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Space, peace, quite, calm, love, authentic connections and a real sense of connection to your true purpose are essential every day experiences so don’t wait for the Universe to bring to your knees to find these.

I have mixed feelings about sharing the following. I’ve wondered whether putting this out there was the right thing to do but then, in seeking inspiration for what to write this week, I came across the draft of a post I wrote in March 2014 and it acted as both a reminder for me not only of how valuable all of life’s lessons are but also of how important it is to remind yourself how you got to where you are at any point in time to ensure mistakes become learnings rather than repeated behaviour.

In that context perhaps the second realisation is more important for me because, if you had tried to tell me 12 months ago that I would now be sitting in a completely new office, working with incredibly talented and inspiring people, on projects designed to disrupt and inspire the NFP/ charity and social enterprise sector I would not have believed you. At the time the world was too uncertain and I was too tired – and yet here I am – and with that benefit of hindsight I’m hoping that what I share might just help someone else.

Because, if nothing else, that’s what my experience taught me – there is always light, you just need to keep choosing to be open to receiving it.

Sadly rebooting your life sadly isn’t as easy as it is with our much relied upon computer. No matter how tough or messed up it gets, you can’t simply press “control alt delete” and have everything magically reboot.

My own experience taught me that no matter how desperately you try to find those keys, the reality is that nothing short of time, patience, compassion and love can actually get you through a truly crappy time.

Looking back on my experience it had been brewing for a while – I just didn’t recognise it.

It was April 2013 when I first noticed a short sharp, persistent pain in my abdomen. Friends commented Diagnosis: lower back weakness. Treatment: physio.

Three months on the symptoms were worse. I was feeling nauseous most of the time, I had completely lost my appetite and started dropping weight rapidly. Back to the GP and more tests. This time diagnosis: gastro bug. Treatment: rest.

I would dry wretch every morning. I couldn’t think straight or make a decision. Life seemed blurry and I was terrified … all with no obvious threat in sight.

This is where it got really crazy as, in just 6 weeks I literally lost my appetite completely (along with it 8 kilos); I found it impossible to sleep; and started experiencing what I now recognise as panic attacks (but at the time I thought were strokes!) – moments where my pulse rate escalated to the extreme, prickly heat would sweep up my body, sweat would break out on my neck and face, my breathing would quicken and my mind would catastrophise what was happening around me. I would dry wretch every morning. I couldn’t think straight or make a decision. Life was blurry and terrifying … with no obvious threat in sight.

The whole time I struggled with my own internal dialogue. I was a reasonably intelligent, competent woman with a loving family and a great job and yet here I was, unable to move, and rapidly beginning to feel like I was going crazy. I was stuck in a vicious cycle and no amount of telling myself to “stop the nonsense and get on with life” helped.

How could I rationalise something everyone was telling me wasn’t based in the conscious, rational mind? What was I going to become when the medical advice was I needed to radically change the life I had fought so hard to build? And why did it all just suddenly stop working? I’d been living that way for over 20 years – what had happened to make me so “weak” now?

Almost half (45% or 7.3 million) of all Australians (aged 16-85 years) met the criteria for a diagnosis of a mental disorder at some point in their life, with one-in-five (3.2 million) having experienced symptoms in the last 12 months

Applying my logical mind I soon learnt I was alone. In fact almost half (45% or 7.3 million) of all Australians (aged 16-85 years) met the criteria for a diagnosis of a mental disorder at some point in their life, with one-in-five (3.2 million) having experienced symptoms in the last 12 months.

Women seemed to have higher rates than did men (22% compared with 18%), while younger people had higher rates than older people. Surprisingly for me, anxiety disorders were the most common disorders, affecting 14% of all people (aged 16-85 years)!

Meanwhile, in the media of the time, there were a series of devastating stories about people of profile either taking time out, or losing to, some sort of “emotional unwellness”.

Successful high-profile people like Ian Thorpe and Adele were reported to be “reassessing life” and “taking time to recover” while other, seemingly competent, talented and caring people – like Charlotte Dawson and Robin Williams – seemed to lose their battles.

Thankfully for me I had some incredible people in my life. The team at the Happiness Institute in Sydney were there from the get go, offering guidance and support. My family was incredible and rather than telling me to wake up to myself they stepped in and were there for me with hugs and reassurance. Friends were great – often talking me down when I got worked up and mum and dad were there – driving the 6 hours one way just to check on me. My GP was incredible and stepped in to help bring it back under control.

In hindsight, the whole experience was one of the most challenging in my life. It forced me to stop and take stock of what was most important and to make some pretty radical changes.

Eighteen months on I’m actually really grateful for the experience for, as tough as it was, it has brought me to where I am today and I’m not sure I would have gotten here in any other way.

That being said then, and with the benefit of  hindsight, I thought it was worth revisiting my draft and reframing it in a way that I hope offers others, that may be where I have been, some words of encouragement and ultimately some light at the end of the tunnel.

Because, if nothing else, that’s what my experience taught me – there is always light, you just need to keep choosing to be open to receiving it.

Firstly, I learned anxiety is an actual physical health issue. It presents as physical that’s not pretty

Secondly, I learned anxiety can effect anyone. It seems obscene that in this society of plenty, with my beautiful family and so much going on I could feel this way. I can’t explain it – it’s not logical – but it is real and it is tough.

Thirdly, I  learned anxiety can be managed. My moments of reprieve in those first few months gave me the glimpses of hope that I needed and I was constantly drawn to that phrase – this too will pass. Eighteen months on I’m a changed person – but I like to think changed for the better.

Fourthly, while I’ve got no doubt it is tough for those around someone going through this to understand, ultimately authentic connections with people are essential. Withdrawal will seem easier but you actually need to reach out to those around you for help.

Trust me – if you don’t get the whatever lesson the Universe is trying to teach you the first time around, it’s just going to keep on trying to get through to you and subsequent experiences aren’t much fun.

Some will turn their backs, pretend they don’t see, or find it too confronting to get involved in – but for those that sincerely care for you, no matter what, this is the opportunity for you to trust in them completely. Surrender to the experience and you may just be surprised by how much you learn.

Fifthly, and perhaps most challenging for me, I learned it takes time! There is no quick fix and just because you start to feel better doesn’t mean you should bowl back into life at full throttle.

Trust me – if you don’t get the whatever lesson the Universe is trying to teach you the first time around, it’s just going to keep on trying to get through to you and subsequent experiences aren’t much fun.

And finally when putting it all back together I finally understood some things need to be nonnegotiable in every day: space, peace, quite, calm, love, authentic connections and a real sense of connection to your purpose are essential every day experiences so don’t wait for the Universe to bring to your knees to find these.

Recognise what your nonnegotiables are today and make time for them no matter what. It’s those things that will carry you through when everything else exhausts you.

Yours in celebrating all life’s lessons,

Kylea x

 

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