Health and Wellbeing (mental, physical, emotional & spiritual)

Standing beside my Perinatal Depression

As someone who has had mental health allowances for the past 12 years, I knew that my approach to pregnancy needed to be planned, specific and aware.

Before the first trimester was done and dusted I made sure I was referred to a Psychiatrist with Perinatal experience. I’ve never been one for talk therapy, but I do have a great appreciation for pharmacology and am acutely aware of the chemical sh*t-storm that causes the lows I experience.

I have previously written about my awful experience with the Mirena IUD and how toxic progesterone was for me. So I was worried that my inner demons were going to be on Spring Break once I had those pregnancy hormones pumping around!

That first trimester was a constant ping-pong game of joy and excitement v. apprehension and doubt. What was I doing? Who did I think I was bringing a baby into the world? Was I ready to be a Mum. So on and so forth. Then I would be with my Husband, planning for the future and everything was okay.

Being matched with my Psychiatrist instantly felt like having an experienced, professional and knowledgeable cheerleader on my side. I left my first appointment feeling empowered and confident. I had my doubts, as I had sought treatment from the same hospital (different Psychiatrist) who was a little too quick to (incorrectly) diagnose me. Which led to being placed on absolutely inappropriate (read: life damaging) medication. So to say I was gun-shy and hesitant is putting it lightly.

However my journey so far with my Psychiatrist has been wonderful. Even with the added uncertainty of COVID-19, she has effectively given me the tools and the confidence to manage my anxiety and depression while pregnant. There is a high chance I will end up with Post-Natal Depression, and I will cross that rickety bridge if/when it happens. What it means is that I am constantly having to assess the future, to try and prepare for something which may not happen. Knowledge (and even more so, acknowledgement) is power as far as I am concerned. So while some think I have a pessimistic view to the future, I believe that in preparing for the ‘worst’, then I’m taking some of the power away from the beast that is my anxiety and depression. I may be sharing my journey, mind & soul with my mental health – but at 34 and with several notable fights in the past with it – I refuse to take a back-seat.

Mental health is no joke, and it certainly is nothing to be ashamed of. Saying this out loud is one thing, but taking ownership of it and acknowledging it as part of your story is another. There are so many resources out there and other people willing to help you up. Don’t ever feel ashamed to speak, and always ask for help when you need it.

Courtney x

Australia · Health and Wellbeing (mental, physical, emotional & spiritual)

Week 32 – Why is there hair growing on my belly?

My belly is growing hair and it is freaking me out.

I also can’t breathe properly and I seem to be going to the bathroom every half hour.

My little babe is perfecting their excellent karate moves, and quite frankly the strength behind each move is kind of shocking!

I had my first Midwife appointment this week, it was a private antenatal class which was quite good. Most of the information shared was information I had read or heard about from my sister or Mum, but as my Midwife was talking about my experience with my birth and my baby it really hit home.

There were tears and quite frankly I didn’t see that coming. I don’t cry easily, don’t really experience the happy tears and certainly don’t cry around people I don’t know! Yet here I was, picturing the moment I will meet our baby and I was overcome with emotions.

Truth be told I missed a fair bit of the information because my eyes kept tearing up at finally meeting our baby! The emotional hangover I had after the crying lasted the rest of the day and I actually had to go to bed early. Emotional wreck I tell you!

It is wild to know that we will meet our babe soon, I’m excited but nervous. I have two more weeks of work left before I start maternity leave.

I guess it’s nearly time to start planning my hospital stay!

What were your third trimester saviours?

babies and family · Love and Happiness (and all the fun bits in between)

Nauseous, sweaty & puffy – month 2 ♡

I found out I was pregnant in month two of my pregnancy, right before our family trip to Bali! For the first half of our trip I felt tired and hot. Bali in Summer was always going to be unpleasant, but my body acting as it’s own furnace made it much, much worse!

During our last few days of Bali I contracted what I thought was a cold, but once I was home it pretty quickly became apparent I had Influenza. It absolutely destroyed me (on top of the pregnancy nausea), and I was so glad we were over the active part of our holiday and I could lay down!

I think given I was so sick, it is hard to tell what was pregnancy and what was the flu – but the signs and symptoms I did have were: swollen/tender boobs, fatigue, nausea (without vomiting) and headaches. On our last day we drove from Ubud back to the Bali airport for our flight home and it was the most intense nausea I had experienced yet. That 40 minute drive on windy roads, with a tap-happy braker, really tested me!

The second half of the second month was not good. I felt both drunk and hungover at the same time, all of the time. I also had flashbacks to that time I had vertigo. The nausea was unrelenting, if I moved too quickly (or if I moved at all), the waves of nausea would completely take over.

Basically my appearance for the first trimester resembled this ↙

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Week 8 I had bleeding, which meant a trip to the hospital and I was told that I was experiencing a threatened miscarriage. I knew that having a miscarriage was always possible, and it terrified me. What made it even scarier was the fact that there was nothing I could do to prevent it. I just had to ride it out and hope for the best.

From a personal perspective I switched back to eating meat around week 8, I had been vegetarian for a year. I was struggling with food and felt fatigued and unwell. Despite supplements, I made the decision to go back to eating meat a few times a week. This wasn’t a medical choice, it was a personal choice and even if it was for my own mental wellness then I was happy with my choice.

Week 9 was my first appointment with my OB, and running through all of the initial information was exciting but made it all so phenomenally real. It was when I had my ultrasound and saw our tiny little baby dancing and grooving on the screen that my heart exploded! Especially after having nearly lost the pregnancy just the week before. It was dancing like a little care bear and looked just like a chicos baby lolly…

Week 10 I went for my first full ultrasound and G and I saw our little babe on screen and saw that it’s size was bang-on with my expected due date. It was getting hard to believe that I had almost reached the end of my first trimester!

I had started to see the tiniest of baby bumps, I knew that I had an anterior placenta which is known to stop your baby bump from ‘popping’ as early as others. I also am quite tall (average legs but long torso), so I was a little excited when I could see a noticeable little bump.

I couldn’t sleep because of insomnia as well as a wild-resurgence of my restless leg syndrome. So that was fun. Nausea, sweaty, swollen, sore boobs and the inability to stop my legs from moving. In the darkest hours of night I just kept thinking how do I survive this for another 7 months?!

The only things that helped with my all-day nausea (and I mean helped minimally, certainly didn’t stop it) was ginger (tea, ginger beer, crystallised, kombucha), and watermelon. The only thing I could manage to eat was fruit – mostly watermelon. I found that the smell of mint or menthol helped as well!

Oh and ice-cold water, and drinking it slowly. Honestly without ice-cold water I would have been in trouble. I also couldn’t stomach coffee or tea during the second month. I was even struggling with Diet Coke, which is absolutely my favourite beverage of all time.

Overall it was definitely a month of noticeable change, and some pretty debilitating side-effects, but seeing the very subtle changes and looking at my ultrasound pictures definitely made it that little easier (and all of the ginger, watermelon and cold water!).

Month two of pregnancy signs/symptoms :

  • Nausea – yes+++++
  • Bloating – yes+++
  • Sleep problems / insomnia – yes++++
  • Tender/swollen breasts – yes++++
  • Fatigue – yes+++
  • Moodiness – not really+

Tell me, what was/is your month two of pregnancy like?

Courtney x

Australia

Expecting Mindfully

Pregnancy is miraculous, a gift, an honour and a marvel which is hard to believe. It is also hard freaking work!

I’m now in my seventh month of my pregnancy (with my first babe) and ooo boy, I was not prepared for all the weird and wonderful surprises during this journey!

Our pregnancy was planned and long-awaited and when we found out I was pregnant, I honestly felt as though my heart was going to beat out of my chest.

2020 has been a time of awful uncertainty in the world, and to some degree it has been a real conflict to celebrate and talk about this baby, knowing the struggles and the pain Earth and her inhabitants are going through.

For my own mental health I’ve been keeping a mindfulness journal, intermittently – but I want to make a conscious effort to keep it up during this last trimester.

This is a little spot for me to write about my pregnancy so far, and pregnancy ahead. Primarily this has always been a travel blog, and then a mental health blog, so I am hoping the transition makes sense.

I would love to connect with other mums-to-be and especially other mums who have experienced peri/post natal mental health battles.

Courtney x

Health and Wellbeing (mental, physical, emotional & spiritual) · Love and Happiness (and all the fun bits in between) · personal growth · Self Improvement

Protecting your own Self-Peace & Energy

When do you stop farming out your own energy, at the cost of your own self-peace just to be hurt or to have it thrown in your face?

I spent my twenties spread too thin. Constantly trying to juggle the number of confusing friendships and competing priorities. Only to have most friendships dwindle away.

My thirties have always been about protecting those friendships which are precious to me. Regardless of where our lives take us. Marriages, travel, families, interstate moves, building houses. Whatever it was, it would never be enough to break these long term friendships up. However you long for your friends. You miss their cuddles and your heart just isn’t quite the same without their laughter.

Food for thought…

I watched my husbands younger family member Skype her friend and text her at the same time and I thought it was overkill. Then I realised how much I missed my friends. What I would have done to be with them and see their faces. It’s true that you can experiencing heartbreak away from those you love. I made a solid effort at growing my friendship group but mostly I just feel disappointed.

New friends rarely work out. Everyone wants something from you, some people like to keep you close especially if you’re life is complicated, or you’re a natural problem solver or in a position to help them. I’ve tried to fight those thoughts recently, but have ended up burned once again.

I’m sure it’s possible to develop new friendships as you age, but the screening process is so much more complicated. I find myself at the moment looking around at several people who a year ago I considered close and now I barely speak to them.

I can’t be everyone’s big sister. I can’t keep being the work mum.

My friendship is not one sided. I have needs as well. I’m consistently trying to help others. I end up a free and over utilised source of psychological counselling. Only to find myself turned inside out, feeling exposed and exhausted. Yet, because of the strong personality people are so prone to point out, I am very rarely asked if I am okay.

I am not okay. I am tired, I am worn and I am confused. I have stuff going on, my needs and wants are valid and I too need a listening ear.

As I approach my mid-thirties and race towards a massive change in my life, I’ve started thinking about how I can reclaim my space, my time and start putting me first. I still want to be a good friend, to those friendships that nourish me but I need to learn how to close the door on non-serving friends.

Any advice on how to do this effectively and kindly, while protecting my own space and peace is welcomed. Thank you x

Courtney

Health and Wellbeing (mental, physical, emotional & spiritual) · Love and Happiness (and all the fun bits in between) · personal growth

Gratitude Day 2 – Health

Gratitude Day 2 – Health

I guess that ultimately, given it is meant to be an essay on gratitude, this should be positive things about my health, so here goes.

I am alive and for all intents and purposes, I am healthy. I am able to get around day to day, I have no physical diseases etc., I have overcome several health issues, have gone under the knife many times and struggle with shoulders and knees and my spine – but in your thirties, who isn’t struggling?

I am thankful for my hearing, music and conversation are my main loves.

I am thankful for my eyesight. Nature and all of the things around me I love to look at. Always. Photography, reading and looking at those I love, I have my eyes to thank for all of these.

I am thankful for my height. I wasn’t always, I was gangly and tall and weird, sort of just standing out like a long, white-limbed, red-headed weirdo. I love being tall it taught me to stand up for myself, my posture is strong, I don’t need a little set of stairs or a stool to reach anything. I see more people. I observe others. I do not get lost in a crowd.

I love that I have the physical ability and more importantly, I am thankful for my physical ability. To be able to explore, to feel the grass under my feet, to wrap my arms around those I love. To feel the sensation of rain on my skin, wind at my back and sun on my face. How could we not be thankful for these gifts?

I am thankful for having a sense of taste, for a multitude of reasons. The sense of smell, possibly more than the sense of taste for me. The sense of smell is so unique to each of us. Memories which come rushing to the surface when we smell something we love. The ability to smell danger is also so important.

I am thankful for my heart and my soul for always being strong. For being determined. For marching forward despite their setbacks.

I am thankful for my brain for although she brings me trouble daily, she is doing her best to improve. I overthink, but I have the ability to think. I am sensitive, I overthink things and I am intuitive beyond a fault, but at thirty-three, my ability to sense absolutely BS and run the other direction is a wonderful thing to have. I although distressed, am as equally thankful for my brain’s ability to recognise distress as it is and try to pry its own hands out of its own clutch. To fight for normality. To fight for peace. To always fight to be better. Oh, dear brain of mine, you bring me so much confusion and yet I know that after thirty-three years you are doing your absolute best to grow with me, to support me and to love me.

We aren’t there yet, but we will never stop trying.

x Courtney x

Thank you to everyone who read and responded to my essay yesterday! I had no idea that a little reflection on my awesome-foursome family would get such a strong reaction! To be honest, I also had no clue that my essay would automatically share to my Facebook page, so it was quite raw and honest!

 

Health and Wellbeing (mental, physical, emotional & spiritual) · Love and Happiness (and all the fun bits in between) · personal growth · Self Improvement

30 Day Gratitude Challenge

Life happens. Life gets in the way.

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Work.

Family.

Friends.

Bills.

Relationships.

Mental Health.

Physical Health.

Self-Worth.

The world.

Life happens, and life gets in the way.

How blessed we are to live it, to wake up each day and know that we get another chance, another 24 hours.

I have been having some pretty shocking struggles in the last six or so months. So rather than sitting here struggling to think of topics to write about, working out what rabbit hole to send my mind down instead of circling the drain – where to go intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Instead of uncertainty, confusion and the back and forth nonsense, I am going to focus on a 30 Day Gratitude Challenge.

Wish me luck, and please tag me in your comments or share my posts and let me know what you think.

x Courtney Gaye x

Australia · brisbane · Health and Wellbeing (mental, physical, emotional & spiritual) · Love and Happiness (and all the fun bits in between)

Christmas + mental health

Not another mental health post, some of you may be thinking. Where are the pretty travel pictures and travel stories, others of you may ask.

They’re here. I’ve got them. I cannot wait to share them, but with only nine days to go until Christmas I have something else on my mind.

Mental health. Not mental illness, not mental disorder, and certainly not mental problems. Mental health.

Christmas to my family is incredibly important, we love Christmas. We love being together and cooking and sharing thoughtful gifts, blasting Christmas music and wearing silly hats and telling terrible jokes from our Christmas crackers. My favourite memory of many of my christmases will always be that moment when I simply could not continue, I was full and exhausted, I’d had a day of fun and it was finally time for bed. I will always hear my mum and dad saying Merry Christmas darlin’ as I headed to bed each year. That is my favourite Christmas memory.

The holiday season is not always a happy time for some, for some people it brings with it memories of loss, a time of grieving, feelings of sadness and confusion. For some it means nothing but anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts.

Christmas is hectic. The holidays can be a real trigger for many people out there and we have a responsibility to check in on others.

For one of my friends, she lost her Mother on Christmas Eve. Another lost her best friend to depression on Christmas Day. Some people no longer have anyone to put their tree up with them. There are families who cannot afford to eat. Families without homes. Families doing their best to keep everything together, even though it seems impossible.

My favourite Big Issue vendor in Brisbane, Nathan is someone who stands outside of the 7/11 on Adelaide Street and wishes a Merry Christmas to ever single person who walks past him. I always make the time to stop and ask him how he is and have a chat. December brings with it a lot of hurt and sadness to his life. Not only is he homeless, but he lost his Mother, Step-Dad and his brother in various December’s. Still he wishes you a Merry Christmas. When I see people ignore him or even scowl at him I feel nothing but disgrace for the human race.

Last year, the week before Christmas, Nathan was telling everyone it would be his last week in Brisbane, he was moving to Hervey Bay to be with his son. His happiness was contagious, he hadn’t been that genuinely happy in months. I was silently rooting for him.

When I saw him on that same corner in January, my heart broke for him.

Missing out on the Portman’s dress you wanted for Christmas is not a tragedy. Working Christmas Eve instead of partying with your friends is not sad. Spending Christmas with your family-in-law or annoying Uncle / Cousin / Sibling is not depressing. They are all circumstantial situations.

I want you to enjoy your Christmas, be kind to everyone. Forget misgivings, remove toxic people from your life. Remember the reason for the season and practice kindness. Smile at your Big Issue vendor, if you have $7, buy a magazine. Chat with them. Ask how are you and be ready to listen and to mean it. Be socially aware.

Christmas is not shopping. Christmas is not presents. Christmas is not enduring Christmas with family, it’s an honour.

Christmas is love.

Practice love, always.

Australia · Lifestyle

My go-to movies to make my heart happy <3

I absolutely LOVE throwing myself into a movie, tv series, book, music – you name it, if it offers me some form of escapism, or if I am hungover, or if I just do not want to leave the house – then I am in! I have 100’s of favourite movies, but here are ten which, without fail, are the movie version of chicken-soup-for-my-soul.

In no particular order, here is my list of my favourites – enjoy! P.S These are normally enjoyed with tea and or wine ;).

Overboard (1987)

This is a movie which I watched with my sister and my mother so many times, we have lost count. It’s hilarious. Goldie Hawn a snooty heiress who ends up with amnesia and becomes the ‘Wife’ of the Carpenter (Kurt Russell) she mocked? Amazing. If you re-watch it now, I guess you could say ‘kidnapping’ and ‘criminal’ and ‘immoral’ but I just think it is 1987 at its finest. Also seeing as I am constantly being asked when I am having a baby I like to quote this exact movie ‘if I have a baby, I won’t be the baby’ ;).

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Steve Martin’s epic journey to get home to his family for Thanksgiving, trailing along with the ever-annoying, but loveable John Candy. It is another movie that reminds you that kindness costs nothing. It is a comedy, and I remember laughing with my entire family watching this one, but it also gives me all the feels. Despite its age, the core of the story remains ever-relevant.

Mrs Doubtfire (1993)

Hellooooo! I watched this movie probably 4 or 5 times every year when I was a kid. It was my first exposure to divorce, Robin Wiliams’ extraordinary talent, San Francisco, cross-dressing and Pierce Brosnan playing a skeazy d*ckwad. I love this movie, I still watch this movie and I cry every time I think about poor Robin and the pain such an amazing man experienced throughout his life. Also the sentence ‘the whole time!?’ is a staple in our household.

Practical Magic (1998)

I definitely seem to love the movies with lost love, not sure why! Is that morbid? I don’t know. I love Practical Magic, it came out when I was about 15 and excuse the pun, but it was completely bewitching. It was also scary when I first watched it – it did however remind me that love is real and one day I would have it <3. I love Sandra Bullock and I cannot help but love ‘our’ Nic. It also reminds you to stand up for yourself, not to give into bullying and to have your families back x

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Heath Ledger. Kat’s Teen angst. A powerful female character who was not the most popular chick in school and who was well-read. Heath Ledger. That scene with Joey doing the exact same pose for underwear and swimsuits at Bogey Lowenstein’s party. Oh my god. The poem, the end scene, the kiss at the paintball. Just stop. 14 year old me could barely handle the excitement of this movie (and 31 year old me is still the same level of excited). This movie always makes me feeling ‘just whelmed’ :).

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

This movie has won no particular accolades, many people have not even seen it. I remember borrowing it from Video Ezy in one of my manic Friday afternoon 10 for $10. However, from the first time I saw it – I loved it and I still love it to this day. Diane Lane is Frances, a writer who goes through a marriage break-down and impulsively buys and restores a tuscan villa on a holiday. Uplifting, inspiring, girl-power, you can do it on your own. I absolutely Love it. If anything, this movie taught me that I had to love myself before I could love someone else.

Love Actually (2003)

Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth? A little boy finding love and chasing after it with conviction even just after his Mum has died? Billy-Bob Thornton playing a sleazy American President? An entire village in Portugal thinking Jamie is there to kill Aurelia? What isn’t to love? It is a staple Christmas-time movie and to be honest, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Love Actually, because, love, actually is all around ❤

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)

Who doesn’t love Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey as Benjamin Barry and Andie Anderson in this movie? All of the feelings! Special mention to Kathryn Hahn for being her usual hilarious self in this one as love-clueless Michelle. I like this movie because it embarrasses men and women – shows us how ridiculous we both can be! Also, Princess Sophia, making men curl their toes in embarrassment for years! Which couple hasn’t had the love-fern fight?

The Upside of Anger (2005)

Joan Allen is a woman whom I absolutely adore, and in this movie my love affair with her only grew. When Terry’s husband leaves her and her four daughters, her life is flipped on its head. Terry needs to draw strength to support her family and each one of their unique lives. It is gritty, it has some dark moments but it is feel-good. I do think its an adequate portrayal of a family filled with head-strong and very different women. Kevin Costner is brilliant in this as well and even though the movie is hardly all sparkles and sunflowers, it is a feel-good movie that I just keeping come back to.

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Again – empowering! Also Meryl Streep (there is no Meryl Streep I do not love!) Emily Blunt (the most adorable English rose in Hollywood if you ask me). Stanley Tucci, the thought of being exposed to all of that fashion! Ruthless behaviour, demanding Boss. Sign me up! It’s glossy and not a true portrayal of probably any real-life situation but I don’t care. I love it and it makes me happy.

P.S I Love You (2007)

Ireland, Gerard Butler, the ultimate acts of love – even beyond the grave, a family rallying together to support a woman who has lost the love of her life. I love this movie. It makes me bawl my eyes out, it makes me remember why I love who I love and to let them know. Every, damned, time. The book is amazing and although I am not the biggest fan of Ms Swank’s, I absolutely adored the movie.

Tell me, what is your go-to movie, to perk yourself back up?

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see!

Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

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x C x