Finding stillness in the chaos.

img_2740

Today I took a moment in time to just sit on a log at the beach, with my dog, and breathe. Soaking in the sunshine, listening to the waves, touching the soft sand with my toes and inhaling that fresh, salty air. I could only steal a moment in time to myself amongst what has been a chaotic few weeks, but that moment was a simple re-fresh for the soul. With our litter of puppies turning 5 weeks old today, it’s an understatement to say things have been absolutely exhausting. You think raising one puppy is enough? Try 5 times the amount of poo and wee to clean up, 5 times the mouths to feed, but I won’t deny it – 5 times the love. It has been tiring, smelly and sleepless, but overall – amazing – and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’ve been wearing myself pretty thin lately and that strain has shown in my relationships with family, friends and colleagues. I would love to spend all day with my Nana and Pop like I used to, reading the paper, making endless cups of tea and chatting about the weather, but I simply don’t have the time. I would love to actually want to catch up with friends and feel that yearning for a get together, but as it happens now I’m always completely exhausted and running on fumes. I’d also love to be a more present girlfriend, but I’m on a constant cycle of cooking, washing clothes and doing the dishes. SIGH. Do I just sound like every normal person trying to fit their personal life around their work life while still getting enough sleep, exercise and healthy food in? I seriously don’t know how people do it… and I don’t even have children yet!

So from this day onward, I’m going to look at ways of reducing the clutter and chaos in my life so I can have more moments in time like today at the beach. I don’t want to be running around only offering an exhausted and less-than-enthusiastic version of myself to the world. I want to feel energised, excited, and present. I know the simple things often make us the happiest – a home cooked meal with fresh herbs, an afternoon walk through the park, or a good book. Yes, I know this, but am I taking the time to appreciate? I think we can all aim to do a little better and practise the mantra ‘less is more’. Who would agree?

img_2738

Look after yourself first, and everything else will fall into place.

img_3471

I’ve just ordered what looks to be a fantastic memoir about a lawyer in New York who had a psychotic breakdown, convinced himself his life was being filmed as part of a TV show, and his subsequent journey through mental health rehabilitation (Gorilla and the Bird):

Book Trailer & Media

Why would I order such a book you might ask? Wouldn’t my usual taste for unsolved murder mysteries and espionage be enough? Well, I was incredibly moved by an excerpt from this mans memoir, as it was a startling reminder of how close I had become to being in the same position. When you’re experiencing various stressors in life and not taking control of anything, you very rapidly find yourself going from ‘busy’ to ‘on the brink of crazy’, and only significant changes to your lifestyle will get you back on track.

While I haven’t read the full memoir yet, I did gain an insight into this mans descent into what can only be described as hell on earth. Trying to reason with yourself when you’re not mentally healthy is hard enough, let alone trying to explain how you’re feeling to family and friends. All you want to do is hide in bed in a dark room, close your eyes and never have to face the world again. Every single thing – whether it’s cooking a meal, going for a drive or walking into an appointment, gives you anxiety and seems like a mammoth effort. I remember trying to stay calm in the middle of a shopping centre, focusing on moving one leg at a time until I was out in the fresh air. When you’re in the beginning stages of a panic attack, every single sound is amplified and makes the whole experience 10 times worse. Imagine you’re inside a water bottle, being tossed around a violent ocean… you’re dizzy, disorientated and terrified. Yep, I never want to go back to the dark place I was in for months – but what I do know is that change is possible, and you can regain your footing on the earth.

Hoping you all have a great week and find something to smile about 🙂

img_2745

Don’t sweat the small stuff… And it’s all small stuff.

img_0366

A close friend once gave me a book entitled ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s all small stuff.’ It’s funny how you look back on things in life and wonder why you wasted so much time stressing over little things that didn’t really matter. Of course, they mattered at the time to you, and try as we might humans haven’t mastered the art of hindsight to apply it in real time. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learnt to stress less, live in the moment and let things happen naturally. Don’t get me wrong – this method of living is still a work in progress and I get caught up in ‘small stuff’ all the time, but the point is I’m trying. And that’s all we can really do, isn’t it?

The other night after a long (and hung-over) day at work, I was looking forward to a nice sleep in a comfortable bed, snuggling my little dachshund. Naturally, things didn’t go as planned. I got home late and in addition to my little Audrey smelling like the lamb bone she had been chewing on all day, she proceeded to go to the toilet all over the fresh sheets on my bed. What did I do? I could have been really upset and annoyed at her (and trust me I was for about 5 minutes), but after seeing her sad little eyes looking at me after getting yelled at, my heart melted and I realised that it didn’t matter. The sheets could be washed, and so could she. What mattered was that we were both happy to see each other, and she felt safe and protected in her home. Laugh it off I say. There’s absolutely no point getting worked up over things that aren’t even going to matter in 10 minutes.

“Where’d the days go, when all we did was play? And the stress that we were under wasn’t stress at all just a run and a jump into a harmless fall”
Paolo Nutini

img_0355

Photo credits – lensofourlives & hellolunchlady

Only you can fix your broken window.

IMG_4185

I’ve come to realise in the last few years that most people in life are far too busy worrying about their own problems, to try in any tangible way to help ‘fix’ yours. Yes we all offer words of support, throwing out lines of advice here and there, but in reality we are all too consumed with our own shit to spare any energy in helping others. The fire to change something in your life has got to come from within, otherwise you’ll never get there. Unless you are severely impaired by some form of mental or health related illness, you’ve just got to help yourself. People will be there to give you a kick up the ass and try to motivate you, but ultimately it comes down to lighting your own fire – and that usually takes a trip to rock bottom first.

We’ve all been in a situation where we feel helpless, alone, down and unmotivated. It might be after a break up, or looking for a new job, or home. It might be after a death or traumatic incident, or something little like a fight with a friend. Sometimes in life, you just feel glum – shit happens, and you can’t be bothered getting off the couch. Your family and friends will try and lift your spirits, suggesting outings and exercise. The endorphins will make you feel wonderful! Going outside is the last thing you feel like doing… until, one day, something inside you changes. Nobody is pestering you to cheer up, or asking you out for coffee, and suddenly you think – maybe I can do this. And that’s all it takes – that little spark of confidence, that little burst of positive thinking.

I know first hand what it’s like to go through this. I had loved ones telling me for months to quit my stressful job, and move away from a city I’d grown to despise. It honestly went in one ear and out the other, because I was SCARED. I felt completely trapped, stuck in a dark existence where every day depleted me of energy just trying to make it through. I was filled with ‘what if’ scenarios, bogged down by too many options and not enough courage, but ultimately just scared… 6 months later I look back to that period and wonder how I let it get so bad. Life is far too short to waste trapped in a mediocre job, missing your family and pretending to be okay. All it took was a firm decision, a step of courage and a moment of honesty. I-CANT-DO-THIS-ANYMORE. Let the chips fall where they may, but I was out of there – and haven’t looked back. Finally, I had done SOMETHING for myself. Something, anything was better than NOTHING.

And so I felt like a complete idiot this week when chatting to one of my close friends about how down he has been feeling. Here I was, offering out advice and suggesting things that had helped me – when I should have just listened. Nobody wants to hear what they should be doing – they’re not stupid. They know fully well what they should be doing to get out of their rut, but it takes time to come to that moment of clarity of your own free will – and that’s what makes all the difference 🙂

IMG_4308

Photo credits – aureta & thebest_windowsdoors

Why I changed my opinion on taking your own life.

IMG_4187

I grew up for years with the personal opinion that the act of suicide was the most selfish thing you could do. I used to think everything from ‘How could you do that to your family?’, ‘How could you leave your body in that state for someone else to find?’, and ‘How could you leave your loved ones with the burden of guilt, regret and never knowing why?’. These are just some of the things I wished I could ask people who were successful with their suicide attempts. Not necessarily why did they do it, but more a case of how could they? I simply couldn’t understand how someone could be in that dire of a state, and in that much darkness, that they could legitimately not see a way out.

Having never been personally affected by a loved one taking their own life, and having never felt suicidal myself, I feel somewhat inadequate to even write about this – but mental health is something I do feel incredibly passionate about. I recently watched an eye-opening documentary on ABC titled ‘You Can’t Ask That’, where a range of suicide survivors were interviewed on all the questions people secretly want to ask. For example – how did you do it, did you feel guilty, who saved you… etc etc. For me the question of guilt was something I was extremely interested in, but in fact none of the people interviewed said they felt any guilt at all. They were in such a cloud of despair, that they honestly thought removing themselves from life was going to make their loved ones happier, and obviously rid themselves of their own pain.

Hearing survivors talk about their experience first hand was something that made me do a complete 180 on my opinion. Admittedly, I was on the path to changing how I felt about it from my own experiences with anxiety – whilst I’ve never even been close to having suicidal thoughts, I’ve had some really bad days with overwhelming anxiety where I’ve desperately wanted those feelings to stop. So I can now see how someone could fall deeper and deeper into that well of hopelessness, and can’t see a way out. Yes – everyone always says the help is there… they just had to ask. But hindsight is a bitch isn’t it?

I’ve also been reading a lot about postpartum depression, and have tonight just watched a documentary on it titled ‘When the Bough Breaks‘ – a really raw, honest view on something that affects a lot of women. I guess I have been interested in this condition as part of recovering from my issues with anxiety, and as a woman I have a natural fear that this is perhaps something I will go through should I have a child one day. The hormonal and emotional experience of childbirth coupled with sleep deprivation, existing mental health issues and lack of support are all red flags for postpartum depression, and I think the mothers who have spoken up to discuss their journeys are incredibly brave.

Hoping this post hasn’t offended anyone, I am merely discussing my own thoughts and feelings – feel free to comment 🙂

IMG_4180

Photo credits – dullbluelight & maxfromtax

2am thoughts should never be disregarded… 

I’ve been thinking lately about those poignant thoughts you have in the dead of night – the ones that not only wake you up, but also make you want to take immediate action. You’re laying there in a shroud of darkness with all your neurons firing, worried that if you drift back to sleep you’ll lose these seemingly life changing thoughts, but at the same time just enjoying this moment of clarity. 

This week I had one of those moments. I woke up to a message from a friend overseas, asking if I was enjoying being home. I read the message and put the phone back down, willing myself to get back to sleep – but I simply couldn’t. I was frustrated at the simplicity of the question – was I enjoying myself? I’ve been home for nearly 6 months now on what I’ve decided is my ‘gap year’, recovering from extreme anxiety and stress brought on from work, and it’s been H.A.R.D. Harder than anything I’ve ever gone through. To reduce the last 6 months to something simple as the word ‘enjoyment’ would be a complete joke, when I’ve worked very hard to overcome personal challenges and come out smiling. Yes, I might post pictures on social media of pretty things, adventures, time at the beach and snuggles with my animals – but social media isn’t reality. It’s how we like to frame ourselves to the world and often ourselves, and certainly doesn’t tell the story of all the difficult times between those happy memories.

Since moving home I’ve had messages from numerous friends saying how jealous they are of all my pictures, and how happy I look. And while I can’t disagree with them – I’m a THOUSAND times happier than I was a year ago, I’ve still got a while to go. I suppose it’s my fault as well, for perhaps not divulging all my deepest darkest fears and worries to certain friends – sometimes we just want to keep a small portion of ourselves private. I’m so grateful for growing up as a teenager without the influences of social media, where reality is staged and happiness only looks attainable to the rich and famous. Our social media accounts are not our lives – they are a colourful way to document things and express ourselves, but they definitely only represent a small part of the whole. 

I’m sure that most of you will agree with me that we should all strive to live in the present a little more, and worry a little less about what we see online. Ask your friends how they are – don’t make an assumption based on their Instagram or Facebook account, because more often than not they’re craving that human connection. And while you’re at it, grab a journal for those 2am thoughts – you never know what might need jotting down in the dead of night 🙂 

Photo credits – jetmour & moodyports

When you stop running, doors start opening.

IMG_4016

I’m writing this post tonight as I reflect on the people I’ve met recently through work, who’ve opened up to me rather quickly about their own personal battles. I don’t know if it’s because A) They feel like they can trust me or B) They just want someone to talk to. It’s probably a mixture of both, and don’t get me wrong – I’m more than happy to listen and engage in deep conversation early on into meeting people. None of this small chat about the weather! Let’s get right down to the nitty gritty. But I can’t help but feel a little guilty for initially trying to appear as someone I’m not. You see after the awful year I had in 2016, I wanted this job to be a fresh start where I could leave all my past behind. I wanted to be cool, calm and collected. I wanted to leave my personal life at home and be the ultimate professional on the job. But after my recent conversations with these colleagues, I’ve realised how much humans crave that connection – and how important it really is.

I spent all my energy last year trying to cover up the fact that I simply was not okay. I wasn’t okay going into those meetings, or making those cold calls. I wasn’t okay with that workload, or with that pressure, and I most certainly wasn’t okay with pretending I cared about such meaningless tasks. So this year I told myself that I would focus on me, and what I really wanted. I would take a less stressful job where I didn’t know anyone, and they wouldn’t know how close I’d come to rock bottom. I didn’t have to disclose the battles I’d come through, and I intended on staying that way. I’d come from a workplace culture of keeping your mouth shut and carrying on – you were a cog in the wheel and every cog was replaceable. So I tried, for as long as I could to keep my cool – but as many of you will know that became impossible.

Since meeting the staff in my new job and having them open up to me about their own battles (be it sexual identity issues, domestic violence or mental health problems), I’ve realised that it’s OKAY to be honest with people straight up. We don’t have to wear this mask we create for ourselves, and we don’t have to be ashamed of whatever we’ve gone through. We should feel empowered to be transparent, be trusting, and lean on each other. After all we are in this job together, and how can we really perform to the best of our abilities if we don’t know each others triggers and weak spots?

From now on I intend to be completely honest with my colleagues, both current and future. I’m done with pretending to be someone I’m not, and you can either take it or leave it. We’re all unique individuals with our own stories of perseverance, and we should lift each other up – not bring each other down.

IMG_3450

Photo credits – maison.chloeyeur & hautepunchmag