Sunrise

Learning to manage depression

Looking back, I think depression first kicked in for me as a teenager but I had no idea what it was then. For many years I stumbled along self-medicating and probably in denial. I didn’t know where to begin unravelling all the confusion that swam around inside my head, I didn’t want to tell anyone how dark my thoughts were and I didn’t know where to begin getting help.

I wish I had known then what I know now, it could have avoided years of heartache.

Now, I manage my depression. It’s medically defined as ‘clinical depression’ or ‘major depressive disorder’. It comes and goes. There are weeks or even months that pass and it doesn’t even cross my mind; I’m happy, focused and in-the-moment. But when it descends it makes everything difficult. I’ve now designed my life so that I can be kind to myself when carrying the fog rather than trying to pretend to the world that I’m ok.

Managing major depressive disorder can be incredibly hard work. It’s taken me many years to spot the signs of the fog descending and force myself to follow a self-care plan during those times.

Dark spells pass – and that in itself is one of the most important things to remember if you’re living with depression or someone close to you is.

There are days when I have no energy; I struggle to get out of bed. I have no interest in human connection. Those are days where I avoid people and turn to my dog for company!

It’s defined as being a “persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life”. That sounds about right.

Some people never have a bout of depression, some have it once in their life, and others manage it on an ongoing basis, as it’s a recurring theme so they proactively try to avoid crashes.

Once you have had one episode you are at a higher risk of having another.

It can occur from one generation to the next in families but that’s not always the case. It can also affect someone with no family history of the illness.

While depression is more commonly reported among women, men are less likely to seek help or even talk about their experiences.

What to look for:

  • Biological, psychological and social sources of distress.
  • Research suggests these factors may cause changes in brain function.
  • A persistent feeling of sadness that you just can’t shake.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
  • Changes in sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration or thoughts of suicide.
  • Substance abuse can be a cause or a result of depression.
  • Life triggers can often be around loss. So, losing a job, a loved one, divorce or separation for example or loneliness. Also major life changes such as retirement or job change.

What to do:

  • Go to see your GP.
  • Your GP will help you understand what’s causing your altered brain activity.
  • Your GP may suggest medication, therapy or both.
  • Many people are hesitant about taking medication. It’s a personal choice. There is growing research that suggests taking medication can actually normalise brain changes that can be experienced with depression.
  • There’s no blood test or x-ray. Your doctor may however, run blood tests to help detect any other medical problems that they want to rule out before diagnosis (such as thyroid issues that can cause some similar problems).
Flowers

Gold Coast’s Best Blooms

An unexpected flower delivery – it’s enough to make a grown woman squeal.

And while boutique florists are in abundance on the GC, here’s the pick of the bunch when you need beautiful blooms delivered.

Just Because Blooms

Ordering flowers is fun at Just Because Blooms. With cleverly named bunches like Barbie Girl for all the pink you can handle; Starburst for more pops of colour then a Ken Done painting, or long last-lasting natives, for something subtle.

With prices starting from just $35 including delivery, earning brownie points doesn’t have to be expensive.

Just Because Blooms

PHOTO: By Melissa Pinn

Huckleberry Flowers

Wrapped in their signature brown paper, Huckleberry Flowers’ whimsical blooms say it all. Each bunch is carefully curated to create the perfect floral arrangement, from simple and subtle, to bright and cheery. But you’ll need to move fast to grab a bouquet of their popular pink peonies!

Blossom and Bee

Creating the most perfect bunches, Blossom and Bee’s flowers seriously are – the bee’s knees. Providing daily doses of natural beauty and creativity in every bouquet, their selection of bespoke flowers coupled with beautiful hand-poured beeswax candles from the Gold Coast hinterland, make the perfect gift.

Flowers at the Door

Whether you’re after an elegant, vibrant or vintage styled bunch, Flowers at the Door create the most deliciously full bouquets, stunning enough to make anyone swoon. Selecting only the finest petals, you choose the style, they’ll pick the flowers and…you guessed it, deliver ‘em straight to your door.

Flowers at the Door

PHOTO: By Melissa Pinn

Fleurus

From classic red roses to elegant chrysanthemums, you can’t go past seasonal fresh flowers from Fleurus. The most beautiful assortment of colourful blooms, paired with an experienced team of floral wedding designers, means you can expect your bouquet to be on point, every time.

Fleurus

PHOTO: By Melissa Pinn

Flowers on Tedder

There’s something to be said about the Gold Coast’s relaxed lifestyle and Flowers on Tedder reflect this in every bunch; creating elegant, understated bouquets, from bountiful natives to soft pastel combinations. Consider yourself a budding florist? Check out their workshop series, designed to equip flower lovers with creative and practical floristry skills.

Editor’s Note: This article is for general information and entertainment, and is the expressed opinion of the author and not a paid advertisement. Be sure to check current menus, prices, addresses, opening hours and contact information directly with the venue/service in advance of any booking/purchase.

Letting go of entitlement

It is often said we are living in the age of entitlement. That is, people have become increasingly self-centred and have an inflated sense of deserving the world without putting in the hard work.

Many believe this is because we’ve made life so busy for ourselves. Technology is always there and life has become 24/7 seven days a week. Hand in hand with that, people are increasingly stressed and the world becomes frustrating when things don’t go our way.

There is lots of talk about rights rather than responsibility.

Entitlement is the opposite of mindfulness. After all, it’s easy to sit back and point the finger at others or make demands. What’s harder is taking personal responsibility for yourself and focusing on more mindful communication.

People with a strong, overriding sense of entitlement can be a nightmare to be in a relationship with. They’re likely to have one set of rules for themselves but another for others. They may expect a lot of favours but do little in return – or make a song and dance about everything. Conversations often focus on them, their feelings, their frustrations, their goals.

Such entitlement in friends is hard work too. Imagine cancelled plans, frequent bailing and letdowns.

And on social media, these will be the people who look for fights and go into battle intending to win. They believe their opinion is the only opinion and they are always right. There is a lot of emotional pollution on social media caused by inflated entitlement!

Rather than fixating on everyone else’s entitlement, the place to start is in the mirror. Letting go of entitlement starts with ourselves. Mindful communication goes hand in hand with empathy: understanding what’s going on from another person’s perspective.

Letting go of entitlement begins with accepting it exists. We can all do better and curb our entitlement more.

If you’re running in a permanent state of entitlement it’s likely those around you will frustrate you. Everyone and everything becomes an annoyance because the more you expect, the more you’re let down when everything doesn’t go your way.

All things mindful begin with slowing down. When you can slow down your thoughts, you can slow down your emotional reaction and become more mindful and careful in your response.

In taking ownership for that domino effect you can take a breath, push away your feelings of frustration, draw in compassion for others and respond in a more measured, considerate way.

So, in letting go of our sense of entitlement we can become calmer and treat others more respectfully. In psychology so-called ‘capitalisation research’ shows that promoting other people’s successes has a positive effect on the sharer. In other words, putting our own entitlement aside feels good!

Where to begin?

  • Press pause – step off the rollercoaster and give yourself a little time to think.
  • Living in a constant state of chaos with cluttered thoughts and emotions crashing into each other is stressful and not good for our mental health.
  • Take a walk – make an effort to create the time to reflect even if it’s only 10/15 minutes.
  • Think about your inner circle – who is frustrating you? Why? How may you be able to handle that differently without your own sense of entitlement?
The Borrowed Nursery

The Gold Coast’s green-thumb hot-spots

Plant stores, they’re popping up all over the coast and making it a whole lot easier to satisfy even the most devoted plant lover’s obsession.

Check out who’s got the goods when it comes to welcoming greenery into your life.

The Borrowed Nursery
Conservatively crafted, The Borrowed Nursery in Mermaid Beach has been so popular; they’ve branched off and opened a second concept store in Tugun at The Cornerstore.

The Borrowed Nursery

PHOTO: By Melissa Pinn

Not only do they stock the most deliciously abundant greenery to buy and to hire, this beautiful space is also available for art workshops, weddings and party hire.

Green Folk Botany Shop
Plants, trees and pots – oh my! Jam-packed from floor to ceiling, Green Folk Botany Shop in Burleigh is seriously brimming with foliage. From Fiddle Leaf Figs to Monsteras and everything in between, Green Folk is all about, yep you guessed it, green folk! Even the most avid plant-lover can expect to discover rare and unique plants and fall in love all over again.

Greenfolk

PHOTO: By Melissa Pinn

Gather
Nestled in the industrial arts precinct of Currumbin, Gather has what you need to bring your indoor garden dreams to life. Marvel in awe at everything this micro nursery has to offer, including gorgeous handcrafted pots from local artisans to complement your new plant purchases. Gather’s dried flower bar is also the perfect opportunity to channel your inner florist!

Gather

PHOTO: By Melissa Pinn

Instant Jungle Palms Nursery
Spread across 2 acres, Instant Jungle Palms Nursery on Olsen Avenue in Labrador is filled with fernery and foliage for indoors and out. If yours is more of a black thumb than green, don’t despair – on-site horticulturalists are sure to have something you can manage to keep alive including creepers, climbers, cactus and more.

Ross Evans Garden Centre
Located on the northern end of the Gold Coast in Runaway Bay, Ross Evans Garden Centre is a plant lover’s paradise. One visit to this place and you’ll see why. I’m talking 6 acres of lush plants in all their glory. With more plants than you can poke a stick at, their range is pretty phenomenal so set aside a few hours to explore this plant haven.

Kingscliff Nursery
Okay, so it’s not technically on the Gold Coast, but this little beauty is a must-visit for plants of all sorts. Set in the rolling hills of Cudgen, Kingscliff Nursery features a huge selection of coastal and tropical plants for indoors and out. Do yourself a favour and take the drive south, you’ll thank me for it later.

Editor’s Note: This article is for general information and entertainment, and is the expressed opinion of the author and not a paid advertisement. Be sure to check current addresses, opening hours and contact information directly with the venue/service in advance of any booking/purchase.

Meditation

What is mindfulness – and why bother?

Now that I practise mindfulness as part of daily life, I realise that I lived in a state of chaos for a very long time.

Learning to still the mind and bring attention to the present moment takes practice. The more you practise the easier it gets, and the more of a difference you’ll see between a new way of living and your old.

Last year I drove down the coast for a Buddhist ‘Dharma Day’ (a day to reflect and seek enlightenment). During the breaks, we practised ‘mindful walking’. Rather than walking from A to B in a rush, this was about slowly walking in silence, feeling the grass underfoot, noticing the birds singing and really soaking up all that each moment offered.

Buddhist philosophy has focused on how to reduce human suffering for thousands of years. In Buddhist teachings, mindfulness is used as a tool to develop self-knowledge. The more we practise, the more wisdom we gather and the more we step out of suffering.

In my old life, everything was a whirlwind. I was stressed, always busy and my anxiety took over. I’ve found that practising mindfulness dials that all down. Everything becomes calmer, anxiety fades and a whole new world opens up. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it really has changed my life.

As a practice, mindfulness is now been taught in schools, hospitals and prisons, which speaks volumes about the transformational potential it can bring.

What is mindfulness?

  • Awareness
  • Attention
  • Present-moment awareness, non-judgmentally

How do I get started?

  • When my mind was busy I found sitting on the beach was a great place to begin. The sound of the ocean is hypnotic and your breathing naturally slows as you take in the fresh air.
  • Sit crossed legged and get comfy, take a blanket (or two in winter!).
  • Bring your attention to your breath. Become aware of the cold air as you breathe in, and the warmer air as you breathe out.
  • ‘Box breathing’ is a really simple technique to give your monkey mind a job to do rather than letting it wander off into your stressful to-do list. Try breathing in for four, hold for four, out for four, hold for four.
  • The more you practise, the longer you’ll find you can concentrate simply on your breathing.

What’s the point?

The major benefit I’ve found from practising mindfulness is developing the ability to remove myself from my thoughts. When someone first said to me, “You are not your thoughts”, I thought, “You are bonkers”.

Now, I can appreciate that the jumbling, racing thoughts that hurtle through my mind don’t have to crumble my peace of mind. That takes practice!

There is a reason mindfulness is often successfully used in treating anxiety, depression and addiction. Learning to create this distance from your thoughts and feel a sense of calm focus, I believe, is the key.

No matter how fast they race or negative they become, you do not have to fall into them. They are not you. You can calm your mind and direct your focus back into the very present moment, which is ultimately all we really have. We can alleviate suffering and fear by pouring full attention into what we are doing in the moment.

Gold Coast Beach Rainbow

PHOTO: By Corrine Barraclough