Why bottling things up hurts nobody but yourself.

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This last week I’ve felt a significant weight lift of my shoulders, and you know why? Because I’ve TALKED to people. I’ve opened up about how I’m feeling to a few trusted sources, and regarding a few different things in my life, and it feels GOOD. As someone who is most definitely an introvert, and who enjoys solitary activities like writing, reading and listening to ‘depressing’ music, opening up to people doesn’t really come naturally. Sure, I might come across as an open book sometimes because when I’m feeling nervous I tend to overshare – but usually about trivial things like how long I’ve let my leg hair get before shaving (or other bodily functions… you get the idea). But when it comes to those terrifying innermost thoughts, the ones that are always there simmering under the surface, opening up to people can seem a little daunting – but in the end, SO worth it.

Everybody needs to vent about things from time to time – it’s how we connect as humans and discuss events / people / behaviours, and come to understandings of situations in our mind. After the year I’ve been through, I strongly believe that having someone you can talk to whether that be a paid professional, family member or friend, is absolutely necessary to maintaining your mental health. As the past few years of stress started bogging me down (work related, relationship related and health related), I really began to ball up all my feelings and thoughts into this anxiety ridden state of fear. Fear of change, fear of things remaining how they were, fear of what people would think of me – you name it, I was scared about it. I was completely and utterly stuck. I had a friend who was constantly telling me to go talk to someone, that it would help me figure things out. Of course, I didn’t listen to her at the time (because when do people ever do what they’re told, even when they know it’s probably right)? Ironically enough, that person and I are no longer friends, but I did go and start talking to someone and that small step of courage catapulted me out of my fear and into the light.

What I can say is this; no good will ever come from you trying to get through tough times on your own, and there is no defeat in asking for help. We aren’t built to withstand the storm alone – we live in communities where everyone has a story, and everyone has the ability to open up to each other. If you can see someone is going through a rough patch, kindly let them know that your arms are open. Gently push them in the right direction but remember, the choice to start talking is ultimately up to them and they must come to that decision of their own accord.

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
Herman Melville

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Photo credits – lauramakabresku & fihn

Anniversaries are funny things, aren’t they.

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I’ve had some one year anniversaries lately, in fact I usually do around this time of year. November and December always seem to be a huge period of change, whether that be moving house (or city), relationships ending or drifting apart, and career moves. In exactly one week it will be my 28th birthday, and I can’t think of a worse birthday I’ve had than last year. I know it sounds stupid, it’s just another day right? It doesn’t actually mean anything in the grand scheme of things. BUT… we’re conditioned to think we’re meant to be HAPPY on our birthdays. Grateful! Excited! The life of the party! Well, shit happens. Last year I’d just quit my job, just been dumped, and was facing daily battles with crippling anxiety (I’m talking panic attacks, chest pains, digestion problems and a huge fear of crowds, driving, bridges…. you name it). It was absolutely awful, and I spent the day trying to hold back tears and resist the urge to crawl into bed and hide in the dark. I remember laying on my balcony on the night of my 27th birthday, watching a thunderstorm and just feeling really sorry for myself. Woe is me…

How things change in a year! Had someone told me to keep my head up and stay positive, that this year I’d be spending my birthday in the beautiful Whitsundays with my boyfriend, sipping on cocktails in the tropical sun, I would not have believed them. Now I don’t want to jinx myself here as the birthday itself isn’t until next week, and plenty of things could happen between now and then, but that’s beside the point. My whole life has been flipped in a year and I could not be more grateful for the support I’ve had, and more proud of myself for soldiering through. I even spent 4 hours in a shopping centre with my sister this week! Had you have known me a year ago, this simple activity was near impossible. I remember my sister begging me to go Christmas shopping with her in December a year ago, and I lasted about 5 minutes in the centre before basically needing to run outside. The intense fear, crippling anxiety and struggle to breathe or think straight was completely overwhelming, not to mention feeling like a complete failure. This week alone I’ve been shopping multiple times (I absolutely love buying gifts for my family), and I’ve been completely fine with it. In my mind this is such a huge achievement, because a year ago I was honestly at a point where I didn’t think I could ever step foot in a shopping mall again.

So what I can say is this. If you are struggling through some tough times at the moment, hold onto the knowledge that things are more than likely going to change for the better, and sooner than you think. As one door closes, others really do open – you just have to have the courage to step through, and the strength to ask for help when you need it.

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Photo credits – arthurlitau & bryanadamc

Can you smell it in the air?

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I always get antsy around this time of year. I get a whiff of Christmas approaching; of hot summer days (for those of us who live Down Under), of pools splashing and sand burning, of air cons working over time and flimsy dresses. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but it’s a feeling of nostalgia for past summers, and excitement for future ones. It’s a sense of me changing and things changing, and wanting everything to just pause for a moment so I can catch my breathe. November seems to be my month for change, where I realise the things I haven’t accomplished in the year, and smile at the things I have.

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been flat out trying to maintain a balance between working, seeing my family and boyfriend, and spending time with my animals, but time really does fly as you get older! I’ve been feeling a little stretched out lately just trying to keep up with all these things, and not having enough time for me. For an introvert like myself, normal daily activities like training someone at work and catching up with friends are extremely draining, and if we don’t get that time to unwind… well, it’s not pretty. I feel like I’ve been rushing every day to squeeze a million things in, all the while feeling completely exhausted and wishing I could sleep for an entire day. Is this what adulthood is? Complaining that we’re tired every day and not doing anything about it?

I’m determined to not make the same mistakes that so many people make in life – accepting that their reality is the daily grind of a job they have no passion for, accepting that being exhausted is normal, and being completely oblivious to things that ACTUALLY matter. A girl I’ve been training at work told me she thought I was a little bit ‘hippie’ and quite bubbly this week, and I had to smile. Hippie, I’m fine with. Yes I’m into meditating and spirituality, so if that makes me a hippie then fine. Bubbly though? I don’t think she realised how utterly DRAINED I was from having to talk to someone for 8 hours a day, 5 days in a row! See I’m used to working alone which suits me perfectly fine, with the odd chat here and there to tenants and the postman. How do introverts ever find solace in a world where working in an office or shared space is the norm? I’ve been trying to work out what would be the best career path for me all year, and here I am with 2 months left to 2017 and still no answers.

Help please! Any advice would be greatly appreciated 🙂

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Reflections… How one year can change your world.

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I got a chill this morning realising the date; October 15th. On October 15th exactly one year ago I had a sleepless night, plagued with dread over what the morning would bring – that torturous walk to work, each step bringing me closer to my personal hell on earth. A million new emails to deal with, meetings to force myself to smile through, two-faced people with vindictive agendas, the constant phone calls and demands, endless paperwork…. It makes me sick just thinking about it. On October 15th in the wee hours of the morning as I lay there waiting for the darkness to lift, I decided enough was enough. My body had been letting me know for months that this level of stress was not manageable, but I’d ignored the signs. I’d ignored the increasingly tight chest, the pounding heart, the constant headaches and stomach cramps, the shaking hands and the dizziness. Until something finally snapped inside me on October 15th, and I quit my job. I quit something I’d moved city for, gone to University for, and made sacrifices for. And I’ve never looked back.

Well, something like that. To say I’ve never looked back would be somewhat of a lie, as I eventually did have to look back in order to move forward. To say I was naïve in thinking my sudden freedom would equal happiness would be a bit of an understatement. Sure, I had an immense pressure lifted off my shoulders. I had nobody to answer to, no where to be and no obligations. Unless you’re either very wealthy or very lazy though, there’s only so much time for ‘freedom’ that is realistically achievable. After the initial luxury and glimmer wears off, you notice a small yearning to belong creeping up on you once more. Apart from actually needing to earn some money to survive, you start wanting to be part of a team again. To rebuild yourself up and achieve something. So here I find myself exactly a year later, part of a great team in the town I grew up in. My family, boyfriend, animals and the beach (all the important things in my life), are within a stones throw away and I couldn’t be more content.

To say it hasn’t been hard work to get here would be a lie, because the first 6 months after I quit that job were really low. Some days I struggled just to function. Normal things like cooking breakfast, going grocery shopping and talking on the phone became these mammoth tasks to me. I actually had to mentally prepare myself for the tiniest of activities, things we do on a regular basis with no second thought. My anxiety levels were completely ruining my life and I felt like hiding in bed all day in the darkness, somewhere I felt safe. But that’s no way to live and I committed myself to getting better, day by day, with no time frame in mind. And I did. Slowly – very slowly, I noticed myself thinking less and less about my anxiety, something that used to be on my mind 24/7. I’d catch myself doing simple things like driving across a bridge or going to an appointment without panicking, something that felt like a huge achievement in my eyes. Spending time with the 3 cats and puppy in our family, long walks on the beach, meditating, movie nights with my step dad and cooking with my nana – simple, small things – literally were my God send. I’d been missing out on all these things and didn’t realise how desperately I’d craved this normalcy, this break from the rat race of living in the city and working in a corporate environment.

Some people know what works for them early on in life, whereas some go through struggles to eventually find their peace. I don’t know where I’ll be one year from now, but I’m grateful every day to be here. Because right here, right now, I’m okay.

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Underneath, it’s all the Same Love.

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I sincerely hope that any Australian’s who have voted ‘No’ in the Australian Marriage Postal Survey, are feeling ashamed. I hope that last night as we watched the NRL pledge their support for Same Sex Marriage at the Grand Final in Sydney, that those people who voted No were squirming in their chairs. Watching the performance of ‘Same Love’ by Macklemore at last night’s final, I was covered in goose bumps and moved to tears. As the screens around the stadium pledged messages of support, rainbow coloured smoke covered the stage and children danced, I couldn’t help but feel an upsurge of emotion. If one of the most influential and ‘macho’ organisations in Australia, the NRL, could pledge their support for same sex marriage, then what the hell is wrong with the rest of you?

As a straight person, I realise I don’t have as much reason to fight for equality as those that this law will actually affect, but I certainly am proud to support Same Love. Having made countless homosexual friends over my lifetime, the majority of which are in long, loving relationships, I do feel a certain responsibility to fight with AND for them. Why the hell shouldn’t they have the same rights as me? Why do I have the privilege of being able to stand in front of my family and friends and make an ‘official’ commitment to my loved one, and they do not? How are my relationships and those of my other straight friends any more important than those of my gay friends? The fact that we even need to pledge our support and debate this as a nation is just a ridiculous embarrassment, based on archaic scriptures about marriage being between a ‘man and a woman’. This is 20-fucking-17! Wake up and smell the roses.

If your son or daughter committed suicide because of their feelings towards someone of the same gender, and what that means in society, then that’s a crying shame. But that is the reality of it. People are actually KILLING themselves over this issue…. let that sink in for a second.

We all know that when we develop feelings for someone, 99% of the time there is nothing we can do about it. Feelings are not something we have any control over. They are unexplained, magical moments in time where we are inexplicably drawn to another person, be it a man or a woman. We simply don’t get to decide who we fall in love with, and in a progressive first world country like Australia where freedom, opportunities and rights are abundant, this same sex marriage debate is simply a national disgrace. I understand that people may not have had much exposure to those in same sex relationships, and therefore may not understand how exceedingly NORMAL they are – in fact they are just like you and I. They wake up, go to work, have hobbies, win awards and take their dogs to the beach. They just happen to like people of the same gender. SHOCK! HORROR! SIRENS IN THE DISTANCE! Seriously, why should we even bat an eyelid to that?

To the people who voted No, shame on you.

Happiness is infectious, so let it happen.

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There’s no other way to explain what this feeling is inside me, this slow building train of excitement and nerves (but mostly excitement), other than a feeling of contentment and dare I say it – happiness. I’m almost scared to write this post because I don’t want to jinx myself, or for something bad to happen and for me to swallow my words. But I just can’t deny it – for the first time in a long time I’m feeling really positive, and it’s a wonderful feeling.

I was just catching up with friends a few weeks ago in my old city, people I hadn’t seen in about 9 months. Understandably I was a little apprehensive going into my catch up – what would they think of me, would we pick up where we left off, and a million other questions running through my head. Of course upon seeing them all these stupid doubts and questions went out the door as we hugged and grinned like puppies, exchanging hello’s and stories from the year that has been. In that moment I was genuinely happy… it was written all over me. One friend even took a secret video of me smiling and chatting away, and showed me later. I almost didn’t recognise the happy person in that video, and I was blown away by how far I’ve come in the past few months.

To say it’s been a rollercoaster would be an understatement. It’s been a slow moving horse and cart at times, and a speed boat at others. It’s been one step forward and two steps back, then three steps forward when I sometimes wasn’t ready. It’s been hours on the floor just trying to steady my breathing, and hours on the beach embracing the sunshine. It’s been days in hiding, avoiding phone calls, and weeks of loneliness. It’s been endless moments of joy with my puppy, and heart wrenching guilt when I leave her. It’s been me, pouring my heart out into words on this blog. Not wanting any validation or praise, just a space where I can express myself easily. This is me, and I don’t care whether you like it or not.

Thank you to my amazing support network of family, friends and animals for your endless love. We all need someone to hold our hand from time to time, and there’s no shame in reaching out. The only person you’re harming is yourself if you choose to ride the wave alone – just remember, we’re all in this together 🙂

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Photo credits – abeautifulmess & ourcolourdays

Does creativity mostly stem from darkness?

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much I’m NOT writing anymore, and wondering why this is the case. When I first started this blog in January, I was writing around 3 – 4 blog posts a week. I simply couldn’t stop. I had so much bottled up inside of me that was flowing out – emotions, rage, guilt, regret, sadness. It was like someone had finally turned the tap on inside of me, and years of built up sewerage was spilling out so I channeled it the best way I knew how – through words. Everyone has their own way of expressing their inner thoughts. Some resort to alcohol, drugs and violence, while some turn to creative pursuits – art, dance, music, photography and writing to name a few. I’ve been wondering though, as I’ve noticed a significant decrease in my once torturous feelings of anxiety, why I don’t feel like writing as much anymore, and if anyone else can relate?

When you think about some of the famous artists and creatives of our time, there is usually a back story of hidden pain and secrets as well. Edgar Allen Poe, Vincent van Gogh, Charles Dickens and many others have been documented to have experienced mental health struggles. I can’t help but wonder if in a lot of cases, our most creative works come from a place of sadness and helplessness within? Many of the greatest musicians and song writers have referenced their ‘best sellers’ as having been recorded in some of their darkest times. There seems to be a pretty significant connection between common struggles (depression, anxiety, mood swings, relationship break downs, deaths and so on), where the person works through their feelings via creative expression.

I know for certain that when I’m feeling ‘normal’ – which in my case I would equate with getting through the day with a fairly consistent mood, and not being plagued by frequent periods of anxiety or nervousness, that I don’t particularly feel like writing. In fact I usually have to be experiencing a pretty ‘down’ day to sit down and let the words come pouring out, which is a bittersweet feeling. On the one hand I’m over the moon that my darkness seems to be lifting, but on the other hand I’m sad because I get a lot of enjoyment from writing. What am I meant to write about if I’m feeling normal, or even (dare I say it), happy? That seems like such a silly thing to worry about, I know. I think it’s stemmed from my unhealthy relationship with ‘morbid’ news stories in the media, where for some unknown reason I am drawn to read horrifying stories of murder, kidnapping and tragedies on a regular basis. Of course this is not an uncommon fascination – it has been well documented that as a society these days we are hungry for such stories, and that they both terrify and intrigue us.

I’ll wrap my musings up today with a quote from Jack Beal;

Keep painting your demons. 

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Photo credits – ourcolourdays & ourmoodydays