Unspoken Conversations are the topics that are often swept under the carpet, whispered amongst the closest of friends and bitched about by many. I want to create awareness about difficult things that people face in life; grief, mental health, money, illnesses, family troubles, relationship difficulties and putting yourself first. I want to tell the truth about things that really matter.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The final challenge! #MNBChallenge

Well we’ve come to the end of the #MNB Challenge, hosted by Fit Approach and Lorna Jane. Over the 3 weeks I’ve flooded my Instagram, Twitter and sometimes Facebook with photos of my participation in challenges, everything from holding 5 minutes worth of planks in a day, to picking a recipe from movenourishbelieve.com and cooking up a storm on Valentines Day, to doing something to take me to my happy place!

The final week of challenges was surrounding the ‘Believe’ part of the philosophy, which is what I think will resonate most with the audience of this blog. Believe challenges were all about taking the time to unwind, taking a mental break, appreciating the little things, all things that are a positive move for our mental health – the health that most of us neglect.

Day 1 – Treat yourself – well after a MASSIVE weekend of work for our fundraising auction, I was facing a day of bookwork to finalise everything, and I knew if I got stuck into as soon as I’d been fed and watered, it would be a stressful and confusing day. Instead, I had a mini sleep in, breakfast over a magazine, and went for a walk to start my day strong – and it helped! Not one moment of stress for the whole 9 hours of bookwork, and the job was done with ease. Taking that time out for myself was my treat on a day that was all about someone else!

Day 2 – I downloaded a guided meditation app to help with the ‘5 mindful minutes’ challenge, as despite knowing it is fantastic for my mental health, I haven’t taken the time to learn how to meditate. I plugged in my earphones and sat through 13 minutes of ‘stress relief with music’ before bed, and that night I slept the best that I had that whole week. There was no tossing and turning or waking up, it was straight into a deep sleep….until the baby bounced on my bladder during the night! I will definitely be meditating again!

Day 3 – Happy Place – I have many happy places, it changes with what happens during the day or what I feel I am missing in my life. Sometimes my happy place will be walking on the beach, some days I will find myself happiest sitting in the beanbag on my front lawn with a magazine. On this particular Wednesday, my first happy place was snuggled up to my husband after the alarms went off…it always feels like bliss. At lunch time, I enjoyed a much awaited/anticipated pedicure, I wasn’t concerned with the toenail painting and shaping, it was all about the foot massage for me – now that is a happy place at 6 months pregnant!

Day 4 – Thankful Thursday – something we should all indulge in more often! I shared with the instagram world that I was truly thankful for my chance at working from home with Jade Norwood Photography. Being a half hour drive to the nearest town from work not having to travel really adds time to my day. I can throw on some loads of washing so I don’t have to do it on weekends, get a walk in before work/after work without having to get up earlier or stay up later, and spend lunch time with Luke. All things that make me happy and thankful.

Day 5 and the final day of the challenge. It was time to send a shout out to our biggest supporters and motivators. Of course mine was my husband Luke. On days when I think I can’t be bothered going to my gym class, he reminds me how happy and good I feel afterwards, and gives the gentle nudge out the door. On the days where my eyes are hanging out my head, he encourages me to rest, sends me to the shower while he cooks tea. And even though he is a much better runner than I am, he never leaves me behind when we run together. Plus we have stacks of fun when we play any games together because we get so competitive but always end the game with a handshake and a kiss! Everyone needs a supporter like this in any endeavour in life, someone who respects your goals, encourages you to reach and fight for them and doesn’t put them down. They are the ones that will help you to reach great heights.

So the challenge is over and I am glad that I took it on because it opened my eyes to new skills, new strengths and new ideas to reinvigorate the way that I look at exercise, nutrition and taking care of myself mentally. I am always telling people, I’m not a ‘healthy’ freak, I do the things I do because I love the way it makes me feel, and because I know that my body is the one vessel I have to take me through my life; if it’s not running well then how can my life be!

I honestly encourage you to take on your own challenge, over 3-4 weeks; come up with 5 challenges for yourself in the areas of your life that you think you are lacking, whether it be keeping up with some work, making a phone call to a friend every day, taking time out for yourself, or trying a new exercise challenge – just do it, and find out what you are truly capable of!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

In But A Moment, Life Can Change

When Kirsty first asked me to take on the blog while she was away, I told her that lately I'd lacked a lot of that 'creative' time and I would probably have to go digging through the archives to even get anything on the Blog....but I didn't realise I would be doing it so soon.

Yet I feel this is the perfect time for me to dig up something I wrote a few years ago. In this last week there has been some high profile devastation, a freak accident that took the life of a child, and closer to my heart the lives of many beautiful people have also changed. At the end of last year there was so much shock and devastation in just our small part of the world that none of us could ever see coming. Everything has served as a reminder - don't take life for granted, don't spend time doing what doesn't make you happy, remove the toxic, find more room for the good.

So now I will share with you this piece, written back then purely to be saved to my computer, to let out emotions shortly after hearing some tragic news. I've titled it;

In But A Moment.

I don’t believe our path is a preconceived one. It is not perfectly laid out before us, for us to just follow and never veer from. Many a time there are decisions we make, and those that are forced upon us, that see us lay the next stone that marks the beginning of the next journey on our ‘path’.  This foundation we lay is not smooth; there are dips and sharp edges at every turn. There are also sections of incredible heights where the journey to the top seems torturous, but once we reach the top we realise the climb was the best part.

While most of the time the decision is our own, we don’t always get to decide if we go left or right, up or down, take the path alone, or bring someone along for the ride. We are reminded of this when good fortune reaches us, or on the other end of the scale, tragedy takes its black grip. I have been reminded of this many a time in my short lifetime, and once again recently, which inspired this poem. I hope it inspires you to not take any moment for granted – and make the decisions where possible to lay your path in the direction you most desire.

In But a Moment

A test failed, or an award won.
A house bought, or a job lost.
A question on bended knee, a or heart broken.
In but a moment, life can change.

A diagnosis of sick, or a prognosis of remission.
A fire, a flood or a community rebuilding,
A deciding vote, or resignation from the race.
In but a moment, life can change.

A forgiveness earned or finally given,
A first sweaty run, or the snap of a bone.
A midnight phone call, of birth or death.
In but a moment, life can change.

Not always for the worst, not always for the best.
To allow us to get comfortable, to put us to the test.
A moment in time that ensures we never stay the same.
To remind us of our desire, to reignite our flame.
To teach us to be grateful, of the good, bad and strange.
In but a moment, life can change.

Beej xx

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Move Nourish Believe Challenge - Week 2 - How Do You Nourish Your Body?

So Kirsty has taken off and it is my turn to take over…let the games begin, muuuhhhahahaha.

Just kidding, secretly I am tapping my toes thinking how am I going to deliver the content that this audience is used to, so that I don’t let them, or Kirsty down….hmmm.

Well we are going to have to work that out another day, because first, I’ve got to blog about the second week of the Move NourishBelieve Challenge! The #mnbchallenge was something I stumbled across on one of the many social feeds I scour, and struck me as a great way to take another look at the Move Nourish Believe philosophy and how I can bring that to my life.

The MNB Philosophy from the Lorna Jane website:

MOVE her body every day
NOURISH from the inside out
BELIEVE in herself and that anything is possible if you work hard enough

Pretty simple right – yet it is something that has a profound difference in the lives of so many people. So I signed up to the Fit Approach event surrounding the challenge, in the hope that I would not only find some motivation in the last few months of pregnancy, but also perhaps win that $1000 Lorna Jane voucher up for grabs so I could dress up in what makes me feel good post-pregnancy, as I’m pushing the pusher up a hill and sweating like the proverbial!

So week 2 was all about what we put into our bodies, and what we get out of it. The timing of this challenge was impeccable, I had a big week/weekend ahead of me with a major fundraiser taking up 4 out of the 7 days of my week, and likely to call me to the ‘convenience’ foods more often than not. Being ‘forced’ to concentrate on what I was feeding myself saved me from the end of week bloat and sluggishness that comes from not taking the time to fuel myself with healthy food and for that I was actually really grateful!

It also gave me a chance to have a crack at those recipes that I had been keen to try, but too lazy to give a shop for and have a go. First up was a vegetable lasagne I had found in the Healthy Food Fast cookbook I scored for free from SA Health. It was so easy, so delicious, I have heaps of portions in the freezer for those nights when I can’t get home in time to cook something healthy AND the book tells me how many serves of veg I am getting with each portion (though I did add a lot more vegies, just because I like to!). So that was #MeatlessMonday sorted.

Tuesday was #tyltw (take your lunch to work) day…..but I went home sick at morning tea time, and my packed lunch of lamb and salad went by the wayside. Instead, I tried to make up for it on Thursday, with #mahlwcfh (make a healthy lunch when contracting from home), and hope that it counts towards the challenges.

Wednesday we had to take the time to note down our food diary for the day – a great exercise for those who subconsciously eat and don’t actually taste or enjoy their food, and find themselves reaching for more. I have to say, it made for a funny record given how my eating habits have changed during pregnancy, I definitely eat smaller portions, but a lot more often!

So Thursday you know I had my lunch from home, but the actual challenge of the day was smoothie day. I haven’t yet ventured into the world of protein smoothies, or the super green smoothies (something about mushy spinach makes me feel queasy) so I opted for some low fat peach and mango yoghurt, low fat milk, frozen bananas and strawberries. Using frozen bananas not only makes it nice and cold, but I think stops the banana from overpowering everything else. Mmmmmmm I’m feeling like having one now!

Friday; Valentines Day. I unashamedly admit I polished off a whole lot of chocolate and loved it. That’s the thing about food, if you’re going to indulge, do it, enjoy it, and move on. It’s when we start to make ourselves feel guilty for that indulgence that we build a bad relationship with food, and focus too much on those ‘bad’ habits, often repeating them. So I LOVED my rocky road delight for Valentines Day, but I also followed the challenge and chose a recipe from movenourishbelieve.com, which saw me making these truly delicious and ridiculously easy ‘Healthy Strawberry Kiss Cookies’. Mine didn’t look as neat as the website, but they sure tasted good!

My cookies.....delish! 

You can see all of the photos of my week of challenges at my Instagram : http://instagram.com/beejm08

So that was week 2 of the #mnbchallenge for me. I was really pleased that my healthy cooking not only turned out well, but tasted fantastic, and I know that once I cut back on work in a few weeks, I am going to be taking the time to be a bit more adventurous with my cooking to excite my tastebuds with many more healthy recipes. Maybe the excitement will rub off on you too?!

Have fun baking! - Beej

PS – I promise I won’t be only blogging about this challenge or being a healthy living advocate – only one week left! But as they say, your body is a temple, the things you do, the things you fuel it with, and the way you use your mind will reflect on the overall quality of your life….so I think it’s up there in importance.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Guest Blogger Recounts Living With Anxiety

While the majority of the experiences that I have shared with mental health have been based on my Depression, it all really stemmed from my battle with anxiety. Anxiety is something easily brushed aside as a natural feeling and emotion that your body produces when it feels threatened; you know, the good old flight or fight mode. But what happens when your body is constantly in flight mode and you're not even sure what it is that you are worried or scared about? 

Just imagine for a second that thing that you are really scared of; it might be a giant sized tarantula so big that you can see the hairs on it's fat squishy body, and it's beady eyes burn into you so much so that you are stilled by your fear, your heart starts to race and you lose all control over your thoughts and rational behaviour. You feel sick. Now imagine feeling that all day everyday - that's what generalised anxiety is like. But you must function. Unlike the spider, you can't run out the door and leave it behind. You can't have someone squish it for you, and you certainly can't kill it. It follows you around and makes thinking and behaving rationally a living nightmare.

I was so superly excited when Samantha answered my Facebook request calling for someone to share their experience with Anxiety I was so excited, because I knew just how difficult it can be but also how empowering it is to share your story.

So take it away Samantha.

Anxiety, is a word that is often frowned upon. At least this is what I believed when I first started to suffer from anxiety. At the time I was 19 years old, in my first year at university, and working as a disability support worker. I started having anxiety attacks after having a bout of gastro, and would panic over being sick. To me I was weird, not normal, sick, crazy and anything along those lines. I just wanted to be my old self again. After a month or so my parents talked me into going to see a local doctor who specializes in mental health. I was put on medication and referred to a psychologist. This just fueled my thoughts about being weird and not normal etc. While I would talk to my close family, the doctor and my psychologist, I would refuse to talk to others in fear of them judging me.  I, in essence, bottled up my feelings and blocked them to most people around me. This was until, I would not be able to cope any more, and have a massive anxiety attack. I clearly remember ringing my parents, sister and boyfriend many times asking them to come and get me from somewhere, and them saying no. I would think they were absolutely horrible and get even more upset, but what this actually did was teach me to manage my anxiety myself. They were just trying to help me by not allowing me to use them as a crutch.  You may notice that I use the word manage and not control. My psychologist taught me this from very early on, as he is of the view that managing anxiety is about how you deal with and respond to attacks, compared to control when you try and stop attacks and not think it through.

There are three occasions that jump out at me in my anxiety journey. The first was telling my work that I suffer anxiety. Unfortunately, it came out when I had an anxiety attack at work. At the time I was really upset about this as I thought that they would look down upon me and not let me keep working. Thankfully this assumption was wrong and my work have been an amazing support in my journey. I have even called one of my bosses on a few occasions just to talk when I have been struggling.

Another occasion was at a friends 21st birthday party and I had an attack. A long term friend was with me, and much to my surprise I found out that she too, suffers from anxiety. All of a sudden I was not so weird! Being close like we were (and still are) was an amazing support to me, as I could talk to someone close to me that understood what I was going through.

The third occasion was at university. I had a presentation due, and had been stressing out about it, and talked myself into an attack, so much so I got through the presentation in tears, but with amazing support from my friends, other class mates and lecturer. One positive to come out of this was me deciding to get an access plan for university. What this means is that I do not have to explain why I need an extension or why I want to go first. I just need to go through my plan with the tutor/lecturer and tell them that I need to do something as per my access plan, and they are okay with it. This has been a god send to me, and while I have not used it, just knowing that its there, and people understand has been amazing.

Throughout my journey I met more and more individuals who suffer/ed with anxiety and it dawned on me that I was not alone. The more I started to talk about anxiety, the more I realized that a number of individuals suffer from anxiety.

Overall anxiety is manageable. You just need to know how to manage it. I have learnt the signs of when an attack is starting, and how to deal with it. My calls of panic to others have lessened, and I am seeing that no matter how hard something seems I can get through it. One big thing I have learnt is not to keep feelings bottled up as it does more damage than good! Another thing is that some people seem not to understand, but this is always going to happen if they haven’t been through what you are going through. But the more open you are, the more likely you are to find someone who is or who has gone through what you are going though, and these people as I have already said are amazing supports!

My parents, particularly my mum struggled with my anxiety to begin with, especially when I would call in a massive panic, but she talked to people and stuck to her guns, and while in the short term I felt that she had hurt me, in the long term what she did was completely right and extremely helpful! It’s often termed “tough love”.

During my journey I have faced situations at work where I am helping people who suffer from anxiety. My experience has enabled me to help them, as they knew about my anxiety and can see how I have managed it. Sharing my experience with them was hard at first, as I wanted my personal life to be separate to my work life, but that just was not possible, and telling them has been an extremely good thing.

Overall, if I could know something back when my anxiety started, that I know now, it would be to talk to everyone about it. Most people are amazingly supportive, but some struggle to understand what suffering from anxiety is like, and the rollercoaster ride we are on. Just last night, I was talking to a personal trainer, at the gym I have just joined, and mentioned my anxiety. He looked a bit surprised and then said, I totally know what its like as I suffer from it too. This just shows that no matter where you are someone suffers from anxiety, it is just not something spoken about regularly, and many people do not know the affect it has on people.

This is the first time I have written about my anxiety, and while I have told a number of people, its been people I have gotten to know and feel I can trust, or out of desperation when I have been having an attack. I hope by sharing my journey more people will become aware of anxiety and the difficulties people with anxiety face.

With thanks to my amazing parents, boyfriend, sister and friends, for their support through out my journey!

Love Samantha.

Have you ever experienced anxiety?

How did you overcome it?

Did you seek help?


Depression Medication and Babies


So I finally got around to making that doctors appointment;  you know the one that has been playing on your mind for awhile but you keep postponing, finding excuses and pushing to the bottom of your long to do list?

I started the journey of decreasing my depression Medication 3 months ago. I must admit that it was one of the hardest decisions that I have ever had to make because while I felt ready, I will never ever be ready for my illness to return.

But I did it.

I starting taking 100mg of pristiq one day and 50mg the next and I'm doing okay!
I've even dealt with really challenging and confronting decisions and high levels of stress during my journey.

In December I quit a job that I loved because it started affecting my health.
I started a new job 3 days later with no time to unwhinde and reflect on my decisions but I handled the transition to the best of my ability and have met many wonderful new colleagues and am developing new skills.

And I'm okay.  I haven't collapsed into a heap.  I haven't lost my bundle.  I am taking each day as it comes,  constantly monitoring my stress levels and finding beauty in each day and time to reflect and unwhinde.

Then came THE doctors appointment; the one where I'd discuss my progress and my future treatment plan and the topic of pregnancy came into the doctors office for the first time in my life.

It's things like this that scare the crap out of me! Via

Am I allowed to fall pregnant on my medication?

Are there any known affects to the baby?

What if the answer was no, that I couldn't be on my medication while being pregnant?  Would I ready to  let go of my security blanket?

My heart was pumping.

My doctor opened up a big fat medical book and flipped through the pages,  scribbling down some notes which despite my best efforts to lean over the desk and read,  I couldn't translate into English!

She preceded to tell me that my Medication,  Pristiq, is fairly new to the medical world,  but to date,  there has been no known effects to the baby.

Well this didn't really put my mind to rest;  is it just because there hasn't been enough time for these effects to become prevalent?  The unknown scared me.

While I don't feel ready for babies or flying solo from my medication yet,  I know in the future that I couldn't possibly continue with the medication if there was the slightest chance of impacting our baby because I could never live with myself knowing that it was something that I could control that changed their quality of life. 

While grappling with my fear and anxieties I asked for any helpful websites or books to read more about my medication and pregnancy; she produced this website;  http://www.mothertobaby.org/files/Venlafaxine_6_13.pdf

She could obviously tell that I hadn't received a definite answer to my insecurities and proceeded to tell me to call the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide closer to when we were ready to start trying for more information.

Needless to say I was left feeling varying emotions,  secretly praying that I could still take a low dosage if need be with no effects to our future unborn child.

A positive did come from the appointment however; I have decided I'm ready to start taking 50 mg every day instead of 50gm one day and 100gm the next.

Pristiq and Weight Gain5 463x300 Pristiq and Weight Gain

The only time I find myself feeling incredibly flat is the day after an alcohol binge.  I was talking to a friend the other day who said that apparently one night on the cans can effect the effectiveness of your medication for the following week ... this scared the crap out of me! I mean, I know that you're not meant to drink alcohol on your medication, but I didn't realise quite how serious the effects were. If you binge every Saturday night, then effectively your medication isn't working at all if it upsets your system for the whole week after!

It might sound like an easy decision to just give up drinking but in a small country town where it's part in parcel with socialising, plus my love for a cold beverage after a long day, I've really got to decide whether the binges are worth the lows the next day! If I did stop drinking people would instantly think I'm preggas!

I'm truly so proud of how I've handled my depression Medication reduction;  and I'm growing faith in my bodies ability to proceed serotonin all by itself and my own coping mechanisms for dealing with stress,  fatigue,  being assertive and looking after myself and my health.

Today I finally printed off the fact sheet from the website that the doctor referred me too to start reading more about medication and pregnancy.

I will keep you posted.

I guess what I've learnt is that it's best to do your research and seek multiple opinions if you are thinking about pregnancy in the future, to see what your plan of attack might have to be.

Depression medication isn't something you can just stop, it must be a gradual process, so even if babies seem awhile away, it's best to start planning ahead to give your body time to adjust to any reductions and side effects, so that you can be as healthy and happy as possible when you start trying.

Have you ever started reducing your medication?

Did you take anti depressants while pregnant?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxxx