literally question everything in your life no matter how big of small but none the less I was excited to have my last day. My last cya later! I started telling my friends, customers, clients and family and it felt amazing every time I got to say I was leaving and I couldn't wait for my last day well that was until I took a sick day on what was meant to be my third last week I got a text message. Yeah a text from a boss of a company where I had been for over 5 years saying "I'm not required to come back, bring your keys in asap" 

For someone who I told things to that not even some of my closest friends might know, someone I cried to on my bad days and would say they were there to talk anytime had literally just given me a flick out the door like I was nothing. But it was also the same person who I found out would tell my personal life to many other people, talk about me behind my back and make out like I was the bad one that I was told not to come back to work. She took away the day i was looking forward to the most and made me feel like the last 5 years of my life was a complete waste of time, stress and anxiety. 

Now I'm done with that place I should be happy right? Well unfortunately anxiety doesn't just come from one part in your life ! But I will tell you I'm so f**king glad to be gone and I am extremely happy getting to live out my passion. When I think back I really don't know how I put up with it for so long as to be honest I don't know how they put up with me. 

I can be a horrible person sometimes and I'm not proud of that. The other night I asked my husband to bring me home a Sara lea cheesecake because I was craving it and he went to a bakery and bought a cheesecake and a chocolate muffin, sweetheart right? When he got home I was so mad because I specifically said Sara lea cheesecake (like honestly I can't believe myself sometimes) I was so angry I cracked a tantrum and cried in my room and didn't come out until he made me drive him to the shop to get me what I wanted. Like honestly what a bitch I am. Fucking crying over a cheesecake. I can't Believe how nice he is to me when I get like this but it just shows that he understands how I feel because he truly wants to help me, find out what triggers me and find out what makes me happy because let's be honest it wasn't the cheese ale that made me angry there was lots of built up thoughts in my head that day and I needed to get them out and unfortunatley he copped it. I truly could not imagine if I would even be here without him. He brings out the best in me, encourages me and makes me laugh like crazy. He makes me step outside my comfort zone and believe in myself all the while I try to do the dam for him in return. 

Truth be told though I'm struggling with the transition into working for myself. I love what I do now more than anything but man I put so much pressure on myself. I'm not hiding behind a company now. It's me. It's all me and that is so scary! Yeah it's amazing To be my own boss but that's also terrifying. My clients are amazing and when they tell me how much they love my work I sometimes just think "really?" "Are they lying to me" because I put so much doubt on myself but in a way it's a good thing because I am ALWAYS striving to import everything! You know what's Great though I get to spend so much more time with my cats haha yes call me crazy but when I'm having a shit day sometimes just laying down patting them soothes my soul like you wouldn't believe. 

So if you are struggling with your job or just unhappy in a situation that is causing you way to much stress, anxiety or depression. Get the hell out of it. It does not have to be like that. Find something you love and never stop doing that. I'm so thankful to have found my passion for photography and been lucky enough to make it my full time career. There was so many times I wanted to give up because I thought I wasn't good enough but I kept going and I would hate to imagine where I would be now if I gave it up. Start making decision for you! Stop thinking about what everyone will say, stop thinking about what could go wrong because it might seem like some days it's totally fucking wrong but it will work out to be totally bloody right ! 

 

Love

The girl with the camera

From someone who has experienced suicide from another perspective

Have you ever watched one of those sad movies where the police come to the door to let someone know that their family member has died. Or the dreaded phone call asking if you are a member of this persons family.

On February 24th  2011 it was a normal day for me at work. Woke up had breakfast, went to work. Getting on with my day finally in the busy hairdressing salon I was working in came time for me to grab a bite to eat and I ducked out to grab some lunch and fresh air. In the mist of all the rushing around to do this, I get a phone call from mum. Being so busy I ignored the phone call. She rings again…

I think to myself, something must be up. I have that weird feeling in my gut. So I stop where I am in the shopping centre and answer. Hey mum, cant talk for long. Rushing around on my lunch break… The response is not what I’m expecting to hear. She responds. Are you sitting down?

Obviously im not, so I answer “no”.

 She says go back to work and I’ll call you back in 5minutes. So I race/hurry with that butterfly feeling in my stomach knowing somethings wrong but having to wait that 5minutes that felt like 30minutes for her to call me back.

The phone rings… Brrr. .. Brrrrr….. “Hello”..

"Bub, at 2.30pm your brother was pronounced dead"… WTF????

Silence….. "What? Huh? “What are you talking about mum??”

"Rube, your brother had a fight with his girlfriend and committed suicide". The words that I would never expect to hear come out of your mum’s mouth about your brother!!!!

WTF am I actually hearing, I’m thinking to myself. I’m in shock. I need to cry but I just feel numb!!

I grab my bag; go tell my boss I need to leave my brother has just died.

I then make the dreaded 10hr drive to Emerald. I don’t remember much of the drive. Feeling numb, no emotions, silence in the car, do I cry is it real? I don’t know. So much is going through my head but nothing is coming out of my mouth.

I get to Emerald, and it’s TRUE. It’s really true. I didn’t want it to be true but it is. My brother Anton has passed away due to suicide. So many questions to ask him? But it’s too late. Why why did he do this? Is life that hard that a small thing can ripple effect and end his life, his relationship his bonds with his family?

My family BROKE……

Dad in silence, my younger sisters heartbroken, and my mum her loud and proud self-stunned for words and me the rock. Still to this day does it feel like hes actually gone.

 I thank my partner the strong supportive guy that he is. Always there for me and keeping me strong. Without him I honestly don’t know where I would be, would I have followed the same path as my brother? I don’t know. Ive thought about it before.. My mum shes told me shes wanted to… I need to be that strong figure in my family while every mourns in their own way.

Life is precious, may it be a small fight you have, not feeling happy about yourself, getting down, having one of those moments where you just think… If i'm not here anymore maybe it would be better? Maybe they would be better without me?

Let me tell you… Being on the otherside of the path.

The family member of someone who fell victim to depression and lost his battle 24th Feb 2011. The past 6 years have been hard.

Hard for my family, hard for me. Plenty of under answered questions. All I know now, is I wish I spoke up. I wish I told him I was there for him. That I loved him. Life is short guys! Tell the ones you love them, that you really do, feel love, be loved, experience love, show love.

I miss him everyday, and everyday that passes is another day I know that I have my brother with me in spirit guiding me on this path that I lead today x

IMG_4322.jpg

To Hell and Back

Hi,

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Mel. Nice to meet you! I’m glad are reading this post and I hope it gives you what you need today.

My story is one of darkness and light, struggle and triumph, good and evil. I am so relieved and proud to say that I conquered my darkness, my struggles and my evil – though I did not do it alone. I have my support network of friends and family to thank. Thank you for standing by me through thick and thin. I am the person I am today because of you.

Thank you for battling mental illness with me, helping me face my inner demons, tackling them head on with me. You helped me to stand when I couldn’t stand, walk when I couldn’t walk, eat when I couldn’t eat, smile when I forgot how to, and find love in everything.

My story begins at the start of this year, when my husband, Josh, and I moved away from our home and families in Brisbane to take up our dream jobs in Townsville. We bought our first home and adopted our beautiful rescue dog, Kaya. The first five months in Townsville were smooth sailing as we settled into our jobs and found a church community full of wonderful people to keep us company and soften the pangs of homesickness. 

But then, one fateful night in May, I got hit in the head by a soccer ball and everything changed.

The four months following the head knock have been the hardest of my life (so far). I was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome and then battled mental illness. I was in and out of hospital. I was unable to work. I despised myself. My faith was tested more than any other circumstance in my life. 

I can honestly say that I'm only here today because of the love of God and the love of everyone He has placed in my life. 

And with that, I give you my journey: to hell and back. It has not been easy, but it has been worth it. At the other side, I can say I am grateful for every moment, every high, every low, and every person who has sown into my life the fruit of God: love, peace, patience, joy, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and generosity.

To Hell And Back

All I wanted on the day I woke up,

On the upside down,

In the nightmare,

Was: my old self back, my husband, my mum, my best friend, my house (safe place) and my dog.

All I wanted was sleep.

All I wanted was to believe everyone when they said I would be okay.

 

All I got was judgement,

All I got was blame.

All I got was guilt,

I was buried in my shame.

 

Then they stripped me naked,

Threw my wedding rings away.

They made me go to prison,

Totally naked, with no name.

 

They couldn’t stop the screaming,

Not with sleep, or pills, or food.

And then they started yelling – singing! –

“Amazing Grace” out of tune.

 

They locked me in my prison cell,

With nothing but a bed and a loo.

They shoved the pills right down my throat,

And locked me in a cage so I couldn’t move.

 

I didn’t think it could get any worse,

that ANYTHING could further darken my mood.

But that night they threw an EVIL disco,

And danced while I couldn’t move.

 

They made me wear some earmuffs,

AND a crown of thorns.

They took away my music

And all I could hear was white noise.

I started SCREAMING and SCREEEEAAAAMING!!!!

But they told me it “wasn’t allowed”.

So they put on a muzzle and stapled my jaw shut

So I wouldn’t be “too loud”.

 

Now the SCREAM was inside me –

Both silent and deafening and AAAAARRRRRGGHH!!!!!!

I thought it would never escape me,

But then it ripped through a hole in my chest.

 

I felt relief for a moment,

Until I saw that the scream was my heart

Satan held it in his vile hands yelling

“I’ve got you now!!!”

And then he maniacally laughed.

 

I had nothing and no one, not even myself,

My life was at its end.

And that is when Jesus did a prison-break

And took my place on that bed.

 

When I felt like less than nothing,

When I was all alone,

Jesus showed me that I mattered more

And traded my bed for His throne.

 

His throne was the chair in my house,

Where I journal, and sit and drink tea.

That chair is the place where I phone all my friends,

And that is what makes me, me.

 

So even though I couldn’t see it –  I was a zombie at the time –

My name is Melissa and I am loved,

I love largely, and I am kind.

 

 

Written and Published by Melissa Nicholls

Bipolar & dating.....it can be a colourful scene....

So I'm that type of girl who dated a stripper, not 2 but 3 divorcees, a guy named Rusty and a younger guy. Yep I laugh hard now thats all in the past but seriously wtf was I thinking at the time....hahahaha !! Now I've also had a long term relationship and boy that did not end well. I blamed myself for ages coz I felt sooo guilty how I treated him in the end. I've worked through that but I won't lie that relationship partially destroyed me for a while there.... Soul destroying relationships whether they be ones you get heartbroken or ones where you're scared for your own life......Take it from me they are traumatic and need to be talked about not fucking bottled up and stored away.....These traumatic past relationships can lead to horror in the future so please take it from me, talk about it, scream, cry, swear, but do not fucking bottle it up and think that it's all part of life and 'you'll get over it'. Coz dear people you will not just get it over it, it can take years and years to work through. Surround yourself with positive people and loved up supportive people who you can freely talk to. It is healthy to be angry, upset, sad from relationship fuck ups but do not go willy nilly getting with this that and the other thinking you'll be fine, coz you need to be on your own figuring who you are and why this shitty part of life happened. Shit happens to everyone, just be there for people and if shit is hitting the fan then don't be upset or worried if the pro's needa get on board to help coz sometimes you break down and that means you've had enough of everyone's shit and it's about time to focus in you and you only.

Whether you see it now or in the future, every relationship happens for a reason, don't regret it just learn from it.

I'm happily loved up but I've also been through hell to get here.

Spread love not hate.

Cheers pretty people,

The BiPolar Queen xox

Nearly 3 years ago to the day....

Nearly 3 years ago to the day, my body had reached its breaking point. I put it through hell for over 10 years, that on top of a bad breakup and leaving the safety of my job of 10 years to start my own business, I had finally tipped over the edge and I suffered my very first panic attack. That was the day that I'd convinced myself I was going to die. It was also the day that I become the person I am today, I had finally come to terms that I was one of the people lucky enough to be blessed with anxiety.

For weeks after that day I ran and hid every time I had an attack until one day I finally stopped fighting and let anxiety take full control and let it do it's job. All I kept saying was 'do your best'. From that day I fought the demons within. I see that as a blessing, and so should so many people. I once was told anxiety is just the body telling you something isn't right and that couldn't be more the truth. You really have to break down who you are to fight the beast. I think once you experience anxiety you will never not feel it again you just have to train yourself to analyse your emotions and only then will you control it.

You are not alone on this journey there are millions just like you all you have to do is speak up and you will set off on your road to recovery.

Written and Published by Justin Keighran

Don't Bullsh*t a Bullsh*tter

I’m fine.” The biggest two worded lie ever spoken. It is such an automatic, generic response when queried about how you are feeling or why you are acting, speaking, talking or behaving in such a way. I will be honest – I am one of the biggest users of this lie. It is easier to dismiss your true and unfiltered thoughts and feelings then admit to others – and ourselves – that something is wrong. Why though? Why do people, myself included find that instead of saying what is wrong, we simply lie. With everything that is going on around us on a daily basis it is easy to get so caught up in the intricacies of life that your focus shifts, your thought patterns are obscured, you don’t feel the usual connection to people or things that you may usually have. Your sh*t is well and truly not together. Without wanting to swear too much (Sorry Mum!) – it is when sh*t well and truly hits the fan or you stub your toe, or you can’t do something that usually comes so easily, or you fight with your partner, your friend, your dog; this is when you need to be able to say I am not okay. It is okay to not be okay. Jessie J even says so in her hit ‘Who You Are’. If Jessie J says it’s okay, then you better god damn believe it.

Why is it so hard to admit when we are not okay? Why is it so hard to admit that we need help? In my life, much like everyone else (not claiming I know your life FYI – just a generalisation), I have seen too many people suffer in silence. It is this suffering that unfortunately ends lives and not only destroys their own but many around them. Mental illness is something that can start off as something almost dismissed by the individual and then festers into something bigger than that. Even just a quick chat to someone could be lifesaving.

Through campaigns run by organisations such as LIVIN’ and Beyond Blue, society as a whole is becoming more aware of mental illness, the different types, possible causes, the (maybe?) signs. If you or someone you know is suffering there are bountiful organisations and individuals who want to help you. You may be surprised to know that a loved one, a best friend or your ‘bro’ can provide the most honest and refreshing insight of all.

Everyone (staring down at my reflection in the mirror as I write this almost chanting “Listen Erin. This is directed at you.”) needs to realise how important we are, how appreciated and needed we are and how we can help other people. Whether it be a stranger who looks like they are having a rough day, a friend who posts a questionable quote on social media (we all know someone who springs to mind) or a loved one whom we know is not being themselves; just ask them if they’re okay. Really and sincerely ask them. And then on the other side of the spectrum, if we ourselves are having a rough day, week, month or even what feels like a year – be honest. Talk. Cry. Scream (preferably last resort). Don’t suffer in silence. Most importantly, don’t try and bullsh*t your way through it. Speak out. Don’t do this alone, because you my dear beautiful friends, are not alone. You have all of us.

RIP R x

Seek assistance: Lifeline (13 11 14) or Beyond Blue (1300 224 636) or at https://www.beyondblue.org.au/about-us/contact-us

 

 

 

Original post - https://everythingbyerin.blog/2017/01/02/dont-bullsht-a-bullshtter/

Let's call it my "quarter life crisis story"

This is a tiny snippet throughout a very difficult time in my career, past relationships and home life. For me I believe it comes down to mental illness and bottling things up. 

Lets go through the last 8 years.... I have been diagnosed with generalised anxiety, panic disorder, social anxiety and most recently schizoaffective bipolar type disorder. I also suffer with obsessive compulsive disorder, agriphobia and hypocrondia. I couldnt cope with a long term relationship breakdown in 2015 and getting my heart broken as well as good old career stress so you could say I had somewhat of a nervous breakdown. I lost my shit, walked out on my career as a Finance Manager and moved to my home away from home, Broome WA. Why Broome you may ask ? Well apart from the obvious that it's a dream holiday destination and ahhhh yes my Dad has a permanent caravan site on the beach so why the hell not?! What could go wrong, living off the sale of my car in my mind I didn't have to worry about anything...i know right HaHaHAHAHA....Get real Norelle....Yep you're thinking didn't she sell her car ?! Well yes I did hahaha but during my relationship breakup I thought what the hell?! I'll buy a brand new black SUV ! Anyhoo...moving along from that I decided RIGHT I need to look for a job and see if Broome is a short or long term thing....Well I decided I wanted a cleaning or hospitality job, something other than finance and budgeting and cashflow...(you get the jist). Well from dropping loads of resumes to all the resorts around town I didn't hear a single thing !!

Meanwhile the bank account balance going into serious meltdown, I started experiencing alot of sadness and no love for life or even getting out of bed. Now whilst I will never go on about the brief time with the black dog it breaks my heart seeing how many beautiful people I know that suffer clinical depression and I have such admiration and understanding for your ongoing battle.

Fast forward a month or so of no job hunting luck, hanging out with my legend of an old man and my angel of a Mum helping in everyway possible I decided okay time to come home to my favourite place, SA. Meanwhile a few hours after booking my flight back home I had a phone call from a resort interested to meet with me. They say everything happens for a reason hey ?!?! So off I went back to Adelaide, glad to be home and so tanned!! I am usually albino white and for those 2 months in sweaty sunny town I turned into a bronzed goddess (in my opinion ).

My mentality of just going with the flow of life started to kick in and I took each day as it came. Well until two weeks ago when I had a major nervous breakdown and psychotic episode. I'll chat more about that at a later date. My approach to anxiety and getting through each day is my support group- my ahhhhmazing other half, my caring and selfless angel Mum, my hilarious classic easy going Dad, amazing and inspiring best friends and my easy to talk to in laws (well hopefully they will be one day hehe). The fantastic staff at Strathalbyn & Noarlunga Hospitals, The Morier Ward, The Mental Health System in South Australia, the list goes on ! These fab people never judge and are always there in good and bad times. My amazing & beautiful GP's, my antipsychotic medication, slow breathing techniques, chamomile tea, decent sleep and yeah okay I'll admit it NO alcohol. 

Could I have coping and anxiety issues from being too busy and wanting to always do too much or is it from my earlier years of domestic violence in a previous relationship ? Well its something I hope I can work through during my Psychology and Psychiatry sessions. I just briefly mentioned domestic violence yes... almost 8 years ago I went through this from a messed up relationship that still makes me sick thinking about it. Stalking, having my life and friends life threatened, property damage all that fucked up shit.

I used to be embarrassed and ashamed of this but now I'm so free and open about it so it's time to share my story. 

I feel it's a great way to help with my own mental health issues and educate others about serious mental illness. 

Love Norelle

xx

"Just. Be. Kind"

"Just. Be. Kind", I'd tell myself as I've tried to call Danny 30 times in the last few months, but I was always met with a phone that rung out and a voicemail message.

I never left a message though. I would just text and say "hey, just calling for a chat, what's up?' I would always be greeted with an immediate reply text. "Hey, sorry I'm not in a good way... not up for talking on the phone".

I've been in his position before; I know what it's like. Craving human connection and loathing it at the same time. I would always be there though, even though I knew he'd screen my calls, I'd call anyway, I'd text anyway. Because I know what it's like to be in his position.

This time it was bad. After years of struggling with mental demons and some questionable decisions in his life, he's reached this point.  He told me he was done with everything. He said he didn't want to go on like this and was tired of hurting others unintentionally, he explained that he's tried to put everyone before him and make sure their needs were met. But what about his? Ha! "What about mine? I don't care about myself". Is what he would say. And that was the basis of this problem. Living a life untrue to himself for years and years had slowly caused him to resent himself, to hate himself.

I said "stop right there! How can you possibly expect to give so much to others, to love and care for other people when you don't even love or care for yourself? How could you possibly have the capacity to overflow with love and compassion for others when all you have inside you is hatred? You need to fill yourself up first before you can give to others." Recognising what in the fuck is going on with yourself is harder than you think. Outsider perspective can give you that "ah ha" moment.

It's not a simple fix, oh no, it's a journey and there will be ups and downs, stalling, and two steps forward and one step back. Self care and preservation are vital and must be put above all else. Anyone who cares about you will understand when you need a moment to take care of yourself. Those that may be bothered by it, aren't good for you anyway. So if you find yourself neglecting yourself I challenge you to start loving and caring for yourself like I'm sure you try to do for your loved ones. Try putting yourself first for once and see whether it puts a change in motion.

What if you don't personally struggle with those feelings of anxiety and/or depression? The racing heart, breathlessness, worry, despair and lack of foreseeing any possible ounce of happiness in the future. Could you be that person that knows someone struggling? Openly or silently. What do you do? How do you react or act around them when you can't personally resonate with their feelings? Just. Be. Kind. Don't be an asshole and simply communicate. There's no need to complicate things. 

How's Danny? Still screening my calls on occasion (thanks asshole), but in his journey of realising his truth he is beginning to find his happiness. Depression and anxiety pop by on occasion but they kindly boot off after a while. 

I'm still here though, whenever he needs. Whenever anybody needs. And if I can't cope with someone else's emotional baggage because I'm swapped with my own crazy life I will always communicate and let them know, and we will work this shit out together. I will always be kind. I will always put myself first, take care of and love myself because I know that by doing that I am helping my loved ones. You should absolutely do that too.

Don't be an asshole.

Just. Be. Kind.

Love Dayna Eickenloff

xx

What Depersonalisation Has Taught Me!

Going through something so terrifying and painful has brought me so much happiness and knowledge. When you are in the depths of it, you don’t see anything good that could possibly come out of the experience. But as time passes, things start to fall into place and you realise why you had to go through what you went through. To become the person you are today.

One year ago, I was a mess! I was depressed, anxious and experiencing a very scary feeling called depersonalization/derealisation (dp/dr). I felt like I was living in a dream and felt very detached from my surroundings. My mind just felt like it had shut down and that’s exactly what happened. From what I have read about dp/dr, it is caused by ongoing anxiety that just exhausts the brain to the point where it can’t handle any more information. It shuts down as a way to protect itself, as if it’s saying ‘hey, I’m extremely tired from all of this worrying and stress, I need some rest.’

I’m nearly 100% free of this feeling right now, and I have got to this stage through just letting it be, not fighting it and doing as much normal stuff as possible. A lot of the ways I have dealt with the dp/dr and anxiety applies to everyday life, so I thought I would share the most valuable lessons I have learnt through this experience.

Let it be and let it go

As I said, letting the dp/dr be and just going with the flow is really what has made it pass. Fighting against it and giving it more worry and stress only makes it worse and keeps you in the cycle, so learning to live along beside it and not letting it control me has really helped. There are some things that you just can’t control, so by letting it be or letting it go, you can free yourself from a lot of stress and pain!

Feel the fear and do it anyway

It is hard to do things outside of your comfort zone, but what I have found is that you feel so much better after you put yourself out there and do something that scares you. You feel good about yourself and it builds your confidence. With the dp/dr, I had to feel the fear and just do it anyway, especially when going out and interacting with others. I wouldn’t have gotten better if I just sat at home, being afraid of how I felt. I needed to go out and do things that made me uncomfortable, which told my mind that these things I was doing were not scary at all and would not hurt me. A great book called ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ by Susan Jeffers is amazing if you want to kick fear in the ass!

Embrace change and look for the light when you are in the dark!

Change is inevitable so rather than dread it, embrace it. Change can be a good thing! It can be cleansing, refreshing and exciting! If you have a positive attitude towards change and new things, they will be so much more enjoyable than if you fear them. Change can bring new opportunities and new lessons to be learnt so why not just embrace change when it comes! When things change and it creates negative emotions, know that this will pass and that there is always either a blessing or lesson in every experience. Train yourself to look for the light when you are in the dark and a lesson in everything you experience.

It’s so important to look after your mental health, so make it your top priority and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help, or just have a chat with a loved one! It’s the best thing you can do if you are feeling a little off.

Millie xx

The Shame of Stigma

I don’t know when or why it started. Only that it did. What I do recall is the day I realised it was creeping into my life, slowly but surely, interfering with every day interactions. On the 12th of July, I had a misunderstanding with my sister who had recently received devastating news. It was silly, but quickly blew out of proportion. My mind catastrophized the situation. What had happened? What had I done? What kind of person was I to cause her more pain? Were we ok? That’s when I felt it. My stomach became heavy and uneasy. My throat and chest felt like they were being squeezed by a giant hand, each breath becoming shallower and increasingly difficult to take. I found myself holding my breath, my heart racing. Anxiety.

My response was to flee. I quit all social media, deleting apps from my phone. I turned off my notifications. I thought that if I didn’t put myself in ambiguous situations (social media) where words and ideas could be misconstrued, I could protect myself and prevent the problem from becoming worse. I became a social recluse, if that’s a thing. I tried to ignore it. I even chanted a little mantra when in the throes of an attack. “It’s all in my head. It’s all in my head. There’s nothing wrong. You’re being ridiculous.” I thought it was a phase. That I’d just get over it. I’d never had anxiety in the past, no more than the usual pre-exam jitters. My family had told me my whole life that I was the easy going one, I’d never get an ulcer. So what happened? Ignoring it didn’t work. My attacks went from weekly, to bi-weekly, to daily until I had a constant undercurrent of anxiety. I felt physically ill all the time. I couldn’t keep going like this. I told my husband. He hadn’t noticed. Anxiety is silent, like drowning. You fight for each breath. Together we decided I should go and see a GP.

“Anxiety and mild depression,” the GP explained. He talked about medications and various techniques I could use. He organized a mental health care plan. I made my first appointment with a psychologist. Initially I felt immense relief that I was doing something. That I’d had the courage to take that first step. It waned, as my psychologist said it would. But this time I knew what to do, how to respond, how to survive. I told my sister what was going on and a couple of close friends. I even shared my experience in a social media group. Sharing in a large group might sound courageous, but for me, it wasn’t. I didn’t know them. I wasn’t truly being vulnerable. I was just another name on the page.

I spoke to my Mum on several occasions. I had ample opportunity to bring it up. I wanted to. I couldn’t. My aunty had been diagnosed with anxiety several years prior and I’d often heard Mum & Dad discussing it. According to my father at least, it was all in her head. She was her own worst enemy. She needed to get over it. Whenever she or my Nan brought up her anxiety and why she didn’t have ‘x’ job anymore or had withdrawn from attending ‘y’, there’d be eye rolls, snorts of derision and comments about how she was making it worse for herself. Maybe she was. I didn’t know any better at the time. I didn’t know what anxiety was.

Now I do. And I’m anxious. Anxious of what others will think of me. Will my parents talk about me behind my back? Will they start saying things like, “Ah, it all makes sense now. She was never very good at ‘x’.” Maybe I’d get ‘pity eyes’. Would they view me as less of a person? Based on my experience with my aunty, most assuredly. I haven’t mentioned a thing to my in-laws either. I’ve always felt inadequate in their presence. I didn’t have as many kids as they did, and they managed ‘x, y & z’ with flying colours. Why isn’t my house tidy? Why aren’t my kids sleeping through? “Oh, I know,” they’ll say. “She has anxiety. I always thought there was something going on. It explains why she couldn’t keep up.” And then they’ll think of my husband, the poor blighter who has to carry the family on his own while working a full-time job. Because I can’t possibly do what a wife ‘needs’ to do for her husband. I’m damaged.

I know there’s stigma associated with Mental Health. It isn’t seen the same way a broken bone is. It’s like you’ve been lobotomized. You’re placated and viewed with pity because you ‘aren’t all there.’ Maybe I’m over dramatizing things. Maybe both families would be accepting and supportive. Maybe no one would pity me or talk about me in hushed tones behind my back. Maybe it’s all in my head.

 

Love from Aubyn Rey

xx