The Chaos Keeps Me CalmJune 3, 2016
When do you feel most at ease and calm in your life? If you had have asked me 12 months ago, I would have said “when I am on my couch, watching numerous amounts of bad reality TV and sport” however my answer would be a little different now.
For a long period of time after Aidon died, the safety of routine kept me calm and kept me moving forward step by step. My world fell in on itself in 2008 and it has only dawned on me in these last few months that it has taken me 7 years to be ok with the frantic pace of life again. The chaotic nature of life.
Now I don’t mean the bad type of chaos that is painful and dangerous, but the kind that is not routine, the kind that has you jumping from city to city, country to country, workshop to workshop, balancing a full time job, 5 email accounts, a personal life, family relationships, managing an ex boxer turned mental health champion with a horrible memory, work emails at 4am and planning your eventual world takeover. It’s busy , but in all that busyness I get a sense of calm.
The thought of tackling that amount of work back a few years ago would have seen me retreat back to my couch and say “nope, sorry it’s too hard” all while clicking play on the next TV episode, but I am now thriving in this environment. Too much time sitting and waiting has me on edge. I want to be out there, doing anything and everything I can to leave a small mark on the world in memory of my brother.
I think I have always been this way, but reflecting back, I paused my life for a number of years. I forgot who I was deep down to my core but this life is about learning and I believe those years spent in the safety of my routine was mainly in part to prepare myself for what was to come… my future self must have known.
Knowing yourself and how you best operate is sometimes the hardest part, but I am very much aware now that I thrive in the chaos that has been growing this last 12 months. I am seeing myself grow and develop personally and professionally and for the first time in a really long time I am not trying to plan out my life down to every little detail.
My control freak persona will always remain. It’s part of who I am, but I am learning to embrace the unknown more and more because that is sometimes where the most remarkable opportunities lay.
Balance is important and routine is helpful, but sometimes maybe we all need to embrace the chaos a little more. Take a few measured risks, step out of our comfort zones, stop questioning our ability or why we can’t do something and just give it a go. We may surprise ourselves.
Sneak Peak – Book Chapter #1May 25, 2016
My book, “TRUST” has undergone a re write and will be re-released very soon.
I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you all a chapter in the book that is very relevant to my circumstances at this very moment. My life is changing and I can’t help but reflect back to when it all started and who was there from the beginning….
“What Makes A Family?
What makes someone your family? Is it purely a blood and genetic connection? Is it because you might have grown up together or is it sometimes a feeling you get when you meet them, a common and shared purpose that brings you together. You may have never met them before, before you know you have been friends before.
My suicide prevention family is growing every day. I remember a moment in 2010 when this concept of shared purpose entered my life. It had been just over a year since Aidon had died. I decided to attend my first mental health event, which when I think back, I can’t actually remember what the event was for. I do however remember some of the thoughts that rolled through my mind – “oh my god what am I doing here”, “I’m not a clinician, what do I even know about mental health”. I think these were common thoughts for many people with a lived experience, trying to get involved in the sector a few years ago.
Much to my surprise I met a gentleman by the name of David. David was there for similar reasons to me. He had lost his son to suicide around the same time Aidon had died and he was looking to get more involved in the mental health and suicide prevention sectors. David was working at Lifeline WA and had done a number of training courses associated with mental health, which I was really amazed by. Here was someone who went through a similar experience to me and who was able to utilise that experience and turn it into a positive way to help others.
For the first time in a long time I felt like I had someone to talk to, outside of my immediate family, who understood what I might be going through. What I didn’t know in 2010, was that David wouldn’t be the only person with lived experience to become a part of my ever growing suicide prevention family. That was only the start”
“The bond that links your true family is not always blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life” – Richard Bach
What I also didn’t know was that David would continue to be involved in my life, being a mentor and a bloody amazing friend. Today we finished up another part of our journey, leaving Anglicare WA for new challenges, but it won’t be the last time we cross paths in this journey called life.
Surround yourself with people who make you better. I have and it has changed my life for the better.
Here’s To New Adventures …April 15, 2016
In life, we are told that if we work hard enough and are passionate about something, then opportunities will present themselves. I had seen this first hand in much of the work I have been doing over the last 7 years, however the last 4 months have jetted at a speed that even I wasn’t ready for.
During my last trip to the USA it became clear that there was so much more I could be doing over there and if I really wanted to jump out of my comfort zone and try something different, then I could and should.
From June 4th, I will be embarking on an equal parts exciting and terrifying personal & professional journey that will see me based in Atlanta, USA for a number of months. Working alongside Kevin & Margaret Hines and Joe Williams, we will be developing and delivering mental health and suicide prevention programs to schools and organisations.
We will create and deliver innovative workshops, challenge the norm and aim to change the game of how mental health and suicide prevention is tackled in that country. We will be working alongside incredible people who are doing amazing work in the sector, many of whom we have had the privilege of meeting during our recent trips.
Not many people are given such incredible opportunities to test themselves and whilst I will be away for an extended period of time, away from the love and support of my family and husband, I know that the work I will be doing will have a direct impact on peoples lives and will only contribute to me becoming a better person. Bringing back insight and knowledge I gain from the experience will, I hope, only benefit the work I do here.
Life is full of surprises and I can’t wait to start this next chapter of my life. So watch this space …. some exciting things are coming …
If I could go back ….February 18, 2016
Life has been busy, like so busy that sometimes I stop for a second and go “wow, this is all happening very fast”. But in reality, this has been a journey of 7 years, all the hard work, dedication, tears and strokes of luck, have got me to this point.
In 2 weeks I am heading to Las Vegas with my #TeamRippleAus crew. We will be attending the National Council of Behavioural Health Conference #NatCon16 and it still feels like a dream.
When I started this journey after Aidon died, it wasn’t for the notoriety, it was to try and help others not go through what my family & I went through and still go through today. Raising that awareness, one conversation at a time is key and it is something I will continue to do for the rest of my life but one question that we don’t tend to acknowledge or ask our lived experience advocates is
“Would you go back……”
Throughout the 7 years, I have met so many amazing people and feel I have achieved a lot so far in the sector, however I think it is important to acknowledge that if I could click my fingers and go back to the seconds before Aidon ended his life, I would do it in a heartbeat. I would re live that day over and over again, to try and save him, to do things differently and to just give him a hug.
Yes the things I have done, am doing now and am still hoping to achieve are a direct result of a decision Aidon made, but I would go back and live amongst that messy life, because it would mean he would still be here.
I want his story known and I want people to think differently about their mental health.
If I could go back, I would and allowing ourselves to think that is ok.
Grief …. it is complicatedFebruary 9, 2016
A beautifully written piece that captures complex grief.
Unattributed – Retrieved from http://kindnessblog.com/2013/09/02/my-friend-just-died-i-dont-know-what-to-do/
“My Friend Just Died…I Don’t Know What to Do
Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not.
I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes.
My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function.
You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.
Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”
The DragonflyOctober 8, 2015
The dragonfly holds a special place in my heart. It is the symbol of hope for my family & I, but more importantly it is a symbol for Aidon.
The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolises change. Change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.
In the years since Aidon’s passing, I have been blessed to see many dragonflies around when I needed a reminder to keep doing what I was doing. It is a totem that I bring with me, wherever I go and was always going to be the symbol of the work I wanted to do.