Life’s a journey – part 3 – The NICU Bubble

The first time I held my daughter was everything. I wanted to sit there holding her and looking at the perfection in my arms forever. Take in every second of her little noises, the feel of her soft newborn hair and that intoxicating baby smell. The moment didn’t last forever it lasted only a few minutes before the nurse advised they had to get her back in the incubator as she cant regulate her temperature. My baby I had been waiting to meet was here, but life had changed from what I had planned, I thought I would have the perfect birth then take her home. She was now being taken off of me and put back into the incubator. As they took her off me and put her back I was sobbing. It was like a vital part of me was taken away, my arms still in the shape of holding her, I was simply told I needed to go back to my room and rest.

I didn’t want to rest I just wanted to be with her. It felt wrong so wrong to even be in a room down the corridor away from her. Being wheeled back to my room at the end of the corridor I could see into the other rooms of new mothers with their babies, happy family visiting. I was put in a room by myself, I think as the staff thought being around the other mothers and babies would upset me. It was a catch 22 I didn’t want to be alone but at the same time it was upsetting seeing them all when my daughter was in the neonatal unit behind closed doors. The unit only allowed parents and staff in no one else was allowed to protect the babies from being exposed to more people and risk of illness.

My daughters father left to go home and get me some things and I sat in my room and called my mum. The painkillers I had to be able to get into the wheelchair and see my daughter were wearing off already and I called my mum as reality was really sinking in. I poured my heart out to her about everything that had happened and my Mum booked her and my dad on the first flight they could get and organised with her work for time off earlier than planned. I told her my fears of how small my daughter was, that I had almost lost her and that she would not be aloud to leave until she hit 2kgs. With being 1.72kgs they were unsure how much she would drop before gaining again. My Mum said everything she could to reassure me but I blamed myself. I felt my body had failed my child. She was hours away from dying and if I hadn’t spoken up she wouldn’t have made it. My body wasn’t providing what she needed. Even though I had done everything I was suppose to, never ate anything I shouldn’t, never drank, had pregnancy vitamins. I had done everything by the book to give her the best start and yet my body had failed at its task and had put her in danger.

My cousin who was also my doula came to the hospital after work with a lovely home cooked meal knowing I would need some good food to comfort me. She sat with me for hours and we talked through everything that had happened and we discussed breast feeding. So we called the nurse to get what I needed and in walked the nurse that had done the birth classes my partner and I had attended and finished only weeks before hand. She recognized me straight away and smiled “you’re in a bit early aren’t you?” I explained what happened and she got some plastic syringes to collect the colostrum that my body was starting to produce. I was so glad to see a familiar face and being the funny person she was she said “lets teach you how to milk yourself” this made me laugh for the first time in hours. My nurse and doula showed me what to do and thus started my breast feeding journey that ended up lasting 2 years.

Days passed and I spent every moment I could up in the neonatal unit. Even after I had an allergic reaction to the drugs I was given and had to stop my painkillers. I still persevered through the surgical pain and kept walking up the corridor to my daughter. I sat with her through every blood test and heal prick, through every change of the nasal gastric tube. I even went through the night every 3-4 hours for her feeds. Even though she was getting fed through the tube every second feed I attempted to breast feed to work on her latch the alternate feed. When she was tube fed I pumped and pumped. My milk came in quick and fast and stayed golden yellow for a lot longer than normal which meant she was getting what the nurses called liquid gold. My nipples weren’t as great as my milk. My daughter being so tiny couldn’t latch properly and I was in toe curling pain every feed, every pump and my nipples began to crack. I was told how amazing breastfeeding would be but the pain lasted for almost 6 months and I just kept pushing through wanting to give my daughter the benefits from the breast milk no matter the cost to my body.

At day 3 we got to give her, her first bath. It was a team effort and the nurse showed us what to do. I was still in a lot of pain standing so her father took over and did her bath. I watched in awe as he cleaned her up and I helped as much as I could. He went to work not long after and I had to deal with the first poo explosion. Now for such a tiny adorable baby she had some power behind her. I seen her little face contort and stepped aside just on time as poo went across the small area we were in, not hitting the floor but the wall and chair across from us. I was grossed out but slightly impressed she managed that. It made me more careful when I changed her knowing she could projectile poo across the room.

It was a relief when my parents arrived from interstate and having that extra support. At day 4 the hospital said I would be discharged the next day as they needed my bed. This meant I would be going home without my baby. I thought it was hard being down the corridor from her never mind being 40 minutes away. That night and next day I didn’t leave her side held her as much as they would allow as she needed the steady temp from the incubator and had to go under the lights a few times as her jaundice levels went up and down. Her father visited intermittently as he was finishing his honors thesis and was still working so my parents came down every day and waited for me while I went in and spent time with Abigail.

On day 5 when I was discharged I silently cried all the way home. We had a late dinner together and my daughters father held me as I cried for hours telling him about how I felt I had failed our daughter.

I got up through the night to pump so I could take in the milk to the hospital every day. I never really slept properly. Everyone was up at the crack of dawn and my parents took me down every morning and afternoon and my daughters father took me when he could around work and finishing his thesis. Every day she was weighed sometimes she would have a small gain and the days she had dropped weight it felt like we were getting further away from ever getting her home. The days felt like an eternity. While she was there time was tortuously slow.

I was there for the morning and lunch time feed then would go home some days to try rest then be back for the evening feed. It worked out I could be there for 4 feeds a day my parents just waited patiently for me, always being there in case I needed to talk to them and lean on them for support.

I hated it when the staff changed her tubes and listening to her little screams. It was horrible to watch but knowing it had to be done as breastfeeding took a lot of energy from her and the tube feeds didn’t. I cried with her every time and held her tiny hand and stroked her little face to try reassure her mummy was with her through it all.

The days melted into one another the sleepless nights, the pumping, the trying to feed and wanting to never let go of her. The feeling of when I got to hold her skin to skin and then the pain all the way to my soul when I had to go home and leave her there. It got harder and harder. I watched other families come and go some for a few days some for almost a week. Seeing their happy faces when they got to take their little bundles home. While I was stuck in the NICU bubble as I pumped and fed and living cuddle to cuddle with the endless empty nights of missing her. The nurses were amazing they could see the affect it was having on me they were always supportive always listened.

At around 2 weeks they spoke to me about coming in and staying for a few days on the ward with Abigail. While there she had to have consistent gains for a few days then she could come home. That night I was so excited when I went home It was the first night at home I felt hopeful and happy. I packed some stuff so I could go stay and early the next morning I got a call saying she had a drop in weight so I would not be coming to stay. I was shattered, the hope that we were close to getting her home was gone and I felt we were back at square one. My mum also had to fly home for work and left my dad with me so he could drive me back and forth to the hospital and help out.

That day visiting was the worst I wouldn’t be staying and spending the night with her. Instead of going back and forth twice a day I couldn’t stand even that small gap so I was dropped off in the morning and would not go home until after the 8-9pm feed.  This was my new normal. I didn’t want to go home at all it was getting harder to leave the longer she was there. You would think it would get easier but It never did while she was in there.

After almost another week passed I got the call I had hoped for. I got a call early saying they had a bed and they were going to take her feeding tube out and take a chance on us and put us together on the ward. She was slow to put on weight but was maintaining her temperature now and was almost 2 kgs. The hope being she would hit 2kgs while I was there. It felt like all my christmas’s had come a once. I grabbed my bag still packed from before and my dad and daughters father took me upto the hospital to stay. I got settled in my room and went and got my daughter in the plastic bassinet and wheeled her down proudly to my room. We were so close to freedom from the NICU bubble we had been in for 3 weeks.

That first night was heaven being with her. I kept being told the first night with a newborn was the hardest but this was the first time I had ever had her with me constantly, no walking down the corridor leaving her in the neonatal unit, no going home and leaving a piece of me. We were together finally and I was not missing a second. The first night was bliss but the first weigh in the next morning she had not gained she had not lost anything either. It was crushing I kept thinking they will send me home and I will be away from her again. The nurses stayed positive and told me to keep doing what I was doing.

The second night felt like I was on borrowed time until I was sent away again. The second morning on the ward she had a very small gain but it was a gain. They said I could stay another night and depending on what the weight was the next day would be the deciding factor on whether we went home together or I would be sent home without her to try again another time. My dad had to fly home that night as his flight was booked around when they thought I would stay the first time thinking that Abigail and I would have already been home. That night I held on extra tight to every second I had with her. Took in her little face and smell of her as if to burn these moments into memory.

The next morning I was so anxious when they wheeled the scales in, I closed my eyes and hoped with every fiber of my soul she would get to come home. They placed her on the scales so gently and I looked at the nurse as her face lit up. “Shes gained and its a big gain” those words were everything. I knew we were getting home and we were going home together. It was over, it was finally over, this dark cloud of the unknown was shifting and we were going home. I cant even begin to describe the relief I felt. For the first time in weeks when I cried it was happy tears.

Those 3 weeks she was in neonate it was one of the hardest things I had to go through. The pregnancy was hard with all the pains and bleeds. The emergency C section was hard not knowing if she would make it. The hardest thing out of all of it was the 3 weeks Abigail was in the neonatal unit. The quiet, the constant of being stuck in my own head blaming myself even though it was something I had no control over what had happened, took its toll on me more than anything. While she was in there I had constant well wishes from friends but they always asked when is she coming home. Every txt message every phone call took a piece of me and made me ache with the not knowing when I was getting to take her home.

After going through the experience I want people to know It is so important to support friends and family going through the NICU bubble after having a prem baby or baby with complications. Be there and listen but never ask when baby is coming home, as they will shout it from the rooftops when they are getting to take their baby home. They don’t need the added stress and heartache that comes with constantly being asked. Bring them home cooked meals and things that will comfort them. As behind all those photos and smiles of new parents on social media are fears for their newborn and the not knowing when they will all be together. The lonely nights of being away from the little life they created they ache to be with. It is an extremely hard and lonely time. It is a time where both parents are at great risk of post natal depression. So support them. Even once babies home if they want visitors help them after such a traumatic time. Do some dishes for them, cook some food, help take some of the load off them.  Even when they get home it will still weigh on them after going through such an experience. Supporting your family or friends that go through this experience shouldn’t stop when they get out the hospital as its a long road of healing after and they need a good support system.

 

Lifes a Journey – Part one – The Pregnancy

In today’s world taken over by social media all we generally see with pregnancies are perfect families, pregnancy shoots and the facebook week to week glowing reports. This isn’t unfortunately always the story for everyone. I recently reached out to another Premie Mumma that is part of the instagram community I am blessed to be a part of. I seen her insta stories reaching out and asking questions as a Premie Mum. At that moment seeing the emotion on her face I resonated with her, I was her 4 years ago. In talking to her it was pointed out to me that I hadn’t shared much of my journey of how I became a Premie Mum. I feel this is an important story to share as its not spoken about or shared about as often as it should be. When you are in that moment in the hospital you are in what I call the NICU bubble. The NICU bubble is a vicious cycle of counting down till you can hold your baby again, then pumping more milk and questioning yourself with what went wrong. You go over and over in your head the pregnancy, the birth. Is there something I did wrong? or could have done for a healthier outcome? It is an extremely lonely and heart wrenching time.

So today I share my story in hope that it resonates with someone so it makes another person feel they are not alone in their journey. Most importantly that its ok to reach out during this time. My inbox is open anytime to anyone that needs a friendly person to listen.

My pregnancy was a bit of a shock. My daughter is whats called a rainbow baby. I had miscarried a few months before. It was after a car accident even though they said it would not have been the cause, I do think the stress and adrenaline from the accident had an affect on how I lost the baby. I was still grieving the baby I lost when I got pregnant again. We had barely had sex since the miscarriage. Its like the age old saying it only takes once. We hadn’t been talking much and the loss had, had a profound impact on me. So I was shocked to see those positive lines on the pregnancy test.

The pregnancy was filled with complications of pains and regular bleeds. I had a cyst burst in the first trimester and I was terrified I was miscarrying again. The pregnancy for the first few months was monitored very regularly. To be honest due to the previous miscarriage I went through the entire pregnancy like a lot of women who have miscarried previously. I was in a constant state of worry that I would lose this baby too. It was always in the back of my mind every week was a bit closer and a bit longer this pregnancy had survived. I felt alone in the pregnancy and not supported. I am close to my Mum and my parents were living in Tasmania at the time. My Mum was my angel during this time regular calls and helping me sooth my aching heart from the loss and talking to me positively about the future with my child I was growing.

My baby’s Father was working on his honors thesis so was either at work or uni. It was probably the most alone I had ever felt going through the pregnancy and after living with a ghost of a partner. Two ships passing in the night.

As the pregnancy progressed and I got passed the halfway mark I started to not stress as much but just counted every week. Every week was closer to a healthy baby. I still kept getting random bleeds but the doctors were never too concerned as it was a small amount. Around the 32 week mark something felt really wrong. I felt like I was having contractions and my back was so sore. I went and got checked they did a fetal doppler test and bub was slow to respond but they got the readings they wanted and I was sent on my way and told it was “just Braxton Hicks”. Again at 34 weeks it was getting worse I got checked again and was at the hospital for a day but eventually they got the readings they needed and again was sent on my way. It made me question was my mothers intuition off? was I just projecting my fears of losing another baby?

The 36 week check was the day my life changed forever. I know its cliche but its appropriate to describe the events of this day. I went for my check again told the doctor that something felt wrong she wasn’t moving as much and I was actually smaller round the belly than I had been a few weeks before hand. I hadn’t felt movement since the night before. This doctor actually listened to me. They had a small ultrasound machine that gave them a basic look at what was going on. He checked and said I had to go upstairs immediately for another Fetal Doppler test.

Going up those stairs I was scared I knew something was wrong. I got put in a room alone as my Partner at the time had went to the loo and they hooked me up to the machine to start checking my baby’s heartbeat. Within 2 minutes they pressed the emergency bell on the wall. They couldn’t find a heart beat. 7 people rushed into the room I was told to get on my side. My baby’s father came back into a room of chaos filled with staff.  He took one look at me and said what is happening? I will never forget the look on his face in that moment. I burst into tears so scared my worst fears coming to life and said I didn’t know. As we held hands I’m not sure how long it took them to find it but it felt like an eternity had passed when they said they had found a heartbeat but it was only 70 beats a minutes. They weren’t sure if it was my heartbeat or hers.

I was sent for a detailed ultrasound. It showed a heart beat it was slow very slow for a baby but it was there. They also said she was very small for the gestation and overheard them say something about no end diastolic flow. When they finished they asked me to go upstairs for the results and said I would most likely need to be transferred to King Edward Memorial hospital for an emergency c section. I was feeling so many emotions on the way back to that isolated room to wait for the results. So I called my Mum told her I was scared and didn’t know what was happening.

In all the rush of things and being a bundle of nerves I did what most people do I went for a nervous pee. When washing my hands I looked into the mirror and could not look at myself for more than a second. As my reflection showed every inch of what I was feeling and it hurt to see it all there in the open. I looked away and kept my head down while I finished washing my hands. I opened the door and the first thing I seen was feet in scrubs. As I lifted my head I realized there was an older female nurse standing there in full surgical scrubs asking if I had shaved down there? I said I didn’t think anyone would be seeing anything so no its a jungle. The lovely nurse said we better take care of that then. I was confused and asked what was going on. She gently explained there was no time to get me to King Edward Memorial Hospital my baby needed to come out now and she was here to prepare me for surgery……………………..

World Autism Awareness Day 2019

Today is world autism awareness day. A day to raise awareness and celebrate the awesomeness of people like my daughter Abigail who have autism. One thing I won’t be sharing is the blue puzzle piece. The puzzle piece and light it up blue were started by a company called Autism speaks. They started out wanting to “cure” autism or find a way to eradicate it by finding it in utero. They also originally claimed Autism was linked with vaccines which has been disproven time and time again there is no link. Autism isn’t something that needs cured. People with Autism aren’t a missing puzzle piece. It is a spectrum disorder they are all wonderfully unique in their own way.

(Link to article about autism speaks and why the autism community do not support this organization – https://theaspergian.com/2019/03/29/autism-speaks-just-no/ )

My daughter Abi (diagnoses ASD 1-2) is amazing I love her quirks ,her cheekiness everything that makes her her. I hate when people ask about her quirks and I explain she has Autism. The ignorance that radiates off them when they say oh sorry she has autism. Why do people say sorry. She is amazing she loves to sing and dance and has no care who sees. She has things she’s advanced in like puzzles and drawing. She has her challenges also with speech/comprehension/safety. We all have our strengths and weaknesses that doesn’t mean we should be singled out or made to feel less. Autism isn’t less it’s strengths and weakness’s that fit in a particular spectrum.

I love seeing the world through Abi’s eyes and carefree spirit. She teaches me about life just as much as I teach her. So for world autism day I ask please don’t ever say sorry to someone about them having Autism or to a parent of a child with Autism. Autism isn’t something to be sorry about it is something to embrace, love and learn about. It is appreciating everyone’s uniqueness. So take the time today to learn about Autism so we can be supportive and informed as a community and embrace everyone within our community.

#AustraliaStopDomesticViolence

****Last week 6 Women lost their lives to Domestic Violence in Australia****

I myself have experienced domestic violence in more than one form and so will 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men. After all the deaths last week and not standing up for myself due to fear and feeling ashamed when I was put through such horrible things I need to make a stand. It is time for ALL AUSTRALIANS to make a stand and say enough is enough. On Friday October 12th 5:30pm WA time so 8:30pm Eastern states I am asking everyone to share your stories and support with the hashtag  #AustraliaStopDomesticViolence on your social media be it Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc to raise awareness to try help make a change to stop Domestic Violence in Australia. This is so families and friends don’t have to bury another loved one. So people feel safe to leave when they feel unsafe instead of feeling trapped. So the government steps in and stops cutting funding to the most vulnerable. Please save the date and set a reminder for Friday October 12th to share your support and help make change in Australia.

There are many forms of domestic violence:

  • Physical
  • Financial
  • Emotional
  • Verbal
  • Social
  • Sexual
  • Stalking
  • Spiritual

The number of people affected by domestic violence is sickening 1/3 women and 1/6 men so amongst your friends and family you will know several affected by domestic violence. Lets look at some of the stats first of all for women (stats thanks to White Ribbon Australia)

  • Domestic and family violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children
  • 1 woman on average will be murdered every week because of domestic violence
  • 40% of women continue to experience violence from their ex partner even after they separate.
  • 1 in 6 woman have experienced stalking
  • 1 in 2 Women will experience sexual harassment.

Children

  • 1 in 6 girls abused before the age of 15
  • Leading cause of homelessness in children is domestic violence
  • Children that experience DV to themselves or their parent have a higher rate of social and emotional problems than other children

The stats that really hit home that things are getting worse and that re-education programs for young people to target these issues need to happen are

  • 1 in 4 young people think its normal for guys to pressure girls into sex
  • 1 in 3 young people don’t think that controlling someone is a form of violence
  • 1 in 4 young people don’t think its serious when guys insult or verbally harass girls.

Violence against women is estimated to cost Australia $22 billion a year. That is with all the funding cuts the government continue to make putting more people at risk. The stats are sickening / scary and the cost of the violence is astronomical. The government need to get a plan in place for starters young people being educated about DV, the effects of DV and eradicating the sick toxic masculinity that’s rife in Australia. Toxic Masculinity is the pushed stereotype we see here in Australia that men and boys are not allowed to express certain emotions or not aloud to cry. Putting social expectations that they are meant to be tough aggressive alpha types that are uncaring and in charge. They are unable to explore who they are as very set lines of what men should be like and what women should be like. Its 2018 not the middle ages we are meant to evolve this Toxic masculinity needs to stop. Feeling emotions in a healthy manner is what we are meant to do not suppress them and become volatile. Telling kids they can’t feel things can turn them into ticking violent time bombs that explode when they get older. It doesnt help that DV is swept under the rug with people embarrassed to talk about it. NOW is the time to talk.

The police are at a loss with domestic violence between picking up people who have violated the terms of a VRO and then are released soon after by the courts to re offend and traumatize their victim. Police being called out to jobs at the same place several times as victims are afraid to leave for fear of homelessness or they have tried leaving before and have been stalked or mentally broken down by the perpetrator. The authority the police have only goes so far the court system needs to back up the work the police have done instead of slapping the perps on the wrist. I have friends that have lived in fear with their exs that violated the VRO 6 times in one case and still no charges were laid.

The Prison system when men are actually sentenced needs better re-education programs in regards to domestic violence to stop them re offending when they are out. Instead they are very much boys clubs egging each other on where prison guards have lost hope and stop reporting what prisoners say when they brag about re-offending when they get out. The system is very much broken. Then there are the women that finally stand up for themselves that are getting beaten by their partners and one day decide to grab a weapon to protect themself and they end up killing their abuser and end up in jail.

At the end of the day it all comes down to the abuser wanting control “Domestic violence can be dressed up, you can use fancy words, but it comes down to one thing. Control. The need for the offender to control the victim. And that need for control comes from their own inadequacy.” Sean McDermott.

This is so important to me to make change after living through 3 DV relationships.

  • The first being when I was only 15 where my boyfriend had isolated me from my friends and psychologically tormented me to the point I was an anxious mess. Then a week after he broke up with me and i thought i was free he broke into my home when I was getting ready for school held me at knife point and sexually assaulted me. I eventually got away and phoned the police. He was later charged with aggravated burglary only and a vro was put in place that he violated twice.
  • I was in another at the age of 19/20 that was Physically and Sexually violent and when I left him he stalked me for months after. I had to go over seas for an extended period to escape. He later married and did the same to his wife traumatizing her and their 2 children. She left after a very violent assault.
  • In more recent years I ended up in a DV relationship that was Emotionally, verbally and financially abusive.

4 out of the 6 women in my family have been sexually assaulted. A man close to me who does not wish to be named has been in 2 DV relationships where his partners assaulted him. After talking to friends the amount of others that have lived through domestic violence and sexual assault is too many to mention. We all have people dear to us affected by Domestic violence. The Violence needs to stop.

There are a few ways you can help make a difference to people affected by domestic violence. You could donate to local women’s shelters’. They always need clothing for women and children of all ages. You could donate to https://www.sharethedignity.com.au/ or https://youthoffthestreets.com.au to name a few.

If you need help you can call 1800 RESPECT

Allot of information about domestic violence can be found on http://theredheartcampaign.org/ or https://www.whiteribbon.org.au/

How many times are we going to  have to look to the sky and say goodbye to another lost to domestic violence. It is time for us as a nation to regain control of this epidemic to share our stories and support at the same time on Friday October 12th 5:30pm Western Australia and 8:30pm Eastern states so we can to make a difference and spark change by joining in. It is time the government and us as a nation stood together and said #AustraliaStopDomesticViolence

I hope the links are helpful and I hope to see everyone posting their stories and support with #AustraliaStopDomesticViolence

Nadia

xoxo

6 Months of Instagram

This month marks 6 months since I started building my Instagram account in April. I went from a fairly inactive account with 250 followers to a very active account with a following of over 7400 now. I can’t believe how fast it has grown from just being me. It really warms my heart .

This isn’t one of my normal blog posts this is an appreciation blog to all the people who continue to inspire and teach me so many things. I have a thirst for knowledge and I am now surrounded by so many intelligent kick ass people. I went from 6 months ago being in a bit of a creative rut to getting a better life balance and having so many fabulous new people enter my life. Without them lighting that fire under me I wouldn’t be kicking goals like I am now.

I have joined a few different online communities of writers, bloggers, influencers and kick ass Mummas. I have networked and have met online and in person so many inspirational women that raise each other up and support each other in so many ways. Building my social media presence has got me out and about more.  Most recently to an influencer dinner which is where the photo above is from, where I met so many like-minded people. Building my pages and content has me learning and expanding on my personal and professional growth as well as helping me set goals and putting my life in perspective of, wanting to be better and do better. I have got to collaborate with people and companies I could only dream of and I see many more collabs in the future. I love being creative and now I get to work on that creativity every day.

My writing project on my first book is now coming along more than ever. As its historical fiction/ fantasy so loosely based around real places and times my research has really come together as well as chapters flowing onto the page. I cant wait to start sharing character info on the lead up to finishing my first draft. As well as my book my blog which I started fairly recently is also slowly building and I have a lot of topics im passionate about I will be posting soon.

What has got me in the roller coaster of learning the past 6 months is that my self growth is helping me be a better all round person and mother. I now have a clear path of what I  am doing and my plan overall is to do as my favourite quote “Leave the world a better place than how you found it” Sarah J Mass ( My favourite fantasy author) I want to make a difference with my writing, blogging and influencing. So I hope this inspires someone to do what they love and follow their passion as it makes your heart happy and life full.

Nadia

xoxo

R U Ok?

Today September 13th is R U Ok day. It is a day for suicide awareness and mental health. It is for staying connected and having meaningful connections and asking the all important question to the people around us R U Ok? This year more so than previous years this day has allot more meaning to me. I lost 2 friends within weeks of each other at the beginning of the year both tragically to suicide. They had both moved away from Perth for different reasons and had different issues they were both working through. Unfortunately for friends and family left behind they both didn’t feel like there was a way to work past their demons and decided it was their time to go.

I know from my own experience of PTSD and anxiety when I was younger from traumatic events how hard it can be to open up and reach out. I struggled with crowds and going out after the events and went through years of therapy. I felt for a long time reaching out was a sign I was failing. As I got older I realised that reaching out is a sign that I was realising that I needed someone to talk to help me process my thoughts and feelings. It’s a good and healthy thing to reach out. I swear by having a good therapist and knowing who my support people are that I can talk to about anything. Having a good support network is so important in taking care of your mental health. Also having coping techniques when times are tough are good for everyone to stay on top of mental health to stay healthy. My go to is making sure I stay healthy by going to the gym and exercising regularly and eating well. Healthy body healthy mind works well for me. Everyone has something that works for them it’s just finding it and sticking to it even if you are going through some stuff or feeling low in general. There isn’t always a reason for someone to feel low or down. It’s important to know what helps you. Everyone has different challenges in life and even if you have never had any mental health issues previously it can happen to anyone at anytime. From big life events happening to something more scientific with brain chemistry being imbalanced.

There is a lot of information on being healthy and looking after your body but not as much about keeping your mind healthy. So when looking up ways of staying healthy with different forms of exercise and different healthy eating plans/habits, look up different ways of keeping your mind healthy too. There is so many great ways with things such as  mindfulness, coloring in, meditation, counselling, positive affirmations, taking a beak, a holiday or even getting a good nights sleep all helps keep your mind healthy.

R U Ok day is a day to wear yellow for suicide awareness and keep your door open for people to have a chat. It is a day where we can take the power and take positive steps to improve our mental health. It is a day across the beautiful country we live in to put it out there to everyone that if they need a chat, or a friend to lean on to reach out. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness or admitting failure like a lot of people feel. Reaching out is the opposite, it is being strong and knowing when to ask for help. It is success in knowing your limits and knowing when to share the load. My door is always open for a chat or just to have company and support through life’s ups and downs.