A Big Decision

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What a hectic, stressful, full on few weeks have just passed. At the end of last school term, I made the decision to leave my husband. In all honesty I had been thinking about this for quite some time and then the final straw came, yep, the one that broke the camel’s back, or my will to keep going in this case. I sought advice from various professionals and made my plans to go. I moved back to Perth with my boys to Mum’s place and that’s where we’ll be for the remainder of the year. Who knows what will come after that, eventually I will move back to the country though, city life is not for me.

I’ve learnt a lot about myself these last few weeks. Firstly, finding out what I can do when I really have to. I have made so many phone calls these last two weeks you wouldn’t believe it. Calling various agencies for assistance, seeking legal advice, making appointments, the list goes on. I’ve even answered an unknown number *gasp*

I’ve also navigated big shopping centres with minimal anxiety. I even surprised myself on this one. I still don’t like them, not by a long way, and neither does my oldest son, but we both managed to do it. The worst part of it is the noise, more than the people. Mind you if there were less people there would also be less noise. Too much sound becomes overwhelming for me, making it difficult to focus on anything, therefore increasing anxiety.

When I left, I also left behind many of my belongings. Being somewhat of a minimalist has turned out to be a good thing in this case. I didn’t have a lot of stuff, and what was left behind were things that can be replaced. There is only a couple of photos that I wish I had remembered but at the end of the day, even though I’d like them, the world isn’t going to end because I don’t have them.

Since moving away from the situation I was in I’ve found my anxiety to have reduced dramatically. It’s like this shadow that was lingering over me has been lifted and I can relax again. I feel calmer, less tense, I’m happier. Even though there is still a lot of stress over certain things, I’m dealing with it ok. I have a lot of support here with my family and friends.

My oldest son who was bullied in his previous school for his choice to grow his hair long, has now made friends with other kids in our street who also go to his new school. It’s so nice to see him playing and interacting with other kids and even better that not one of them cares that he has long hair.

My youngest son who was wetting his pants nearly every day previously, has only had a couple of accidents since we’ve been here, he’s currently on the longest streak he’s ever had of not having an accident.

This move, this whole decision to leave, has been the hardest, most difficult, stressful, anxiety inducing decision I have ever made, but it’s also been one of the best decisions. Seeing the improvement in my own mental health as well as the changes in the boys. I wouldn’t take it back for anything.

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The Liebster Award

 

I’m happy to announce that I’ve been nominated for the Leibster Award by Kristan from Kristan Rewritten. Thank you for the nomination and I hope everyone gets a spare a few moments and go check out her blog!

The Leibster Award is a blogger award for new bloggers or those with a small following. It is a way of giving new bloggers some recognition and encouragement for their hard work.

The instructions for accepting the award and passing it on are as follows.

  • Create a new blog post on your blog thanking the person that nominated you, link to their blog, and put in a graphic of the award.
  • Answer the questions that were provided, and then share some facts about yourself.
  • Create a new set of your own questions for others to answer.
  • Nominate ten others and share your blog post with them so they can accept their award!

 

These are the questions Kristan had for me…

Who is your favourite person and why?

My children are my favourite people. They are smart and funny and loving and sometimes also very naughty but I love them more than anything. Without them I don’t know where I’d be. Sometimes they are the only reason I keep going.

If you could meet any person in history, who would it be and what would you ask them?

My grandfather on my mothers side. He passed before I was born and I’ve heard lost of stories about him and think it would be great to have met him. I don’t think I’d ask him anything in particular, I’d just listen.

What inspired you to start a blog?

I wanted to share my story in the hopes of breaking down some of the stigma that surrounds mental illness. I want to help, encourage and support other people. As I’m not much of a talker I thought the best way to do this would be to start writing. And so The Nut Factory was born.

Image result for the chocolate war Robert Cormier

What is your favourite book?

Too many favourites to choose from. I guess I’ll go with ‘The Chocolate War’ by Robert Cormier. It’s a rather dark story with an ending unlike any other story I’ve read. It’s about a teenage boy, Jerry Renault, who attends an all boys Catholic school and his refusal to sell chocolates as part of an annual fundraiser. ‘The Vigils’ – a secret society operating within the school – manipulate and bully Jerry and things don’t go so well for him as he tries to stand up to them.

The book is very controversial and appeared as third on the American Library Association’s list of the “Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books in 2000–2009.”

What is one thing you LOVE about yourself?

This was a really hard question. I think I’d have to say courage. I honestly don’t know where it comes from but when shit hits the fan so to speak, I somehow manage to, at least temporarily, overcome my fears and do what needs to be done. I face what comes and carry on despite the nagging voice of anxiety in my ear.

Provide five random facts about you

  1. I’ve recently got into rock hunting and am having more fun painting rocks than my kids.
  2. I love going camping. Nothing better than going bush for a few days with no technology and just your imagination to keep you entertained.
  3. I like photography but most of my pictures are of family and the things we do.
  4. I love country living and hate the city.
  5. I think British and Canadian t.v. shows are far superior to anything that comes out of Australia or the USA

 

My questions for you…

  1. What do you do to try and stay mentally healthy?
  2. What is your favourite song/artist to listen to? Why?
  3. If you had a time machine would you travel to the past or the future? Why?
  4. What’s on your bucket list?
  5. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  6. Provide 5 random facts about you.

 

 

My nominees are…

  1. Diva with Depression
  2. Nero-Non-Transmitters
  3. Lavender and Levity
  4. The Art of Broken
  5. Scatterbrained
  6. What Abigail Says
  7. One Flawsome Momma
  8. Most People Call Me the F*cking Doctor
  9. Anxiety Erica
  10. I, Mommy

I encourage you to go and check out all these awesome bloggers, some are much newer than others and I’m sure each of them would appreciate your support!

World Suicide Prevention Day 2017

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Today, Sunday the 10th of September, is World Suicide Prevention Day. We need this day now more than ever with rates of suicide in Australia being at it’s highest in over 10 years. There is an average of 8 deaths by suicide each day in this country with another 30 attempts for each completed suicide.

If you see someone is struggling, even if you only suspect something is wrong, please, please ask them about it. Many people find this a difficult subject to talk about and some even believe that asking a person, friend, family member, co-worker, whoever, if they are contemplating suicide that it will make the problem worse. Believe me this is not the case. Asking often comes as a great relief to the person and you can help them find the help they need.

These are some great fact sheets for how to talk to someone about suicide:

If you need any help for you or a loved one you can also contact a crisis line which I’ve listed in the “where to get help” section, or if you think there is any immediate danger call your countries emergency number.

Where My Social Anxiety Began

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Reflecting on my social anxiety I started looking back into my teenage years to try and work out where it all started. I can now see there were signs that I missed, that with hindsight are pretty bloody obvious. But as a teenager I didn’t think of it this way, even though I struggled I just thought I was a bit weird and that was it.

These are the signs that were missed.

 

At school

Oral presentations – I hated them so, so much. In the hours before I was due to give a presentation I would be so nervous I’d be running to the bathroom multiple times. Let’s just say my digestive system didn’t want to keep anything in. I’d physically shake before, during and after the presentation, I’d get a really dry mouth, forget words and have trouble speaking loudly and clearly enough for people to hear. Many times I’d also be fighting back tears. Back then I put this down to just normal nerves but knowing what I do now I can see it was more than that, this was full on anxiety bordering on a panic attack.

Punctuality – I always had to be early for class. I could not stand the thought of being late and having everyone looking. There were occasions where I was late and for legitimate reasons, where I had a signed note from another teacher excusing me and even then I hated it. In a way that was even worse because I could almost feel the other students wanting to know what I was doing and why and I had no desire to tell them.

Seating position – I always preferred sitting to the side of the classroom up against a wall or a window when it was possible. It meant there were less people around me and less likely people would be looking at me.

Group assignments – Oh how I loathed group work, even worse when the teacher chose the groups. I had trouble communicating my ideas in a group setting and much preferred individual work. At least then I could just get on with the task without having to co-ordinate with others and having the whole thing fall apart.

 

On School Outings

Friends – I never knew who I should hang out with or if I should just be alone. I wanted to be near someone who I trusted (and those people were very few) but I didn’t want to seem annoying for sticking to them like a leach. I struggled to find that balance. I was awkward and didn’t know my place, something that seemed to come naturally to others. Sometimes I’d find myself sticking close to a teacher, but even that became weird and I backed off, usually ending up alone.

Day trips – Where to sit on the bus? I couldn’t sit at the back, that’s where the ‘cool’ kids sit and I certainly wasn’t cool. Sit somewhere in the middle? Nope, don’t fit in with those people either. Sitting at the front near a teacher would get me labelled as a ‘teachers pet’ and no one likes those. There was far too much analysing going on trying to figure out my position on the bus hierarchy.

 

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Camps – School camps were a nightmare. I did enjoy some of the activities, but being an awkward person and not knowing how to be normal was difficult when I had to spend several days with the same people, not being able to go home at the end of the day and reset. I was constantly thinking strange things and trying to work out the right thing to do or say and it was exhausting.

One particular camp I went on we spent the day hiking. I started the hike waking with two other girls and by a third of the way through I was walking alone. When I finally got to the end point I went to have a shower but because it had been windy and raining a bit, my fingers were so cold that I couldn’t undo the button on my jeans. Because it took me several minutes to get out of my jeans I intentionally cut my shower short because I was worried about the people waiting getting annoyed at me for taking so long and what they might think I was doing in there.

 

Being scared to ask questions

Of teachers – Not wanting to sound like an idiot if I asked the wrong question, or asked something that had already been answered, or being laughed at if I didn’t understand something that everyone else did. Also generally not wanting to bring any kind of attention to myself while in class.

Of friends – Pretty much the same here as asking questions of teachers, only this time a little more personal. I didn’t keep up with the latest trends while in high school so often didn’t know what my peers were talking about. This put me behind the eight ball. I felt if I asked questions of them to find out what they were talking about, or if I didn’t understand what a certain word meant, I’d be laughed at. I felt like I should know this stuff and was left behind because I didn’t. I struggled to keep up with conversation and was terrified to ask for clarification on anything.

 

Out of school

Toilet breaks – When I went to visit a friend at their house I would hold off going to the toilet till I could absolutely not hold it anymore or wait till I got home if I could. I was worried about the noise from peeing, I didn’t want people hearing that.

Eating – Whether I was at a friends house or out with a group, eating wasn’t as simple as it should be. I didn’t want to eat too fast and be the first one finished, left sitting there watching everyone else still eating. I worried about table manners and if I should be using a knife and fork even when it was just finger food like chips or pizza. I worried about getting food on my face and not noticing. I sometimes didn’t like eating in front of other people at all, even though I might have been hungry.

 

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All of these things I’ve mentioned would probably not mean anything on their own, but putting them all together and looking at the big picture they were definitely signs of my developing social anxiety. No one ever noticed how weird and awkward I felt because I didn’t want them to. I think I also just got so use to feeling this way that it just became normal for me, even though it’s not normal at all for a person feel like I did.

Another factor to be thrown into the mix here is the bullying I experienced. That made it hard to trust people and may well have been the biggest factor of all for my social anxiety.

I think it’s hard to recognise and acknowledge social anxiety as a teenager, and depending on how well teens hide their feelings it can be difficult for other people to notice as well. It’s only in hindsight that I can see these things for what they were.

10 Mental Health Benefits of Rock Hunting

Rock hunting is in. It’s the latest craze sweeping Australia, with the largest following in Western Australia and it’s even spreading overseas. Basically the idea is that participants paint rocks, letting their imaginations go wild with different patterns and designs, and then hide them in public spaces like parks and playgrounds for other people to find. The finder can then re-hide the rock in a different location or keep it if they choose.

It’s an incredibly fun activity to get involved in and anyone can do it, from toddlers to grandparents. Not only is it a lot of fun it is also very beneficial to a persons mental health. Here’s why:

1. Fresh air – By going out to parks and other public spaces to hide and find rocks you are increasing your exposure to fresh air, rather than the recirculated air found in homes and office buildings. Breathing in fresh air helps clear out your lungs and increases oxygen levels in your body. Increased oxygen levels give you more energy and a more focused mind. Fresh air improves a persons sense of well-being and promotes relaxation.

2. Sunshine – Being out in the sunshine increases vitamin D absorption. Vitamin D not only helps with a multitude of physical illnesses, it is also known to help reduce depression and anxiety. Exposure to sunlight also improves sleep which is an important factor when managing a mental illness.

3. Exercise – Endorphins and serotonin are just a couple of the chemicals that your body releases while you exercise. These chemicals have a ‘feel good’ effect on your mind and body which can improve your mood and reduce stress. Regular exercise helps with many mental illnesses and can aid in recovery. What better way to fit in some exercise than walking around a park hunting for rocks or finding the perfect hiding place for your own works of art?

4. Family bonding/shared experience – Family boding is important to everyone’s mental health. It encourages communication and sharing and helps people feel loved, accepted and included. A shared experience such as rock hunting can positively reinforce a family’s relationship.

 

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5. Discovering new places – They say a change is as good as a holiday, even just spending an afternoon getting out in nature, discovering new places, can have an enormously positive impact on your mental health. Many studies have shown that getting out in nature is a good way to reduce symptoms of mental illness. Spending time finding new places to hide your rocks is a great way to do this.

6. Time away from screens – Children today spend more than the average recommended time on screens and adults aren’t that much better. Some studies suggest that too much screen time can have a negative impact on children’s mental health. Rock hunting is a fun activity that can get children and adults away from technology and back outside.

7. Getting creative – Art therapy became a recognised practice in the early 1940’s. Being creative can help you de-stress, express yourself and can help lift your mood. It is also a good way to practice mindfulness and being in the moment. Painting rocks is something anyone can do at any skill level. Art is good for the soul.

 

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8. Kindness – Kids and adults alike love finding rocks. You never know where your rocks are going to end up and the happiness it could bring to someones day. Kindness is known to lower blood pressure and increase the release of endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin, which helps reduce depression and anxiety and increase happiness.

9. Being part of a bigger community – Rock hunting is a good way to be involved in a community activity without having to be around people if you also happen to have social anxiety. Communicating with other rock hunters through Facebook pages is a great way to stay involved and up to date without having to actually speak to people. Being involved with a community can help reduce symptoms of mental illness and aid in recovery, also giving people a feeling of participation, satisfaction and enjoyment.

10. Excitement – Finding new rocks is fun, seeing how far rocks have travelled is fun, seeing the kids reactions to finding rocks is fun. Everyone needs a little fun and excitement in their lives. It gives you an opportunity to step back from the stressors of life and enjoy yourself.

 

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Connect with other rock hunters around Australia on Facebook. If you are not in Australia do a quick search and see if there is a rock hunting group in your area, if there isn’t perhaps consider starting one yourself.

WA ROCKS
https://www.facebook.com/groups/294469264300479/

NSW ROCKS
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1799672490361808/

VIC ROCKS
https://www.facebook.com/groups/444765092581663

QLD ROCKS
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1471016252957650/

TAS ROCKS
https://www.facebook.com/groups/747886608714776/

SA ROCKS
https://www.facebook.com/groups/472058296473575/

NT ROCKS
https://www.facebook.com/groups/620693811471968/

ACT ROCKS
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1200931683368193/

 

Love is Love – Why Australians Should Vote ‘Yes’ to the Upcoming Postal Vote

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Love is love. You’d think that would be a good enough reason on it’s own to legalise same-sex marriage wouldn’t you? But our government is making this far more complicated than it needs to be by spending $122 million dollars on a non-compulsory postal vote to see what the people think about the issue. The problem is it shouldn’t be an issue at all. Australia is one of the last advanced English speaking nations that does not allow same-sex marriage and it’s about time we stepped out of the dark ages and put this right. I mean why is this still even being discussed?

Australia has been so advanced in so many ways yet is failing miserably when it comes to equal rights for LGBTQ people. Take the right for women to vote for example. “In 1902, as a result of the vigorous lobbying of Australian suffragettes, the Commonwealth of Australia became the first country in the world to give women both the right to vote in federal elections and the right to be elected to federal parliament when they passed the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 (Cth).” (http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-suffragettes)

Basically what is happening is our government is telling an entire group of people they are not allowed to do something everyone else can do, based on something they cannot control. A persons sexuality is not a choice, it’s just the way they are and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s now up to us a nation to give them the choice to get married if they want to because it’s the right thing to do.

LGBTQ people experience higher rates of mental health problems and higher rates of suicide than the rest of the Australian population. (Beyond Blue) This is unacceptable. Discrimination, exclusion, homophobia and stigma are key factors in this statistic. Legalising same-sex marriage would go a long way to help end this problem and improve the mental health of LGBTQ people. Which, if you want to look at it this way, would also go towards lowering the demand for mental health services in Australia and therefore costing the Australian tax payer less.

Many people cite religion as a reason for not wanting same-sex marriage. To me this doesn’t make any sense at all. If you believe homosexuality is a sin. That’s fine. If you believe homosexuals are all going to hell. That’s fine too. If it turns out your right does it really effect you in any way? You are not the one entering a same-sex marriage. This is not your choice, this is up to each individual to decide what is best for them in their own life. Religion says that God gave us free will, so why are we denying part of the population their free will? It’s time we let people decide for themselves. No one is getting hurt by allowing people this freedom.

Children should grow up with a mum and dad is another reason people give. Well I’ve got some news for you. There are millions of children in this world that grow up without a mum or a dad. This is not uncommon. There are plenty of single parents out there raising kids just fine without the other parent. There are also plenty of children out there with no parents at all, living in foster care or orphanages with no family. Is it not better for a child to grow up in a loving environment with a caring family regardless of whether they are same-sex or not? Same-sex couples are just as capable of raising and loving a child as a heterosexual couple. Perhaps their children might even learn about tolerance and acceptance of other peoples differences that many Australians seem to be lacking.

Same-sex couples are not going to turn their kids ‘gay’ anymore than they are going to change their skin colour. And if it turns out their child is attracted to the same or both sexes why is this a problem? As long as they are loved and respected it shouldn’t matter. I’d rather see a child raised by a loving same-sex couple than live in an abusive or neglectful environment.

At the end of the day there is no legitimate reason why a same-sex couple shouldn’t have the same rights as heterosexual couples. If you are an Australian citizen I urge you to please vote ‘yes’ in the upcoming postal vote for same-sex marriage.

 

Don’t Put Off Until Tomorrow What You Can do Today

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“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

~ Benjamin Franklin

 

This saying is especially true if you experience mental illness.

Today I had motivation. I had energy. I got what I consider to be a lot done. I cleaned the lounge room – including vacuuming and swapping furniture around, tidied some cupboards and got rid of two bags of rubbish and things we don’t need anymore, stared some Christmas shopping, did the laundry, washed the dishes, cooked sweet and sour chicken for dinner and wrote this blog post. I also squeezed in an hour of Netflix. Admittedly I also snacked on cereal all day (with the exception of dinner) because I couldn’t be bothered to make anything better, but you can’t win them all.

This is a good and productive day for me. This is a day where I feel like I’m on a roll and need to get as much done as I can while I can because tomorrow could be different. Tomorrow I could wake up with no motivation to do anything. That’s the thing with mental illness. You never know what a day is going to bring.

There are days where motivation likes to hide in an alternative dimension with all the missing socks and no matter what I do I can’t find it. These are the days where I sit looking at the mess that has piled up thinking about doing something about it but failing to unglue my butt from the chair.

This is why it’s so important to make the most of days like today. If I didn’t, my house would resemble that of a disaster zone. Well, more so than normal – I do have two little boys that like to make mess.

Today was a good day. Today I feel accomplished.