Saturday, December 26, 2015

Dear 2015

Dear 2015,

Another year has almost come to an end and what a rollercoaster of a year it has been! I will admit I had high hopes for 2015 afterall 15 is my number (I was born on the 15th, my parents married on the 15th and I currently live in number 15 which has been the longest I have lived in any house) and while the year has had its high points it also had its low points. Early in this year I finally bought a car well my parents bought me a car which I am still paying off, the freedom of having my own wheels was amazing and my father got the joy of bragging to all his friends about the great deal he got on my first car.
I then managed to get a job in a law firm no less where I lasted (drumroll) 3 hours so I went back to my pyschologist which was the best thing and it was over due. I then was told to challenge myself and the next day a post popped up from ReachOut saying that needed youth ambassadors in my state so taking it as a sign I signed up and managed to get in. This did challenge me but I loved it and spending a weekend in a room full of strangers who would eventually become my friends proved to myself that I could push myself. I look back on the things I have done for ReachOut and can't believe it.
I also starting studying (online) to get my diploma in business administration and I managed to get two credits in the two units I have completed. This gave me something to do while I was looking for work with the added bonus that I could continue doing it once I found work.
Unemployment seemed to drag on and looking back at the amount of posts I wrote about job interviews and how I thought the job was 'the one' its not hard to see how much I struggled. I finally landed a job in July this year but this has been anything but smooth sailing and there are days when I find that I am drowning! Here I was thinking that a job would solve all my problems and it has just made them different and more complex, on the days I feel like I can't do the job I just pray and know that God is in control and keep trying to move forward.
We also said goodbye to my Grandma in July after a challenging few years of her going downhill, it was bittersweet to say goodbye to her as we knew she was in a better place and no doubt spending the next hundred years looking at God's toes as she was quoted saying in the years prior to her death. The funeral was well attended and it was comforting to see how many people cared about her.
I celebrated turning 21 this year which makes me officially an adult. I ended up doing a family breakfast followed by a party at night with friends on the Saturday before I turned 21 on the Tuesday. This was the perfect way to celebrate and I felt so loved and spoilt.
Of course after I turned 21 I found out I was going to loose my license for 3 months and have to resit (the dreaded) practical test. It was a shock and sent me into a downwards spiral which affected everything including my work which meant my probation had to be extended and I am still recovering from. I was thankfully able to drive down to the statewide sports competion between churches at the end of September as I had 28 days between handing in my licence and not being able to drive (which didn't help and I would've rather lost it then and there). We managed to win the small churches competion and the weekend ending up making some awesome new friends who joined our team from another church.
This year I have learnt a lot more about my anxiety and after changing my diet along with frequent psych appointments is a lot more manageable and I have noticed the difference long term.
Relationship wise I am still single and for now thats ok, I guess this year has been so busy that to throw a boy into the mix would be too much. I just know that I will meet the right guy at the right time and whatever happens God is in control.
Honestly 2015 has been anything but easy but what should I expect has anything in my life been easy? Bring on 2016 and what new adventures God will bring for me!

Love Erin

Sunday, December 20, 2015

12 Days of Thankfulness in 1 Day

Less than a week until Christmas which means less than a week until a week long break! Time is flying by, which is a great thing :) I was nominated by a friend on Facebook to do 12 days of thankfulness but as my life has been busy I just don't see how I will be able to do it all so I am instead going to compile it into one (long) blog post.
The thing is that I couldn't think of 12 things to be thankful for because in my head they had to be 12 'big things' yet I find myself being more and thankful for the 'little things':
The smell of rain and how it makes everything clean again. Being able to walk by myself down the street where in so many countries women need to be with a man outside. Being given the opportunities to go to school and complete further study. Able to work part time rather than full time. Having access to medical care and the resources I need to manage my anxiety. Living in a country where people with disabilities are seen as people and acknowledged as indviduals. Being able to turn on a tap and clean drinkable water pours out. Having a roof over my head and a bed to sleep in let alone my own room. Being able to afford to buy new clothes and the latest gadgets Having a laptop along with a mobile phone, ipod and family computer to use. Knowing that I can step outside without having a bomb go off. Being able to be a Christian and not killed for believing in God (in so many countries Christians are killed on a daily basis and its heartbreaking!). Being able to breathe and not having to worry about the polution levels. Not being forced to marry young or having an arranged marriage. Having friends of all backgrounds and ages who I know I can call on 24/7.
I wake up every morning and there are so many things I thank God for that are small and honestly as much as I should be thankful for the big things sometimes it's good to acknowledge the small things.
Below is the start of my '12 days of thankfulness' which has only ended up being 9, I guess I will leave the other 3 points blank so they can be filled in with any of the above, because honestly there are waaaay more than 12 things to be thankful and even the small things are big things.
  1. I am thankful for Rikki. Having him has made a huge difference in my life and he helps me with my anxiety. Just knowing that he is there for me after a hard day of work helps me get through the tough moments and days. He also makes me laugh, lately he has become obsessed with the grass in the backyard he will spend hours just rolling around in it and it always makes me smile.
  2. Knowing that God has a plan for me. Nothing in my life has been easy and it always helps to know that God has a plan for me even when I feel like I am drowning.
  3. My church family. I love how I have this community around me who support and pray for me. I have an amazing group of friends at church who have gone out of their way to help me in tough times. One friend gives me lifts home from work most afternoons as she works near me and lives not far from me and its such a huge help.
  4. My amazing psychologist. I am so thankful to have found a wonderful psych who I click with and understands me. I always look forward to seeing her and her appointments always seem to come at the perfect time.
  5. My immediate family. They make me laugh, put up my weird habits and support me no matter what. They have gone through so much with me and have never given up on me. When I lost my license my parents first reactions were 'we will get through this with you' and they have. They have become my taxi drivers and cancelled a potential holiday that would've left me for 3 weeks alone and have stood by through it all. Megan and Jocelyn are both awesome sisters to have and they are always down for chick flicks and girl talk.
  6. Christmas time. When you think about it what other time of the year can you talk about God so openly and people will listen. The whole reason for Christmas is Jesus and its great to be able to talk to people about him and what Christmas means for you.
  7. My job. I almost wasn't going to include as its been such a challenge but I am thankful to have such an amazing supervisor who is helping me and being in a supportive workplace. I have no idea what the future in terms of this job but I am thankful to be given this chance and know God is in control of what happens.
  8. ReachOut. I love this charity so much and being a youth ambassador is one of my favourite roles ever. I love being able spread the word about mental health in young adults and letting teens and young adults know about it more. We recently had a free dress day at work and when I stared in my wardrobe that morning I decided to wear my ReachOut shirt and got asked so many questions about what ReachOut does, how I got involved with them and what I do.
  9. My car. Even though I can't drive it at the moment (and its currently sitting in the driveway looking sad), I am thankful I have this mode of transportation and that I can afford to pay it off. There was a time when I doubted I would ever get my license and when I see my car I know that I will eventually get my license again (of course I do feel sad that I can't drive it as well). My car may be as old as my youngest sister but he runs well and I can't wait to sit behind the wheel again in a month (yes I may need my parents to sit in the car with me until I pass my dreaded practical test but I will still be allowed back on the roads!).

Friday, December 11, 2015

Five Friday Favourites

Its time for another Friday Favourites! With exactly 2 weeks until Christmas time is flying by which is great (bring on my week off between Christmas and New Year!) but scary at the same time. This week has been a lot better in terms of everything that has been happening. I have learnt that just because I have one bad call doesn't mean that my day is automatically bad, so most of my days have been ok and I have my good moments and my bad. I am also offically halfway through not having my license which is great and I had a dream last night that I passed the practical test (compared to driving through a brickwall or doing something stupid in my other dreams). Midnight our black hen has also become broody once again so she is sitting on some fertile eggs and we are hoping that come new year we may have some cute chicks again.
Moving on here are my Friday Favourites for this week:

Exploding kittens - a friend introduced me to this game and I loved it! I recently purchased it for myself and its the best game to play with anyone, even Megan can play it which is great. Its just a fun simple game that doesn't take long to figure out and the cards have funny pictures as well.

ReachOut has been mentioned twice this week on Buzzfeed! This has by far been the best part of my week, seeing this awesome organisation get mentioned not once but twice. You can check out the posts they were meantioned on here (tip number 22) and here. Yes I am Erinm115 on Buzzfeed but I love the Breathe App and I love knowing I have it at my fingertips when I need it so I am super happy that they mentioned it.

Scholl Velvet Smooth Express Pedi  - I have been struggling with my rough skin on my heels for so long and have various treatments and methods and nothing has been helping until I finally purchased this. It works within seconds and its super easy to use, the only downside is that it sounds like dentists drill but I can live with that for the results.

The Wedding Chapple by Rachel Hauck  - I love Rachel Hauck and I loved her latest book! Its a good story and so clevery written in the way that different characters cross over and have this linked history which you discover the more you read. It does have a happy ending but there are parts in the story that are sad and help you see the charcters struggles and their pasts better. I found this book was exactly what I needed at the time and you won't want to put it down. The blurb reads (taken from Rachel's website here):
For sixty years, a wedding chapel sat silent, waiting for love. But times have changed and the hour has come when it just might be too late.
Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy “Coach” Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love—the wedding chapel he built for Collette Greer, the woman he fell for back in ‘49. But now an offer has come to turn the chapel into what it was meant to be—a place for love—and Jimmy sees no reason to hang onto his dream any longer.
Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family’s abysmal marriage rate. But love surprises her when she falls head-over-heels for Jack Forester, a top ad man. Their whirlwind romance results in an elopement, and a mountain of doubt. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to overcome his own demons to find the words of his heart.
When Taylor takes an assignment in Heart’s Bend, the job does more than send her back to her hometown, but into a world of family secrets buried beneath the sands of time.
When Taylor’s journey intersects with Coach’s, they rediscover the heartbeat of their dreams and that the love they long to hold is right in front of them. And worth every waiting moment.

 Christmas Gift Guide 2015 - If you haven't started Christmas shopping you need to check out my gift guide for this year. There is something for everyone and for a wide range of budgets. Its well worth checking out if you are stuck for finding that 'perfect gift' for someone.

Friday, December 4, 2015


This week has been one of the worst weeks of my life and I have no idea why. Normally when I have bad weeks I know why but this week there is no explanation for it. Things should be getting better at work instead I felt like things were going backwards and I honestly just wanted to hide. By Tuesday I was ready to run away and leave everything behind yet I stuck out the week and it didn't get any better. I guess I am feeling confused as to why God would give me this job if I am struggling so much with it. Is he trying to tell me something like this career isn't the one for me?! I mean I love my job just I feel like I am drowning in it at times and I hate letting my boss and myself down. I have prayed so much for this job and waited so long for it, yet when I get this job I feel like I am drowning.
I have also realised why I am taking loosing my license so hard, its because I feel betrayed by God (there I said it). I worked so hard to get it and there were times when I never thought I would pass the stupid practical test yet I managed to loose it in a freak accident. I feel like God has betrayed me by taking it away, this year was meant to be smooth sailing. Instead its been the complete opposite in so many ways and all I have to show for it is a job that I am struggling in at times and a car that I can't drive.
I guess I have a lot of questions right now and I want answers, I doubt I will get the answers but I still want them. Until I get the answers I will keep trusting God and trying to understand why God has let the things happen to me, because he knows what he is doing even if I have no idea.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Maybe there is a bright side

Its funny how things can hit you at times despite always being aware of them. Last night at church I realised that God knew what he was doing when he took away my license and that there's a bigger picture of what is going on. I have struggled with the loss of my license not so much not being able to drive but the lead up to it and the anticipation of it. I guess I always wondered why God took it away from me after how hard I had to fight to get there and now I have to face the practical test again which I am already dreading - so I eat chocolate and watch some Parks and Rec and tell myself to only focus on today.
Almost everyone who knows have told me how annoying it must be and are on my side, which is nice and its good to have the support.
There are times when I miss it like when I an invitation to an event and I have to figure how I am going to get there and lately I have just wanted to go for a drive and clear my head.
In a sense its actually helped me at work as I spend the journey reading and relaxing (rather than being stressed out that I am going to be late or that there are multiple trucks surrounding me each one going slower than the next) and I arrive to work with a clear head. To get to work only takes me 15 minutes more in the mornings and I do arrive 45 minutes early so I spend 30 minutes in the staff room enjoying the quiet and reading the paper while eating my lunch which isn't a bad thing as I can just focus on myself rather than the few hundred things I should be doing when I am at home.
My car has also been in a desperate need of a new exhaust system so over the past week it has been at the mechanics getting that done (and there goes all my money!) which has caused no disruption among the family compared to the last time when it was getting repaired.
I guess that maybe just maybe there is a bright side to all of this even though it didn't feel like it in the beginning.
Please keep praying for me as I have just under another 2 months before I can begin the process of getting my license back, and can you please also pray that the process of getting it back will go smoothly and that my anxiety will stay at bay.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I am

I am 21 years old.
I am someone who has lost their drivers license for 3 months.
I am someone who works in local government and loves every (hard) minute of it.
I am a dark blonde blue eyed girl.
I am creative and love to paint.
I am always able to survive the toughest situations.
I am someone who has had to fight to get where she needs to be.
I am an older sister.
I am the first daughter who was born exactly 2 years and 1 month after her parents were married.
I am someone who suffers from anxiety.
I am hopeless at sports.
I am extremely clumsy.
I am a Christian.
I am someone who loves cats.
I am a baker.
I am a writer and blogger.
I am chocaholic and a shopaholic.
I am a bookworm.
I am currently waiting for the right guy to come along.
I am a dreamer and often has realistic dreams.
I am a cat owner.
I am a ReachOut Youth Ambassador.
I am currently studying to get my diploma in Business Administration.
I am a fighter.
I am someone who keeps her friends close.
I am a pastors daughter.
I am a teachers assistants daughter.
I am someone who lives with Dyspraxia but has never let me stop it from fulfilling my dreams.
I am learning how to fly and leaving and impact on this earth.
I am me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Book review: Katie in Waiting

Being single is hard at times and its hard when it seems like most of your friends are dating someone. Don't get me wrong I am happy for them, its just annoying when you realise that in certain circles you are the only single one (excuse me while I go and adopt some more cats). I have had this urge to wait lately regarding the whole boyfriend thing and for now that is what I am going to do and eat chocolate and read some chick lit.
I love Erynn Mangum's books so I had to read her latest book Katie in Waiting the moment it came out. This book was different from her other books in many ways the major way was that it didn't focus around a couple rather it focused on Katie who is a single 30 something girl waiting for the right guy. The blurb reads (taken from Kobo):
Katie McCoy has spent her whole life waiting for the right guy and he isn't coming. After relocating to Carrington Springs, Missouri, Katie finds herself getting more and more frustrated. Can't God see that she's trying her best to meet someone? Doesn't He care that she's lonely? What is she doing that is making Him not bless her with this? With two new friends, Eliza and Ashten, by her side, Katie starts to realize that maybe God has bigger plans for her life than she could have ever imagined.
The book is such a refreshing change to the typical Christian chick lit (yes that's a thing) books that are out there as it focuses on being single and realising that what we want isn't always what God has planned for us. Sure there are few cute guys involved but they add to the book and provide some further insight into just how big Katie's struggle really is.
I also loved meeting Eliza and Ashten and seeing how they were coping with their singleness as well. When reading the book I found myself drawn to Eliza as we are so alike with our personalities (the only differences is that she is a nurse and I am a customer service officer and I am a touch more creative). It was nice to have the book focus around such a new friendship group rather than a boy and girl relationship.
If you want a good non romantic read this book is a great read and you will no doubt be hooked from the first chapter.
I am looking forward to the next book (Once Upon an Eliza) in the series which comes out mid next year and can't wait see how the girls grow and develop in it.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Christmas Gift Guide 2015

With Christmas just round the corner I thought I would once again do a gift guide! I swear people are getting harder and harder to buy for these days and its not easy sticking to a budget.

Before you begin shopping here are some tips sticking to a budget:
  • Allocate a set amount per each person and be aware of it. The amount can vary from person to person and its ok to go slightly over it but aim to stick within the amount.
  • Start shopping now! That way you can space out the spending, and it won't be suck a shock to your bank account.
  • Shop the sales, by starting now you can keep an eye out on the sales and find things well within your budget.
  • Shop online, there are many sites where you can compare prices of things across many websites. If you are buying books as gifts check out Booko which will compare the prices (including postage) across every website possible. Be aware of the postage times so you won't be cutting it too close.
  • Get crafty. Buy craft materials in bulk (check out ebay and discount stores) and go to town! Check out pinterest for simple crafts and do it while you are watching TV at night, these gifts are great for co-workers .
Grab a cute Christmas box and fill it with a variety items linked to a theme, some great themes are:
  • Movie night - grab a film (or a Netflix subscription card), microwave popcorn, and lollies. Great new to dvd films to include are Minions, Big Hero 6, Inside Out, Descendants, Night at the Museum 3 and Jurassic World.
  • Pamper pack - nail polish, nice hand cream, a loofa, face mask (I love the Formula 10.0.6 ones) and some cute hair elastics.
  • Ice cream sundae - think all the toppings you can imagine, along with a gift card ($10 is plenty) for the ice cream and some cute bowls.
  • Craft - look on Pinterest and find a few cute crafts to make and include the items to make them,  along with the instructions. A fun craft is to grab a few colours of oven bake clay (like Fimo), some magnets, jewellery fixings and some inspiration photos. Studie DIY has a great tutorial for friendship bracelets just grab some thread and beads and print off the instructions and you are good to go.
  •  Book worm - include a book, some tea or hot chocolate mix, a mug, some chocolate and a cute bookmark.
The good thing about in-a-box gifts is that you can
spend a much or as little as you like and you can vary it from person to person.

Stocking stuffers:

  • Lip balm - I love the Urban Rituelle brand, as it conditions and protects your lips with a blend of beeswax, sweet almond oil and olive oil and sunscreen for extra protection (which is great during the Australian Summers). As a bonus there are tonnes of yummy flavours like cotton candy, carmella and peach blossom just to name a few.
  • Body shop body wash - I love the scents of the body shop body wash and a full size one will last you ages.
  • Fun stationary - check out Smiggle, Typo and Kikki K for some stationary that is fun and practical to use, people tend not to buy themselves cute stationary (I rarely do as people like to steal my pens and everything else) so its a great stocking stuffer and it won't break the bank (pictured set here)
  • Baked goods - I love baking around the holiday season and people will love receiving some yummy baked goods as a result. Gingerbread and shortbread are always popular, as are brownies, oreo truffles and cookie dough truffles
  • Adult colouring book - jump on the latest trend and buy them an adult colouring book. You can get some super nice ones for under $10 in most stores or the Book Depository has a nice selection here. If you want to make it a complete gift include some coloured pencils/textas and a yummy treat.

 Gifts for everyone

Its always tough to find the perfect gift so here is a great selection criteria for finding a great gift:
  • Make sure they can use it, unless its a framed print or art piece.
  • If you are going to buy a picture or art piece make sure its them and they can relate to it.
  • Its within your budget, any gift that will send you broke isn't worth it.
Here are my top gifts for Christmas:
I love playing games with friends so here are some games that I love and think would be great for that hard to buy person.
  • Coupe - this a great game that can be played with 2 - 6 players. Its also extremely quick and won't last longer than 15 minutes. The aim of the game is to assassinate the other players and bluff your way, Jocelyn and I had a lot of fun playing this and I know it would be great with more people.
  • The Resistance - this game is in the same universe at Coupe but is for more people and takes slightly longer to play (its like the game Mafia you play with a pack of cards). There are also two expansion packs (here and here) so if you know someone who has the game you can get them the expansion packs to continue the fun.
  • Wet Heads - think russian roulette but with water! Players take turns to strap on the hat, give it a spin and pull a pin, one person will end up with a wet head. This looks like such a fun game and I can imagine it being a good game to play with teenagers on a hot day.

  • Earrings - earrings are one of my go to gifts and for good reason, you can pick up some really cute stirling silver earrings on sale and every girl loves receiving jewellery. Keep an eye out on store windows to pick up some cute bargains leading up to Christmas. If in doubt buy simple and classic earrings like hoops and delicate studs.
  • Cute PJs - If you know the person well enough some cute pjs are a good idea.A great idea is to buy a nice pair of pj pants from somewhere like Bras N Things or Peter Alexender and grab a plain singlet from Kmart or Target to keep costs down. These pants are a cute pair from Bra N Things and they feel so nice on (I have a similar pair which I love) perfect for lazy Saturday mornings.
  • Experiences - no one ever needs more stuff but people are always open to experiences, movie tickets, zoo or aquarium tickets, museum tickets or concert tickets are always good presents. Plus with museum tickets you encourage the person to be a tourist in their own town. An old prison near runs a variety of tours including tunnel tours which means you get to go below the actual prison which sounds fun and adventurous! Ask at local tourist centres what tours they recomend and buy some tickets for yourself and a bunch of your family or friends and make it a fun day out. 
  • A subscription box - there are so many subscription boxes out there and its a gift that will keep on giving. For books theres FoxThings which contains a book and a few other book themed items, for makeup theres Marie Claire The Parcel, for the artist in your life there's ArtSnacks, if they love tea there's Tea With Alice or Monstrositea, there's also the Handmade Box if they love craft and supporting small businesses. You name it there's a box for it and half the fun is finding all the different boxes that are out there.
  • 2016 Diary or calender - call me old fashioned but I still use an actual diary rather than my phone. It also helps when I am planning out my year and the bigger picture. I like smaller diaries that can easily fit in a bag rather than the big ones. I recently bought this one and have already began filling it. Check out specialty stationery store such as Kikki K, Typo, and Office Works for cute diaries and calenders.
  • Magazine subscription - this is another gift that will last all year! With so many magazines around even the hardest person on your list can be bought for. The great thing so many companies have special deals for new subscribers at this time of year. My favourite magazine is Super Food Ideas and its a great magazine for anyone who loves cooking be it they are just starting out with cooking or who is an experienced cook plus at only $30 its an afforable subscription. 

Gift giving doesn't have to be hard and at the end of the day Christmas is all about the greatest gift the world has received Jesus!
Here are two of my favourite Christmas songs to help get you in the Christmas mood, because it is never too early to play Christmas music in my opinion!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Limiting my Anxiety

I have been trying to limit the amount of anxiety I have to deal with, unfortunately medication doesn't take care of it 100% so there are days when my anxiety will be really bad, I am trying to limit those days so that they occur very rarely and when they do my anxiety isn't as bad.

My main way is in my diet, I am currently doing a high protein diet as recommended by a family friend who is a naturopath (apparently it helps stabilise the chemicals in your brain). This is what a usual day for me in terms of food looks like:
  • Breakfast - one hard boiled egg with salt and pepper.
  • Lunch (I eat lunch early at around 11.30 before work) - carrot and cucumber sticks with either hummus or avocado dip (you can buy single serving sizes of dips in packs of 3 in coles which are great to have on hand) and some crackers.
  • Snack - These vary for me during the day and it just depends on how I am feeling. At the moment I switch between the following: m&ms/malteesers/chocolate - I know this isn't the healthiest snack but I crave chocolate sometimes and when I do I bring a small container of it to work (rather than a whole block or bag), sometimes I won't eat the whole container and sometimes I do it just varies. Bujah which is an indian snack food made up of crunchy chickpea noodles, nuts, dried peas and spices which is high in protein and tastes great. Nuts almonds and cashews with some dark chocolate chips thrown in.
  • Dinner - whatever the family is eating just with less carbs.
  • Drinks - I aim to go through a 700ml bottle of water at work, I will also drink straight carbonated mineral water or a mix of diet lemonade and mineral water (either half and half or 3 parts mineral water to 1 parts lemonade).
  • Supplements - I take 4 fish oil capsules at night along with my allergy medication and anxiety medication.
I avoid caffeine throughout the week so that means no diet coke, if I do have a diet coke its on a Saturday and that's its for the week. I have noticed a major difference by making the above differences to my diet. Of course there are some days when I won't eat well at all and that's ok, I aim to stick to the diet the bulk of the time but still treat myself. The other day I had pastacup for lunch at work as I was working a full day and a group of us decided to order it, the other week when I was having a tough week I ate (a lot of) chocolate but I make sure to go back to the diet afterwards. I love my sweets and chocolate is definitely my weakness, of course being dairy intolerant means that I have to be careful and not go overboard.

Sleep is another big thing that I have to be aware of. I aim to get 8-10 hours of sleep a night depending on how busy the next day is and how I am feeling. There are nights when I will crash and other nights when I won't need as much sleep. I also sleep with my blinds open and try to get up with the sun as I'm not forcing myself awake with an alarm. I rarely set my alarm and when I do its because I need to get up that much earlier than usual.

Lately I have found myself saying no to various social activities just because by the time I come home from work and unwind I just don't want to face people. Not having a license also makes catching up harder but at the same time it gives me an excuse not go to things if I feel like I can't handle it. I have opted out of doing Sunday School this term as by the time it gets to the weekend I crash and need to rebuild my energy levels. I also haven't been doing bible study this term as even when I had my license I was only getting there once every 2-3 weeks as I got home from work at 5.30 and had to leave the house by 6.15/6.30pm to get there on time and then by the time I got home, unwound and went to sleep it was 10.30/11.00pm. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed bible study just I always felt so rushed on a Wednesday night. I hate saying no to people and always feel like I let people down when I do but sometimes you need to do what is right for you regardless of what people think. Saturdays I pretty much crash and just do something with the family and Sundays are of course church.

Its strange but not having my license has made my work trip much more relaxed, I do have to leave home earlier (10.30am) but the transport is so easy and I can just relax and read a book and not focus on anything major. I also get to work 45 minutes early so I can chill out in the staff room for a bit and eat my lunch or do some window shopping if I please. I mean not having a license is tough but my focus at work has improved a lot and my head is a lot more clearer now which helps. My car goes in for an exhaust system replacement this Tuesday which needed to happen at some point so this makes it easier on everyone with me not needing a car and having to major car swap around. My Mum's car also needs some work done on it in terms of panel beating so the aim will be to book it in and then she can drive my car while that is happening.
I do miss driving and I find myself stressing about the practical test - What if I fail it? What if I get a driving instructor who decides to make the test extra hard as I lost my license? What if I can't book in a test until 2017? Yes I have an extremely over active train of thought so if you guys could please pray about the above that would be great.

I hate exercise but once again not having a license is extremely handy as I have to walk to the bus stop most days and when I get to the train station I take the stairs rather than the escalators. Its not much in terms of exercise but its better than nothing and I hope to increase it eventually.

ReachOut Youth Ambassador work is kept to online and things I can do from home. I would love to do more with ReachOut, but at the moment its just not possible. I do have dreams for some events but at this stage they are only dreams and won't be made realities until next year (hopefully!). I have been indirectly involved with events and created a colouring in page for a competition (which some of the other YAs ran for Metal Health week at a local uni) which was fun and its an image than can be used again. I love ReachOut and being a YA gives me confidence. I also love knowing that I am changing how people think about Mental Illness.

I am also planning on increasing my psychologist appointments to more frequently (once every 3 weeks instead of once every 4 weeks) as I honestly feel like at the moment I just need that extra support. The past few months have been hard and have taken a large toll on my mental health and increasing my appointments will help me both long and short term.

I find that when you have anxiety you have to be so much more aware of the little things. I am always looking at my lifestyle and working out ways to manage my anxiety without doing anything major (as new situations only make my anxiety worse!). I started by always having an egg for breakfast and reducing my carbs then moved onto reducing my diet coke and eventually having high in protein lunches and snacks. I refuse to let my anxiety rule my life so I am willing to do anything to prevent this, all in all by doing the above my life has been easier.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Book Review: A Sugar Creek Christmas

I love Christmas and books, so when I got a chance to do a review on this book it's no suprise that I jumped at the chance.
Jenny B Jones is a great author and her books always make me smile and have gotten me through some tough times.
A Sugar Creek Christmas is a great read, the blurb read's (taken from Amazon):

Sometimes all love needs is a second chance.

Morning television show darling Emma Sutton has just been fired. The only way to get her job back is to find a holiday story to warm the coldest heart. So when her hometown of Sugar Creek, Arkansas, needs a Christmas event planner, Emma moves back, sure her story lies in the town’s desire to become a tourist’s holiday wonderland. The plan is perfect—until Emma meets her new boss.

Charming, handsome Noah Kincaid isn’t just Sugar Creek’s newest mayor. He’s also Emma’s ex-fiancĂ©. Ten years ago Emma left Noah her ring and a goodbye note, but it’s haunted her ever since. The last thing Noah wants to do is work with the woman who broke his heart, but Emma’s desperate to prove to him that her bah-humbug ways won’t interfere with her work.

Emma finds it’s more than the mistletoe drawing her back to Noah. Whatever they had is clearly not over, but Noah’s kisses can’t protect Emma from a past that won’t leave her alone. As the snow falls and the trees glisten, love will come to Sugar Creek. But will it come in time to make all of Emma’s Christmas dreams come true.

 I got sucked into this book extremely quickly and loved the charcters, Jenny has mastered the art of creating the best grandmas (Maxine (Katie's foster grandma) in a Katie Parker Production is one of my all time favourite charcters) and Emma's is no exception - an ex spy who still goes on missions while also keeping up with the towns gossip and her grandkids is such a warm welcome to the typical grandmas you find in books.
Emma is a great charcter and despite the fact that she hates Christmas you see that she has reason behind it and eventually see her come round to it.
Noah is a kind guy, who though he got hurt in the past by Emma still cares about her and is prepared to look beyond their complicated past and the fact she hates Christmas.

The storyline is a bit prediactable (though not cheasy in anyway!) but has a few twists here and there and its a page turner for sure! Its a great book to read if you want to get in the Christmas mood (and has turned me off wanting a white Christmas after hearing how hard it can be getting anywhere with snow!) and want something with substance but not too heavy.

Overall its a great read and one I know I will reread the closer it gets to Christmas, once again Jenny has written a winner.

You can get your hands on a copy on Amazon Kobo,  iBooks and Barnes and Nobel 

***I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Another 2 months

Well my probation as officially been extended by another 2 months and for some reason I am feeling angry, annoyed and sad at myself about it. I have wanted this job for so long and yet I feel like I am letting it slip away, I just feel so helpless! It has always taken me longer than average to achieve things, yet I thought this job would be different. I don't want to let my employer down either as they have taken a huge chance on me. I know that tomorrow is a new day yet so many times just when I feel like things are going well, something happens and my confidence is shaken. I just have no idea why God gave me this job that I wanted so badly when I am struggling so much with it and can't seem to do anything right at times! I really some major prayer that a miracle will happen with me in this job and things will start going smoothly. I just feel like there is so much stuff to learn and after not working for so long its a bit of a learning curve to say the least!
I just needed to get this out, please pray for me, I am hoping my next update will be much more positive!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Best ever loaded brownies

Its no secret I am a baker (and it helps me with coping with my anxiety) and these brownies are some of my favourite things to bake! They are super easy to bake and you can mix in and top them with anything. The ones pictured were topped with dark choc chips, maltesers and chopped up toffees.
You can totally leave out the toppings and mix ins and just put in choc chips to make ordinary brownies, its really up to you.

Adapted from here, this recipe will make a standard rectangular tray of brownies.

210 grams of butter (or margarine)
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder (I use the Cadbury brand)
1 1/2cups of sugar
3/4 cup of plain flour
3 eggs (take them out of the fridge the moment you need to add them)
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Note: You have to use plain flour and baking powder in this recipe self raising flour won't achieve the fudginess (it makes them rise them too much). You can skip the baking powder if need be but it makes them less dense.

Mix ins/toppings such as:
Choc chips
Chopped almonds (or other nuts)
Chopped Maltesers
Chopped toffees
Chopped chocolate bars - smartie, mint oreo, caramel (freeze first to make it less messy to chop up), cookies and cream, crunchie
Chopped/crushed Oreos - you can also put these whole in the middle for a fun surprise instead of on top

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees, line standard brownie pan with greaseproof paper and give it a spray with cooking spray (this makes a huge difference later on!).
  2. Melt butter (or margarine) in a largeish saucepan, mix in sugar, salt and cocoa powder, it will look grainy at this stage but don't stress! Let cool for 5 minutes (you don't want to scramble the eggs).
  3. Beat in eggs and vanilla essence until its glossy.
  4. Mix in flour and baking powder until there are no white streaks left.
  5. Stir in your mix ins reserving some for the toppings if desired.
  6. Pour into pan, sprinkle on toppings and bake for 20 minutes then check and lower the oven temperature to 150 degrees baking for another 10-15 minutes if required. It will be done when you insert a skewer and it comes out with crumbs clinging to it.
  7. Cool in pan and cut into squares and enjoy!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Anxiety: More than meets the eye

This is what's its like living with anxiety.
You overthink things and will revisit things multiple times even though its all in the past and there's nothing you can do about it.
You find yourself wishing you could hide away and just disappear at times.
There are days you want to stay in bed but still you get up and get dressed and try to stay focused.
Little things will set you off, flashbacks to bad experiences, someone saying something, unexpected situations, not all the events will be the same and you learn to listen to your heart rate and breathing.
You question why you take the pills and if you will always need them to live. Its become such a habit and you know that if you stop things will start to unravel before your eyes. You realise that unfortunately they don't fix everything associated with anxiety.
You realise you need a pschycologist and despite your bad experiences with one in when you were 12 you find one. You find yourself coping better but you know for the near future you will need to keep seeing her, no matter how much it costs.
You try to look on the bright side of things and then question yourself when you can't find one.
You find yourself subconsciously avoiding situations, because you know they will set you off and then when you have to face them you are faced with anxiety attacks.
You doubt yourself that you can do things and find yourself questioning everything you do.
You get jumpy for no reason and pray that the feeling with go away.
You deal with people telling you to get over it, its all in your head and if you wanted to things could be different.
You get used to driving 30-40 minutes to see a doctor then waiting at least an hour times, just because he gets you and knows your history. You know he will squeeze you in when you are having a really bad day and that he will listen to you. The time it takes seems such a small trade off for what you get in return.
You learn to be more open about it and you begin to not care what people will think of you when you tell them.
Facebook messages are your worst enemy, especially when you can see if they have seen the message or not and you are wondering why they aren't replying. Did you say something bad? Did you come on too strong? Do they not like you as a person? Have you sent them too many messages (even if this is only your first one!)? Did you make no sense and ramble on too much? Never mind that they might've only had a moment to see the message but haven't got round to replying you always think the worst.
You worry that your too clingy at times and find yourself distancing yourself from people.
Your go through every conversation you have had with people, and even weeks later kick yourself for saying things that didn't come out right.
There are days where the tears want to fall and you let them because keeping them inside won't help you.
You figure out coping strategies like breathing exercises and eventually begin to slowly challenge yourself.
You learn that despite it all you have to keep moving forward and you have to believe that one day things will get easier.
This is my life with anxiety there is a lot more than meets the eye.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Five Friday Favourites and a Prayer Point

Happy Friday! One week of having no license almost done, its actually not that bad when you have parents and friends who are able to help you get around. In other news my probation at work has been extended and I knew it was coming, I just haven't been focusing (though that is improving slowly since starting to take fish oil again) and letting my personal issues get in the way of work. I am thankful that they are extending my probation rather than letting me go and that they want to work with me. I feel like its a culture shock being back in the work force after not working for almost 2 years, plus the whole loosing my license thing which knocked my confidence around. This week has probably been the best week since the incident mainly because its happened and I can now focus on getting it back, rather than waiting for it to happen. If you could please pray for me that would be great, I love my job and work place and don't want to leave so just pray that I get back on track and prove myself to my supervisor.
Moving on lets talk about some Friday Favourites, these are the things I have been loving lately (note this post has been in my drafts for a while and I never thought I would get around to finishing it!).

Bobbles Sports water bottle - I am trying to drink more water (plus I am currently on a one diet coke a week restriction) but the chlorine taste in it can put me off at times. I have always loved the look of bobble water bottles but was after something a bit sturdier so when I saw their new sports range I decided to buy one, I love how it looks and feels plus it makes drinking water easier.

Maybelline Nude eyeshadow palate - I have a few eye shadows palates I use on a regular basis and this is one of them, its a good mix of matte and metallic colours and the possibilities are endless. I like to wear a pale colour as a base (over my eyeshadow primer of course) and then use a dark colour to outline and define my lids. The staying power is amazing as well, I apply it in the morning and by the end of the day it still looks great.

Havaianas Flash Urban Black Sandals - I am slowly starting to think about Summer and one of things I needed was a pair of casual sandals. I love my Havaianas thongs so buying these was an easy choice they are super comfy and plus being black you can wear them with pretty much anything.

Lesley Knope print - I have recently reorganised my room and I now have some space that needs to be filled on top of some shelves. I love Parks and Rec so when I saw this print on Etsy I had to get it. The store has quite a few other prints and they would great gifts once you frame them (I just picked up a $10 frame from Target).

Christmas! - I have recently started my Christmas shopping, as I love to be organised and buying gifts is one of my favourite things to do! Plus it means come Christmas time, I can focus on other things rather than buying last minute gifts for people. I also like to craft a lot of gifts for people so I like to start thinking about it now so that I have time to order/buy the supplies and make them with plenty of time to spare (I like to binge watch shows while I do it). I am keeping it simple this year with a few intricate crafts happening as well.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

This has Happened

Well I officially no longer have a license (I do have a car though so I guess that's something?) I am now stuck to public transport and begging people for lifts (for the next 3 months anyway, then God willing it will be smooth sailing re-getting my license and sitting the practical test).
There's some relief to it finally happening if I am being honest, I just found having the 28 days between handing it in before not actually having the licence very anxiety inducing and it made me question so much. Now I can count down the days to being able to drive again, at this stage I am just hanging out to Christmas as by the time that comes around I will have less than a month until I can drive again.
I am also trying to break it down 3 months is 12 weeks which is one school term and 2 weeks, its only 60 working days (mind you I get between Christmas and New Year off so its less than that!), its only 12 weekends etc which is putting things in perspective. I guess now its happened I can focus on getting it back (dealing with reverse and parallel parking!) and surviving the next few months.
If you could pray for the following for me that would be great, I have no idea how I will get through the next few months without some major prayer!
  • Getting to work will be easy and I won't arrive late.
  • That when the time comes I will pass the practical test (and the computer test to get my L's), also if the instructor would be understanding during it that would be great and that I won't let my anxiety get in the way of me focusing.
  • That I will get a good time for the test, ideally I want a test within a week of the 20th of January.
  • That people will be understanding of my situation and not look at me like a failure or a disappointment.
  • That I won't let this get in the way of my work and stay focused on that.
I guess I just don't know what to think anymore, I had always thought that once I got a job everything would be easy (silly me forgot that nothing in my life has never been easy so why would that change?!) but its ended up being a challenge to say the least! I know that God is good and that there is always a bright side to every situation but I am having trouble seeing that side at the moment, if anything there is relief that its finally happened.

To read the other 2 posts regarding this matter click here and here.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Are We Ever Really Rich?

At work the other day a few of us were talking about money and someone brought up it helps if you are rich or at least have money in the world, before I could stop myself I blurted out 'But are we ever really rich?'. I got a few puzzled looks and I went on to explain that when we die what happens to the money we have, we can't take it with us and at the end of the day does it really make us happier, I also told them that some passages (no one was a Christian in the conversation and if I brought up the bible I am pretty sure I would have received many confused looks) say that its better to store up riches in heaven than it is on earth. (The conversation ended soon after that with everyone saying that they loved money and it made life easier).
In my eyes money doesn't make life easier, the more money you have the more miserable you are. So many people who win the lottery soon end up miserable and worse off than they started once the money runs out (a quick google search will prove my point). Sure money can open up doors but in order to do that you have to be committed to it and make sacrifices. It also seems like once you have money you always want more. I mean do you really want to be remembered as the person who worked crazy hours and was ruled by money when you die? Its great to have money but not if you have sacrifice your family life and never get to really enjoy it.
Growing up money was never one of those things that my family had an excess of, there were times when my parents struggled to make ends meet (during a really tough time) and I found myself worrying about our finances even as a kid and not quite understanding what was going on.
During my unemployment I learnt how to budget and manage my finances, I was fortunate enough that I didn't have to pay much board and my parents supported me. I now make an effort to cover most of my expenses, while also paying board and paying back my car. Even now I have money I still find myself not going crazy and making sure I have a decent buffer, I recently had to pay for car registration and my allocated psychologist appointments have since run out (you get 10 free appointments a year) so I am now starting to pay for those (its unknown how much of those are covered by our health insurance). For me money isn't something I feel entitled too and with the unemployment rate so high recently I feel fortunate enough to have a job let alone one as well paying as the one I have. Money is great don't get me wrong but at the same I feel such a responsibly to not go crazy and save for the future.
Money is one of those things that we will always be controlled by and ruled over, but at the end of the day should we really invest so much time in something that will be left behind when we go. Do we really want to be remembered by our money rather than what we achieved while we were on earth?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Happy Birthday Jocelyn!!!

My baby sister is 17 today!!! How has she grown up so fast?! Next year she will legally be an adult which is scary when it seems like only yesterday she came home from the hospital (I actually remember the day she arrived home) and made our family complete. As she is 17 here are 17 things I love about her :)
  1. She has learnt to endure the nickname Pumpkin which I have given her. I have no idea when I started calling her that but despite her telling me to stop multiple times she has given up and now endures.
  2. She has a caring heart. Despite being only 17 she has gone to 2 different countries to do mission work and has dreams to become a midwife and do that in a developing country.
  3. She doesn't judge me when I make questionable online purchases (well she might but she hasn't said anything yet!).
  4. She did a massive clean out of my room on Sunday and refused to take any form of payment afterwards. I am pretty sure I now have 50% less items because she and Mum did a major cull.
  5. She can do Pinterest worthy cakes, for my 21st she did such an amazing job of decorating and baking my cake. She watched multiple YouTube videos on how to decorate it and did such an amazing job.
  6. She can somehow guess who I am crushing on and then teases me about it relentlessly. Ok maybe I don't it love it but its a sister thing that she does.
  7. She hates surprises and before Christmas if given the chance she will carefully unwrap a gift just to find out what's inside then rewrap it and no one will know.
  8. She can do professional grade make up and hair. This comes in handy for special events (like school balls), she has also done my hair for multiple job interviews and even though she may roll her eyes at times she secretly loves it. In the past she has told me to sit down and she will straighten my hair just because she is bored.
  9. She applies herself 110% to her studies and has the grades to prove it.
  10. She is an extremely talented artist and has such a unique delicate style. Her art teacher also loves her (mind you her art teacher had me in school and loved me, so I am pretty sure its only because of me that she loves her).
  11. She is an amazing sister to Megan and knows how to handle even the toughest situations with her.
  12. She loves Alice in Wonderland and knows every movie off by heart.
  13. She has had rages over the new versions of various childhood TV shows and isn't ashamed to admit it.
  14. She puts up with a cat who likes to catch various things and set them loose (or eat them!) on the floor of her room in the early hours of the morning! I just think it shows how much Maddy loves her, though Jocelyn thinks otherwise.
  15. She is an extremely good back up GPS when needed and can read maps extremely well.
  16. She picks her friends well, all her friends are great people and I love it when they come over.
  17. All in all she is an amazing little sister and I love everything about her!
Happy Birthday Jocelyn! I hope you have an amazing day and I didn't embarrass you too much :)
You can get to know more about Jocelyn here when I made her do an interview :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mental Illness in: Movies

On the weekend as part of our churches sporting team we had 2 members from another church join us, it was great getting to know them both. What wasn't great is that I wasn't prepared for it (as you know my life has been full of distractions lately) and my first thought was 'what if they think I'm crazy?!' once they get to know me, (its a very in your face weekend surrounded by your teammates to say the least!). Here's the thing, I am 110% open with dealing with anxiety as in I don't hide the fact that I struggle with it. While most of the time no one really cares, I do get a few people who think I am crazy (or that its all in my head and I could get over if I really wanted to) because of it. I will openly admit that I see a psych and take medication for it (for me its due to a chemical imbalance as the base then its the environmental aspects) because for me its not something to be ashamed about, yet for some people its still hard to talk about.
This is why its important that TV shows, books and movies show mental illness as key themes as it gets people talking about it and shows people that dealing with mental illness isn't a major issue.
Continuing on with my series about mental illness in the entertainment industry is movies. I have tried to think about films that show mental health in realistic ways and only came up with two which is really unfortunate (please let me know if there are others I would love to watch them!).

 First up is one of my favourite movies that I think all young adults should watch.
Its Kind of a Funny Story - its story about Craig a young adult who feels overwhelmed with life and decides he will jump off a bridge instead though he checks himself into the mental ward of the hospital. You get to see what lead to his breakdown, how environmental factors effect your mental health and how he copes being surrounded with other people going through their own mental health problems. This film breaks down stereotypes regarding mental illness and helps you see that everyone struggles with mental health
When I first saw this film I was amazed at how well it was done and loved how I could relate to the characters.  Its one of those films that I think everyone can relate to and doesn't get enough credit for how good it is, the trailer (below) is well worth watching.

Silver Linings Playbook (blurb taken from IMDB) - After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.
This is another good film about mental illness but targeted for a slightly older audience than Its Kind of a Funny Story. I showed this film for the ReachOut film night I did as it covered mental health really well. Rather than just focusing on the main characters with the issues it focuses on the whole family and how they are coping it, also how society reacts when someone gets diagnosed with a serious mental illness.

Hopefully in the future more movies will feature mental illness, the more movies (and TV shows and books) that do the more that people will realise that its ok to be not ok.

Coming up in the series is books, you can read the first part of the series here.

Monday, September 28, 2015

This is happening

I am extremely tired and trying to rest up before work tomorrow yet I had to write this post! This past weekend I went down south to volunteer at the sport competition between all the churches, it was my first time driving such a distance alone (I left straight after work so beat most of the traffic) and I did ok. I got down just after 6.00pm and met Gemma for dinner to celebrate my birthday then arrived at the gym at around 8.30pm. The rest of the weekend is a blur and I left this morning before the official closing ceremony so I could beat the traffic and head home to relax. We actually came first in the small churches competition which was amazing and I can't believe that we did so well :)
Last night was a tough night for me, I was exhausted and couldn't sleep at all no matter how hard I tried! I find I need to get a decent amount of sleep (8-10 hours a night) with having anxiety as it helps me cope better, yet I couldn't and it was annoying to say the least. After tossing and turning for a good 30 minutes (I am also positive someone else was also having trouble sleeping as well which helped make me feel not so alone) I decided that maybe I should pray.
Recently I have been struggling with the direction my life is heading due to loosing my license. I just didn't understand why God could do this to me and I was a bit mad with him -why would he take it away after I worked so hard to get it?! My life has never been easy and it seems like just when life is going well or semi smoothly another obstacle happens. I know I shouldn't be angry with God yet it was easy not to.
I eventually ended up praying myself to sleep, I poured out everything, how angry I was at that this happening, how I feel like I am trapped at the moment as my anxiety has decided to flare up, how I feel so alone being one of the only Christians at work, you name it I prayed about it. When I woke up this morning (mind you at 6.00am) I felt calm and knew that despite the fact that this is happening, I would get through this. I was also for the first time able to look at the bigger picture, 3 months is only 12 weeks (I mean I was unemployed for almost 2 years!!!) and I will be able to get it back just before the school year starts next year. I officially don't have a license as of the 20th of October so I can start getting it back from the 20th of January (I unfortunately wasn't able to speed up the process which sucks!). I also realised that its super easy to loose it when you are in your first year of driving, all it takes is one speeding ticket on a double demerit period to loose it or 2 individual speeding tickets. I know it won't be easy but it will be bearable at least.
If you could continue praying for me that would be great, because the only way to get through this is with God's help.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

This isn't happening

Let me be clear I didn't want to write this post and I never in a million years thought I would be 'that person' but I am. I have lost my license. I refuse to go into details but I will tell you that it means 3 months without driving and me having to resit my practical test (you know the one I failed 4 times?). I tried to appeal it but that didn't work and now soon I will won't have a license for 3 months. I can handle the no license part for 3 months but not the resit the practical test part. This will mean that getting to work will be more challenging (and take longer) and my freedom/independence is gone. Its still a shock to the system.
I hand in my license this week but then I still have 28 days to drive (apparently its to get your affairs in order or something?!) but if it was up to me I would much rather have 7 days (so hand it in on a Tuesday then the following Tuesday the 3 months start) as it would mean that I could get it over and done with rather than it dragging out for 28 days.
I am not a reckless driver but it only took 1 offense for me to loose my license as I have had it for less than a year. I don't want people to think that I am a bad/reckless driver and that's my biggest fear, it was 1 offense and a complete accident.
I guess I just thought that my life would be easier now that I have a job, but its not. I don't know why God has done this to me, I mean haven't I been through enough?! This has shaken me in so many ways, it ignited my anxiety in me at work so the past 2 weeks have been hell and made me second guess myself.
A big part of me just wishes I could hide for the next 3 months yet instead I will face the world with a (fake) smile on my face because things have to get better eventually. I may joke about how I lost my license but deep down I am struggling in so many ways and I just want people to tell me it will be fine and its ok to let the tears fall even though once I start they won't stop.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Turning 21

This past week has been challenging to say the least! I worked a full day on Monday which I only just survived and when I arrived home I got a letter which turned my world upside down in a bad way(I have no desire to go into the details about it here but its nothing to do with work). Thankfully I got Tuesday off where I got to see my psych for my monthly appointment which helped, but my anxiety levels are still higher than normal and I spent a few days extremely jumpy at work (which is not a good thing to be when you answer phones and jump whenever the phone rings!). If you could please pray that this situation gets resolved soon and that if the outcome is not the one that I wanted that I will be able to get through the challenging times ahead that would be great. After everything has been going so well this has taken me by surprise.
Because my mind had been so preoccupied, my birthday celebrations were not something I felt like focusing on despite me normally being super organised in that area! Everything came together well though thanks to my Mum and Jocelyn (who baked and decorated an awesome Pinterest worthy cake!) and I felt extremely loved by my friends and family.
It was a good idea having a breakfast with the extended family in the morning as it meant that we could all chat and there was no awkwardness. It was also nice to catch up with them all under happier circumstances as the last time we were all together was at my Grandma's funeral.
Then we had a few hours to rest and reorganise before the next lot of celebrations! I had hoped the weather would ease off and we could sit around a fire and toast marshmallows but the rain and wind had other ideas so only the guys who were brave enough to endure the cold did in the breaks between the rain, the rest of us stayed inside. There were 2 games set up one of photos of me at various ages and people had to guess how old I was in them and the other that was a quiz that had basic questions. We also did ice cream sundaes which were a hit and just chatted with each other. It was great night and it turned out we had just enough space inside for everyone who turned up without it being too crowded!
I do feel like my birthday is getting dragged out a bit (which isn't a bad thing!) and have yet to decide what I will do on Tuesday morning before work but no doubt it will be fun.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Mental Illness in: TV

Lying awake the other night I began to think about how mental health is represented in the entertainment industry and how I am attracted to shows, books and movies if they show mental health. So I have decided to do a three part series listing the books, movies and tv shows I know that have shown mental health in some form. The first part will be tv shows the second will be movies and the third part will be books.

Today also happens to be R U OK day which is day that encourages people to ask their friends how they really are going and listen to them. So it seemed fitting to post this post today.

Mental health is rarely shown in depth on tv or in movies, I think because there is a lot of conflict surrounding it and its hard to portray in a positive light. Eating disorders are shown more often than any other type of mental disorder as you can see the effects of it physically and its an issue that won't cause a lot of conflict when they show it as it has been done before.

Glee - Glee has covered eating disorders (Quinn and Mercedes both struggled with peer pressure to be thin thanks to Sue Sylvester) and a suicide attempt. Though neither were done in major detail you could see the affects it had not only on the main character struggling with it but the rest of the cast.

Suits - This is a more recent show that has shown mental health and it was extremely unexpected! Harvey Spector has been struggling with panic attacks due to his secretary Donna leaving him which has brought back past memories of when his mother left him. He has been seeing a phycologist and you get to see how he struggles with coming to terms having a weakness and needing help.

Red Band Society - One of the main characters Emma struggles with an eating disorder and has been hospitalised for it. It isn't mentioned much at the start apart from that you know that is why she is in hospital but eventually you get to see the mental struggle and how it began later on in the series.

The Fosters - Sophia, Callies half sister is diagnosed with bipolar disorder in season 2 and you get to see how she struggles with talking about it and realising that this is an ongoing thing.

Open Heart - Mental health plays a big role in this show though none of the main characters have it. Dylan's father has gone missing unexpectedly but it turns out that he has bipolar disorder and that could be one of the reasons why he is missing. You get to see Dylan come to terms with that and question all his weird quirks, along with her sister who begins to question if she may also have it after realising that its genetic. It's great as it shows how mental illness can be hidden so well that sometimes someone you think you know well could be struggling with it.

Degrassi: The Next Generation - Hands down the best show that portrays mental illness flawlessly. You get to see how mental illness affects everyone along with the character struggling with it. the following characters have struggled with mental illness:
  • Craig - bipolar disorder - we are lead to believe that this is genetic as his father also suffers with it. Craig has to come to terms with the fact that its not an easy fix and he will also have it.
  • Ellie - Self harm- Ellie's home life isn't the best which leads to her cutting herself as a way of escape, she eventually overcomes it but realises that she will always struggle with the urge to cut. She also helps Craig when he is diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
  • Darcy - suicide attempt - Darcy gets raped as a result of her drink being spiked and feels like the only way out of this situation is to kill herself, thankfully Manny comes to the rescue just in times and encourages her to get help.
  • Emma - eating disorder - Emma decides to go on an extreme diet with Manny to help Manny loose weight before a meeting with a TV producer, of course Emma decides to take it to the extreme and develops an eating disorder (which she eventually recovers from after an intervention from Manny and her parents).
  • Paige - panic attacks - Paige ends up putting herself in extreme stress which causes the attacks and she has to learn how to overcome them. 
  • Eli - bipolar disorder - This is an ongoing struggle for Eli and we first get to see the signs with his obsessive nature which eventually leads to him breaking down having to receive inpatient treatment. Over various episodes we see how Eli struggles with proving to himself and his friends (who are worried after the breakdown and his destructive behaviour) that having bipolar doesn't change anything rather makes him who he is.
  • Campbell - suicide - this was a major game changer for Degrassi and the episode was months in the planning. The producers met with various mental health professionals to work out a way to carry it out and show people the long term effects it can when someone kills themselves. Campbell decides to kill himself after the pressure people put on him begins to great and he can't see any other way to escape it all. The episodes leading up to it start to show Campbell falling apart and struggling with himself, the main episode is where is happens is done really well and you get to see the effect it has on the whole school. It is shown in a negative light through Campbell's girlfriend Maya who voices that she thinks that is selfish what he did. Through later episodes you get to see how it affects Maya long term.
  • Maya - anxiety - as a result of Campbell killing himself Maya begins to obsess over Miles when he becomes withdrawn and starts having panic attacks due to imagining that Miles has killed himself. Eventually Maya sees a psychologist to help with the long term effects of Campbell's death and realises not to always expect the worst.
These are just the main characters who have struggled with mental health this doesn't include Adam who struggles with beings transgender and the many other LGBT characters (Marco, Tristan, Fiona, Imogen the list goes on!). The girls who have been sexually assaulted (Zoe, Paige and Darcy). The school shooting that happens which has a domino affect on so many of the characters and lands Jimmy Brooks in a wheelchair. Teen pregnancies (Jenna, Liberty and Claire), cancer diagnosis's (Spinner and Claire), accidental deaths (JT due to a stabbing and Adam because of a car crash). Degrassi has covered all the hard topics and knows how to do it well and in a realistic way, they don't glamourise anything and will often re bring up the topics during much later episodes a great example of that is with Maya and how Campbell killing himself has made such a lasting effect on her and has in turn caused her to have anxiety. If you want to see mental health issues portrayed right on TV watch Degrassi and you will be amazed with how well they can do it.

***updated to add the following***
Lost and Found Music Studios - This was very unexpected and I thought how it was approached and covered was done really well (spoilers coming). When we first meet Clara we think she is just a perfectionist and having some stage fright issues but as season 1 goes on we see something more going on under the surface. It's not until season 2 it really goes into detail and we see Clara have this battle going on inside her, she wants to be accepted and is willing to do anything which means putting her mental health on the line. Just when we think she has found herself she has a breakdown in the form of a panic attack and its shown really accurately and John comes to her rescue. This was another surprise as though we knew early on that John's mother was dead we didn't know how and it comes to the surface that she killed herself and John has struggled with accepting it and wondering if he did something to cause it. We also see him go through shame and realising that what she did was wrong and not acceptable. So for John to find and help Clara makes a lot of sense and we get to see both sides of mental illness struggle. Clara eventually gets the help she needs from her parents and its decided that she needs to seek inpatient treatment and they really drive home the point that its nothing to be ashamed about and it's a good thing she is getting help. I am hoping for a season 3 so we get to see Clara's recovery and how people react to it. (Did you know that the actress who plays Clara played a young Donna in Suits which is why she may look familiar!).

Degrassi Next Class - While I could've included this with Degrassi: Next Generation I felt that as its technically another series (or at least spin off) it deserved to be added separately. In the 3 seasons of the show a lot of Mental Illness (and surround issues) has been covered which is a huge achievement! The following characters have struggled with Mental Illness either directly or indirectly:
  • Miles - anxiety - we were first introduced to Miles in Degrassi; Next Gen and we see just how much pressure his dad puts on him along with abuse and how his life is under the microscope which causes him to feel trapped. As the season starts we see him really start to loose it and how his anxiety is trying to take over his whole life which means he questions everything and pushes away the people who have stood by him through it all. Thankfully he eventually realises he needs help and in season 2 he gets the help he needs which isn't without some struggles.
  • Hunter - depression - Mile's younger brother has depression which causes him to go off the rails, lash out and eventually take a gun to a school dance. He eventually gets admitted into inpatient treatment and receives the treatment he needs but he has concerns that he will go off the rails again and distances himself from his loved ones. We are slowly seeing that he is coming to terms with what it means to have a mental illness and how Mile's is helping him accept it.
  • Esme - mum's suicide and anxiety - Esme is the one who offers Mile's pills to help him with his anxiety (before he gets professional help) so while its not confirmed we assume she struggles with anxiety. We later learn at the end of season 3 that her mum killed herself (and she was the one that found the body) which could be linked to the anxiety she struggles with. We see Esme have unpredictable behaviour and push people away, though she does help Maya when she needs it.
  • Maya - anxiety, PTSD and depression - poor Maya just can't get a break! We see Maya struggle with anxiety linked back to Campbell, depression and PTSD linked to the bus crash in season 2. After the bus crash she becomes obsessed with death and the trauma surrounding it, she also goes back to when Campbell killed himself and how it seems like death surrounds her. In the final episodes of season 3 she looses it and attempts suicide herself, thankfully Esme is there and having seen it firsthand is able to get Maya to the hospital she doesn't succeed with it. Season 4 will no doubt show her coming to terms with it and getting the treatment she needs.
Once again Degrassi shows mental illness in a realistic light, while also showing its acceptable to get treatment and its ok to be not ok. Bring on season 4 (and 5 and 6) and what other mental health challenges they will cover. ***If you want a full (though brief) list of every character that has ever suffered a mental illness on Degrassi: Next Gen and Next Class click here its actually impressive just how many they have covered.

13 Reasons Why - I am super hesitant to put this on the list as it really doesn't show mental illness rather just suicide and what lead her to do it. I haven't watched the series but I have read the book and just didn't find it that realistic at all and it was just her blaming people who made her kill herself. I will probably watch the series but haven't gotten round to it yet so maybe my views will change but after reading articles online I will surprised if it does. But I am including it along with a note saying that suicide is never the answer and that there is help available, no one should ever feel like Hannah and I hope that if you do that you tell someone rather than to just end it.
The above are just the TV shows that I know of that have shown/covered mental illness at some point. Hopefully in the future more shows will approach it and help show people that it is more common than we are lead to believe. It would be nice to be able to watch TV and relate to the charcters that are struggling with mental illness not

Coming up next in the series is movies.