Nobody is Alone

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Stephanie and Dee put their wonderful heads together to create this mental health blog project for people to take part in. The goal is to show that no one is alone in suffering from mental illness or learning to live with their struggles. I wanted to take part because mental health is something that is so important to me, and something I work on everyday to make my head a better place to be. The thing I have found most useful in this journey is realising that I’m not alone, and that there are so many amazing people out there for support and friendship.#nobodyisalone

1. Age: 24

2. Location: Auckland

3. Occupation: Public Servant

4. Is or has your mental health ever been of concern to you or others? As a child/teenager my mental health became a worry to my parents and teachers. As I was growing up I was still learning how to cope with life and all of its challenges (okay, so I’m still learning) and at times I suffered from depression and resorted to self-harm. Nowadays I am definitely better at recognising when life is getting too much and putting in place strategies to help me move through each hurdle but anxiety and depression can still arrive at my door when I least expect it.

5. Have you ever sought help for issues relating to your mental health? As a child I saw a variety of counsellors and psychologists, some of which were amazing and taught me some important life skills, others who did nothing but make me feel like a lunatic.

6. Have you ever felt anxious or had a panic attack? Anxiety is something that I experience pretty regularly, especially before a big social event or a day I know is going to be stressful and intense. Its scary to feel your mind and body freak out, your heart race and your hands shake, and that lack of control is the hardest thing to deal with.

7. What triggers you to feel anxious or low, in terms of your mood?  My triggers include lack of sleep, social situations that I don’t feel I have any control over (aka most of them) and stress (whether it be real or just perceived).

8. At what moments is your self-confidence at its lowest? Self-Confidence is one of those elusive concepts that I am definitely still working on. Its at its lowest when I’m sick, when I’m involved in negative relationships or just when my brain decides to bring up old “truths” I learnt as a child that put me in a vulnerable, negative state of mind.

9. What strategies do you use to cope when feeling anxious or low? My strategy for dealing with anxiety is using mindfulness and relaxation. This can be as simple as making myself to take a few deep breaths before walking into a social situation or reminding myself that the negative assumptions I make about certain things are just that, assumptions, and that it is my responsibility to reconsider certain things that change my perception of the world around me. Ultimately I have found that techniques which give me more control and responsibility over my mind help me to override the corrupt thoughts that cause my anxiety and try to produce more productive thought habits.

10. Does anxiety or a low mood have a physical effect on you? I definitely feel my mental state manifest in my physical health. When I am in a negative state of mind my body responds by getting sick and/or tired. This makes perfect sense because the human body is not designed to be a in a constant state of stress or anxiety and the chemical effects of this can be massive on your physical health. All the more reason to make my mental health the number one priority.

11. Do you or anybody you know suffer from a mental illness?  I have a close family member who is currently suffering in a pretty extreme way from a mental illness (and mental health has always been a part of my family history) and its harder for me to see it in someone I love then to deal with it myself.

12. Do you feel there is a stigma around mental illness? There is definitely stigma, even just in the way work environments give people sick days for when you have the flu but people are made to feel guilty or weak for taking days off when you simply can’t face getting out of bed. For people who have never experienced the paralysing ability of a broken mind, this can be hard to understand and this lack of understanding is a common cause of stigma.

13. What do you think could be done to change attitudes to mental health? Awareness. People shouldn’t feel ashamed of their mental health issues, the same as you wouldn’t be ashamed of a broken leg. People need to realise how important their mental health is, to the same degree that our physical health is seen as important if not more so. Awareness is so key, both for those who suffer from mental illness to make sure they know there is help available but also for those who haven’t experienced mental health issues and therefore may not understand its impact on others.

14. What advice do you have for anyone suffering from mental illness? My advice is that everyone is different and there is no one solution to mental illness so be experimental, talk to others and get tips on what has helped them in their journey. Then devote time and energy to trying these solutions until you find things that work for you. Make sure you do use the support of those around you and ask for help when you need it. Realise that there might always be bad days but you can get better at moving through these bad days and facing tomorrow. Focus on the positive’s in life because there are so many once we start looking. If you are suffering from mental illness speak to a professional to make sure you have the best tools available to help.

If you need someone to talk to call Lifeline on 0800 543 354 and seek help, because no one has to go through life and all of its challenges alone.

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Becoming a Dumpling Master

Sachie's Kitchen Taste of Asia #brunchclub

On Sunday last week #brunchclub hosted our very first Taste of Asia dumpling class, thanks to the generous folks at Contiki and also thanks to the amazing skills of our teacher, Sachie (from Sachie’s kitchen).

Sachie's Kitchen #brunchclub Taste of Asia

It was one of my favourite #brunchclub events, despite not technically revolving around brunch. Turns out I am great at making vegetarian dumplings. Super great. Like, you should invite me to your house to cook you and your friends dumplings great. Okay I exaggerate slightly, I may have taken quite a while to get used to the pinch and seal method and almost burnt a whole pan of delicious dumplings. But still, it was delicious.

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Mine looked nearly this pretty. Nearly.

We were split into teams to compete in a variety of tasks, most importantly, dumpling deliciousness. Sachie was an amazing teacher and was absolutely hilarious. If you are looking for amazing cooking classes for a corporate event or group event then go no further. I couldn’t have improved the set up at all.Sachie's Kitchen #brunchclub Taste of Asia

The whole event sped by and before long we were stuffed full of perfectly cooked dumplings and chatting about travel to Asia with the friendly Contiki staff.

#brunchclub Dumplings Sachie's Kitchen

I think the photos do a pretty great job at showing how much fun everyone had. Enjoy.

 

 

#brunchclub Contiki Sachie's Kitchen

Starting off easy with some origami. Easy in that I couldn’t do it at all.

#brunchclub Taste of Asia Sachie's Kitchen

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#brunchclub Taste of Asia Sachie's Kitchen

#brunchclub Sachie's Kitchen

#brunchclub dumplings contiki

Sometimes when I am paying attention super well I end up looking rather bored. Awkward.

#brunchclub Taste of Asia

Deep fried cheese filled dumplings. HEAVEN

#brunchclub dumplings with Sachie's Kitchen

Overall it was an amazing day, organised well and executed perfectly. It wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible help of Contiki and Sachie’s Kitchen, so thanks to them both. A big thanks to my amazing other half, Edd, for his beautiful photos. Don’t worry, we paid him in dumplings.

 

Sachie's Kitchen #brunchclub Contiki

#brunchclub’s Festive Feast with Chuffed

festive feast with chuffedSo on Sunday we wrapped up the year’s #brunchclub with a rather wonderful feast at Chuffed on High Street in Auckland. It was the perfect way to end the a year that has been full of surprises for #brunchclub, primarily in that it made the transition from being an excuse for me, Laura and Maddy to go eat delicious food and talk blogging to a huge group of incredible New Zealand bloggers. Each month I meet new people and we try new amazing spots in Auckland where we can chat over coffee and brunch.

 Chuffed Auckland Cafe  #brunchclubIts been amazing, and Laura and Maddy are two inspirational bloggers who have become my close friends through this whole thing (a side effect of #brunchclub for which I couldn’t be more grateful).

Maddy, Laura and Lizzy from #brunchclub

Finally a photo with all three of us!

To finish off the year we had 20 wonderful men and women (including ourselves) for a Christmas feast, featuring Turkey, Ham and all the wonderful vegetables you could imagine. Chuffed was a beautiful venue, a little haven in the middle of the city with a stunning outside area that was perfect for our group.

Decor for #brunchclubFood at Chuffed for #brunchclubFood at Chuffed for #brunchclubFood at Chuffed for #brunchclubFood at Chuffed for #brunchclubChuffed Cafe AucklandChuffed festive feast #brunchclubWe had a mixture of bloggers who regularly come to #brunchclub, and others for whom this was their first time, which was so cool (I still can’t believe how many great bloggers there are in Auckland!). We ate and talked the day away, and then rushed down for a quick look at the Auckland Fair (which looked incredible!).

#brunchclub festive feast at ChuffedI nearly forgot to talk about the desserts which were the most delicious part of the day in my dessert-loving opinion. There were two different options, a brioche and blackberry thing with marscapone (which looked delicious and was full of fresh berries), and my personal favourite, a lemon posset with berry coulis and crushed amaretto. Honestly, the lemon posset was delicious, like mind bogglingly delicious. I could have eaten them all, and nearly did. Everyone’s lucky they managed to obtain one to be honest.

Desert at #brunchclub

Drooling all over my key board. Someone help me make this.

Desertat #brunchclub at ChuffedThank you to everyone who joined us for our festive feast, and thanks also to every single person who has become a part of our little #brunchclub and has made this whole year incredible. Also go check out some wonderful posts about this Christmas #brunchclub over at The Confetti Room and Katerina Darling (two absolutely stunning blogs and equally stunning ladies who came along).

Christmas Chocolate FudgeAlso! I may have made some Christmas fudge for the giftbags to go along with some great little goodies from Lush! The post will be up in the next couple of days and would make a great gift for that one person who has everything (mostly shameless self plug trying to encourage you to check back later).

Festive decor with #brunchclubWe can’t wait to bring in the New Year and see what 2015 will bring for #brunchclub. To finish off a bit of a rambly post, below are 5 little things I have learnt from this year (’cause I love lists and you hopefully love lists too):

  1. I do not find socialising with new people easy and potentially never will (put me with cats and its a whole other story). Somehow in spite of this every single time I manage to meet some incredibly friendly and wonderful people who make the effort well worth it
  2. Anything is possible with two amazing friends who seem to be able to achieve a ridiculous amount of stuff in limited time.
  3. There seems to be a never ending supply of amazing cafe’s in Auckland and my goal in life is to try everyone’s pancakes.
  4. Glitter is really hard to get off your face after a hard night’s crafting. You may still look like a Christmas decoration the next day at work, regardless of showering.
  5. There is nothing better than spending a Sunday with like minded people, drinking coffee and eating delicious food.

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festive feast #brunchclub

October’s #brunchclub

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So to start off, #bloggersbrunchclub has had a makeover and is now #brunchclub, check out the new website and check out the facebook group if you aren’t already acquainted. With our new, streamlined name we had something special lined up for Octobers get together, and Tuihana Cafe was just the place to host it.

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We had a big group this month, around 15 people who came to chat over good food and coffee and get to know one another (I will never stop being amazed at the number of bloggers in Auckland). Laura and I had arranged some pretty special goodie bags with the help of some great local brands, but i’ll do a post on that later. Tuihana had agreed to host our noisy bunch of bloggers and it was a great, albeit pretty overwhelming, morning.

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I got the pancakes (which will not come as a surprise to anyone who has brunched with me recently) and they were accompanied by a delicious salted caramel sauce in place of maple syrup. Edd (who had come along for the first time to help us with photos) had the mushrooms on toast, which looked and smelt amazing. I also got major food envy from the corn fritters with guacamole ’cause they looked divine.


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After we had all stuffed ourselves with too much food and hyped ourselves up with some coffee, Nate, owner of Tuihana and director of 3bit, had agreed to share some of his knowledge on cafes, business and how social media fits into all of this (you can find Tuihana on Twitter and Facebook!). It was great to hear about how cafes can utilize social media to stand out in what is obviously a pretty competitive market, especially in Auckland. Stephanie did a great post around what we heard about over on her blog.

Sharing all that knowledge, thanks Nate!

Sharing all that knowledge, thanks Nate!

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Tuihana was a great place for brunch, with a delicious menu but also a comfortable space that was pretty central (located on Dominion road and with carparking which can always be a bit of a struggle). They do a great variety of food which is a mixture of Pacific island and European influences. The little touches, like the fact that their smoothies came in milk bottles, made them memorable and different. And of course, the coffee. Their coffee was great, no nonsense but good quality and well made. All ticks from me.

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With our heads and tummies full we parted ways to enjoy the rest of our weekend, but it was a great morning and thanks to each and every blogger who came along! Also a special thanks to my other half who did such an amazing job with taking some photos (if we are married do I get half the credit for his talent? That’s how it works, I’m pretty sure). Thanks also to Tuhiana Cafe for hosting us! I know I will be back to try out the lunch menu for sure (and probably just end up eating the pancakes as per always).

Check out a couple of other posts on Octobers #brunchclub below (and if I missed anyone please let me know!)

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3 months pass by

I’m really awkward when it comes to trying to update people on my life since returning to New Zealand. So much has happened, but time has flown by so quickly, so instead of rambling on I have compiled a brief list to sum up the last three months. I have also used instagram to provide a brief photographic overview of my life (spoiler alert – there’s a lot of coffee and pancakes).

So what have I been up to:

  • Eating enough cheese to feel sick (not something new, just reassuring you all that my love of cheese is still going strong
  • Having amazing #brunchclubs with Laura and Maddy, my two blogging inspirations and generally amazing friends
  • Settling in to a new wonderful flat with space and character and all those great things that make a house a home
  • Learning to love having flatmates again which mainly involves much wine drinking and the occasional sock on the door knob
  • Getting into Girls in a big way (the TV show, no dramatic orientation changes at this stage)
  • Pining over another overseas trip. Japan, I have you and all of your cat cafes in my sights.
  • Working too hard, doing too much overtime and then grumbling about it
  • Failing to join the gym but with all the right intentions
  • Enjoying the first little glimpses of summer with some iced tea and beers in our back yard
  • Feeling guilty over how hard I have found it to get back into blogging
  • Going for a couple of amazing trips to Wellington, one work related and one to launch Wellington’s very own #brunchclub
  • Baking things, but not as much as I would like to
  • Being awestruck and head over heels at my new little niece who is the most adorable piece of baby flesh I ever did set my eyes on.
  • Becoming ridiculously proud of my baby sister who makes motherhood look so darn easy, and has never looked more beautiful than when she is snapchatting her and the baby after very few hours of sleep. I don’t know how you do it but I know one day I will hate you just a little bit for setting the bar so high
  • Trying to make the neighbour’s cat love me the most and failing but still getting plenty of cat cuddles
  • Learning to appreciate the little things more, slowly.
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The “dream about you everyday”mint hot chocolate from Al’s Deli

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Using cafe’s as a way to get free (not really free) cat cuddles. 

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Experimenting with different Vegetarian meals

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Decorating the entire office to look like Alice and Wonderland and kind of knocking our own socks off

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Eating so much amazing food in Wellington. This is Chow *drool*

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Long Blacks look pretty and are better for me. So I’m trying to replace my love of lattes.

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Moving house and finding my favourite sun spot to read in

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Organising my first baby shower and not even screwing anything up!

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So I thought I wasn’t a fan of pancakes. Okra may have changed my whole perspective (which explains why I have eaten pancakes almost every weekend).

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Tried Best Ugly Bagels for the first time and thankfully they lived up to the hype in a delicious way! Peanut Butter and Jam for life.

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No words could describe how incredible it is to have a little niece.

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Entertaining which is mostly just an excuse to eat more cheese

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Had a great #brunchclub at Tuihana, more on this to come!

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Found an app that lets me replace faces with animal heads (called Animal Face, go figure) and have been going through all my travel photos to make them more appealing. So great.

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Enjoying the Kiwi Spring that has just started making itself known

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Befriending all the cats in the Neighbourhood, even the ones that look like little alien sheep.

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Reading this book and getting a little obsessed

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And lastly, embracing Halloween at work.

Looking forward to:

  • Lorde concert which is on tonight and which I should be getting ready for instead of blogging
  • Going to see Bill Bailey this week which will be amazing
  • The exciting future of #brunchclub
  • Watching my niece and my sister grow together
  • Spending more time with family now that the sun decides to come out more often
  • Continuing to make the new place feel like home
  • Joining a gym so that I can get fit and healthy
  • Doing some part time study, all though I might put that off until next year
  • Planning a budget that lets us save for a trip to the South Island and then later on for Japan
  • CHRISTMAS.

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