A mother of dragons....I mean daughters! Three of the moody little blood suckers! I became a mum in my teens and have had much personal experience with mental illness personally, and around me. I hope to share with you, uplift you, guide you, inspire you and learn from you all in this little adventure called Life! xox
It begins with a sense of impending doom. My heart rate increases, my mouth becomes dry like it’s made of chalk. I begin to sweat and my body breaks out in goosebumps. I start to feel nauseous and my head starts to pound from the pain of my tense body and clenched jaw. Noises become louder and a bit of a blur, there’s a dull ringing in my ears and my heart is beating so loudly I am sure other people can see it physically pulsating out of my chest wall. There is a fear of humiliation- that everyone knows I am panicking and that I will vomit/pass out or be trapped whilst very publicly having an attack. I will do anything to make it go away, I am scared, I feel crazy and I even feel I could possibly die. I can’t handle the feeling, its like butterflies in my tummy but replace butterflies with large birds – I can’t calm down and I just want it to stop.
This describes anxiety for me and, if you’re reading this, possibly for you too. One thing I have learned from having anxiety most of my life is this – there isn’t always a trigger and it can hit when you least expect it. There are times I KNOW I’m going to be anxious – attending an event alone, job interview, modelling job casting/booking, meeting new people and even, like today, waiting for my daughter to come back from her driving test! Usually the anxiety for these events is building in the weeks, days, hours leading up to it and I am somewhat prepared and have a plan of action in place. But what about those times that anxiety strikes and you aren’t expecting it? For e.g. – I woke at 4am the other morning panicking about……I wasn’t entirely sure! I was extremely nervous and feared I had embarassed myself the day before, or that I said something I shouldn’t have , to someone? That sense of impending doom and fear of humiliation had somehow struck when I was SLEEPING?! I have had times when I have experienced it in a shopping mall for no apparent reason and I didn’t know what to do. I liken anxiety to the mean girl at school who knows everything you’re afraid of and all your insecurities and uses them against you. When you’re panicking it’s like this mean girl is inside your head validating your irrational thoughts and fears. She is the only voice you can hear in a very noisy room, when in the throes of a panic/anxiety attack. The not knowing what to do, in this situation, is terrifying so I’ve put together a little action plan, we can all implement, when anxiety strikes unexpectedly.
Step 1. Calm your breathing. When experiencing anxiety our breathing becomes short, sharp and shallow. This contributes to our fear and feeling of choking/dying/being out of control. Breathe deep into your diaphragm ensuring your stomach expands like a balloon, not your chest. Breathe in for three seconds, out for four seconds – do this 5 times.
Step 2. Tense all your muscles- concentrating on one muscle group at a time and then release. Start from your toes and work your way up slowly to your face/head.
Step 3. You’re internal dialogue is imperative here – remember that mean girl we talked about earlier? It’s time to tell her to be quiet! This is when you need to remind yourself that what you are experiencing is anxiety, that it will pass and that you are NOT going to die. Do NOT reprimand yourself with negative self talk, just be with it and your feelings and know it will pass.
Step 4. Distraction – All of the above is a form of distraction, but if you are in such a state that you cannot initiate these, then distraction is key. Touch something cold and concentrate on that feeling, count to 100, find five objects around you and list them in your head.
Step 5. Smell – Carry an oil, or scent that you find calming, with you at all times (just a small vial to fit in your purse, or even something around your neck) Lavender is a popular choice and you’ll find, if you have this smell around you when your practice mindfulness or meditation, your body will associate it with calm – even when you’re panicking
Step 6. Call someone you trust – tell them what’s happening and describe your symptoms. This helps you to recognise that they are just feelings and by recognising them you can let them go.
Step 7. IF you can- walk it off. Sometimes there is a build up of adrenaline and walking not only helps to remove this excess it also encourages deeper breathing
I plan on doing another blog on steps to PREVENT anxiety from occurring however I feel this needed attention, as its the unexpected panic attack that , I feel, can be the most debilitating.
And remember……… no panic attack ,in history, has lasted forever – it will pass and sometimes just letting yourself feel what you’re experiencing and letting it pass by, is enough.
Do you have your own experiences with anxiety? Some tips you can contribute to our growing community? I would love you to share them by commenting here – Gold Coast Musings.
I’ve been holding in so much ANGER, of late, around the way women are treated by men. What has made my anger boil over is how I see women treat other women. This anger ultimately resulted in a lot of self reflection, on my part, revisiting the past to understand myself and the reasons for my feelings better and this resulted in this blog. I spewed so many feelings onto this page and kept veering off into other topics and had to keep coming back and editing. It still is a bit of a mish mash of various issues – but this is the gist of how I feel and it is what it is.
From the age of 3, until the age of 8 (which is when I told my parents), I was abused by a trusted male. Despite having supportive, loving parents who ensured I received treatment and therapy for years after – my life, my outlook, my BRAIN was changed forever. Research suggests that surviving adults of childhood abuse have a higher risk of substance abuse, anxiety, depression and impulse control – due to actual physical changes in the brain development(verywellmind.com) So it makes sense the choices I made in the future and the situations I put myself in – all come back to the trauma I experienced as a child.
From such a young age I was taught that I was purely a sexual object. I was exposed to things that no child should be exposed to and thus viewed myself in a very different way to most children. As I grew up I was hyper sensitive to women around me and what men would say about them. I took it all in – every wolf whistle, every comment about a womans body, every rating out of ten she was given, every disgusting comment uttered about what the “man” would like to do to this woman. I heard it all around me and I even started getting wolf whistles at around 11 or 12 years of age – from VERY GROWN MEN. The boys at school had gorgeous busty women on their school diaries and stuck all over their bedroom walls – this told me that this is what was desired. I was mocked for my ‘curveless’ body, teased for my lack of breasts and this constantly reinforced the feeling ,that I was not good enough ,unless I was sexually useful or appealing to a man. I was told by a few guys at school that they “liked” me – but that they knew they wouldn’t ‘get anywhere’ (obviously sexual!!) with me so didn’t want to date me. Again – you’re no good to me unless you’re providing sexual benefit. Women in Tv, magazines, billboards – everywhere I looked there were sexy curvaceous women who , in my eyes, mattered because they met societies “ideal”. I began a relationship in highschool at age 14 and seeked this persons approval so much. I needed to be desired – I mean it was my role right? That’s all i’d ever been exposed to as a girl. The first time this person hit me I was only 15 – but I am leaving that story for another blog, as it deserves full attention, – but it is relevant as it added to my feelings of being worthless and useless and I continued to value myself based on my looks and ‘desirability’ to men, for years to come.
When I had my daughters I was adamant that I would raise them with different views – I protected them fiercly from potential predators and ensured that they believed in themselves as strong, kind, smart, beautiful women who didn’t need a man to complete their life and to treasure their virginity and sexuality with everything they had. To not seek attention from boys in order to feel good, to dress for themselves and not for a man, to stay strong and believe in themselves and their WORTH which had nothing to do with how their body looked, or what they did sexually.
They were still exposed to the boys at school teasing their bodies, the boys at school talking about other girls in a derogatory fashion. They were still wolf whistled at from a young age, approached by men, gawked at, honked at, had sexually explicit things said to them, touched without their permission in public places and still privy to the horrible things that happen to women in this world. But they are strong! Their beautiful brains were able to develop in childhood and their impulse control was much stronger than their Mummas was.
Just recently, one of my daughters, had her body commented on , by an older male who should know a lot better. She was told, and I quote “this is not what men like. Men don’t like this kind of body, you need to put some weight on. Men like girls with curves”. Ummmmmm what?! Excuse me?! Her response I was so proud of, she shrugged her shoulders, lifted her chin proudly and said “Oh well! I don’t care what men like!” and walked off. We had a big talk about what had happened and I reminded her of the words I have shouted from the roof tops ever since Pink released her song “U+ur hand” –
I’M NOT HERE FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT!!!
We are NOT here solely to entertain men – how we look, what we wear, how much, or how little, make up we wear the colour of hair, the length of our hair (or hemlines) are NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!!!! We live in a culture where women are expected to look a certain way, dress a certain way and to maintain a certain “appeal” whilst pregnant and then to “bounce back” from having a baby, go to work, look good, maintain the house – in other words DO IT ALL and look good doing it……..then provide porn worthy sex at the end of the day! And if we don’t? We hear “if he doesn’t get it at home – he will get it somewhere else”, “Oooohhhh mate, six weeks without sex….wanna come to the strippers?” – and again it is reinforced that unless we are sexually available to men we are not worthy. Our own husbands, or friends of our husbands are the ones saying this!
So how do we change this? Well you’d think it would be with women. That women would band together and support one another and make a stand… but whats happening? Welll….. not that! Social media means this view society has of the “ideal woman” is being thrown at us everywhere, every day and it’s not just men degrading women….its other women too! Thanks to social media our female counterparts are becoming keyboard warriors and bullies wth increasingly damaging and insulting shaming comments being made. These are a small example of some of the comments I have heard, or seen online.
Oh my god! So skinny! Yuck! Men want a woman with more meat!”
“No curves! Too skinny! She looks anorexic!”
“Omg look at the size of her butt. Who would want an ass that big? Does she actually think that looks good?!”
“Ha ha she has no boobs. Real women have curves”
“All these fake plastic women with boob jobs. So gross – just love yourself for who you are.”
“Marilyn Monroe – now that’s a REAL woman!”
“She is so fat. She looks disgustinging”
“Put it away!’
This is just a very small sample – I have seen every body type under the sun scrutinised and insulted by fellow WOMEN and it has got to STOP!
The change we all want so much….. IT STARTS WITH US! Forget men, for the moment, how we talk to each other has to change and it has to change now! Whatever our reason for commenting on another womens body in a negative light, whether it be our own lack of self esteem, our sheep mentality, or just an actual case of bitchness – STOP! Walk by, Scroll past and if you feel the need to say something – say it in your own head and then reprimand YOURSELF and change your thought patterns.
Think of what we are teaching our daughters and not just our daughters……. our sons! We place so much emphasis on how men raise their boys and to be careful how they talk about and treat women but what about us?! As women, as mothers we can LEAD THE CHANGE – we can teach our sons it’s not okay to talk about womens bodies in a derogatory or sexual manner, we can monitor what they watch and we can lead by example by not insulting women ourselves! How are we supposed to teach our daughters to not put up with bullying or body shaming, if the women around them are doing just that?! How are we supposed to teach our Sons TO NOT body shame women, or talk of them in a purely physical sense, if the women around them are doing just that?
I could honeslty talk forever on this topic, as I am so passionate about it – but I will leave it here with this final thought – there is a popular quote – “Empowered women Empower women” but i gotta say –
“empowered women raise empowered men and empowered men empower women too!”
Things can get a bit deep and serious here on GCM – and after some requests for more fashion posts ,on Instagram, I decided to put together this blog and lighten things up, in between discussing the serious issues.
I don’t know if its the humid Gold Coast climate, the fact I hate wearing a bra or knickers, or my desire to feel like a Boho princess, but I lurve a maxi dress. There is a huge section of my wardrobe dedicated to various floaty long dresses, with the odd cute shorter one thrown in for good measure. For some reason I am always being asked where I get my dresses from, not just online, but out and about as well. Whilst I do have my favourite shops – I am NOT a brand snob and am a fan of what I like, not what label is attached to it. I also love a sale…… I very rarely buy anything at full price and appreciate quality and VALUE.
So below are some examples of the dresses I get asked about the most and a couple of new ones that I have tried on, styled and compared to the “model” pic. This is important for me, as I know I personally like to see things on real heighted people, not 6′ professional models, in professionally edited pics!
Let’s open this with two dresses I was sent from @rubydollco
Amara Dress $59.95 (rubydoll.com.au)I loved the colour and fabric of this dress the second I saw it and I KNEW it was a versatile dress I would be able to style in many different ways. This piece is easy to layer and the options are endless. A midi length with a removable waist sash, you can also adjust the length of the torso, via the tie straps. You can view how I styled the Omara dress on my IGTV channel- One Dress Three Ways
The online image of the dress, matched what I received and I will definitely purchase from this store in the future.
2. Tahyna Maxi Dress $49.95 (rubydoll.com.au)
This dress is such a gorgeous colour and pattern, with a super flowy vibe and, whilst not lined, it is NOT see through and moves beautifully.
At only 5’5 this one was too long for me to wear with flats, but perfect with heels or wedges. It has a dressier feel (the fabric is silkier and thus – feels more luxe) – I added a silver waist belt and heels, however there is an adjustable drawstring in the midline of the dress which can be as loose or as tight as you’d like. This would actually make a stunning dress if you were pregnant, due to the looseness of the design and the ability to keep the drawstring untied for a growing belly (hell to the no…… I am not going there again!)
Again the Model Vs Me pic shows that this label is very accurate in their online depictions of their dresses – which I have a lot of respect for, as there is nothing worse than buying online and receiving a dud! I would recommend going down a size when ordering this dress online.
3. Frankie Dress – Marigold $89.00 (Seven Wonders the label)
This was a gift from my husband for Christmas, that he purchased from White Bohemian Store Palm Beach I was pleasantly surprised by his choice and love that the length is not super mini (comes just above my knee). It is cool, fully lined and yes those are REAL buttons – so breastfeed away mummas! This is a fun, flirty and flattering number, that would suit most body types. I include a little white cami under this piece, if heading out with the family.
4. THE Yellow Dress $29.99 (valleygirl.com.au)
No Way! I hear you saying….. but totes yes way. I don’t even know the official name of this dress but I refer to it as “THE yellow dress” as I cannot count how many times I have been asked on Instagram and also in real life – where I purchased this dress from!
It is well made, it is a thicker cotton with concealed zip and buttons, lace details and a perfect maxi length for this little smurf! And yep….it’s from bargain chain store Valley girl. As I said, I purchase what I like, not what the label says, and I HAD to have this dress. I treat Valleygirl a little bit like an op shop – the stores are huge and a muddle of sizes, styles and colourways. You have to rifle through the racks and occasionally you will bag yourself a great piece at an even greater price. This dress was hanging on a rack – all by itself – with a swing tag reading $29.99 – IN MY SIZE! So there it is folks – this adored dress was a lucky find, I’ve never seen it since and I’ve never seen it online BUT the moral of this story is…..don’t be a brand snob or you might miss some little diamonds.
5. Gingham and Heels (ginghamandheels.com)
This is my #1 go to store for maxi dresses and I have shopped at Gingham and Heels for years and years. The majority of their dresses are true to size, good quality and have the ability to be dressed up or down. Many of their models are also quite short, and they will list the height of their models on each listing. Two of the dresses pictured below have been in my cupboard for 4 years and are in as new condition and I still wear them now. There are similar styles still online, just different colours and patterns (it’s a timeless cut)
I have so many more dresses by this label, these are just a few on regular rotation, and I will continue to shop here as long as the quality remains the same.
So there it is – I will be releasing more of these blogs, featuring the Model Vs Me, comparisons with a true and unbiased review of various brands and styles.
Let me know what you would like to see in the next piece and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @gold_coast_musings
In early 2017 I was feeling in a better, healthier place, than I had for a long time. I jumped on my phone in bed and started scrolling through Instagram trying to find “someone” to follow and support, someone I could relate to. Through out my search I found lots of young, gorgeous , girls and women with perfectly edited pics or weight loss journey profiles, heaps of fitspo and athletes or Pt’s, an insane amount of bum and bikini shots and occasionally I came across an Ed recovery page, however the pages I came across were melancholy and quite negative or spouting unhealthy, triggering captions and not what I wanted to see on my feed. I wanted to see a strong, older woman in recovery, who understood what I was going through and could maybe show me the light at the end of the tunnel. I wanted “real”, I wanted “raw” and I wanted to read about her journey. I guess I was feeling alone and whilst many of the profiles and pages I looked at were visually appealing, I couldn’t find one that fit what I was looking for. Despite my hours of searching – I never found what I was looking for and the crazy thought entered my mind – Why cant I be that person? If I can’t find someone, maybe others are searching too? And then of course the fear crept in and the negative self talk began; “No one will care”, “Who do you think you are?”, “You are going to embarrass yourself”. But I didn’t listen, I continued to work on myself, I wrote things down as I continued my healing, with the hope that one day I would have the courage to share my story with others and maybe, just maybe help one person.
On the 27th July 2018 I shared a side by side photo on my Instagram and pressed publish on my first blog post A battle within . My hope was that just maybe there was another “me” out there searching the ‘gram, just like I had, trying to find someone going through what they were.
The response was not one I expected, and I cried with emotion as the messages and emails came in from other ‘Journey to Health Warriors’, who had found what they needed in that post. One DM sent via Instagram ,that will stay with me forever, was from a gorgeous soul who wanted to tell me that because I had the courage to post that piece, she had the courage to eat that day. That’s it – that’s all I wanted – to be the light for just one person!
So that brings me to today – the beginning of 2019. I have posted about my eating disorder, and recovery, a few times and touch on the importance of living a positive life, often. One of the questions that keeps popping up is “How to you love yourself after the weight gain?” Weight gain isn’t always a part of recovery, as extreme weight loss isn’t always a side effect of an ED. We tend to associate eating disorders with the skeletal frames displayed in the media – but absolutely anyone of ANY body shape or size can suffer. Whether it is over eating, under eating, bingeing, bingeing and purging, or obsessive thoughts about food – an eating disorder is simply disordered thinking around eating and food.
That being said, the people who have asked the question, are those who are following my journey and tend to be on a similar one, so they may have gained healthy weight as a part of recovery and are struggling with their healthy new body, or may just be lacking the ability to love themselves the way they are.
So below I have listed the things that have helped me on those darker days. Those days where you feel like all those steps forward are useless, as you want to be back where you were. You want to do what you know, what feels safe and comfortable – but we FIGHT those days ❤ It’s worth mentioning that many of these steps can apply to anyone in any type of situation, and if you find yourself here reading this and feeling connected to it – then maybe these will help you love yourself a little bit more too.
Get RID of the clothes that no longer fit. Give them away, sell them, donate them, bin them. I don’t care what you do with them – but get them out of your cupboard and enjoy shopping for some new clothes ❤
Get involved in some sort of fitness that you enjoy (not too much cardio), that makes you feel empowered.
Thank your body EVERY day for what it is doing for you – it is keeping you alive! That blood is flowing through your body, your heart is pumping 25/7, you move freely , you are of sound mind, you can see, you can hear, you can move, you have working legs and arms that can hug your loved ones- feel love for your body everyday for that.
Practice gratitude and positivity – check out my guide to leading a positive life here Creating a positive life – this is HUGELY important!
Keep busy – Distract yourself, be social, go for walks, spring clean the house.
Surround yourself with the RIGHT PEOPLE! I can’t stress enough how important this step is. A big part of my recovery was cleansing my life of some toxic people and environments, to really honour myself and my health. And it can be hard – the person that is toxic to you, might be well liked by those around you. But what YOU need, is all that matters. You need positive, strong, generous, kind, self loving women around you – and they need you right back, because that is what you are BECOMING ❤
Dance naked – yep….you read that correctly! Allow yourself some time alone, take off those clothes and move your body in front of the mirror. I found that when I stood and looked at my body I would nit pick the parts I didn’t like and the parts that needed to change – never ever did I look at what I loved. One day I just started dancing telling my mind to be quiet and you know what? Cellulite, dimples, bones, rolls, stretch marks, freckles, creases, scars….. I wasn’t starting at them I was seeing the whole package – an able body that moved fluidly and was kinda cute – even with the parts my mind was telling me to hate.
Remember you are human, you are healing. A bad day does not mean a full blown relapse – contact your support person (whoever that may be) and tell yourself ” I am STRONG, I am LOVED, I am ALIVE, I AM WORTHY”
Self love takes TIME, and believe it or not it takes PRACTICE. On the days where I am not loving myself – the above steps help bring me up out of the depths of negativity and back into the land of the living, the grateful, the positive.
I am NOT a professional and this is just my experience. I highly recommend professional help, if you do not already have some in place. Eating disorders are psychological illnesses, best treated by a professional.
Your local GP is a fantastic starting point, as your physical health also needs to be monitored. Your GP can also help you with a mental health and treatment plan.
Please know that you are not alone, you are an amazing woman worthy of love and there is hope and life after ED
Thank you for joining me on my journey – it means the world to me. We are in this together my fellow Journey To Health Warriors (JTHW)
“Nothing changes, if nothing changes” – Vanessa Haldane
People with a good job, good circle of friends, loving family and who are genuinely happy are lucky, right? They’ve just been handed everything in their life, haven’t they?
!WRONG! And if you are someone who thinks this way, then I am glad you have visited this blog – we need you here ❤
I am often told that I am “lucky” and whilst I feel incredibly blessed, luck ain’t got nothin’ to do with it. Luck didn’t create a successful home business, luck didn’t create a loving 18 year relationship, luck didn’t create work, modeling and influencer opportunities, luck didn’t bring me my health and fitness and luck sure as heck didn’t buy me my home or raise my children! Hard work, commitment, persistence and most importantly POSITIVITY changed my life in an amazing way.
I have not always been this “happy’ – in fact, up until my 30’s I had a real victim mentality. I was bitter about the struggles I had been through in my life, the situations I had been in and the horrible events that had occurred in my life. I thought I deserved MORE, that I deserved BETTER and I expected “more’ and “better” to just happen – to magically appear in my life. It doesn’t work that way…. change takes time and it takes- well….. CHANGE.
Here I have a little guide, some tips, if you will, to how you too can change your outlook and create a positive life. This change will bring you happiness in abundance – so don’t start next year, dont start next week, don’t even start tomorrow – start NOW.
DECISION – The first step – You have to make a decision – today – to become more positive and to make some , very difficult, changes. Negativity not only affects your mental health but also your physical, promoting more stress and illness!
BE GRATEFUL – Lose the attitude of entitlement. It is practically impossible to lead a happy and positive life when we are focussing on what we lack in our lives, and not appreciating what we already have. Start the practice of finding just ONE thing in your day, that you are grateful for. It can be as simple as being grateful for the sunrise or the cool breeze on your walk to work. Starting a Gratitude Journal can really help. Kiki K have some fabulous ones, but a simple notebook from Kmart is also perfectly fine! Kiki-K Gratitide Journal
LAUGHTER AND RESILIENCE – Sounds like a weird combination but , trust me, they go hand in hand. Are you easily offended by little jokes or light sarcasm? Try building up a little resilience and laughing more often. I’m not talking about a nasty or passive aggressive joke or comment, I’m talking about a light joke. Try laughing (fake it til you make it!) instead of becoming offended and learn to laugh at yourself and your silly mistakes instead of berating yourself 🙂
DO FOR OTHERS – Doing something for others creates a sense of purpose and self worth. Start small by complimenting a friend or stranger, help someone solve a problem, hold open a door for someone and work your way up. Maybe eventually you can volunteer at a local charity or help a local family fundraise during a tough time.
SELF TALK – This is a huge one! Have a think about how you talk to yourself; Would you talk to your friends the way you talk to yourself? No? Then change it! This was really hard for me to do, and it took me ALOT of time and ALOT of practice. I constantly put myself down so instead of saying “I’m so weak! I sucked at that workout!” I now say “I’ve come so far, today was hard and I am proud of myself for turning up!”. If you’re like me, you may say the negative first – just make sure you follow-up with a positive ,to slowly change your mindset.
RELATIONSHIPS – We become who we surround ourselves so CHOOSE wisely. Yes I said “choose” – you decide who you spend your spare time with so limit your time with those who put you down, put others down, constantly negatively self talk, are victims or narcissists. Instead, surround yourself with people who empower you to be better, love you for you and have a love and zest for life that just makes you smile.
VICTIM MENTALITY – Stop being a victim! You are responsible for your thoughts and you are responsible for your actions. Life is about choices and we have all made bad choices that have resulted in a negative outcome. Own it, learn from it, move on from it!
“Become the happiest most positive person you know”
Remember that Nothing changes, if nothing changes and this includes relationships, work, fitness, food, health and… YOU.
In 2000 I met him – our eyes locked and it was instant. There was an indescribable connection and level of attraction I didn’t expect on a first interaction. From the second we met we laughed, whether it be at each other’s Ace Ventura impersonations or our similar sense of sarcasm – we have been affectionately teasing each other daily, for 18 years!
We often get asked what our secret is – how have we stayed so happy? The truth? We aren’t always happy and it hasn’t been “easy”. Partnership of any kind requires patience, compromise and compassion. There are times where you get so sick of each other you just want to move out – normal. There are times when their quirks and habits drive you to the point of insanity – normal. Normal looks different for everyone, for every coupling – so what has worked for us may not work you. However one thing I know for certain – you CANNOT go into a relationship with a fairytale view of how it will be. Those first six months when you’re endorphins are making you giddy and you’re getting to know each other – starting to fall in love; that doesn’t last forever. That’s why it’s often referred to as a honeymoon period. It’s a magical moment in a relationship when time seems to stand still, you experience new things, go on amazing adventures together, sex is often and new and fantastic, those hormones are raging and there’s nothing but excitement and promise for the future. Then you move in together, perhaps get married, and maybe you start planning that first baby, that first new home build or new home purchase – but then what? Then life becomes repetitive, you incur debt, you might have children and suddenly everything feels quite mundane, boring – like Groundhog Day. This is when many people may start seeking that feeling, that they experienced in the early years, elsewhere. They chase that rush of endorphins that loved up feeling without thinking of the consequences – the old “grass is greener. But – instead of chasing that we need to WATER OUR OWN GRASS , we need to find peace and gratefulness for the mundane ,the routine. To be grateful for the fact we are lucky enough to experience this “boring” life with someone else and to work TOGETHER to keep each other happy in order to grow old without killing each other off. Gee I make it sound so desirable don’t I?! But its TRUE! When you spend 18 years living with ANYONE, not just a spouse, you’re going to get on each others nerves, you’re going to want space and alone time – it DOES NOT mean you don’t love each other anymore.
So how have we lasted so long? Theres no magic trick – as I said – every coupling will be different and you need to communicate along the way.
But here are some tips we’ve discovered along the way – that have helped us stay together for nearly two decades (Holy Crap!)
Tips to lasting two decades…….
KEEP DATING Find time for one on one – without the kids (if you have the little rascals). It doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t have to be a night-time date. I breastfed Kalani for 5.5 years and co slept with all the kids ( I still share a bed with a 6-year-old!) , nighttime dates are rarely possible for us and nights away havent been possible since I was pregnant. We do movies, lunch, just a coffee or walk on the beach, sometimes my hubby chucks a sicky when the kids are at school or kindy or daycare( his boss doesn’t read my blog right?) and we just snuggle and watch Netflix (or Netflix and chill now I know what that means 😉 ) LAUGH Be silly! Tell each other stupid jokes . Play pranks on each other. With all the mundane BS we all deal with on the daily its good to have someone you can just be a dag with. Don’t grow up too much. SEX Keep Having it! That physical closeness is important – you’ll both be too tired sometimes – I’m not saying it has to be four times a day like in the beginning (gee vaginas are resilient aren’t they?!?) but don’t let it become six months before a romp in the hay. I’ve never liked that saying……It always gets me thinking about all the painful places that spiky hay could wind up, a bit like sex on the beach – ugh SAND! I’m off topic – it happens…. continuing on….. BE FRIENDS Be BEST friends. Be there for your partner with compassion and a listening heart. When you want to roll your eyes , hug them instead. Do things with your partner you’d do with your friends – go bowling, play golf, work out together, gossip , hang out
TALK Tell each other about your day, your friends, the story you heard from a friends, friends, friends, brothers, Uncles favourite Aunts, cousin. And talk about the important things too – how you want to parent, what your goals are for the future – make plans – set goals TOGETHER
YOU TIME This is huge. Give each other space to grow as an individual as well as a couple. Allow your partner to keep their own identity, to go play footy or dance class or a trip away with friends, andd allow yourself the same.Your partner should be an awesome addition to your life, not the only thing you have in it. You can still have your own “life” as an individual that you share with your partner – in fact I think it’s hugely important. Without that, resentment creeps in and you long for your “old life” or to be alone for a while.
I don’t long for any other life – we have been teen parents with hand me down furniture, no electricity, no money – we have bought our first house together, gone on our first overseas trips together, made our interstate move together, cried together and lost loved ones – together.
We have had nothing and yet had everything – because we had each other the whole time.
If you fear for your, or someone elses, safety – please call 000
I can pinpoint when it all started. I was about 24 years old and Anxiety had taken over my life in a massive way. I had reached a point where I was afraid to leave the house, I was exhausted as panic attacks were occuring daily and for no apparant reason. I couldn’t go to the grocery store for fear of having a panic attack and publicly humiliating myself, or go in a lift or over a bridge in my car as I had an irrational fear of being trapped. I had anxiety about getting anxiety – a very common occurence for people with anxiety or panic disorders. To avoid feeling panic I stopped attending most social functions, visiting busy shopping centres or driving different routes to those I was familiar with. I don’t know exactly when my anxiety started – I have many reasons for why it began. Some very horrible things have happened to me from a very young age, that I’m not comfortable just brushing over here – so will omit it.; These things led me to view things differently to most little kids and my perception of myself, love and my value as a girl was warped. This led me to make some poor choices which eventuated in more abusive situations and basically a total loss of my sense of self, self esteem any self love and the ability to make good choices, by the time I was 15 years old. So many times in my life my control had been taken from me and so many times I had been hurt by those who were suposed to protect me – so i was a generally anxious person from child hood.
I guess the day I was born was the beginning of a continuing battle with anxiety, disordered eating and a journey to self love.
Despite meeting an amazing man – UH-MAY_ZING – having two beautiful children and a loving family my anxiety was worsening and – it left me feeling out of control of my life, my body, my brain, my emotions…. my sanity. It made me feel physicall ill most of the time with upset tummys, constant nausea , heartburn, dry mouth, headaches and exhaustion. The physical side effects of my anxiety was actually making it worse! I started fearing feeling or being sick whilst out, fear of vomiting in front of someone, fear of feeling really ill and not being home where I felt “safe”. My solution was to stop eating – if I didn’t eat there would be nothing inside my stomach to upset it and I thought I was removing an aspect of my anxiety. I Thought I was pretty clever little problem solver I did! But some days I would eat and if I unexpectantly had to go out I would panic about the fact I had food in my stomach. This is when I started to purge my food. The first time I did it, it was literally to remove the food from my body so I wouldn’t feel sick – I wasn’t expecting the total feeling of relief I felt once I had thrown up, nor the release in my muscles and the feeling like I had control. And so began the disordered eating spiral – I wouldn’t eat all day long if we had somewhere to be and once we got home I would be STARVING and binge on everything I could get my hands on. I would be so full I would be in pain and then the guilt and shame was unbearable so I would be sick just to get rid of the pain and to chase that awesome rush and feeling of release and relief. Its quite ironic that I felt I was in “control” by doing this – as I had completely lost control, not regained it at all. I had handed my power over to , what I refer to as, the Demon in my mind. The Demon was, is, the voice inside my head that tells me I need to do this in order to control my anxiety. It got louder and louder each day and my restriction, bingeing and purging increased to the point that anything and everything I ate or drank was being rid from my body. I didn’t relate my ED (eating disorder) with my anxiety, until much later, so I went to my GP to seek help for my panic attacks , anxiety disorder and , what I now know was, agoraphobia. With the help of some professionals, regular visits with my GP and a treatment plan in place, my anxiety moved into the background enough that I could function at a somewhat “normal” level again. I even discussed my stomach issues with my doctor who arranged some tests and my diet was changed to all gluten free and it helped ALOT. I was able to leave the house, I was able to see my friends and I felt hope at last.
I thought my ED would go when my anxiety did, when my stomach wasnt as tempermental – but I was so wrong. When I purged I felt free, released from the hurt and the pain of my past and again, I felt in control. Once that feeling passed though, I hated myself, my internal dialogue was extrmely self depreciating and I couldn’t believe this is who I was and what I was doing! My weight started to drop dramatically and I discovered a new thrill, a new obsession – the scales. The measurements. The numbers.
Every morning I woke up, rolled onto my back and checked to make sure that my hip and rib bones were protruding, that I could fit my fingers around my thighs and that the fingers on one hand could fit around my upper arm. Then I would pinch any other areas and lunge my way to the bathroom to weigh myself. Weight loss meant the day began with a smile and some egg whites, weight gain completely ruined the day and I would punish myself with cardio and zero food.
One night , My husband and I had put the two kids to bed and were having a few beers and wines and I got the confidence, that only a couple of wines can give, to blurt out to Dwayne – “I think I have a problem”. He’s a wonderful supportive man so he simply asked what he could do to help me and I just requested his support. I’d like to say it all ended there and I stopped, but that would be a lie. I tried…..the time I waited before purging would be a little longer, as I did my best to keep the food I’d eaten in my body and, in addition to this – someone now knew I was unwell. Dwayne was watching my every move, he would look at me funny during a binge and say “ness, what are you doing??” – so I just became better at hiding it. I ate in secret and purged in secret, I lied about what I’d eaten when no one was home. “Oh I had a massive lunch I’m so full” . I was bingeing in the car on the way from work and hiding the rubbish in a neighbours bin, I was purging in public bathrooms – I was disgusted at myself. At my lowest point I weighed 46 kilos and was killing myself to get to 45. I told myself that if I just got to 45 I would be “happy” and would stop.
When we were moving from Melbourne to the Gold Coast, I found a diary I had kept during this time. It was a very simple journal – calories in versus calories out plus calories burned for the day – the aim? To be in the minus come the end of the day. A cup of tea, apple, some nuts and one egg white is all I would eat some days with a 2km run on the treadmill, bike ride, lunges, sit-ups, walk and more random exercises. I couldn’t remember being like that, I cried when I read it as it read like someone with an eating disorder and that wasn’t me! Right?
My ED Demon would whisper in my ear that there was nothing wrong with me – my rational brain looked at my two DAUGHTERS two beautiful, young, developing, influential, curious , ever seeing daughters and I had to kick this for them! So I went to see someone and was diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia nervosa, which really threw me. After some evaluation she decided to admit me to an eating disorder out patient clinic. I wouldn’t have to stay overnight but I would have to go every day, and I would also meet with a dietician. The time came and I didn’t go. I didn’t go because my ED demon told me that I wasn’t skinny enough to get help and when I got down to 45 kilos I would go….maybe.
I now know that an eating disorder is characterised by abnormal or disturbed eating habits – It is a serious mental illness not a lifestyle choice (nedc.com.au) – so telling someone to just stop what they’re doing is about as helpful as telling a woman to stop having her baby when it’s crowning! It ain’t gonna happen!
As the years went on I improved a little, threw away the scales and started training myself to view food as fuel for my body. I wasn’t better, but I was better than I had been.
In 2012, a week before my baby shower and at 31 weeks pregnant my mother committed suicide. Dwayne worried I would relapse in a big way but the reality was that something actually shifted in me a little. I realised how grateful I was to be alive, to be here for my children, for our bub in my belly. We needed a fresh start – everything horrible that had ever happened to me had happened in Melbourne and that, coupled with my love of the beach and warm weather, led us to the Gold Coast.
In 2013 we moved to Palm Beach, with the help of Foxtel lifestyle show – ‘Location, Location, Location Australia” and I used this opportunity for a fresh start and put my family on an all organic diet (much to my husbands disgust!) I bought a juicer, found some organic shops, became vegetarian and focused on fueling mine, and my children’s bodies with the best nutrition. I think this really helped me- I became obsessed with this instead of the scales and was setting a good example for my Little’s. I picked up my exercise again and was really enjoying what it was doing for how my body FELT! I had a little set back when I decided to train for a fitness model comp- the constant measurements, weighing, food control and pressure to look a certain way by a certain date was the complete OPPOSITE of what I, personally, should have been doing. For me , this kind of training and preparation was extremely triggering and the ED Demon was coming back. So after 12 weeks, I decided I was not going to put myself in that situation and stopped training. I was still only eating a small amount of calories and had no strength or muscle and hated the way it made me feel. I wanted to feel HEALTHY, I wanted to feel STRONG, I wanted to see what my body could DO.
It was literally like a switch flipped and I just wanted to be healthy and live a long, happy life with my children and grandchildren. I decided to start training with no end goal in sight – except to get stronger, fitter and healthier. There would be no calorie counting, no weigh ins just good food and lots of goal setting involving fitness and strength.
That was 2 years on and I am now 10kgs heavier, actually the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life (non pregnant!) and the fittest I’ve been since I was a kid, getting stronger every month and FEELING so good, so positive and so appreciative of my dear old body for putting up with the shit I put it through and sticking around.
My new obsession, my new sense of control comes from training. I feel I can release all the pain and grief from my past, shut the ED Demon up and feel the rush of endorphins that I got from my ED – by challenging my body physically.
I have a long way to go – I wasted a lot of muscle when I abused my body the way I did – well the way my disorder did – it is an illness I had zero control over, despite thinking I was 100% in control.
I still struggle with the things I have experienced and have days when I get angry and think that if Mum and Dad were still alive everything would be okay, or if I just hadn’t experienced the things I had as a little girl that my development may have been different and thus no mental illness would ever have come into the equation. But you know what? I am who I am DESPITE it all , despite my mental illness….. despite my eating disorder. I am who I am because of it all and I LOVE who I am now – I want to help others, I try to be kind always, I try to look after myself mentally and physically as well as looking after those around me. I make myself a priority and that’s okay. In fact its essential to my well being.
Am I recovered – hell no – I will, for the rest of my life ensure I have help nearby in case I need assistance. By telling my story I hope I can help someone else have an “aha” moment or help someone realise that they’re not alone in this horrible illness.
I’m here to tell you – get help, reach out – it’s okay. It will be okay. You will be okay.
I got you.
If you or someone you love is struggling with mental illness or disordered eating please seek help!