I’m Feeling 22

There weren’t many things I wanted for my birthday this year, but a paid job was one of them. While I love my life and enjoy volunteering and updating this blog, it gives me even more freedom when I have the finances to do extra things.

But while sitting in a coffee shop at 10am on the 26th of October, that was exactly what I got. And looking back on what I considered the perfect job for me at this moment in time, I’ve realised that, in that regard, it is also perfect.

From next Wednesday I will be working as an admin assistant for a local makeup artist to help her free up more time to do the things she enjoys most in her business.

What I wanted was a job doing something I would enjoy, with not too many hours and flexible work locations. This job will give me the freedom to work both from her home office and from my own home, or a coffee shop. As long as I can access the programs needed and can access the internet then I’m good to go.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have found something like this at my age. There are so many 20 somethings out there that are having no luck finding jobs. In the end, job hunting websites like seek couldn’t help me. I found this job through the people I know and those I have worked with in the past.

If job hunting is getting you down and you’ve looked at every job website you can, try asking your circle of friends. Ask them to ask their friends. Post in your local groups on social media (the amount of people I had post job opportunities that weren’t posted elsewhere or weren’t easy to find was incredible). Ask people if there’s any way you can offer value to them and their workplace or business. Go to the places you’d love to work at and chat with the people working there (but not when they’re rushed off their feet). Ask them questions about what they do. Show an interest. Put their advice into practice and show your progress.

It took me almost four years of on and off job hunting to find a job. It’s tough when the rest of the world seems to have it together and can afford to do the things they love. I know.

But hang in there. There’s a job out there for you somewhere.

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Are You Feeling Burned Out?

Sometimes, we can have a life we love and go about it in the wrong way. Sometimes we can make ourselves wonder why we ever wanted a life like this and then we begin to question where our lives are headed.

If you aren’t taking proper care of yourself then it doesn’t matter how ideal your life is for you, it’s just going to make you feel tired, grumpy and burned out. It can happen to anyone.

Here are a few recent examples. Do any of them sound familiar?

 

We took our puppy to the vet to be desexed on Monday.

After an evening of not eating for her due to the procedure and then the day of, we thought she would sleep a lot, walk into things a lot (due to the Elizabethan Collar) and generally be quieter than she normally is.

Well, she does walk into things a lot, but if anything, she’s become more active than normal.

She wants to run around and chase the ball like normal, jump on the bed like normal and chew on things she isn’t meant to (but nothing new there). And most of the time, she can get away with it.

But sometimes, she’ll suddenly realise that, actually, she’s really tired and uncomfortable. She’ll slow down, snuggle with me on the couch and fall asleep. And then she rests.

Until she wakes up, forgets and starts it all over again…


My husband likes to go go go. I’ll sleep when I’m dead is something he likes to say. He’ll go to work in the morning, then come home and go into his shed and work more, creating all sorts of things. Then, when it gets too late to be making noise he’ll come in and spend the rest of the evening with us, eating dinner, watching TV, listening to the radio and talking about anything and everything.

If things we hadn’t anticipated show up, or we happen to sleep in and the time he wanted to spend creating things gets taken up, he’ll call it a day wasted. He doesn’t stop until he becomes extremely tired or becomes ill. Then he has to take extended time off. Just more time wasted until he can get back into it again (although he does enjoy spending some more time with us, it’s not all negative).


I supervise our puppy while he is at work during the day most days, then in the evenings while he is working in the shed. She isn’t quite as good at listening to me as she is my husband, and so her good behaviour goes downhill a bit when she’s with me. I often find it difficult to find time to get things done during the day time, so I’ll often work during dinner, or set up outside near the shed for some company and additional supervision for our puppy. Once a fortnight I’ll go to a library to read for half an hour to an hour to take a break, but the moment I return, it’s like I never left.

On the mornings I go to work, I often find that I will work, work, work and I’ll reach the end of my shifts at 12:30pm-1pm and realise, oh, wait, I haven’t taken a break and all I’ve had today is a Spocka (spiced mocha, my favourite way to include coffee in my morning caffeinated beverage) at 7:30am. I tell myself that that’s the life of a manager and that I’ll try and remember next time.

Then, sometimes on a particularly exhausting day, I’ll wonder why I’m so tired all the time and, am I sick again? I shake my head at myself and resolve to make something change.

But so far it hasn’t happened.

 

The problem in a lot of cases isn’t our daily activities. It’s the way we are going about them.

So how do we fix this? Here’s what I’m going to do. This is what has worked for me in the past and what I should have done long ago (before I lost myself in a lifestyle that doesn’t work with me).

Your first step, shouldn’t be to create a schedule. In fact, for some areas of your life, it won’t be possible. For example, I can’t set a schedule for my shifts, because each day’s tasks will depend on the previous day’s team and what they did before they left. It will depend on when customers come in, how many come in and what they order. It will depend on which team members turn up that day and how long they have been working there.

Instead, begin by describing your ideal situation. Don’t get too specific on things you can’t control (the behaviour and actions of others that you have no influence over), but on the things that you can control. For example, when I walk in first thing in the morning, I want to see at least one of each sandwich and wrap in the display cabinet so that my team don’t spend their whole shift stocking up the cabinet and can practise making coffee and take customer orders. I want to know that the fridge is either fully stocked or that the stock missing has been recorded and arrangements have been made to restock it.

These are things that I can ask the team on Monday afternoons to do to ensure that the cafe stays running well. Rather than focusing on how many customers we have through the doors or what is ordered, I’m focusing on things I can control. When these things are done, it means I can focus on the things that need to be done and I can ensure that all the tasks are focused on equally so that I have time to do more than just quickly drink a Spocka before my shift begins.

Next, work with the people who are likely to influence the ideal situation to come to a compromise that works for both you and those people. Some of the things in your ideal may not be doable for those other people for various reasons, but reaching a conclusion that is as close as possible to what both of you need is the only way to ensure that changes will happen.

For example, there isn’t much I can do about during the day when my husband is at work, but we could negotiate evenings to work and do things we enjoy, with one evening spent not working and then creating an arrangement for weekends, depending on what work and events are occurring.

Then you can begin to create a timeline. I use the word timeline rather than schedule, because to me schedule sounds very fixed and sometimes it’s not possible to have a fixed schedule, so timeline works better here, but you can use any words you like.

For me, that would be marking off afternoons when each of us gets a chance to work in peace and then a flexible weekend plan, as well as adding in time for no work at all to relax and spend time together. At work, it would be taking into account times when the cafe is busier and quieter and working time to eat and recharge into that timeline, while ensuring that not everyone goes on break all at once.

Finally, sometimes your timeline may need to be reworked, for example, if your schedule or someone else’s schedule changes. When this happens, just stop, take a breath, then go with it and find a new timeline that fits the new situation.

Now I want to hear from you. What situations in your life do you need to work on? What is your ideal situation and what could you do to reach it?

Leave me a comment below. I read every one.

Then… And Now.

First of all, my apologies. This was going to be a two part post, with the first part to be posted yesterday. However, I didn’t get a chance to finish writing the first part yesterday, so I’ve decided to tie them both into one post. As today is World Mental Health Day, I think posting this today is especially appropriate.

This is then… And now.

My experience with mental illness began at the age of 7.

It was at this time when I first began to engage in philosophical thought, to the detriment of the belief system I was raised in. I began to realise that there was a possibility that God did not exist, or if he did, that he enjoyed making people miserable for his own enjoyment. I didn’t feel safe expressing my views to my family, or to anyone else. I felt trapped. I felt that no one cared, about me or my thoughts. And if they didn’t care, then maybe I just wasn’t that important.

From that point on, depression had me in it’s shadowy depths. When these kinds of thoughts begin, they continue to pull you in, deeper and deeper until you can’t escape. Some days you’re able to pull yourself together enough to get things done, to make people believe that you are fine. Some days you can actually see the sunlight peaking through the cracks in the shadows.

Other days, you’re barely able to do anything except retreat into yourself in an attempt to conserve what little energy you have and wonder why you even bother when it feels like no one gives a damn, not even you.

My first suicide attempt was at the age of 8.

I’d snuck into the kitchen by myself and taken a knife from the knife board. I had every intention to use it on myself, but I was lucky. I was lucky in that, at that moment, a single ray of sunlight found it’s way through and one thought filled my mind: There must be something else.

I’ve always had a good imagination and been creative, most of the time it had gone to use in expressing my cocktail of negative, positive and numbed feelings through writing and the performance arts (which helped me keep others believing the happy external mask I had up). This time, however, it began to imagine what else there might be. The things it brought up ended up being enough to convince me to put the knife back.

Over the years, I was still depressed, with it getting better and worse alternately and I attempted to take my life several more times, sometimes not going through with it (with the stove lighter and knife) and sometimes getting half way through (plastic bags and trying to keep my breath held both in and out of water), but each time, that thought managed to find it’s way in. It saved me from doing any permanent damage to myself and needing to be hospitalised.

I journaled about my life, documenting both the positive and negative experiences alike and the process of it helped me to celebrate the times I was feeling better and pull through the times when I wasn’t sure how much more I could take.

When I was 15, I met a new friend which, for the first time, I felt that I could trust with more than the external mask I wore. I let him in and revealed the darker inner working of my mind on depression. I allowed myself to trust, to stand and dance in the rain, to cry and to laugh, when previously I hadn’t dared to. It was the first time since depression had taken residence in my mind that I truly began to believe that everything could have the potential to turn out okay. It was no longer just a thought to keep me alive, but a thought to make me want to live.

It was around that time that the anxiety and OCD came into the picture. What was just a simple case of someone attempting to break into my locker in the 10th grade became a full on fear of losing things. I began to repetitively check that my locker padlock was properly done up, which then turned into checking the front and back doors of my parents house, which turned into checking my car doors when I got my P Plates.

They’re still in the picture today. It takes long routines of repetitive checking to convince my mind that things are shut, locked and off, so that the anxiety doesn’t raise it’s ugly head and feed my mind constant thoughts of worry and trigger panic attacks. However, depression doesn’t come around much anymore and suicide has left the picture completely. My life has changed so much for the better that I find it hard to stomach the idea that it was ever an option in my mind.

That mental image of what could be when I was at my lowest, darkest points in my life have become my reality. Not everything is the same of course, but I’m happy. I’m finally enjoying life and I know what I want and need from it. When something feels out of alignment, I take action to fix that. I find peace in being alone and have people in my life that make me feel important and wanted. My relationship with my parents that the depression did damage to has been repaired.

As for the anxiety and OCD? Well, they’re things that are out of alignment that I’m taking action to fix at my own pace. Rushing these things can make them worse, but moving at a pace that works for you helps immensely. As long as you are taking steps towards healing and happiness, it doesn’t matter how big those steps are.

Writing and creating have been so important in helping me reach this state of mind and life. It is my hope that being brave and vulnerable in sharing a part of my life that none but one other has ever known about will help others to be brave and vulnerable in reaching out to those around them for support and friendship.

Be Brave. Be Vulnerable.

Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, you might inspire someone you know to do the same.

Mental Health Week

It’s Mental Health Week here in Australia (and possibly elsewhere as well).

Over the next two days, I will be sharing my story of my experiences with mental illness, in an attempt to encourage you all to become open to discussing your experiences and helping others who may be experiencing it now. For too many years I kept my experiences to myself and it almost killed me.

If you are in Adelaide and would like to chat with me about it, discuss your own experiences or ask questions about mental illness, feel free to come into the Experience Cafe on Hutt Street tomorrow morning between 9:30am and 12:30pm. I will be wearing a mental health week themed shirt along with the other manager.

If you aren’t feeling brave enough to come chat in person or you aren’t in Adelaide, feel free to send me an email with any questions you might have and I will reply as soon as I can. Whether you come to the cafe or email me, I can also give you contact details for organisations such as beyond blue, whose sole purpose is to help people suffering from depression and other mental illnesses, as well as being able to answer questions that I can’t.

Until tomorrow,

Colette Duggan.

The Secret to Effective Self Love

This is something that took me a long time to learn.

I always thought of self love as being something to make myself feel better in the moment. I would eat to make myself feel better. I would buy things that came with a claim of bringing me happiness. I would spend hours doing things that made me feel better for a moment, but in the long run either didn’t offer lasting effects or eventually made me feel worse.

When I eventually learned what things brought me lasting happiness and a way to actually love who I was, my life improved considerably.

I found that the little things that used to always bug me, didn’t seem so bad anymore. I came to love who I was and what I looked like. I found my now husband that I have been with for just over 3 years now. I found the courage to get in front of the camera for a boudoir shoot (more on that later). And I am happier now than I ever was, regardless of what shows up to try and bring me down.

This is something that I wrote earlier this year, but I felt needed to be shared again, given how many people I’ve heard talking about feeling unhappy, feeling tired, feeling burned out. Here’s the post:

Self Love is about loving who you are and believing that you are worthy of being loved. If you can believe this, then it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of you or if anyone else likes you, you will never be lonely or unloved.

Self Love is not about doing things that have short lived results. These things are fun and certainly have a place in our self care routine, but focusing on these things alone just isn’t enough. The results will not last and you will, in the end, feel no different than you did beforehand.

We need things that have long lasting effects. Meditation, Visualisation, Loving our own Company, Speaking Kindly to ourselves, Believing in ourselves, Taking Time Out for ourselves to Explore and Marvel at the World and its Beauty. These things give a long lasting feeling of love and peace in our lives, but they are very sadly lacking in the lives of so many people in the world today. We, the people, have been sucked into a consumeristic lifestyle and there are so many who are crying out for more, but don’t know where to look or begin. Perhaps you are one of them?

We should, in a perfect world, be able to look in the mirror and love what we see without makeup or cosmetic surgery, for in every woman there is an unique, stunning beauty shining from within. Unfortunately, this is often covered up by beliefs fed to us by the world around us, which try to convince us that we aren’t good enough just as we are. But we are. We are perfect and beautiful just the way we are, without any alterations or changes.

Makeup can be fun to use and experiment with, to reflect how we are feeling, our personality or just to match an outfit. There is nothing wrong with liking makeup. But that is what its sole purpose should be: creative expression, not the way to be considered beautiful.

But back to the Western World’s consumeristic lifestyle. We have been led to believe that we must have the latest and greatest stuff all the time. We think that we have to have the big house, the new car, the latest technology and a high paying job to be happy. So, why then are we so unhappy? Why are we crying out for something more?

It is because, as I mentioned in the beginning, it is the things that give long lasting effects that truly allow us to experience happiness and love from within ourselves.

Think about it: people work full time hours, quite often at a job they hate, so that they can afford the big house and fancy car and other things. They then get very little time to use and enjoy these things because they spend so much time working to afford them. Does that sound like the path to being happy? Didn’t think so.

Rather than investing all our money and time into buying new things all the time, invest some money and time into experiences instead. Stuff eventually breaks down or gets used up, but memories and feelings last a lifetime and it is these that require us to look at the world and who we are anew and to keep on loving and learning.

This is what we are here on earth for: to experience life and the world, new activities, new places, new cultures. To have an open mind and to spread love and peace wherever we go.

You don’t need to travel far to do so either. Even just seeing a new place in your area where you don’t normally go, going to a new restaurant or café or having a conversation with someone new is a great way to gain a new experience. Or if you want to start a little closer to your comfort zone, just begin to pay more attention to the big picture and the little details of the places you go everyday (there’s always something new to see), order something different than your usual next time you go out for dinner or bring up a new topic of conversation with people you know and see where it goes to gain a whole new perspective in that area.

Things are a great way to make yourself feel better for a moment in time. But for lasting happiness and love that comes from within, invest in experiences.

Because when all is said and done and the things you’ve had in life are gone, those memories and feelings that you have experienced during your life will be all that you will have left.

 

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