Tag Archives: Mental health

Part 1: Once a Ghost Now a Butterfly: My Journey of Recovery

Releasing my book Camino: Walking Through Emotions was a challenge not just because writing an emotionally charged book is was difficult enough but in light of the fact I revealed to my wider social circle for the first time that I have been sober for over 11 years. I battled fear for months about letting my extended group of friends and former work colleagues know that I was woman in recovery from alcohol addiction.

Alcoholism is messy, inherently more so for a women. A man can be a fall down drunk but he is still a man. A woman who is a fall down drunk is viewed as nothing more than a filthy tramp. We are more likely to be frowned upon than a man with our struggles with addiction. How is that for gender imbalance? Even in addiction we are treated less than!

I was a newly promoted Sergeant in the Australian Army when I got sober. How the bloody hell could a 28 year old female, newly promoted Sergeant be an alcoholic? Sure I was just loosing my marbles. How the hell could alcohol be my problem. That was my solution. Alcohol was my faithful lover and companion When everyone else ‘abandoned’ me he was there.

He comforted me and loved me. At least that it was I thought up until the fateful day that I finally said; ‘I think I have a problem with alcohol’. The truth is my story began long before that.

I first drank problematically as a teenager after my parents had period of seperation. I thought all week about how I was going to get a flask of wine, it was cheap and would last me the entire weekend. Luckily or unluckily, I hung out at the local pool hall and older boys or girls would buy the alcohol for me and the other misfit young kids that hung around.

Over the years drugs crept into and out of my story but it was always alcohol that held my heart. It was there when my world was good, bad, sad, indifferent, crazy, hectic, calm. You name a situation and alcohol was there!

I don’t really know when the chaos of my drinking progressed and past the line of safe to problematic. Was it when I was vomiting in nightclub toilets or cheating on my partner after boozing up for days while he was away. Was it when I drank drove to the bottle shop to get my alcohol because I didn’t want to walk there. That would take up too much time. Was it when my relationships started to end early because my drinking made me jealous and paranoid.

What I do know is during one particularly dark periods of my life that included heavy drug use and drinking I knew I needed help but that tore the page out of the phone book that listed all the support networks.

I didn’t want to be alcoholic even if I couldn’t say the words out loud or even admit it to myself. I just wanted to feel normal, whatever normal was.

I watched the movie Girl, Interrupted that I thought to myself ‘maybe I could go to a mental institution and just rest’. Now that was my best thinking at the time. I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired but I didn’t even remotely think alcohol was the problem. Rather it was my solution and a few weeks to sleep and get away from everything was what I needed. Crazy right!

This is how I felt on a very regular basis!

So why did I make the decision to break my addictive cycle? The night that became the catalyst for my recovery is coming up in Part 2.

Blessed Be
Robyn xox

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5 Simple Steps to Happiness….

Despite all the modern conveniences we now have to make life more efficient sometimes it seems hard to be happy amongst the concrete jungles, responsibilities and never-ending list of things to do.  These 5 simple steps will help you on the road to a happier life.

Step 1.  Smile more

When you are hurting and not feeling very happy, a smile can make all the difference.  As you go about your daily life simply walk around with a smile on your face.  It can feel awkward and a little uncomfortable at first but as you relax into smiling other people will notice your face is soft and welcoming.  Nothing makes another persons day brighter than a smile from a stranger.  The return smile may just make your day.

Step 2.  Drink more water

Just like a plant the human body needs water to survive.  A plant that hasn’t received the required amount of water starts to dry up, shrivel and die.  The human body is more resilient but not by much.  Water makes up between 58% and 70% of the body with the brain being a massive 85% water.

Headaches, poor concentration, sluggish bowel movements (eew right!) and fatigue are all signs of mild dehydration.  Include an additional glass of water when you rise and before any meal to increase your intake to 2 litres a day.

Step 3.  Practice gratitude

Not every one wants to or even likes to mediate but taking a few moments of quiet time to reflect on the day the is coming or just past.  Take a few deep breathes and focus solely on what you are grateful for.  Some days this can be extremely difficult but everything from the ability to read this article or even sit in the morning sun while you practice gratitude is something you can be grateful for.

Step 4.  Find your passion

Life is not a dress rehearsal.  If you hate being stuck in an office from 9-5 but your responsibilities mean you can’t break free just yet find something that drives you.  Take a course in creative writing, photography or even a yoga class.  Find that something that excites you and use your free time pursuing that passion.  You might be passionate about comic conventions and spend your time planning your costume.  It doesn’t matter what your passion is just find it and enjoy it.

And finally:

Step 5.  Have fun

Life is not meant to be a constant chore.  Grab a ball and kick it around the park or play with a pet.  Laugh with friends over a coffee.  Go to the movies and see a good comedy.  Dance around the house to your favourite singer.  Go for a walk along the beach and watch the surfers.  Read a good book.
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Practicing these simple steps will guide you towards a healthier and happier life.  The more you regularly follow these steps you will also be naturally guided to other avenues of a healthier life thus making you happier.  Like when you are having fun and it leads you to finding your passion, hours of countless happiness will follow!

Blessed Be

Robyn xox

Self-Esteem: My top five strategies…

We all know someone with amazing self-esteem and elegance.  She is the women that walks into a room and all people notice her and she doesn’t do it by tweaking or wearing a skimpy dress or being loud and obnoxious.  She is the one who is dressed so that it flatters her figure (no matter what her figure is) and has a beautiful, kind demeanor.

That woman is generally not me!  I now have much better self-esteem than I ever did in my 20’s.  I am sure something happens as a women approaches 40.  Ok that is a few year off for me but I am turning 37 in about 6 weeks.  As I get older I have become far more comfortable in my own skin – even if it is fairly well tattooed.

Though I now feel an intense desire to become more elegant, in my own eccentric and hippy manner.

My self-esteem doesn’t come from other people, though the people I confide in and socialise with certain help in not damaging my self-esteem.

Self-esteem is an inside job a vast majority of the time.  When you get sick and tired of being sick and tired you want to change from the status quo.  Over the years I read books, changed my interests (generally to whatever someone else told me was good) and even tried to be a blond for a while but these did not help my self-esteem at all.

Note to self: You look so much better as a natural brunette than you ever did as a blond!

Over the years I have developed some personal strategies that I employ to ensure my self-esteem stays relatively high.  I don’t always achieve them as it’s progress not perfection that one should be aiming for.

1.   Dress and Bearing:

  • I am guilty of not dressing my best or wearing lazy clothes, A LOT.  I am writing this without make-up on, my hair in a messy bun, green cut offs and a blue and white boob-tube, though in my defence I am in Mexico, we don’t have aircon and it’s bloody hot and humid!  One of the good things about my past working career in a corporate office was that when my self-esteem was high I wore elegant clothes but when it was low I wore, well clothes that should have been my house clothes.  Wearing nice, clean and elegant clothes as well as a small amount of make-up often makes you feel good even if you don’t feel it initially inside.
  • Carrying yourself with your head held high and with your body tall shows self-worth.  When you drag your feet or keep your head constantly down the entire world can visibly that you don’t value yourself.  Walk tall!

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2.   Be Honest with Yourself:

  • The best quote about being honest with yourself was from the late Steve Jobs:
    “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~ Steve Jobs

  • I don’t advocate not taking in consideration people in your quest to be honest with yourself but don’t remain trapped in an unhappy situation.  Work on relationships, stop being around people that are negative nancy’s and follow your passions.

3.   Exercise:

  • I am not talking about becoming a marathon runner or an olympic athlete but I am talking about moving.  One of my favourite workouts is an at home Zumba DVD.  Dancing around the lounge room, making mistakes and giggling is fun.  I love working out and when I am not doing it (as I have been now for a few months!) I feel less confident.  During my training and subsequent completion of my first marathon I felt amazing albeit I was sore on more than one occasion!

4.   Speaking and Manners:

  • This has been a major area of work for me.  I can swear like an disciplined soldier and it’s sounds vile.  When I speak clearly and confident I automatically feel better.  I love how I feel when I don’t swear or have interesting in-depth conversations about more than just the latest gossip.
  • Don’t be a troll, don’t speak trash about other people and always show compassion to others.  You never really know what is going on in someone else’s life.  They may just be going through the worst experience of their lives.

My favourite self-esteem strategy without fail is to stop comparing!

5.   STOP COMPARING

  • You are unique and wonderful.  When you compare yourself to your friends and families suddenly your personal assets or physical attributes don’t seem to add up.  Take healthy pride in yourself and your achievements.  Further more take joy in your friends and families achievements.

There are many different ways of increasing and maintaining your self-esteem, these are just some of the ones I use.  Whilst I also said this was an inner job, surrounding yourself with other women and men that are working towards better self-esteem or who already have high self-esteem!

If none of these tips helps you feel better please seek professional help.  Don’t be ashamed, many people seek professional help every day for any number of things.  Self help though a professional is no different to taking your car to a mechanic if you know nothing about engines!  Sometimes we all need a little help.

Oh and don’t forget to smile!  It could brighten someone else’s day!

Blessed Be

Robyn xox