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New Year’s Wishes From Me To You.

While 2017 has been a year that for obvious reasons I would rather forget, it has also been filled with many blessings that I am truly grateful for. Trips to Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane provided time away from the usual and a chance to create many wonderful memories, taking control of my physical and mental wellbeing has me feeling better than I have in years and the chance to reconnect with family and friends have all been highlights.

I have no idea what 2018 will bring aside from a possible relocation from Inverell to Brisbane (God willing), more travel–to New Zealand and around this great country of ours and the chance to reconnect with new and old friends. No matter what happens, I look forward to the adventure ahead and whatever it may bring.

To those who have been a part of my life during 2017 (and those that were not), I wish you all peace, love, understanding and laughter for 2018. Thank you for being such a wondrous part of my life and I hope it may continue for 2018 and beyond.

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“The Happiest Man You’ll Ever Meet”

It has been said that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  (With thanks to George Santayana for the quote).  Today I reacquainted myself with a man I first met over 20 years ago…a man who taught me the true meaning of forgiveness, kindness and friendship. His name is Eddie Jaku and he is a Holocaust Survivor.

 

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I first met Eddie on the floor of the Sydney Jewish Museum in the late 1990’s. My brother Simon had gone there on a school excursion around the time I had started studying and developing an interest in the Holocaust. Simon came home and told me that there was a museum in Sydney that was all about the Holocaust and not only that, they had real people who had survived the Holocaust as guides (which I highly doubted but decided to humour him). The Sydney Jewish Museum is one of the few in the world who have the honour of having survivor guides.

So I found myself at the front door at the Museum, wondering what was on the other side.I took a deep breath and walked in. After paying my admission fee, I walked in and started looking around. After moving through the lower levels, I found myself at the start of the Holocaust exhibit where I met one of the happiest men I have ever met…Eddie Jaku.

Listening to Eddie’s truly amazing, and at times devastating story, I was struck by what a positive attitude he had. A beaming, joyful smile belies the tragedy of the past but is filled with hope and friendship for the future. I cannot begin to imagine the horrors of the Holocaust and the devastation of the loss of his entire family, but I truly believe that this beautiful man came into my life for a reason. Amazingly, he doesn’t hate the Nazi’s or Germans. He believes that hate breeds violence and a far better way to live is to offer friendship and love to all you come across.

After spending some time with Eddie, he made me promise him two things. First was that I would no longer use the word hate in my vocabulary and secondly to promise that I would never forget him. Eddie, my friend….there is no way I could ever forget you. You have inspired me to be a better person. I’m not sure if I have lived up to your example, but I promise you that I will endeavour to. Thank you for being you. Thank you for being an example of the best of humanity even though you survived the very worst of humanity. I am truly honoured to know you and call you friend.

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Eddie’s tattoo

 

A Speech given by Eddie at the Sydney Jewish Museum

A Look Back At The Year That Was…

Happy summer (or winter depending on where you are) friends. I’m currently enjoying a well-deserved few days break on the glorious Central Coast with my mother, visiting my cousin and aunt and waking up to this view from the deck each morning.

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Friends, this post is not aimed at any person in particular, but more to the plethora of posts I have seen recently on Facebook and other places bemoaning what a rotten year people have had. I know that it’s not a contest, but I know mine would have put most people’s year in the shade. But instead of looking back, I am looking forward to the New Year whatever it will bring.

 

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To all those complaining about what a rotten year they have had, I can guarantee you that mine was far worse. Seeing Dad medivacced to Tamworth by helicopter, spending 3.5 weeks with him on life support, bringing him home, losing him 4 days later then being diagnosed with PTSD, Depression and Anxiety has had me wishing that things were different….much different.

But on the good side, I have learnt who my true family and friends are, spent ten glorious days in Canberra, ticking off long-held bucket list dreams of going to the Austrailan War Memorial and Questacon, taking ownership of my health and started weekly PT sessions with a good friend, looking forward to having birthday number 41 in a few days on the beach on the Central Coast and having a Brisbane Christmas with my mother and brother and I continue to open my eyes, fill my lungs with oxygen and put one foot in front of the other.

While my 2017 was the worst year of the 41 I have had on this planet, there is so much that I am grateful for and things that I wish were different. Yes, I am looking forward to the brand new start that the new year will bring, but I am so glad to have survived 2017. I am a changed person because of it….I only hope I have changed for the better.

Whatever it is that you celebrate at this time of year, I hope that it is happy, peaceful and enjoyable. May 2018 be a year of new beginnings, grand achievements and all you hope and wish for.

 

A Few Things I Want You To Know..

Friends, I have thought long and hard over many months about writing this post. My aim with this blog has and will always be to give an honest account of all…well almost all aspects of my life, both the good and the bad.

So here goes nothing….

 

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Three million people in Austraila are living with anxiety or depression according to BeyondBlue…..and I am one of them. After spending 6.5 years studying a BA in Psychology, I never in my wildest imaginings thought that I would become one of the three million.

I had always been an anxious person. From the earliest time I can remember, I had always been terrified of high places. It was only during the first year of my studies (around 2009) where I learnt that my fear had a name. I suffered from a “Specific Phobia” known as Acrophobia–the all-encompassing fear of high places. It was also during this time that I learnt that my phobia was also a form of anxiety disorder.

So what exactly is anxiety? Well from personal experience, I can tell you that it’s a whole lot more than just feeling stressed. I mean, stress is certainly a part of it, but there is far more to it than just that. According to BeyondBlue, on average one in four people (one in three women and one in five men) will experience some form of anxiety and in a twelve month period, close to two million Australians will suffer it at some point during their lifetimes.

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Another form of anxiety disorder that I also suffer from is known as Panic Disorder. This disorder is most often characterised by sudden, intense fear which manifests as panic attacks.  Panic attacks may include; heart palpitations, feelings of dizziness and/or faintness, breathlessness or hyperventilation (over-breathing), chest pains, sweating, shaking or nausea. These symptoms often come out of the blue and while these symptoms are the body’s normal responses to danger, they are often out of proportion to the danger actually being faced and often seem to take on a life of their own.

Panic Attack Video from Wikipedia  

This video gives a pretty good overview of what a panic attack is and treatment options for those, like me, who suffer from them.

While I myself am not ashamed of the fact that I have these mental health issues, many sufferers still are. The stigma surrounding mental health issues I feel is one of the biggest issues facing health professionals today and one that must be overcome before too many people die. It is my hope through writing this blog about my struggles with these issues, I can help people see that there is nothing to be ashamed of and that there is always help available.

 

 

RUOK Day 2017

Today, the 14th September 2017 is RUOK Day, a day that I have always supported which has become a day of much greater significance due to my own mental health issues.

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Ever since dad’s passing in March, I have been battling with”The Big Three” mental health issues—-PTSD, depression and an exacerbation of an anxiety disorder my doctor thinks I may have had since childhood.  I always considered myself to be an upbeat, positive, always look on the bright side of life kinda person so the formal diagnosis, while not totally surprising given the circumstances, still threw me for a loop.

I made the decision very early on that I would seek help and that I would also be totally honest with people about my issues. I figured that there was no shame in admitting that I needed help and if people had a problem with that, too stinking bad!! What surprised me most of all was that when people asked me how I was doing, they weren’t doing to be polite or to make conversation….they truly cared and were concerned for my well-being. This totally blew me away as my natural reaction is not to want to be a burden to people as there is always someone worse off than me. I found that by taking the time to talk about it to people who I knew were concerned about me and how I was doing, really helped get things clear in my head and to know that no matter how I was or am feeling at any given moment, people do truly care and I’m not alone.

RUOK Day is the day where we reconnect with people we may have lost touch with in order to check in on them. But I believe that we should be doing that every day. Check in with your neighbours. Have a cuppa with your friends. Spend time doing something you love with someone you love. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day rush that we forget that no person can go through life alone.

For more information on RUOK Day, please visit

RUOK Day

 

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Don’t Overthink It: To Live Better and Feel Happy, Have More Fun — Must Be This Tall To Ride

Do you ever find yourself in situations where you’re supposed to be having fun and feeling good, but you’re not and you don’t? Not only is what you’re doing NOT fun, but there’s the bonus element of suckage resulting from your unmet expectations and ensuing disappointment. There are countless reasons why something we expected to […]

via Don’t Overthink It: To Live Better and Feel Happy, Have More Fun — Must Be This Tall To Ride