Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Things I learnt from walking for ReachOut

I am not a sporty person at all so do the walk on Sunday was a big thing for me, if you ever get the chance to do a walk for charity here are some tips.

For the fundraising:
  • Choose a charity you love - I am a youth ambassador for ReachOut which meant I already love and believe in the cause. I am also passionate about mental health advocacy so this made encouraging people to donate fun and people could tell that it meant a lot to me.
  • Give people incentives to donate - I told people that if they donated before the Sunday and if I met my goal ($150) they would go into the draw to win their choice of baked good (I gave them a choice of either a dozen brownies, pieces of caramel slice or choc chip cookies) baked by me. This worked really well and I managed to reach my goal (plus an extra $104.55) within a few days of doing this, I ended up drawing a runner up along with the main winner because of this. It doesn't have to be a big reward but it will encourage people to donate.
  • Promote it regularly - I tried to promote it regularly by posting my supporter page on Facebook and twitter, sometimes it would just be the link but other times I would write something about ReachOut or how many weeks away it was.
The day/night before:
  • Get a good nights rest - I actually went to bed at 10.30 the night before which wasn't ideal! I knew I shouldn't have gone out but watching The Castle and s'mores was a too good an offer to refuse. I still got a good nights rest considering but next time I will aim to be in bed by 9.00 as waking up the next morning was a struggle. 
  • Set 2 alarms - I have been known to turn alarms off in my sleep so I always set 2 alarms before a big event (15 minutes apart) as that way if I happened to turn one off its not the end of the world. I set one at 5.00am and one at 5.15am as this gave me time to wake up a bit before having to get ready.
  • Pack a bag - I packed a small backpack the night before with the following: lipbalm, advil, water, keys, (charged) phone, sunglasses, hair elastics, purse, trail mix (for after the race in case my blood sugar decided to drop), race bib and safety pins (in a container - my advice is to buy a container of 30 and take that with you as a few people in my team didn't have any on the day) and few other things. This meant that the next morning I just had to grab it and go rather than remember everything. Other things that would be a good idea to pack are: sunscreen, hat, bandaids, deodorant, wipes, etc.
  • Set out your clothes - this meant that in my half asleep state I could get ready without thinking too much and made waking up much easier.
  • Work out your transport - with these events you can sometimes catch public transport for free and its well worth doing so if you can, as you never know what the parking will be like. Work out what time you will need to leave and the route you will have to take. I ended up driving to the train station then caught the train and walking to the venue (which also warmed me up!) this worked out well and I saw many people doing the same. Once you figure it out you can work out what time you will have to get up to leave on time and cause yourself a lot less stress.
The morning of:
  • Eat a decent breakfast - it doesn't have to be fancy just something filling with protein and carbs (like eggs on toast or muesli and cereal).
  • Give yourself plenty of time - you don't want to be in a hurry and cause yourself to skip breakfast or forget something important. Its also a good idea to get to the venue early if you can so you can stretch and warm up before hand.
During the race:
  • Pace yourself - don't try to keep up with everyone and focus instead on yourself. Try and keep a consistent pace and try not push yourself. I knew that if I ran I would end up in a coughing it so I didn't so I kept to power walking.
  • Stay hydrated - I grabbed water whenever I passed a water station and also made sure to take a good drink at the end of the race. Also carry water with you just in case as you never know when you will need it.
After the race:
  • Treat yo self - in the rise words of Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle off Parks and Rec its good to treat yourself so after the race I treated myself by doing a Maccas run for lunch (it was a grilled wrap and fries so not too unhealthy). You don't have to treat yourself majorly but make sure you acknowledge what you did and reward yourself.
  • Stretch - this helps prevent soreness from setting in and if it does it won't be as severe. The last thing you need is to be swore for days after the event.
  • Thank your supporters - even if its just a general thank you on social media or text or in person (if you know the people and see them often) just make sure you acknowledge them for supporting you.
I am still amazed that I managed to complete the full 5km and beat my target amount of money raised! Hopefully the above tips will help the next time you decide to do a charity walk/run, of course the important thing is to have fun (and not die at the end of it!) and know that you are making a difference.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Saying Goodbye to my Grandma

I wasn't going to write about this, I thought I would be crossing a line and I have another post almost ready to go but it doesn't feel right to post that at the moment not when so many things have happened.
I don't write a lot about my family mainly because I don't feel I should and also it doesn't feel right at times, but I am going to make an exception mainly because if don't post something I know I will later regret it.
My Grandma has spent the past 2 years suffering with a strain of Parkinson's disease that lead to dementia, this has been extremely challenging at times and whenever the nursing home would ring I would always expect the worse. She has slowly deteriorated over the years and has gone from being a bright woman who could beat anyone in scrabble to a woman who didn't make much sense at all. Last Monday my Mum and uncle met with the nursing home's doctor and were told that my Grandma didn't have long left (this was after being told the Thursday before that she wasn't eating and now bedridden), and there were multiple days last week that we felt would be her last. Yesterday at 4.15am my Mum got the phone call that my Grandma had passed. This didn't come as a shock and we all felt some relief knowing that my Grandma was now with God.
My Grandma was an extremely Godly woman and her prayers often made sense when the rest of what she was saying didn't. I remember asking her how she knew my Granddad (who passed away when I was 10 due to cancer) was the one for her and her response was the following: If you like a guy and you think he could be the one, pray to God and ask him to make it happen if it doesn't work out then know that God has someone better out there for you.
I am yet to even have a boyfriend but I always remember that advice whenever I meet someone who I see potential in and know that if its meant to be then God will make it happen.
I have so many memories of my grandparents, like how my Grandma would always send my sisters and I letters telling us about her week and her upcoming plans written on the back of old cards, how she would and my Granddad would travel down most school holidays with their caravan and how most mornings I would go visit them in my pyjamas which seemed like the biggest adventure. How my Grandma was an amazing painter and I would brag about her to all my friends. I have a painting she did for me on my bedroom wall and I love looking at it, more recently I have realised that some of my paintings have similar styling's to hers despite her paintings being in water colour and mine in acrylic.
There are many things that remind me of her and I know they will continue to do so. The 3 main things that spring to mind are the following:
  • Blue Wrens - these were often featured in her paintings and I knew she loved them for their vibrant blue colouring. She had collected quite a few blue wren items over the years and I know that whenever I see something with one on them I will remember her.
  • Princess cake - this was one of her favourite sweets and it has since become mine. The Swedish cake with layers of sponge, jam, custard, cream and topped with pale green fondant will always go down in my mind as her cake. I recently went shopping with Megan and I decided to treat us to afternoon tea and gave her a choice of what cake to share well she chose the princess cake and when I asked her why she told me it was because of Grandma.
  • Magnums - its safe to say my Grandma had a sweet tooth and Magnums were always her ice cream of choice. She loved to treat us to these during Summer and I know whenever I will eat one I will think of her.
I thought that she died I wouldn't take it this hard as I have had a couple of years to prepare for it and I have been grieving slowly for who she was but it hits me in waves and I know it will take me quite a while to get used to the fact that she is no longer with us.
My Grandma was an amazing woman and I am honoured to have known her.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Run for ReachOut

I have completed my first ever 'fun' run for ReachOut! I still can't believe that its over but I am happy with how I did. The timing of it wasn't the best as I had been dealing with a cold and when I get a cold as soon as I get a cough it likes to linger due to being asthmatic, because of that I didn't want to really push myself. I still completed it in 52 minutes though which averages 1km per every 10 minutes (the total distance was 5.3 km I think) and I know if I had done some more preparation for the race and hadn't been sick in the 2 weeks leading up to it I would've done better. My aim was to keep a decent pace and if I walked it in my target of 45 minutes that was great but as long as I got it under 1 hour (and wasn't the last person) I was happy.
One thing I was surprised about was how soon it was over, I hadn't planned to go to church after it but after finishing the race and getting back to my car it was only 9.30am and heading to an empty house just didn't seem that appealing so I went to church (still in my gear) despite going on Saturday night. I was surprised that more people didn't comment on how casual I was, it did mean that I got an excuse to talk to people about ReachOut and why I decided to walk for them.
On Saturday night after church I ended up watching the film The Castle and making s'mores with some of the young adults instead of heading home to bed. This wasn't the smartest idea (though it was still fun) and made getting up at 5.00am a bit harder than I would've liked, but once I was out of bed and getting dressed I was wide awake. There is something about getting up and leaving home in the dark which is oddly calming, of course it was so early that not even the cats were up.
All in all it was a good experience and I have already decided that I will aim to do it next year and actually train for it (famous last words?).
Thanks to all who sponsored me, I still can't believe I managed to beat my target by $104.50!

*I know the photo isn't the best due to the shadows but its the only one I have so it will have to do (plus the quality isn't the best as it was taken on my phone).

Friday, July 24, 2015

I wanted this week to be quiet

I have sat down to write a post so many times this past week but life decided to get hectic, as much as I wanted this week to be quiet it didn't.
Monday and Tuesday were a blur and I have no idea what exactly happened on those 2 days! On Wednesday it was job interview time which went really well and I will find out if I have a job within the next two weeks. It was really nice to go in and know the people and the place which made it a lot less nerve wracking and I felt my interview was on point. I actually ran into two people I had worked with before the interview and they were really happy for me which was nice. The job had 200 applicants and they had to close the advert early to prevent more. This is actually the average amount of applicants for admin jobs at the moment which is crazy when you think about it! I was 1 of 6 interviewed and there are 2 jobs going (I think there now may be 3 jobs going now but I'm unsure?) which puts me at better odds than any other job I have gone for. If I get one of the jobs I know my anxiety won't be as bad as I know the place and some of the people there which will make things a lot easier (one of my triggers is new situations and though this will still be a new situation it won't be as new if that makes any sense). I have always throughout my job hunting process that God has the right job out there for me and I will get it at the right time so if this job isn't the one for me there will be a better job out there.
In other news on Sunday I do my run (well walk) for ReachOut, I picked up my bib today (along with 2 other youth ambassadors bibs) and it feels very real! There is still time to sponsor me click here and every dollar goes to ReachOut which is such a great organisation. I have actually managed to reach my target amount by an additional $104.50 which is amazing and I am so thankful to those who have supported me. I still can't believe that I have signed up to do this, in high school I HATED cross country and would use every excuse in the book to get out of it but thankfully I can walk it all and there won't be scary PE teachers telling me to run faster. Having Dyspraxia means that running is a bit of challenge for me (I can't run properly and when I do run I get strange looks) plus I am asthmatic so power walking it is. I actually like power walking and find its something that I can do which compared to most other sports I am extremely bad at (and am a safety hazard to other people when I do participate in them). The one thing I am dreading is getting up at 5.30am and having to be there at 7.00am. I would call myself a morning person but by morning I mean 7.00am not 5.30am! I am sure once I get there it won't be a big deal it just means that tomorrow night will be an early night and I may have to set a few hundred alarms (sorry Jocelyn!) to get me up.
Next week I will be back to more regular posting (hopefully!) along with a recount of how the walk went :)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Mental Illness in Young Adults


***I swear I had already posted this but found it sitting in my drafts for some reason! This post was meant to be published sometime last year but better late than never! Also I find it funny that I mentioned ReachOut in it and now I am a youth ambassador for them.

I have written about my struggles with anxiety many times but never about mental illness in general.  I had no plans to write a post on this but when the idea began to form in my head I knew I had too. I am not an expert on Mental Illness in young adults but I am a young adult who has a mental illness and knows what its like to be controlled by one. My aim of this post is to hope that people have a better understanding of mental illnesses and be more aware of them.

Every week many young adults are diagnosed with a Mental Illness, some will face up to it and fight it, while others will refuse to believe that they have one and some will hide away from the fact that they have one

There are many types of mental illness but they are linked many people have one main type then charcteristics of other types too. For example people with anxiety can have OCD tendantcies and get depressed too and the same goes for OCD people with OCD can through patches of being depressed. Everyone knows about depression and many people will know someone who haves (or has had) it, but when you talk about anxiety most people just think that you are worry wort and don't realise that is an actual mental illness, same with OCD people think you are a control freak.

Mental illness is unfortunatly getting more common in young adults 60% of uni students (this isn't including the other young adults who are doing TAFE, apprenticships or working) will be faced with some form (big or small) mental illness while they are studying some will get help, others will ignore it or find their own way around it and some will crash and drop out.When you're a young adult you are trying to form your own identity and trying new things, which all bring their own forms of stress, this included with study and life in general can cause Mental Illnesses to form.

Mental illness for a long time has been a taboo subject and though its getting more talked out many still uncomfortable disscussing it. Many young adults decide to keep and hide their feelings to themselves rather than telling someone and if they do decide to wear their feelings not many notice and when someone does its often too late to help them. I find that being a young adult it can be hard to ask for help and that is the same with alot of the people I know, society sees us as being independant and with the world at our feet, so why do we need to help?!

There are many types of mental illness and the table below shows the most common ones young adults may face along with the symptoms.



Type of Mental Illness
Symptoms Include
Anxiety
Always worrying, excessive fears, unable to relax (jumpy at times), avoiding new and/or challenging situations, shyness, poor sleep, loss of appetite, withdrawing  yourself from family and friends
Depression
Thoughts of self harm or suicide, trouble sleeping or over sleeping, loss of appetite or over eating, feeling worried or tense, having dark thoughts, feeling worthless, difficulty concentrating
OCD
Anxiety symptoms plus having obsessions such as worrying about dirt and diseases, arranging things and doing things in a certain way
Anorexia
Avoiding the topic of food, extreme weight loss, skipping meals, lying about how much they have eaten, counting calories, obsessive rules and thinking (only eating food of a certain colour, I have to do an hour of exercise for every 100 calories I eat), facial changes (skin appears pale and eyes look sunken)
Bulimia
Extreme weight loss, frequent trips to the bathroom during or after meals to throw up what they have eaten, facial changes due to vomiting (bad breath, swelling around cheeks or jaw, damage to teeth), obsessive about exercise, misusing laxatives, being secretive of what they have been eating, sudden change in appetite (goes from eating a lot one day to not a lot the next)

As I have said many of the types have links between them for example who has Anorexia may show signs of OCD or Depression or someone who has Anxiety may shows signs of Depression this is compeletly normal, as Mental Illness affects everyone differently.

Sometimes depending on how bad the illness is and the affects on the person you can get over it on your own but a lot of the time treatment needs to seeked. This is hard if the person doesn't want treatment and often they are in denile of it or claim that you are trying to ruin their life, other times they will willingly go to treatment it all depends on the person. Again the sort of treatment depends on how the illness affects the person. For Depression, Anxiety and OCD the person may be initially reffered to a pychologist or in extreme cases prescribed medication depending on how bad it is affecting them, a lot of the time a mix of seeing a pyschologist and medication may be required. With Anorexia and Bulimia assessment by a doctor is the first step then they may be referred to a nutrisionist or to a specialist whom will set up an eating and treatment plan. How well the person reacts to the treatment all depends on if they want to get better or not.

When I was first diagnosed with anxiety a lot of my friends had no idea how to act around me and I still find when I am having a hard time some of them have no idea. In situations when a loved one has been diagnosed with a mental illness the best thing you can do is be there for them, whether you drag them out of the house or just let them know that you are willing to listen and support them or give them a hug. There have been times when I have wanted to lock myself away and in reality I have needed to be dragged out of the house and its only when a friend has said lets go out for coffee I will be there in 30 minutes, that I have realised this. For Anorexia and Bulima its wise to avoid talking about food as it makes them awkward and can often make the situation worse, with Depression, Anxiety and OCD most times its just enough if you will sit and listen to them. As long as you tell them you are there for them you can do no wrong.

Though my Anxiety is currently under control I still use a lot of stratergies to help me get through the tough times, these include:
  • Keeping busy- I have learnt that if I stay busy my anxiety doesn't have a chance to set in. This is why Work Experience has been good for me. I find that planning something every few days always gives me something to look forward to.
  • Journalling- this is a big one for me, I find that if I write situations or things down on paper it doesn't look so bad. On days that I am depressed about being unemployed I will often write a list of things I am doing about getting employment and by the end of the list I realise that I'm not useless. 
  • Listing to music- sometimes all it takes to lift my mood is to blast music. It doesn't matter what type you like, but music has a way of lifting your mood.
  • Walking or exercise- this releases serotonin (the happy hormone that people with mental illness often lack) and has been proven to up your mood.
  • Breathing- when I was diagnosed with anxiety attacks last year the first stratergy I learnt was how to breath to calm my self down and stock the attack in its tracks. You do this by taking a deep breath through your nose holding it for a few seconds then releasing through your mouth. This lowers your heart rate making your relaxed, I do this whenever I find myself getting anxious about something and 9 times out of 10 it works.
The above stratergies can be used for most mental illness's and many professionals whom you go to seek help from, may reccomend these.

The following websites are great resources and are a great place to start if you think you or someone you know needs help:
  • Headspace - this is a great website for mental illness in young adults and has lots of resources about getting help and supporting people.
  • The Butterfly Foundation - this a website for eating disorders and body image issues. 
  • Reach Out - this is a great website for all mental illnesses in young adults and covers pretty much everything. Its easy to use and the information is easy to read and understand.
  • Beyond Blue - this website is for mental illness in general and has a lot of information on diagnosing mental illness and treatment. Mostly its for a all ages but there are some good resources for young adults on it.
Gone are the days when Mental Illnesses are considered crazy, yet people who have them are still looked down upon at times, our attitude instead should be to support them and realise that the illness will never ever define them. Being a person in todays world is stressful and one of the many conquences we have to face is that some of us will be diagnosed as having a Mental Illness, where it be because a chemical inbalance in the brain or a life style choice. Having a Mental Illness should never be looked at as a death sentence but instead a small challenge that needs to be faced and with the right help and people it will be conquered.




Movie night update

Last night was my first ever event for ReachOut! I think I did ok and I know my next event will go much more smoothly. I raised $68 which isn't bad for my first attempt and considering I am also doing a walk next Sunday which people are sponsoring me for (click here if you want to sponsor me).
In the end there was only 15 of us (including myself, my sister and 6 other youth ambassadors) which was a bit of a blow if I am being honest but at least some people came! I know if the retreat wasn't on there would've been at least another 20 or so. Some people who had intended to go had to pull out last minute due to being sick which sucked, but that couldn't be helped.
As much as a movie night was a good idea it didn't work out mainly because the license cost so much so for my next event (which isn't going to be for a while as the next few months are looking busy so thinking early 2016 maybe?) I am thinking maybe a games night or a quiz night? Something that won't have such a big cost up front but will still be popular. I actually have a presentation coming up for the youth group this term as well which won't take much effort (its only going to be 10 minutes) and will just be myself doing it.
I also want to do a stall in a local shopping centre eventually and have someone to email regarding that which has been on my to do list for so long. I guess I just want to always have something coming up for ReachOut even if its really easy and basic.
I have an interview this Wednesday which is really exiting! I got the call yesterday (it interrupted me freaking out haha) and wasn't expecting to receive a call as the application deadline on Wednesday so I was thinking I would maybe here something on Monday at the earliest if I was successful. This was a big if as the positions are really hard to come by which means its really competitive. Its for the place I did work experience at in year 12 and did temp work at a few years ago. I am getting interviewed by two people I know and have seen me work which makes me feel less nervous (one supervised me when I did work experience there in year 12 the other was my supervisor when I did temp work there). The job is 21 hours which is perfect and I know the place which means my anxiety won't be as intense if I get the job. There are also two positions going so I have a better chance of getting work, I am just praying that this is the job for me!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Such a draining week

This week has been so hectic and I am feeling drained in both the emotional and physical sense. The count down is on for the movie night and to say I am nervous with how it will go is an understatement! I had a dream last night and in it everything that could go wrong went wrong (being under prepared, forgetting the dvd, having to go out and buy drinks with minutes to spare and only 10 people turning up were the main things!) its safe to say that I am now writing multiple lists so I won't forget anything!
I guess deep down my biggest concern is not enough people turning up, I really need at least 50 to break even on the movie license and I am aiming for 100. When I first started planning I had (at least)20 people I knew I could count on to turn up to it, but the young adults retreat managed to get booked for that weekend (long story) so they are all going on that. That's probably been the hardest part of organising it, coming to terms that the people I thought would support me (other than the youth ambassadors of course who have all been amazing) aren't going to be there and feeling like my event has been forgotten. I am thankful that a few old high school friends are making the effort to come which is great and the other youth ambassadors have been inviting people as well, so I am praying that there will be some sort of crowd.
I love being a youth ambassador for ReachOut and this is my first ever event that I have organised to this scale and I have been told to look at it as a trial run and not to put so much pressure on myself (which is easier said than done).
I haven't actually spent as much as I would've liked on the planning this week, as I have been helping out at my church's school holiday program which has left me extremely tired and with the beginnings of a cold. It was really fun and full on and it was great teaching the kids about Moses and the stories of Exodus. The theme was Egypt so the kids got to walk through a Sphinx to get into the church, there were pillars with hieroglyphics (each had a different word linked to the days theme on it which the kids had to decode), and a skit each day depicting a bit of the story. There were 4 groups, each with one main leader and a few helpers (I was a helper), on the first day we had to come up with a chant for our group and add to it as the week went on. I was fortunate enough to be in a group which had an extremely talented musician who was able to polish our chant from the first day and put it to music. It was really fun to see the rivalry between the groups especially the leaders, in my bible study 6 of us were helping and we were split between 2 groups so the rivalry was really strong between us all. On Sunday we have a special church service where all the kids families come and we do our chants and finish the rest of the story. As fun as it was I am glad its only once a year and that I have a whole year to recover before next years.
Yesterday I applied for 2 jobs (well technically 3 as one of the jobs has 2 positions) so I am praying that I get an interview for one of those.
As draining as this week has been I wouldn't change it and I am resting up for this coming week which will just be just as draining but hopefully only physically :)