On Creating Confidence, Coping Mechanisms and Symbolism

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Creating confidence through chronic illness is an up and down process. We often cannot do as much as we used to be able to do, across many facets of our lives. Once we’ve built ourselves up, something else may come along and throw us back down again. However, this seems to be just the way life is, it is a roller-coaster. We can make a choice to stay strong, to look for the silver lining. When I catch myself being afraid of the future, I remind myself that I should instead focus on my next step.

In order to get through difficult times, I pay attention to things that I can look forward to each day. For example, my morning coffee, writing for my blog, having the time to read or paint when my mind and body permits. I practice mindfulness. I look for little bits of inspiration, Pinterest is a great one for that. I really enjoy reading various blogs on WordPress. I admire the stories and posts; the various topics people write about; the insightful discussions that ensue; and love the supportive community. 

Symbols are a strong motivator and coping mechanism for me. When I was going through different struggles in the past, I bought myself an arrow necklace. For me, the arrow symbolizes strength, focus and determination. When I wore it, the necklace gave me confidence to keep trying – that no matter what difficulties I faced, I had to just keep aiming forward. It worked.  Another symbol is the Phoenix, the mythical creature whose core is in line with Maya Angelou’s great poem, “Still I Rise” An anchor reminds me to stay focused on the present, to be mindful, and just do what I can for now.  The wildflower, the symbol of persistence and independence from which I named my blog, are flowers that grow and flourish no matter what environments or situations they face.  Continue reading

A Snapshot into Life as an Emergency Veterinary Student

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One case on a weekend afternoon shift at the veterinary hospital that still stands prominently in my memory: a lady had called up distressed, her cattle dog had gotten into the bins outside her house and ingested rat bait. (To protect privacy, let’s call said dog “Scruffy”.) Rat bait is severely toxic to dogs, what’s worse is that it smells appetising to them. By the time Scruffy got to the hospital, he was having severe seizures. Immediately, the veterinarian and I managed to get a catheter into his arm to start fluid therapy. Once anesthetised, we performed both a gastric lavage and an enema, then gave Scruffy a large amount of activated charcoal through an esophageal tube, which prevents the absorption of various toxins from the stomach and intestine. All in all, we spent about three hours saving Scruffy’s life, and he made it.

While studying, I lived and worked at a veterinary hospital. I would work alone on the overnight shift, having access a veterinarian to phone to discuss treatment of a patient. When emergency surgery was required, the veterinarian would come in and we would perform it together. Overnight emergency shifts would typically begin with an update on the patients in hospital – which animals need medicating, which critical care patients needed monitoring. Fielding all phone calls overnight, providing advice and recommending owners bring their pets in when necessary. When emergency cases came in to the veterinary hospital, I would perform the consultations, including physical examinations. Upon advice from the veterinarian, I would administer treatments and monitor the patient. Continue reading

When it feels like the sloth has become your spirit animal…

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I never wanted to be one of those people who simply “exist”, those who just go through the motions of life without actually living. Experiencing adventure, trying new things, helping those who need it, are important to me. The thing is, with ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), you’re permanently exhausted along with a myriad of disabling physical and mental symptoms that I prefer not to bore you with. If you have ever seen a video of a sloth moving, it gives a pretty good indication of how it feels. Continue reading

A Millennial’s Guide to Getting Back Out There

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I am not going to deny that it is scary going back out into the workplace. There’s the daunting interview process, the hope that sky rockets with opportunities that excite you. Even figuring out what kind of work you would like to give a try, or what jobs to actually apply for can cause apprehension. Looking over your resume and realising all the skills that you have acquired, then trying to decipher what else you can apply them to is also a process.

There are various reasons and circumstances why I have left the careers that I have endeavored. Continue reading

An Ode to the Sutherland Shire

 

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Cronulla Rockpools

Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination.” – Voltaire

I miss living in Cronulla. Waking up in an apartment filled with natural light and fresh air. The circular window lighting up the kitchen, the lush forest of green trees behind it.

I miss going for a swim, at the ocean pool at Oak Park, first thing in the morning. The fresh ocean water reinvigorating my soul as I dived in. The feeling of the salt water making waves through my hair. The seagulls dancing on the rocks amidst the crashing waves. The abundance of the green grass in the park above. The frangipani tree lined footpaths leading the way. Continue reading

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”

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Self-consciousness, what drives it? Why do we seek validation or approval? Is it not enough to be satisfied with our own opinions concerning matters pertaining to ourselves? Societal pressures often cause people to pander to this need of being accepted by the collective whole. I get it, collectivism can be very supportive. It can feel good, and can foster a sense of “belonging”.  A lot of people feel the need to be liked by others. There is nothing wrong with this, unless it harms the person themselves or others around them. I know of people who choose not to act a certain way, or will choose not to do something because of a fear of “what will other people think?” This has the disabling ability of controlling someone’s actions or inactions.  If you spent your life concentrating on what everyone else thought of you, would you forget who you really were? Would you not follow a path that you otherwise would have? Would you miss out on activities that you really wanted to try because of the fear of being judged or laughed at?

Social media seems to have magnified this need of being “liked”. The number of likes, or lack thereof, concern us on our social media pages, triggering a sense of social anxiety. Continue reading

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

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In the same way my answers changed when people would ask  “What do you want to be when you grow up?” throughout my developmental years, the track of my career life has veered in completely different directions. Whilst studying at university, I worked in retail. I had a stint in research through completing my honours thesis. I have worked in marketing, which within itself encompassed a few different roles ranging from graphic designer to event manager. I have volunteered within various charitable organisations, and have worked in the veterinary field.

Throughout these different roles, I learned more than I had expected to. These positions have taught me about myself, about people, about the corporate world, and about life. Continue reading

A Matter of Perspective – the Importance of Hobbies and Interests

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Since becoming chronically ill, I have been unable to keep up my main sporting hobbies and interests. I used to love training various forms of martial arts (combat fitness, kickboxing, mixed martial arts). I am outdoorsy with a passion for nature, so naturally I loved hiking and horse riding. I have gone from high intensity training three times per week plus walking at least 4kms per weekday, to now not being able to have the energy to walk around a small zoo. My exercise has been limited to short walks and hydrotherapy.

Conversely, I have been able to rediscover hobbies and interests I otherwise would not have had the time to. I have brought back my love of art and creativity, through sketching and painting. These modes of expression are an emotional release, as well as a silencer for my ever-racing thoughts. Continue reading