In this episode, you will learn 10 FACTS about Danica and her passion in the area of mental health services! She also talks about a massive crisis in veteran mental health, the main causes of body image issues, how they come up, and how she overcomes them. And we discuss what aging means to her and to her body.
You can READ the interview transcript HERE
10 Facts About Danica
(at the time of the project)
1. 43 years old.
2. Danica was born in Yarrawonga in Victoria and grew up in Austinville, just about 30 minutes Southwest of Byron Bay. She is now in Goonellabah, which is just at the top of Lismore.
3. Danica is the second eldest of seven kids.
4. Danica’s family was also a foster family. So on top of their own seven kids, her parents took in 48 kids over 12 years.
5. Danica and her ex-partner moved to London for a couple of years and traveled around Europe.
6. Danica is a single mother of two boys 15 and 13 years old.
7. Danica is a mental health worker and is about to start building a business proposal for a mental health crisis center, like a mental health emergency department that's separate from the hospital and separate from community mental health.
8. Before that, Danica was in the Army as a combat medic. Then she moved into suicide prevention crisis, a crisis intervention, and she worked in that field as a volunteer from the beginning, just while her kids were little.
9. Danica disagrees with the saying that money cannot buy happiness. She believes that having money and being comfortable with money makes a huge difference and gives one a comfortable life and freedom.
10. Danica strongly believes that any trauma needs to be spoken about to open that wound so it can be cleaned out and healed into a scar. So, it's no longer infecting your life.
Hi, you're listening to the My Body, My Story podcast.
Our bodies are essential for a reason we have those erogenous zones for a reason, learning that and removing that guilt was a huge weight off my shoulders and I empowered myself I was in control, I was all my, my doing, and I was empowered by it. And then this injury happened. And it got taken all the way again without my consent. And that's where my insecurities come from.
This is the 45 over 45 chapter where we celebrate Rule Breakers and role models, the women who inspire us to live life our way and to show their sensuality beauty, soul, and true essence. Here we talk about what it's like to be 45 Plus, adjusting to the changes that come with time, and we listened to the stories about participants. If you have an interesting story, we'd love for you to participate. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org That's Aleksandra spelled with a K S. Or visit our website aleksandrawalker.com
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the My Body, My Story project, and today with us in the studio, Danica. And while she's sitting in the makeup chair, and Leora is creating her magic, we're gonna talk and I'm gonna ask you a few questions. Let's start and tell us 10 facts about yourself.
10 facts about me. I'm one of seven children. I'm the second eldest of seven kids. We were poor family. But you wouldn't have known it. I'm from the outside because my parents were the hardest working people I've ever met in my life. My mom even though she was a stay at home mom. She had four jobs on top of it along with all of us kids. My dad was travelling sales. So he got the best of that. That that parenting role because he was away for the week. Come back for the weekend. Usually Friday nights when we're all bath had dinner, getting ready for the bedtime routine. And dad gets got to come in and go. Hey. So that was growing up.
Where did you grow up?
Well, I was born in Yarrawonga in Victoria, and then we travelled when I was about four years old, the first four cars that we had four down in Victoria, and three up in Lismore. And we travelled up and down the east coast of Australia, trying to find some way mum and dad just packed everything up, sold everything and got in a car and drove and we Austinville was the place that mum and dad really loved on the way through and they made it all the way up to North Queensland. And then we found our way back down to Austinville where they bought and that's where I grew up. Just about 30 minutes south west of Byron Bay. So that's where I grew up. And went also the primary I'll still high school.
And now where are you located?
I'm now in Goonellabah, which is just at the top of Lismore. And that how I ended up there, that's a whole another story. I'm a single mum have been familly City News, which is where I ended up back at home again, because I'm the my partner when my ex partner and I, we moved to London for a couple of years. We travelled around Europe. And then we first started trying for kids, but because I'd been on the pill for as long as I was over 20 is on one of the highest doses. When we spoke to the doctor about you know planning to have children, he goes, Look, it's probably going to be like 18 months, two years because your body has been on this contraception for so long for it to be actually probably fertile. And we were like, Yeah, that's cool, because that means we can go and live in Sweden, we can go and do this. We can you know, when it happens, it will happen. And a month later I was pregnant. So that kind of threw our plans this week, which I should have known because like six out of the seven kids were all contraception babies. So my oldest sister was the only one that wasn't you know, that was not contraception conceived on the wedding night. The rest of us are all contraception babies. Like my one of my brothers. Mom had the copper implant. And she was nearly five months pregnant before she realised she was pregnant.
so then they had to get the implant out without aborting the baby because that would have ordered the baby eventually when he got even bigger. So that's how much we're contraception babies. They're just very first long chains very fertile. That's why I was just like, Oh man, I should have known should have known. But then when we moved because I got severe hyperemesis, which is basically, at type promises gravidarum, which, you know, so many women go through when they're pregnant, but it's not really spoken about, they just call it a lot of people, a lot of doctors call it just morning sickness. When it's not, it's an actual severe medical condition. You know, in London, they had our whole ward for what's the hyperemesis ward for women did keep going, and you can get hooked up for an IV for a couple of hours just to replenish your fluids, because you're vomiting 24/7. It's horrendous. My blood pressure was about 86 over 43. So I was like walking dead who passed out minimum five times a day,
how many kids do you have
and all the same story with both of them?
Yeah, both of them were horrendous. I have to I have to keep changing my language, though, when I'm telling that story if my kids are around, because I don't want them to think that they were horrendous. Anything wrong with them. Because they were perfect. They were huge. That's the whole point. That's what hyperemesis disease, they've linked it to the pregnancy hormone. So the higher the pregnancy hormone, the sicker you are. So at six weeks pregnant, I could have looked after three other pregnancies with the amount of hormone that I was carrying, or producing, I should say. So like, super fertile. So the babies were massive, they were huge. They were healthy, big fat babies, nine pound for and nearly nine pound for the second one. I think it was all in their head. So a massive heads 95th percentile. That's two facts.
I'm a mental health worker. That would just secured a lease for an office, because we're about to start building a business proposal for a mental health crisis centre. So like a mental health emergency department that's separate from the hospital, and separate from community mental health. So there's an in between point because at the moment, there's mental health and community. And then it's the extreme locking them up. In psych world, there's no intervention in between. It's in, you know, if someone's in a crisis, that crisis could be de escalated quite quickly, just by having contact with a person and someone talking to them, maybe some PRN. And maybe, you know, even just to night's really good sleep and good feed, that type of stuff and connection with people. They don't need to be locked up and handed heavy. Any psychotics and zombified for two weeks straight and then dumped back out on the streets again, you're okay, again, you know, so we're trying to build a bridge between the extreme psych ward and in community mental health. So people can come in, if they're feeling escalated, or they've got a drug induced psychosis, or they haven't been able to sleep, they're getting a little bit manic and that type of thing. They can come in and actually get some help immediately. Because at the moment, when someone's in a crisis, the only plan is to call an ambulance and police and then put them in the emergency department. And then they because they're not wait for three hours or 13 hours, you know, there's a third and usually, like, I've had sat with one client, because I knew if I didn't sit with them, they would have left, and they needed to be seen, they needed to get some help. We sat there for 13 hours, and in a room by themselves. And so that's why I was in there. And I think probably three times in that 13 hours somebody came in just to check in, and then went back out again. And then no wonder why these people who are in crisis end up having police and security called on them and they're being tasered in the IDI and all that type of stuff. That's like, well, you treat somebody like they don't exist and that they're invisible. They're going to respond in a reactive way to make you pay attention to. It's not hard to you know, just go and sit with somebody. Give them a cup of coffee. Have a chat, find out what the hell's going on. You know, a lot of my clients were in The Northern Rivers where we're from, we've got some of the highest mental health incidences in Australia, and some of the lowest mental health services.
So why do you think it's to do with this area is this kind of remote area?
Well, I think because we're Byron Bay is only just down the road. So it's quite a popular destination, we've also got Nimbin is just up the road, which is the drug capital of Australia, anything you want him to name it? So I think there's a lot of drugs there as well. But also just the fact that it's a very laid back accepting community. So to be unwell, is you kind of safer to be unwell there than you would be if you were to be as unwell as what the some of these people are in a city, they'd be locked up, they'd be you know, you'd end up getting put in secure facilities and that type of thing. So of some of them, they need the secure facility behind you know, there's just a such a massive gap. So one of my other friends and I are building a business plan, and we've just secured the office. So we're going to start off with just within the NDIS staff, getting training mental health specific workers, because there's a lot of disability workers, a lot of disability workers, you can drown in disability workers. But when it comes to actual mental health specific workers, there's not many, and there's not many that actually have the knowledge and insight or lived experience into mental health. That can have a bigger understanding, which creates a bigger umbrella for these people to be able to feel connected and, you know, taken care of. So that's what we're kind of working on trying to build that community of workers with the knowledge and the care and the empathy and the lived experience, but healed lived experience to be able to help guide others through their journey of recovery. The level of mental health that I work in is usually complex. So there's not using the term recovery doesn't really come into the, because there is no recovery from these illnesses, it's basically trying to help them be the best version of themselves in the space that they're in. So like some of my clients have live in permanent ps ychosis, like 24/7 delusional. So you know, I've got one guy who was a mermaid. And then, you know, aliens abducted him, and they split his tail and want my right butt cheeks bigger than my left seat, and a cold look, look. And you just go into the world with them. You don't, this is what I try to teach people and new workers that come along, you have to remember that this entire field is not about you. And these people are living with horrendous mental illnesses, a lot of them schizophrenia, which means they have auditory hallucinations pretty much 24/7 a day. Some of them have the visual hallucinations in conjunction with it, or just visual hallucinations, but majority of them have the auditory, so they're hearing things constantly, 24/7 a day. Just imagine how exhausting that is. And yet, they still manage to get up and try to live their lives try to do something. And instead of them looking for ways to self medicate. We're trying to give them an option to actually be in that mode, but have someone to support them through it. So like if they've got a new voice that's come along, and they're really terrified by it. And we kind of help them to fight back, you know, recognising what's happening to them is very real, for them to say, suddenly come in and go, Oh, it's not real. You go, will you have no idea? Because for them, it's very 100% real.
So but how did you come to this? Felt like I know, you mentioned that you were in different field before. So what did you do before?
I was in the Army as a combat medic,
so it's a good base for (edited: care field)
I got it from my mom because we were also a foster family. So on top of us seven kids from my parents, we took in 48 kids over 12 years on top of so my mom's kind of like a mother hen and she kind of just everyone comes all of our friends. My mom's your mom now. You know, that type of thing. And that's kind of where all of us all of us kids have going into some sort of care field, or building field, you know, to try and create something community connection or that type of stuff. So when I got out of the army there was, is a massive crisis in veteran mental health, massive and like, like during 2020, in the first three months of 2020, we lost triple the amount of veterans than what we did in the entire Afghan war. So in the 20 years, we're at war, just in the first three months of 2020, we lost triple that amount, in three months to suicide, from the pain from PTSD, so it's only just starting to get recognised as a disability. And there's still though the treatment for it is medication. And so then they're just still left on their own, there's still no connection, there's still no bridge there for them. Like when you join the army, you've got 12 weeks at Kapooka. And then you go and do your trade, you know, study trade and wherever you are, and then you go and do four years contract. That's a long time to dehumanise you and turn you into a soldier. But then when you get out, it's one week reintegration training, one week to learn how to be in normal civilization, human being again. So they get out and some of them have been lifers, you know, they've been in there for 30-40 years. And then all of a sudden, they've got to be in the civilian world. And it's like, you get one weight training for that. And then they left on their own. It's not as bad as what it used to be, you know, but there's still so much, so much to do. So that's where I moved into suicide prevention crisis, a crisis intervention, and I worked in that field as a volunteer from the beginning, just while my kids were little.
So I was doing something still in that whole deal. Now. My boys are 15 and 13. Yeah, teenagers, teenagers. He was touching, go away for a little while. I was like, Oh, my God, I'm filing. This is so hard. And then because they dad isn't around, he probably sees the maximum four times a year. So it's, it's been just me raising these two. And I'm like, oh, you know, Moms always feel like they failing anyway. That's just how it is. But then being a single mom on top of it. And then you see like, when he little I was poor as like, he's really, really scratched things together. And still, you feel like you're not providing for them. You feel like they're missing out on everything. And, but then I look back on it now. And I go, they didn't really like when my youngest was three, my eldest was five I, because I'm ADHD. Here's another fact. I'm also ADHD.
I'm very impulsive. And so I had some money come in, and it was still winter. And one of my Italian mates was snowboarding instructor in Mount below. So I booked a trip to Mount Buller for the snow for a week, just out of nowhere had no snow gear. We from Lismore, we don't get snow, and doesn't even really get that gold. So I like we've gone down to Mount Buller by train and bus because it was free for single parents pinned on the pension to throw in the state travel. So I was like, Sure, let's do that in Popsugar why not? Oh, was that it was amazing. So I look back at that now and I go, I've given my kids some pretty amazing experiences.
So this was the right impulsive decision.
Yeah, yeah, it was it was that one was, um, but they. And then my, my big boy when he was in year seven, he is in year 10 Now, I told this story last night. One of the girls in his year, she got her period and it leaked through and he took his jumper off and wrapped it around your waist sickbay and spoke to the Lady for her and said you know can you get her some pets and probably call her mum. Because so she doesn't I'm just brought here because so she doesn't get picked on. And I was just when I heard that because the teachers rang me and told me and I heard that and I was just like, Okay, I'm not doing too bad. Yeah, like I've got a a young man there who's Yes, he's had a single mom, but I think that's actually helped. Because he's, he's autistic. swirl an ADHD. And so for him to actually see that and recognise that as that he needed to, he didn't need to, he didn't have to. But he wanted to step in to help her and protect her. And because he, you know, because my boys have grown up with me who I lack of filter, my intrusive thoughts tend to not be just in here, they come out of my mouth, so and then it's, I'm as surprised as everybody else is what I'm saying. I'm like, oh, sorry, I didn't know where that came from. So for him to actually be able to step up and have that empathy in that, you know, care nature about him. I was like,
I'm doing well,
I'm not doing well, but I just say, I'm not doing too bad. I'm not I haven't failed on this one. The same in the mental health side of things, you know, cuz I always because I, I work so much like, I do like 11, half hour days, 12 out of 14 days a fortnight. running my own business. Now, I don't work for an organisation or anything. So it's all on me.
So is it your own business? Or it's your own business? So if someone wants to find you how they can find you?
Yeah, I haven't got a website yet. But we're going to be so like, I'm partnering up with one of my other friends who's a psych nurse. And we've got a team of workers already that work independently, but as a team for us. And then we're going to be the name of the crisis centre is what we're going to name the little mini NDIS organisation. So that when we get the business plan for the crisis centre through up and going, then that name can and people already know about it, and it can just transfer to the actual crisis centre them.
So the if they want to find you
My name, they will have contact like on the internet (Danica Rodwell). Yeah, well, I'm in all of my clients all support, water support coordinators, caseworkers, they've all got my number. So we get same with my friend Sophie, who's the psych nurse. She's also a Support Coordinator now and a psychosocial recovery coach. And she, yeah, everyone's ringing us every day going, do you have capacity for this? Or can you put a team together for this client and that type of stuff, which is really excited, because now it means that we can actually put people in place that have knowledge in regards to mental health care, because it's once again, it's completely different to disability care, you can be the most amazing disability worker in the world. But if you come across into the psychosocial side of things, without any prior knowledge into severe complex mental illness, then you're going to drown. Because like I was saying before, we try to teach people to remember that this entire shift that you're dealing with, this person has nothing to do with you. Yeah, you need to leave your ego, you need to leave any expectations that you have completely at the door, because you have no idea what you're working, walking into every single day. Whether they're having a good day, or whether they're having a bad day, or whether the voices are really loud, or whether the you know, whatever is happening. Because some of them have dual diagnosis is so they've got comorbidities, and then there's addiction. So self medication, all that type of stuff on top of it. So you can't come in with any expectations. And if you had a win the day before, you can't come in expecting them to do this, that when ever again, you know, it's just enjoy the win for what it is in that moment,
one day at a time.
Well, one moment at a time with mental health because it can change so quickly. You can be one minute you'll be you know, laughing your ass off with them and they're having a great old time and the next minute they're screaming at the sky, you know, and getting quite violent, verbally violent and that type of stuff. So it's, you've got to take each moment as it comes. It's a hard word it is it is hard, but I love it like I absolutely love it. And certainly one of my favourite people moan away all time favourite clients. And I've told her I said, even when I'm not your care anymore, your worker anymore. I said you and I are grown old together woman. We're going to be sitting on the front porch rocking in our chairs with our shotgun screaming to get off our grass. And she does because she's so I'm actually now
also that's the other thing is that's why this project was something that's jumped out to me because I do a lot of work in regards to women's mental health and getting recognition within the medical industry in changing diagnostic tools that they use, because there's a lot of women that have been diagnosed with some pretty heavy mental illnesses and living Knee in completely awful situations medication wise, there aren't any psychotics when actually it's a hormonal imbalance. six out of eight women have PMDD, which is premenstrual dysphoric disorder, six out of eight women, and they go undiagnosed, because they get labelled borderline personality, bipolar, severe depression, severe anxiety. You know, just, it's just your monthlies. You know, all that type of stuff, when actually, it's a severe hormonal imbalance that is causing psychosis, which they don't recognise because the majority of diagnostic tools out there are based on men. So yeah, it was on gi working really hard to actually get women's mental health recognised and getting diagnostic tools to be changed, in particular, to recognise the differences for women to men.
I had one lady who, who was just permanent psychosis, she had been, you know, wiped off she, you know, they said, This is the perfect life, she's lost her family, she lost her job, she lost everything. And they had her on every any anti psychotic under the sun you could possibly think of, she'd put on massive amounts of weight. And she was crying to this doctor saying this is not working. Like I'm not okay, this is not changing, nothing's changing, all I just feel is even worse, because now I'm fat. And the nothing's changing at the top. And he wouldn't listen to her, he was just going to add another anti psychotic to it until I actually screamed at him. Not very professional. I tend to, I tend to run by my emotions a bit much when it comes to that type of thing because of my passion towards it. And I stood up in that room and I said, you need to shut the hell up and start listening to what she's saying to you. She is telling you that there, this isn't working. So you need to go back to ground zero. And you need to start again. And you need to start doing all the blood tests, get everything sorted out and get to the bottom of what the hell's happening here. He wouldn't listen. And then, yeah, so I screamed at him to do that. And then he got all offended. And then I found a female doctor in Ballena, who's one of the most amazing female doctors I've ever dealt with. And she did all of these blood tests and scans and found out that this woman had a severe hypothyroid like off the charts. hypothyroid and so she started treating the the thyroid condition. And my client is no longer a client, she's completely stabilised and has there's no mental health repercussions, nothing anymore because now her hormones and everything that was going on chemically wise, is has started to stabilise so the hormones have all gone back to normal and she's got zero mental illness.
No hormones is always the main issue, I think with a woman's health, especially when we ageing. And so I want to move to the questions about ageing and body image issues. And as we start started talking about hormones, definitely with age, we have a shift. Not in the, like it's a shift of hormones changing in our bodies, and you know, like all sorts of changes, but what does ageing means to you? Like, what, how old are you now and at this age? What do you think about ageing?
Well, it's funny because when I when I was younger, if I looked at a 43 year old woman when I was 18 to in back when I was 18 That looks so old. And I was like oh my god imagine being that old. And now I am 43 and I have I don't feel like I look like I thought 43 would look like yeah, or feel like that old No, like it's really not out at all. Like I still feel like I'm mentally I still feel like I'm you know, in my 20s type thing, physically and it's a totally different issue, because my body is so broken. But mentally I still feel I don't feel like what I thought 43 would feel like so you know If anything, I'm wish menopause would hurry up and take over. So I, there's certain things I don't want to have to deal with anymore, which is exciting to me is not having to ever deal with, you know, you mentioned,
be careful what you wish, I'll tell you, that's not the best part.
I mean, because I'm also PMDD, which is what I was talking about before, I'm on CBD oil for it to try and help because CBD is really good for hormone stabilisation as well. And it's a natural product. So my doctor is has got me on that which has been amazing. And you know, some of the treatments for PMDD like hysterectomy, because that's how extreme the hormonal imbalance is. So having a hysterectomy and go and being put through menopause that way, is actually more stabilising for a woman. So obviously, it's different for each,
but at the moment, what do you think is ageing, but what that means to you?
um, for me, it's just more being able to just not give a crap what other people think anymore. You know, you don't go, when I look at myself in the mirror, I don't think about what somebody else is going to think seeing this or don't like wearing that. Whereas, you know, when I was younger, it was always about what you chose to wear and how you chose to look was about what other people are going to perceive us. Whereas now it's, I don't care. Like I just, it's a real freedom, I feel ageing is quite free. Being able to just be whoever the hell you want to be and do whatever the hell you want to do. And if anybody thinks they have the right to have an opinion, or anything about what it is that you're doing. You just don't care. Sorry, yeah, that's a you problem. It's got nothing to do with me. So that's, that's kind of where I'm at what ageing is for me. Obviously, my insecurities. They're not coming from ageing. Like the thing, the reason why I'm doing this project isn't coming from because I'm getting old. It's because of the physical issues that I have not working within the body anymore, and learning how to embrace myself again. Because it's taken a long time to be empowered by just being me and then to have what happened happen and have that taken away. Again, it's regaining that power and control of myself again, and confidence in my body and being grateful to my body for what it has been through to still be here.
So you mentioned that you had injury that limited your mobility, and that's what you're talking about, right?
Yes. So I got injured at work. The organisation I did work for, they were terrible with paperwork, and terrible with everything in general. And they put me on with a brand new client. And her turns out that she was just straight disability, she had it, she was in a wheelchair. And I turn up and the mother leaves, and I'm left with this woman who's not mental health at all. And she's in full sound of mine, I had to lift her in and out of the wheelchair all day, every day, all day for the entire day, in and out and in and out, shower, toilet, all that type of stuff. With no lift, the house wasn't set up for wheelchair access. So that was all pokey. And you were in awkward positions when trying to lift her out and stuff. So you weren't able to do proper lifting techniques and anything like that. And so I ended up rupturing two discs in my back, which put me in hospital 11:30 That night, I called the paramedics and they came out but they couldn't give me anything being a single mum. And it was so late. Because they gave me any pain relief. I'd have to go to hospital and they couldn't take the kids with them because there was nobody looked after him. And because the medication that they were going to use was going to be quite a heavy duty pain relief, which means I wasn't going to be responsible for my children. So I was like, Okay, I'll wait until the morning and then just get through the night then I can get the kids to school and then I'll take myself to hospital. And the next morning I made it through the night just and I went to go and have a shower. I took three steps. It took nearly 45 minutes to get out. undress out of bed undressed, to go to the shower, I took three steps towards the shower and I went into full body spasm. My lungs seized up, pushed all the air out mine, everything locked up, so dropped me to the floor. So then the paramedics ended up having to come anyway, I ended up in hospital for a week and a half, and they were going to be sending me to Gold Coast to get surgery on my spine because they said, they're done, the discs are done. And there's no repairing those, but then weren't covered stepped in. And it was another 18 months before I was able to get the surgery approved. So I had 18 months worth of damage. And because the work cover was only approved for $611 a fortnight, and my rent was 680 a fortnight at the time I saw I still had to force myself to go to work to make extra money, you know, that meant crawling from the car to you know, the cameras to get some something, and then crawling back to the car and going to a client's house, doing a shift, you know, whilst being in the most excruciating pain you've ever thought of. But then because of the 18 months instability and damage caused, during that time after my surgery, which was in March, the 11th 2020. The week after my surgery, when we went home was the week Australia went into lockdown. So I went into being a tea teacher, I live at home with my two kids, and we have four new seven. And I'm going and I'm not supposed to be moving. But you know, I had to because of the kids, you know, they're both at home. Now I didn't have any recovery time properly. And because of that I've now got developed read trellis thesis, which is where the disc, the vertebra l five vertebra, is sitting in a dislocated position, which is now compressing the entire spinal column instead of just the nerves that come out of vertebra I've now got entire spinal column being compressed, which has caused drop foot and incontinence and full loss of sexual function. So I can't feel anything my saddle. And that's kind of the thing that I'm fighting at the moment in my internally is being having that had 43 and facing the rest of my life with this condition. And just, you know, realising just how much my body is going through, and has been through and then going, oh my god, I still got so much longer to live like this, to figure out how, when
if your body could talk, what do you think it would ask you tell you at this moment?
stop working. I know what to do, like I need I know I need to but just I'm in the process of doing a claim damages claims. So suing the organisation and my lawyer has told me that you know, the want the payout should hopefully be quite substantial, which means that I can then take time off work because my neurologist said that if there's a physic physical therapy rehabilitation and he said if I could do that three months intensive daily physical therapy, he goes that I have a chance of regaining some control regaining possibly feeling regaining, you know, all my continence even so, but until then I'm, my body's quite broken.
it wants you to stop
it wants me to stop, but until I can actually financially afford to because now I have a mortgage. Because you know, that's why I thought it was a good idea as a single one take on a mortgage as well. And then quit your you know, organisation and have your own business and then the mortgage is completely reliant on me working. So I'm like, Oh my God, and then having to do renovations on top of it because the house had water damage.
So you like to keep yourself busy.
I'd like to, but I feel like it's, I'm non-stop. Like I'm kind of If I, if I stop yet, then I'm afraid my body won't keep going. So I'm trying to get everything done until I can actually flop. Because even on my days off, like if my two days off a fortnight that I have, the first day is usually spent in bed, like I, my body knows that I don't have to get up. And so it just won't move.
At least you let yourself rest on your days off
I don't really have a choice. But because of also my work ethic and my passion towards my clients. On my, what is supposed to be my days off is some another worker calls in an in the group chat and they're trying to get their shift filled. And I wait and wait. And I'm like, come on somebody else pick up the shift because it's not like retail, it's not like, Okay, we just closed down that counter for the day or would that just won't get packed away for those people's lives, especially in mental health, complex mental health, if they don't have the support that contact that can be enough to trigger a massive episode and put them back in hospital. So I'm like, Come on people, you know, someone put their hand up and no one puts their hand up. So I'm like, Ah, I'll do it.
So you're more focused on others than on yourself. And that's why your body say just please give me a rest.
And I know that if I, if I do too much focus on myself, I won't be able to move for a while. And I can't afford to not, I'm going to mortgage I got two kids, I've got a business I've got you know, all these type of things fun. Anybody who said money can't buy happiness clearly hasn't been broke in their life. Because having money and being comfortable with money will make a huge freakin difference in you know, being able to actually gives you comfortable life, yeah, and freedom to be able to go, Hey, I'm feeling like crap at the moment, I need to take care of myself, I'm gonna go away to a retreat for four days, you know, I can't do that. I don't have that option. As like, even when my kids sick, you know, I don't have I go I'm lucky my brother is here at the moment. And my parents have been phenomenal in helping me raise my children. But I'm one of the lucky single moms that have an amazing family and amazing friends. So my best friend who's here with me today who came to support who's my support person for the day. She's been a pivotal reason as to why I'm actually in a position that I'm in now. Because when my injury happened, like I said, I was only getting $611 a fortnight when my rent was 680 So she financially propped me in the boys out for three years. And just, you know, like Christmas time, I had zero money. And so she would put just transfer, you know, two grand in my account. And that way I was able to be Santa Claus for the kids and, and managed to give them a childhood still, even though I was in such a terrible way. So like Casey and her husband, Gary have been pivotal in me being able to achieve my dream in my career and my field and what we're building for the community and you know, that type of stuff. Without her without my family and my close friends I wouldn't be where I am today to be able to do what I'm doing. I've wouldn't made it through with this injury, to be honest, I wouldn't have made it through.
It's amazing to have friends like that.
And it's and that's the other thing as a woman because I never fit it in when I was little when I was younger. I always was on the outside looking in I never really had a good group of girlfriends. I was always like I could bounce from group to group to group to group to group and not actually really fit in with anybody. But I also didn't want to because I found that being around a group of girls was just awful. Like it was there was so much pitching and competition and that's the other thing about with like you asked about what's the, you know, what do I think ageing, Will? It's now you know, not seeing Women as competition, I see them as amazing, beautiful. Frickin hardcore creatures that we should be lifting each other's strengths. There's that woman walking down the street with the most longest beautiful legs looks like a supermodel. And instead of going on, it's all fake. Like a lot of women turn around and do all your stupid bitch or something like that. Look at her and go Holy shit, you're stunning, and actually telling her, you know, just little things like that and lifting up like, I go out of my way when I see especially when it's a pregnant woman who just looks like she's ready to just curl up and disappear forever. And telling her how incredibly gorgeous she looks right now. You know, like that you're, you're carrying beautifully, even if I know she looks absolutely exhausted, but actually going out of my way to tell her you know, you look stunning. Like you just you know, that dress looks so incredibly amazing on you. Or your eyes look absolutely popping right now. Because I when I was pregnant with my second and I was crook as a dog with hyperemesis that was her Indus, I came out of the change rooms because my big boy was only a toddler at the supermarket. And this woman comes up to me and I was wearing this strapless dress, it was beautiful dress. And I was massive. And I felt like death. And she just came up to me, she put her hand on my arm. And she goes, I just need to tell you, You look absolutely glowing and beautiful right now. And the poor woman, I'm pretty sure she wasn't expecting this response. But I just turned into a blubbering snot mess. Just going, Oh my God. I fell apart in the middle of the shopping centre. I was just that's what you needed. And that's the thing. And so that's a big part of what, why I am who I am in what I do, and why ageing for me is actually something that I'm really embracing is because I'm, I look at Be that person you needed when you were going through something. And that's how I live my life. And that's how I treat myself. I tried to be to myself, what I needed back in before I didn't know better. Whereas mentally now and mental health wise, I know better now. So I try to treat myself the way I needed to treat myself back then. But I do it now.
But when if you could go back then at what age would you go and why? And what advice would you give yourself?
Look, I think I'd go back to being actually a teenager. Because I was right when I was 14, which sent me on a path of destruction. And I everyone goes, if you could go back and change something, would you change that. And I actually wouldn't, even though it's completely traumatic, and I wish I could be who I was without that trauma. But I wouldn't be who I am today. And I wouldn't be able to support the people that I support the way I do today without having that lived experience. And yeah, but I'd go back there then and actually tell them what to that age and to help myself through, you know, reaching out talking to people tell somebody, you know, because it wasn't until 28 When it first came out, like so many other women. Which is why when the Me Too Movement happened, I was like I was you know, there was a lot of people coming and going oh, well, you know, they're really speaking up now after 20 years, then obviously it didn't happen. They're just attention seeking. And I'm like, You have no freaking clue what you're talking about. Like it me too, movement was phenomenal in regards to being able to get, give people a voice for the first time in their life give their trauma, a voice. Because trauma needs to be spoken about. And you need to open that wound up so you can clean it out so that it can get over and heal into a scar. So it's no longer infecting your life. And that's where I would go back to I'd go back to when I was 14 and teach myself how to work through the trauma in a healthy way as opposed to the reptilian brain kicking into gear and doing all my survival mode in all the wrong way. So yeah, I'd go back to them. And just because I still I love who I am today, and I love you The people that I have in my life, I love the community that I've created. I love the connection that I have. Yes, there are things that I'm insecure about, once again, I'm human. Hence the reason I signed up for this.
Like, what's what do you think of the main reasons for this body image insecurities?
Well, I mean that the unrealistic idea of anti-ageing, why are we so hell bent on being young forever? Why society in the media, so pushing this unrealistic view of what happens to us in a very natural way, like, ageing is beautiful. You know, you see some of the like, my mom is she's the mother of seven children. She's also the mother of 48, foster kids. She's also the mother of million friends, and then grandchildren. And, you know, all that type of stuff. And she's the most stunning woman I've ever seen in my life. And she's about the same size as me, and has the most gorgeous white, long hair, big waves. Really thick hair, and she's just stunning. And because of her age, the era that she comes from, she's always in the mirror, you know, pulling the face up. She's always looking at the little post menopause, Tabby bit that she's got, you know, all that type of stuff. And I'm like, Mom, seriously, you have the most stunning woman I've ever seen in my life. Yes, I'm biassed because she's my mom. But if I showed you a photo of her, you would actually be going Holy shit. She's like model material for Ageing gracefully because she has still even though she has those insecurities. She still has just aged gracefully. Like it's all natural. There's no, there's no nothing.
There's just that the insecurities come from, you know, society's push for anti ageing. So fillers and Botox and dye your hair don't go grey, you know, that type of stuff. Cover the wrinkles up, I think, let your wrinkles free, honestly, because they tell a story each and every one of them. My mom's story far out the amount of children that she knew and stuff that my mom's seen and been through and done. Every wrinkle that she has every line across her hand. Love her hands, she's got rheumatoid arthritis. And so she's got her knuckles are really all swollen them. They're starting to do the, you know, twisty type thing. But our hands tell the story to me. And I just hold them and they're beautiful. And yes, we have our head clashes like any mother daughter does. Any parent child does doesn't matter how old you get. You could be 60 and your parent being 90, and you still going to have an argument with them because that's what parents and children but I would I don't know where I'd be without. And so she's sort of part of the reason why. Without her even knowing she's done it. She's empowered me to age gracefully and not be caught up in what society's sample for you. Yeah, without even realising she's done it because she does have all those insecurities. But because she hasn't had the time to worry about any of that stuff. She's just aged naturally and just looks stunning. And I and I just like and that's what I want. I just want to be this is the you know, I'm 43 years old and
how do you deal with those insecurities when they come up? What's your go to method?
Well, my insecurities come from my injury. So the loss of sexual function, the incontinence and that type of thing. That's something that I'm fighting purely because of my like I told you earlier, the after with when it first came out after it was 28 when I was raped, and I did this amazing 18 week course from heartfelt house. Most amazing women and I highly recommend everybody in any female or male because now they have male groups that have been through sexual trauma to contact a centre like that. That started my healing journey and taught me how to be eventually sexually empowered. I learned how to orgasm I learned how to masturbate I learned how to not feel shame from sex. You know, that type of stuff. And that was incredibly empowering to remove that stigma, which even without the trauma that I went through, there is still that stigma for women anyway. And, you know, you carry this guilt, regardless of whether or not you've been through a trauma or not from enjoying sex, because women aren't supposed to do that, because that makes you a slot. But it's not that way at all, like, our bodies are essential for a reason we have those erogenous zones for a reason. And so learning that and removing that guilt was a huge weight off my shoulders, and I empowered myself I was in control, I, you know, it was all my, my doing, and I was empowered by it. And then this injury happened. And it got taken all the way again, without my consent. And that's where my insecurities come from. It's that learning how to, even though I love being single, and I probably never want to be in a relationship ever again, because I'm, like, super independent. Now. I also have that on the other hand, I go, what would be the point of dating? Because I'm useless in the bed department. Like there's nothing there. And because there's nothing there. I don't have a libido either. So I'm,
you know, the relationship is not only…
Well, no, I know, but there's not even like, there's not even a, a want. It's kind of almost to the point. And I think that's a part of the psychological block that I have from this injury is that it makes like that guilt and that shames come back again. So even if I was to be with somebody, I'm scared of how that's going to make me feel. So it's, I'm also not allowing myself to go into the dating world. Because of what if it brings back up all that shame and all that? You know, because I can't feel it. So what I might blow up don't?
What surprises me? Is that why we women always think that dating has its equal having sexual relationship? You know, like, exactly, it's some point of life. Okay, getting old. It's not like, it's also reducing your libido anyway, like, it's injury or not. And then why it's always should be a sexual relationship, like, okay, yes, it's a big part of the man-woman relationship in the young age, whatever. But let's say you're 60, and you meet someone who's 70. And so you cannot be together because you both don't want sex anymore, or like, you just want to spend time together, travel together.
So companionship would be great. I'd love that. Yeah, I would love companionship. But it also has to be companionship, where it's quiet at nighttime, because at nighttime, I get very, I like my two hours of silence in the dark. So I'm also very protective of that space. So if I have a partner, they need to not talk for two hours at night time. So I can sit in the dark in the silence for a little while. Just until, because my brain won't stop. I need to have that. That two hours at nighttime of dead silence of just me, my phone in the dark playing a game that is completely brain dead in two
Separate bedrooms. It's a great solution.
one of my friends who him and his wife built their house and he they have two separate rooms and both of the rooms are massive because they've got their own lounge room in them as well. So they can actually have separate space. years ago I was like my god what kind of weird ass relationship now I look at it and I'm like, oh, that sounds phenomenal. I make my own space all the time. But yeah, cuz if I don't do that two hours at night time of complete and utter silence and get my brain completely dead before putting my head on the pillow. I will then once I get my head on the pillow if I'm not brain dead by the time I do that, my brain will click into gear and I'll go like stupid questions like do penguins have knees? You know this is what my brain does. This is Brian does it not time so unless I'm completely dead brain like brain dead I'm you know my brains gonna kick into gear and start asking stupid questions which mind you they do have Nice I looked it up
you see you learnt something
from my ADHD brain Yeah, yeah. Cuz I've also I don't I'm trying to take care of my mental health naturally as well so my doctors got me on CBD oil in the morning and CBD THC at nighttime. Which for the whole body experience and pain relief, the works, it's been phenomenal and the but in regards to the hormonal side of things because CBD and THC is has it also has a hormonal response. So it helped stabilises the hormones and everything. So not only is it a pain reliever, but it also is working in HR, but also other chemistry brain chemistry as well. So it's also helping stabilise ADHD, so I'm not so impulsive, I'm not so you know, off the charts, I can actually recognise when I'm in a bit of a, you know, hyper fixation moment or I'm in a bit of a manic moment, you know, that type of thing. And so I can recognise it and I can actually put in place tools to manage those symptoms without having to take all of that hardcore medication, like Dick's amphetamines or drummoyne, or, you know, all those tough and riddle them. I don't want to have to, I'm already on enough medication for because you have to develop this new condition where I'm my one my layman term for it is called being allergic to living. The name for it is chronic, spontaneous urticaria with angioedema phenotype, which means I'm allergic to anything, everything and nothing at all. So I have to take medication in the morning. And so I have to take 360 milligrammes of fixed affinity, which is any histamine, which normal, everyday people if they have an allergic reaction to so high fever, they take one of these tablets in a day, that's all they're allowed to have. I take two in the morning to at nighttime, and then two throughout the day if I start having any breakouts, and then I have a nighttime medication, and so I have morning medication on top of that any histamine, which is an immunosuppressant one, and I have another one. That's also another immunosuppressant one that I have to take nighttime, and then once a month, I have to inject my belly, to injections in my belly, just to stop me from going into anaphylaxis from waking up, you know, because that was the last the last time I had we ended up in hospital with anaphylaxis was that what was it about nine months ago, and I woke up, and 45 minutes later, I was in hospital with anaphylaxis. And they had to hit me with three hits of adrenaline, which now I have to carry two epi pens around in my bag because they said one's not going to be enough. If I'm far away from hospital, one EpiPen isn't going to be enough to get me to hospital.
Differently, your body's trying to tell you what, stop stop giving. And you keep going and going?
Well, because I don't have the option to stop yet. You know what I mean? Like, if once I get this payout through, if it's substantial enough, then I can actually take the time off. And I can pay the mortgage off so that that's not hanging over me. And I can do the three months rehabilitation. And I can take my kids on holidays. And because at the moment they they're like they're being so amazing in understanding why I'm barely around because my brother has been down here from Townsville, and he's been taking care of them. And it's been phenomenal having him because he's been such a positive male role model for them. That he's, yeah, they've settled down here. They're treating me differently. They're speaking differently to me. Because normally, because I am the only parent around, I'm their safe space. So normally, I'm the one that gets everything taken out on you know,
my last question is, I love this question. Everyone has nice, different answers. What is your favourite quote about being a woman? Or saying or maybe your own thought?
Be who you needed back when you're a teenage girl. Be that to yourself now. Be the best version of you in the space you're in. So if you're having a shit day, give yourself permission to actually just have a shit day because just because we're female doesn't mean we're not human. So we're allowed to have feelings. We're allowed to have emotions, we're allowed to have good days, we're allowed to have bad days, we're just like any other human being on this earth. So we're not superhuman, we don't have to hold it all in and just empower each other, lift each other up, as opposed to seeing another woman as competitions. See that other woman as a sister, you know, that's, for me, that's been what has changed my outlook on life and changed. How I make friends, you know, in the girlfriends that I have, are soul sisters, you know, because instead of seeing them as competition and enemy, I see them as somebody who we can support each other. I adore this woman over here, as Casey she's, I can't tell you the most amazing,
she's whispering – “Stop!”
But she she's the most amazing woman I've ever met in my entire life and everything she's been through in her life and still having the care and the love and adoration and just being who she is like she's. I hope you cry.
what a great finale for our interview! Thank you very much for sharing your story, such a like interesting life.
That's one way of putting it.
And I hope I hope that you will enjoy the rest of your today's experience and you will get what you came for. And thank you again.
If you have an interesting story, we'd love for you to participate. You can email us at email@example.com That's Aleksandra spelled with a K S. Or visit our website aleksandrawalker.com
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