Archive for the ‘Member Wellbeing’ Category

MEMBER WELLBEING: Emotional Intelligence and Young People

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

When things are stress­ful and place us into sit­u­a­tions which inter­rupt our reg­u­lar rou­tine, oth­ers often ask how we are feel­ing.  This is not always an easy ques­tion to answer, espe­cial­ly if you are young or your emo­tion­al intel­li­gence is not high.  Emo­tion­al intel­li­gence is the abil­i­ty to be aware of, con­trol and to express your emo­tions and our capac­i­ty to do this, influ­ences our inter­per­son­al rela­tion­ships.  Peo­ple who are high in emo­tion­al intel­li­gence can artic­u­late how they are feel­ing and have an increased aware­ness and empa­thy for oth­ers.  They can express their feel­ings and emo­tion­al states and under­stand what oth­ers might be feel­ing and how to help.  For younger peo­ple, par­tic­u­lar­ly lit­tle ones, like any oth­er part of our devel­op­ment, emo­tion­al intel­li­gence grows with expe­ri­ence and comes with its own lan­guage which we have to learn.

When we are lit­tle, we gen­er­al­ly describe events as good or bad and our lan­guage is typ­i­cal­ly lim­it­ed to hap­py and sad.  Whilst this basic lan­guage gets us through on a day to day basis as we grow, for extreme events such as COVID-19 where we are exposed to sit­u­a­tions and expe­ri­ences which are out­side of our nor­mal devel­op­men­tal expe­ri­ences, basic lan­guage can leave us exposed to not being able to artic­u­late what we are feel­ing.  Basi­cal­ly, you may be ask­ing your child a ques­tion, they do not have the lan­guage or body aware­ness to answer in a way that is accu­rate or mean­ing­ful.  So how can you help younger chil­dren to increase their emo­tion­al vocab­u­lary?

It would not be abnor­mal or unusu­al to feel stressed or anx­ious right now, to be wor­ry­ing about what might hap­pen to us and our loved ones and to wor­ry about the future.  How­ev­er, we can decrease these wor­ries and ratio­nalise them if we can explore them a bit more.  For exam­ple, if a young per­son tells you that they are scared, it can be help­ful to ask them what that means to them.  What does it feel like and what they are scared of.  Can they draw ‘scared’ or relate it to a book or movie they have read or watched.  Can they show you a face of what that emo­tion looks like? Can they describe it as a colour? Can they express out of ten how scared they are now com­pared to a time before when they have felt scared?  What does ‘scared’ feel like in their body?  Is their heart going faster, are they feel­ing sweaty, do they feel like they want to run and hide or do they just want to stand still?  If you can help the young per­son to describe, draw or relate scared to a pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence then you can begin to ratio­nalise or nor­malise it for them and help them to increase their emo­tion­al vocab­u­lary.  Nor­mal­is­ing scared by state­ments such as ‘Yes, some­times I feel that way too but then I have to remem­ber that every­thing is going to be okay because we are being care­ful by wash­ing our hands etc, we are safe and we are loved, soon things will return to nor­mal etc etc”.

By allow­ing the young per­son to describe their emo­tions in terms of how it feels in their bod­ies will also help you to under­stand what is going on for them and to be aware and mind­ful of signs when this might be worse, for exam­ple, if you notice they are extra fid­gety, over­ly emo­tion­al, sweaty, qui­et or with­drawn or if they are hav­ing night­mares.  By help­ing them to increase their aware­ness of their own bod­ies reac­tions to their emo­tions and their emo­tion­al lan­guage; you will also be able to sup­port them more and offer them com­fort.  By behav­ing in a way which is safe and pre­dictable in allow­ing your child to express their emo­tions with­out dis­miss­ing them and by giv­ing a calm and con­sis­tent response, you will help your child to process what is cur­rent­ly hap­pen­ing in their world.  You will also be teach­ing them a valu­able skill which will help them under­stand theirs and oth­ers respons­es to stress lat­er in life and a skill which they can take into oth­er rela­tion­ships.

Pam Bubrzy­c­ki

MEMBER WELLBEING: Coping in these uncertain times

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

We are in uncer­tain times and for the fore­see­able future, our dai­ly lives will change and with that we need to make some basic yet nec­es­sary adjust­ments to ensure that we can cope now and with what will come over the next days, weeks and months.  Many are being asked to work from home, whilst those in essen­tial ser­vices and com­mu­ni­ty ser­vices are see­ing an increased and relent­less demand for sup­port.  The home­less are still home­less, the lone­ly still lone­ly and the sick still need med­ical care.  Sit­u­a­tions such as this pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties, chances to show our worst and our best.  As indi­vid­u­als and as a club, we have a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to shine, to be kind to our­selves and to oth­ers and to look out for those who are doing it tough in our inner cir­cle and our wider com­mu­ni­ty.

Whilst there have been some exam­ples of pan­ic and poor behav­iour, there are many things we can do to ensure that we get through this togeth­er as a com­mu­ni­ty.  Not all changes from this sit­u­a­tion are bad, peo­ple are con­nect­ing with oth­ers in cre­ative ways and we are see­ing some inspi­ra­tional exam­ples of what it means to be a mem­ber of the human race and how sim­ple acts of kind­ness change the lives of oth­ers.  Our envi­ron­ment is enjoy­ing a break from mass crowds and our oceans and our air are like­ly to improve as a result of the lim­i­ta­tion on trav­el.  Moth­er nature may get a chance to reset and per­haps we will all reflect on our lives and think about what is impor­tant and what real­ly mat­ters to us.

Here’s a few tips to help you face the chal­lenges you and oth­ers might be expe­ri­enc­ing;

Work­ing from home

  • Cre­ate a rou­tine and stick to it. Get up, get dressed and work irre­spec­tive of the loca­tion.  Yes, resist the temp­ta­tion to work in your pj’s, keep­ing to a nor­mal rou­tine is best.
  • Set aside a place for work, try to avoid work spread­ing all over home
  • Be strict with work hours, strict with your­self and with oth­ers
  • Take breaks, get up, go out­side
  • Try to exer­cise when and where pos­si­ble, we all did this before the inven­tion of gym’s we can do it now
  • Con­nect with oth­ers through the many plat­forms avail­able, this will help you and your col­leagues feel con­nect­ed and less iso­lat­ed

Fam­i­ly Life

  • Acknowl­edge that hav­ing kids at home and all being in one space for extend­ed peri­ods of time can be stress­ful.
  • Have space where each can go to have some ‘alone time’. Don’t feel guilty about need­ing this, we all do.
  • Be mind­ful of yours and oth­ers height­ened emo­tions and stress lev­els. It is an unfor­tu­nate fact that we are like­ly to see an increase in fam­i­ly and domes­tic vio­lence at this time.  Know your own lim­its, have some strate­gies to cope and if vio­lence in the home is a real­i­ty for you, know where help can be found (see resources below)
  • Stay con­nect­ed, phone, skype what­ev­er it takes.
  • Lim­it screen time for all and find reli­able resources to get your infor­ma­tion. The Dept of Health, oth­er gov­ern­ment sites and reli­able mass media sources are like­ly to give you the most cur­rent and accu­rate infor­ma­tion.
  • Acknowl­edge that for chil­dren this is like­ly to be a scary time. Talk to them, keep expla­na­tions sim­ple and stick to rou­tines as much as pos­si­ble.

Per­son­al Well­be­ing

  • It is okay to feel anx­ious and scared but try not to cat­a­strophise the sit­u­a­tion and pan­ic. We will get through this, life will con­tin­ue, it might just look dif­fer­ent and some of that dif­fer­ent might be good.
  • If you find you need some­one to talk to about your men­tal health, call Life­line (see below)
  • Take advan­tage of new down time; get those jobs around the house done.
  • Have a clear out, give some of your excess to oth­ers who might need it more.
  • Write a let­ter or card to some­one you may have lost touch with or a neigh­bour who might be feel­ing lone­ly, iso­lat­ed and vul­ner­a­ble. It might make a huge dif­fer­ence to them.
  • Look for cre­ative and dif­fer­ent ways of doing things. Exam­ples are dri­ve­way Anzac morn­ing cel­e­bra­tions, dri­ve way exer­cise groups, walk­ing your dog at dif­fer­ent times to avoid crowds.  It is still okay to go out­side, just observe rec­om­mend­ed hygiene prin­ci­ples and social dis­tance rec­om­men­da­tions.
  • Eat well, sleep well and you are like­ly to have a bet­ter immune sys­tem.
  • Do some gar­den­ing, start that veg­ie patch you always want­ed to do

The key mes­sage here is try not to pan­ic, life will con­tin­ue, we will get through this so take care of your­self and of oth­ers and choose to show your best.

Pam Bubrzy­c­ki

 

Domes­tic Vio­lence Help Line   1800 Respect (1800 737 732) https://www.1800respect.org.au/

Life­line  13 11 14 https://www.lifeline.org.au/

Member Wellbeing: Random Acts of Kindness

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

Today I was the recip­i­ent of a sim­ple act of kind­ness and it felt good.  You see, I’ve had a prob­lem for a while which has real­ly both­ered me.  I’ve dri­ven my fam­i­ly mad with it and my friends to dis­trac­tion so much so that they are all like­ly to be as fed up of it as I am.  Please, don’t get me wrong, I con­sid­er myself to be a lucky per­son sur­round­ed by the love of a won­der­ful spouse, amaz­ing chil­dren and great friends.  Yet, we all have our lim­its, so this act of kind­ness meant so much when I real­ly need­ed it as if I’m hon­est; my prob­lem is begin­ning to have an impact on my men­tal health.

Whilst I could talk about all the won­der­ful neu­ro­chem­i­cals which surged through my synaps­es and changed my cog­ni­tive response to my prob­lem, I won’t.  What I will tell you was what real­ly hap­pened.  Anoth­er per­son took time out of their day to come to my house, to sit down with me, to lis­ten and to give me their time.  Basi­cal­ly, we con­nect­ed.  I could tell this per­son had empa­thy for my cir­cum­stance which by the way in the whole scheme of things is real­ly noth­ing yet to me it is and, as we spoke and lis­tened to each oth­er, my anx­i­ety about the sit­u­a­tion less­ened and I began to accept the real­i­ty of where I was at.  I went from a place of dis­tress and despair to a place of hav­ing a lit­tle bit of hope return.   My prob­lem didn’t go away, it hadn’t changed but I now had hope that it might.  This per­son also gave my spouse a break from hear­ing about my frus­tra­tion one more time and to be hon­est, I felt so much lighter.

So, whilst you think giv­ing some­one an hour of your day may not make a dif­fer­ence it real­ly can.  When we take time to con­nect with anoth­er human to show them that we under­stand their sit­u­a­tion and real­ly be with them to lis­ten, the change can be sig­nif­i­cant.  So many of us are turn­ing to med­ica­tions to fix our ail­ments and our dis­tress when real­ly all the tablets are doing is mask­ing it.  Yes, for cer­tain men­tal health con­di­tions, there is no argu­ment against the need for phar­ma­co­log­i­cal treat­ments.  Yet for oth­ers, the treat­ment can be found in our com­mu­ni­ties in the con­nec­tion and sup­port of oth­ers, qual­i­ties and expe­ri­ences which are demon­strat­ed every day at our club for which we should all be very grate­ful for and proud of.  As I say, in the scope of world prob­lems, my prob­lem is a mere blip on the land­scape, but to me it is sig­nif­i­cant.  So, to the kind per­son who gave up an hour of their Sun­day for me, and to every­one else who demon­strat­ed an act of ran­dom kind­ness this week­end, from Mor­gan Free­man and I, thank you.

Pam Bubrzy­c­ki 

MEMBER WELLBEING: Identifying & Managing Trauma from the bushfires

Sunday, January 19th, 2020

We have all been shocked by the feroc­i­ty of the bush­fires which are rav­aging our land­scape, threat­ing and tak­ing lives and homes.  Tales and images of dis­tressed peo­ple and ani­mals have dom­i­nat­ed all forms of media and are part of our dai­ly con­ver­sa­tions.  Expres­sions of despair and dis­may and help­less­ness are now part of our dai­ly rhetoric and there is no sign of relief.  Whilst the major­i­ty of fires are in the East­ern States, media reports bring them into our lives on a minute by minute basis mak­ing the threat seem very real, no mat­ter where you are.  It is nor­mal for us to find this dis­tress­ing.  How­ev­er, for some peo­ple, espe­cial­ly young peo­ple or peo­ple who may have per­son­al­ly expe­ri­enced trau­ma of a sim­i­lar nature or who may already be of an anx­ious nature, the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion may be more dis­tress­ing, and feel­ings of threat may be height­ened.

When we feel threat­ened, we tend to revert to behav­iours con­trolled by our prim­i­tive brain which is respon­si­ble for sur­vival.  You may have heard of the fight, flight or freeze response where­by when threat­ened the per­son either fights the threat, runs from the threat (flight) or freezes.  All are valid respons­es to threat and depend­ing on the sit­u­a­tion, the brain acts to secure sur­vival.  How­ev­er, you do not actu­al­ly have to expe­ri­ence the threat face to face to react in this man­ner and for you to expe­ri­ence trau­ma from the threat.

Trau­ma is the phys­i­cal and or psy­cho­log­i­cal reac­tion which comes from threat and can occur from one inci­dent or from mul­ti­ple inci­dence.  Trau­ma can be very dis­tress­ing and life chang­ing for both the per­son expe­ri­enc­ing the trau­ma and for those around them.  Expe­ri­enc­ing dis­tress from an event which we have not direct­ly expe­ri­enced is called vic­ar­i­ous trau­ma.  Vic­ar­i­ous trau­ma can present in the same way as oth­er trau­mas from sit­u­a­tions where we have been threat­ened.  Reac­tions to all types of trau­ma can be phys­i­cal or emo­tion­al and gen­er­al­ly indi­cate that some­one is strug­gling to process what they are see­ing, hear­ing or read­ing.  Signs and symp­toms that some­one has expe­ri­enced trau­ma and is not cop­ing can include height­ened anx­i­ety, prob­lems with sleep, being teary, with­draw­ing from nor­mal­ly plea­sur­able activ­i­ties, hyper-vig­i­lance, changes in eat­ing habits, reliance on alco­hol or drugs to cope, feel­ings or numb­ness or feel­ings of rage.  Symp­toms can arise in the months after the trau­mat­ic event and dif­fer­ent peo­ple will respond dif­fer­ent­ly to trau­ma.  We know that trau­ma leaves an imprint on the brain and changes our response to future trau­ma.  Remem­ber where you were when the ter­ror­ist attack occurred on the twin tow­ers, how much did this change your behav­ior towards trav­el­ling or low fly­ing air­craft?

So, what can you do if you or some­one you know appears to be suf­fer­ing from trau­ma?  First­ly, pre­ven­tion is the best cure.  Lim­it the num­ber of images and sto­ries peo­ple are exposed to, espe­cial­ly young peo­ple.  If you think some­one is strug­gling, talk to them.  Allow them to express their emo­tions or fears and nor­malise them rather than dis­miss­ing them with state­ments like ‘yes, this is very upset­ting, and it would be nor­mal for you to be sad or upset by what you have seen’.  Remem­ber that trau­ma aris­es from a threat, real or per­ceived to safe­ty so pro­vide reas­sur­ance to the per­son that they are safe, par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant with chil­dren.  Con­tex­tu­alise the trau­ma to the events, ie express that we are very for­tu­nate in WA that we are not under threat.  Change feel­ings of hope­less­ness to ones of action by doing some­thing to help those affect­ed.  Pay extra atten­tion to make sure you are doing stress free activ­i­ties such as play­ing games, spend­ing time with pets, going out­doors, doing things which remove the stress chem­i­cals from your body, yoga, laugh­ing, swim­ming etc.  Most of all, if the symp­toms do not go away, seek the help of a pro­fes­sion­al such as your GP or a men­tal health pro­fes­sion­al.

Pam Bubrzy­c­ki

MEMBER WELLBEING: Tough vs Resilient

Friday, January 3rd, 2020

Tough (adj) able to endure hard­ship or pain, strong and prone to vio­lence.

Resilient (adj) able to with­stand or recov­er quick­ly from dif­fi­cult con­di­tions.

When rais­ing our young peo­ple, it is some­times easy to get con­fused between the mean­ing of the above two words.  Yet, the mean­ings are very clear.

One (tough) means that we are rais­ing our young to endure things which if inflict­ed by a stranger, we would be out­raged and seek­ing ret­ri­bu­tion.  The oth­er (resilient) means that we are rais­ing a young per­son who has enough resources in their tool box to bounce back from what life may throw at them.

Par­ents who aim to raise ‘tough’ chil­dren, often use the lan­guage fail­ure, dis­ap­point­ment, hard­en up or it’s all in your head, tough­en up. Par­ents who raise resilient chil­dren are more like­ly to use lan­guage which acknowl­edges hard­ship and dif­fi­cul­ties and encour­ages reflec­tion upon dis­ap­point­ments or fail­ures as oppor­tu­ni­ties from which to learn and grow.

Young peo­ple who are raised to be tough, are often taught that their emo­tions and fears are irrel­e­vant.  That what is sup­posed to be their safe place to run to in times of dif­fi­cul­ties or dis­tress (their par­ents and men­tors) are not safe.  These young peo­ple are more like­ly to inter­nalise their emo­tion­al states and are more like­ly to have low self-esteem and expe­ri­ence poor men­tal health in adult­hood, lack con­fi­dence or turn to risky behav­iours such as alco­hol or drugs and self-harm to man­age what they have been told is irrel­e­vant, their feel­ings and fears.

Young peo­ple who are resilient still make mis­takes and still fail.  How­ev­er, they are more like­ly to own their mis­takes, devel­op healthy prob­lem-solv­ing skills, have con­fi­dence in them­selves and those around them and know that when life does send them a curve ball, then can pick them­selves up and dust them­selves off and they can turn to adults who are safe and pre­dictable in their behav­iours for com­fort and sup­port.

Com­pet­i­tive sports can be fun and a great place to learn and devel­op life skills, life­long friend­ships and resilience.  It is not a place to teach our young peo­ple to be tough, life will even­tu­al­ly do that for them as they enter into adult­hood.

Pam Bubrzy­c­ki

Member Wellbeing: Hope, Peace & Joy

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

Of the many dec­o­ra­tions I have hang­ing on my tree; three come to mind as hav­ing the most mean­ing.  They are the sil­ver words which say Hope, Peace and Joy.

At this time of year, we often choose to reflect on what has been and what has not.  We think about those who are close to us and remem­ber those who are lost or who have gone.  We come togeth­er with our fam­i­ly and friends hop­ing that we will all be togeth­er for many years to come.  Some of us, spend this time of year alone, either enjoy­ing the soli­tude or hop­ing that next year, things will be dif­fer­ent.  We look around our world and see the chal­lenges we face as humans try­ing to make mean­ing of the crazi­ness of our world, hop­ing that some­how we can all come togeth­er to make  the places in which we live in safe, sus­tain­able and hap­py.  We hope that what is to come will either be as good as we have it now or bet­ter and for our lit­tle ones, they just hope that on Christ­mas morn­ing, the par­cel under the tree brings them exact­ly what they asked for from the man in the big red suit!

Peace is some­thing we all aim for in one aspect or anoth­er and often seems dif­fi­cult or impos­si­ble to achieve.  Peace from the demands of life,  the peace we could expe­ri­ence  if we learned to appre­ci­ate and respect our dif­fer­ences as well as our com­mon­al­i­ties, peace from the beep­ing of tech­nol­o­gy, peace from those who demand our atten­tion and time when we are exhaust­ed and peace from the things that keep us awake at night.  Peace from the kids, argu­ing and fight­ing now that school is over.

Joy, this one makes me smile just see­ing it as this one feels the most sim­plest to achieve.  Joy comes from the buzz we get on putting a smile on some­one else’s face as well as hav­ing one on ours.  It can be the most sim­plest of things, look­ing at one of our glo­ri­ous sun­sets, watch­ing the nip­pers on our beach every Sun­day morn­ing, see­ing the crusty oldies hav­ing their cof­fees at Boardie’s try­ing to solve the prob­lems of the world, watch­ing our young peo­ple flour­ish as they embrace their lives going off on their adven­tures, wak­ing up to the sound of the mag­pies and Kook­abur­ras who sig­nal sum­mer is well and tru­ly here.  We find joy in our com­mu­ni­ties with cel­e­bra­tions abound.  Shops full of peo­ple buy­ing presents for the ones they love, and the joy of putting a gift for some­one under the back to front Christ­mas tree in the club lounge know­ing what that will mean for the women and chil­dren who will be hav­ing their Christ­mas day in a refuge, safe and cared for by peo­ple who get joy out of giv­ing up their time to care for oth­ers.

So as the year comes to an end, spend a few moments think­ing about what Hope, Peace and Joy means to you and to oth­ers.  Make time to spend it with those who mean the most to you, look­ing out for those who may be strug­gling and tak­ing care or your­selves and those around you.

Mer­ry Christ­mas every­one!

Pam Bubrzy­c­ki

Member Wellbeing: School’s out!

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

Yes, it is that time of year for our young peo­ple.  School is out and for those who have fin­ished year 12, every­one is won­der­ing, what next?

Schoolies is done, dust­ed and becom­ing a dis­tant mem­o­ry.  Some are await­ing their ATAR results, try­ing calm­ly to remem­ber that ‘You are not your ATAR” filled with a mix­ture of dread and hope.  Oth­ers are hop­ing to, or are head­ing out into the work­force, not quite sure what this form of adult­ing might look like and what it might mean.  For oth­ers, they are throw­ing every­thing to the wind and head­ing off on a care­free adven­ture, want­i­ng to find out what is out there and who they are.  What­ev­er path you choose, or find your­self faced with, remem­ber one thing, there is a whole com­mu­ni­ty behind you who you can turn to no mat­ter what.

Just because your life is chang­ing and you can now do things with less restric­tions and more inde­pen­dence, doesn’t mean that you can’t fall over.  You can and prob­a­bly will and it is total­ly okay.  Adult­ing is fun and excit­ing and some­times tough.  To put in the words of many faced with hav­ing to pay board or their car rego for the first time “it sucks”.  The choice you made for next year and beyond may now not be where you real­ly want to go.  Doors which you thought might be open might now need a bit of a hard­er push or an alter­na­tive door to be found.  Adult respon­si­bil­i­ties which seemed at first fun and excit­ing, might now seem daunt­ing.  Friends and rela­tion­ships which you thought were sol­id and going to last ‘for­ev­er!’ change.  The key to man­ag­ing all of this is to talk to some­one.

You didn’t get this far with­out some­one behind you.  It could be your par­ents, oth­er fam­i­ly mem­bers, coach, men­tor, mate, teacher etc., etc.  Those peo­ple are still there for you, have like­ly gone through what you are going through, total­ly messed up at least one thing in their life and deeply care for you and want you to be healthy and hap­py.  Adult­ing and inde­pen­dence does not mean hav­ing to go it alone.  It means, build­ing upon the skills and con­nec­tions you already have to make this next stage safe and okay.  Okay to enjoy, okay to stuff up, okay to not have any idea what you want to do.  The next lot of biggest learn­ings you have will not come from class­rooms and books, they will come from life.  Share it with the peo­ple you care about and who have your back for this will make the dif­fer­ence in what from here and beyond looks like both going for­ward and look­ing back.

Most of all, as you rush for­ward throw­ing cau­tion to the wind, take care, be kind to your­self and oth­ers and go get what­ev­er it is that you want know­ing that your com­mu­ni­ty is here for you and cares.

Pam Bubrzy­c­ki

MEMBER WELLBEING: Movember — Supporting Men’s Health Month

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

It’s been just over six months now since I wrote my ini­tial arti­cle on my own health jour­ney and with Movem­ber now well under­way I felt it time to pro­vide an update.

My ini­tial can­cer diag­no­sis back in Feb­ru­ary now seems like a very long time ago as there have been many oth­er things tak­ing over my life, pos­i­tive­ly.

Since April I have been through six week­ly immunother­a­py treat­ments fol­lowed by a biop­sy which iden­ti­fied fur­ther high grade tumour polyps in my blad­der. It was explained to me that this may be new growth or have been rem­nants of the orig­i­nal tumour which were missed — obvi­ous­ly I hoped for the lat­ter! As a result, I was pre­scribed three fur­ther weeks of treat­ment.

Now all of this takes time. Between each course of treat­ment and sub­se­quent check is a wait of about six weeks. If noth­ing else, this process has taught me to be extreme­ly patient! It’s just over six weeks now since I went in for my lat­est biop­sy. The good news is the sur­geon found no new growth and noth­ing vis­i­ble that war­rant­ed a biop­sy. The down side was she now want­ed me to under­take a fur­ther course of what they term ‘main­te­nance treat­ment’.

I wasn’t told how long the main­te­nance would be but assumed it was anoth­er three weeks of fun. When I received the call from the Oncol­o­gy team to book in, I was shocked to learn that my main­te­nance treat­ment was now a once a month event for the next twelve months. Well that was kind of a blow to the sys­tem! For sev­er­al days I felt defeat­ed that the jour­ney was now going to be extend­ed by a fur­ther year…not what I want­ed to hear! As the days passed, I slow­ly let it sink in. I spoke with Michelle and the boys along with my very under­stand­ing boss, and it all fell into the thoughts of ‘it’s only twelve ses­sions’.

What I’ve learnt about this treat­ment is how much it actu­al­ly takes its toll on the body. First­ly, the anx­i­ety and stress of actu­al­ly going through it — I’m not going to lie, catheter­i­sa­tion is not a pleas­ant expe­ri­ence, and the after effects of treat­ment are becom­ing cumu­la­tive. For those of you who have expe­ri­enced cys­ti­tis, the day of treat­ment is effec­tive­ly that all day…on steroids! After that, because I am being giv­en a dose of live BCG vac­cine (used against tuber­cu­lo­sis), the immune sys­tem kicks in the next day and I then get flu like symp­toms for some days after that.

On the pos­i­tive side I’ve had a great year keep­ing my mind busy. I have final­ly fin­ished my Grad­u­ate Cer­tifi­cate in Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion that I start­ed through Surf Life Sav­ing Australia’s lead­er­ship path­way, and which I sank plen­ty of time into (thanks for your patience Michelle). Work has cer­tain­ly been busy and chal­leng­ing, and not for­get­ting my role of Pres­i­dent of this won­der­ful Club which has allowed me to have many con­ver­sa­tions with many awe­some and sup­port­ive peo­ple. Add to that nor­mal home life with my eldest son Josh going through his ATAR ‘expe­ri­ence’ and my youngest Aron choos­ing his sub­jects for his upcom­ing year 11 jour­ney. Life has been busy but extreme­ly reward­ing.

Any­way, my first two month­ly treat­ments are now com­plete with the next two booked in, fol­lowed by my next check in January…not my pre­ferred birth­day present, but nec­es­sary!!

The point of my mes­sage is this. In what has now been termed men’s health month, if I can save one per­son, help some­one face their health fear or just sim­ply start a con­ver­sa­tion about some­thing that is trou­bling them, then I’m glad to have shared my per­son­al sto­ry. There are oth­ers going through much worse than me, and those who have already endured some­thing and come out the oth­er side. It’s easy to tell some­one you’re there for them to help but how many of us actu­al­ly ask for that help when we need it? Men espe­cial­ly are extreme­ly stub­born, and some feel it a weak­ness to seek help or advice from oth­ers. With this mes­sage I’d like to chal­lenge that and say it’s ok to speak out.

My own con­tri­bu­tion to Movem­ber is to take part and raise mon­ey to assist in the sup­port of men’s health, much to the dis­gust of Michelle who hates me with any facial hair! It’s only for 30 days in total which is a very short time in the scheme of things. My ask of you is to sup­port your fel­low Club mem­bers who are par­tic­i­pat­ing this month and we’ll check out the mo’s on Fri­day 29 Novem­ber.

Alis­tair Cook
Pres­i­dent

MEMBER WELLBEING: Back to Front Xmas Tree

Monday, November 18th, 2019

Our club has a Well­ness ini­tia­tive, which encour­ages club mem­bers to look after their own well­ness as well as con­nect to their com­mu­ni­ty and reach out to oth­ers who may be strug­gling or who are less for­tu­nate.

Last year, club mem­bers were giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to spread Christ­mas cheer by plac­ing a gift for some­one who was expe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness under the back to front Christ­mas tree in the club lounge.

This year, you are being asked to help spread a lit­tle bit of Christ­mas cheer to women and chil­dren who will not be spend­ing Christ­mas as home, sim­ply because home for them is not a safe place to be.  These fam­i­lies will be spend­ing Christ­mas in one of the refuges which sup­ports women and chil­dren who are escap­ing domes­tic vio­lence.

So, if you would like to let these fam­i­lies know that they are not alone and that some­one does care, kind­ly con­sid­er donat­ing a small wrapped gift under the tree which will short­ly be placed in the lounge.

I have spo­ken with refuge staff, and sug­ges­tions for ide­al gifts are;

  • Ladies pam­per kit, sham­poo, con­di­tion­er, hair brush­es and slides
  • Lip sticks, chap sticks, mois­turis­ers
  • Eye shad­ow, mas­cara, eye lin­er
  • Sun­screen, mois­turis­er, razors,
  • Feet care, nail-pol­ish, nail pol­ish remover,
  • Nail pol­ish, emery boards, hand crème
  • Face masks, eye mask, mois­turis­er
  • Mag­a­zine, show­er gels, body sponge/glove
  • Hair treat­ment, brush­es, combs, slides, scrunchies
  • Dry sham­poos, deodor­ants, leave in con­di­tion­er or hair masks
  • Hat, sun­screen, lip balm, sun­nies
  • Oil dif­fuser (no can­dles please), book, face mask

Chil­dren (placed last only because the kids are nor­mal­ly well looked after at Christ­mas, it’s the Women and Mum’s who tend to go with­out)

  • Lego (please place age appro­pri­ate­ness on label)
  • Card games eg, uno, skip-bo, snap-bo)

Any­thing you give will be very much appre­ci­at­ed and will cer­tain­ly bring a smile to someone’s face who is doing it very tough over the Christ­mas peri­od.

Pam Bubrzy­c­ki

Member Wellbeing: Mental Health Week

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

This week is Men­tal Health week in WA and the theme is ‘how we work, live, learn and play’ recog­nis­ing that men­tal health, more specif­i­cal­ly good men­tal health, incor­po­rates all aspects of our lives.

One of the most com­mon ques­tions asked about men­tal health is “Why do so many peo­ple suf­fer from poor men­tal health?”  The answer is very com­plex and as the theme of this year’s Men­tal Health week sug­gests, mul­ti-faceted.

As men­tioned in pre­vi­ous arti­cles, how we work has changed sig­nif­i­cant­ly over the past few decades most­ly due to advances in tech­nol­o­gy.  You don’t actu­al­ly have to be in one phys­i­cal loca­tion to work any­more with many work­places encour­ag­ing flex­i­ble work­ing arrange­ments such as work­ing from home and mobile work­places.  What this means is that the lines between work and home becomes blurred and the sense of belong­ing expe­ri­enced from attend­ing one’s place of work dis­ap­pears.

Humans are rela­tion­al and hav­ing a sense of con­nec­tion to each oth­er helps us to cre­ate our iden­ti­ties and feel as though we are val­ued and belong.   The sim­ple act of see­ing the same peo­ple each day and the rela­tion­ships we build from our work used to last a life­time, how­ev­er, these expe­ri­ences are dis­ap­pear­ing with many peo­ple hav­ing sev­er­al career changes in their lives and the chance to build long and mean­ing­ful rela­tion­ships with col­leagues often no longer exist.  If we add to this the fact that many young peo­ple now have to delay their pro­gres­sion to adult­hood until late into their 20’s due to extend­ed peri­od in edu­ca­tion and lack of long-term employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties, work no longer pro­vides the same sta­ble oppor­tu­ni­ties to devel­op mean­ing­ful rela­tion­ships that it once did.

The same can be said for how we live. It has been sug­gest­ed that this gen­er­a­tion of adults are the loneli­est we have ever been as a soci­ety.  We are indi­vid­u­al­is­tic, liv­ing in our own homes, not know­ing our neigh­bours and many fam­i­lies no longer live in the same coun­try, state or town as their rel­a­tives.  The rate of mar­riage break­downs adds to the dis­con­nec­tion between mem­bers of fam­i­lies.  Sim­ple acts like the fam­i­ly din­ner have dis­ap­peared and rather than com­mu­ni­cat­ing face to face, we text or email each oth­er, some­times whilst under the same roof.

Our places of edu­ca­tion and learn­ing have had to adapt to the changes in fam­i­ly and the make-up of the wider com­mu­ni­ty.  Teach­ers have to add resilience and how to appro­pri­ate­ly express one’s emo­tions to their cur­ricu­lums.  Some schools have tak­en the step of hav­ing a ‘Kind­ness Week” which is actu­al­ly real­ly sad.  We are born to seek out oth­ers and to live in packs and to form mean­ing­ful attach­ments with those we care about who are pre­dictable in their behav­iours and with whom we can share a sense of safe­ty.  Kind­ness is for most, an innate behav­iour and schools hav­ing to ded­i­cate a week to teach our chil­dren how to be kind is frankly quite con­cern­ing.

As for how we play, the obe­si­ty cri­sis in Aus­tralia is tes­ta­ment to the fact that play time is also dimin­ish­ing in our com­mu­ni­ties and with it the chance to prac­tice impor­tant skills like shar­ing, win­ning, co-oper­a­tion and loos­ing.  Like every­thing else in life, if we don’t have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to prac­tice skills, then we don’t know how behave when we win, lose or fail.  There­fore, we sim­ply do not have the lan­guage or skills to be able to cope when life throws us a curve­ball.

Add to this, 9,000 peo­ple sleep­ing rough on our streets every night, the ever increas­ing rates of sui­cide and domes­tic vio­lence in our soci­ety, it is no won­der that our rates of men­tal ill­ness are also increas­ing.

So, what can we do about what seems to be an over­whelm­ing prob­lem?  Like every­thing else that seems unsur­mount­able, we need to start with the sim­ple acts.  Here are a few sim­ple things you can try this week to improve not only your men­tal health, but the men­tal health of those in your com­mu­ni­ty;

  • Pay atten­tion to how many elec­tron­ic com­mu­ni­ca­tions you are send­ing this week. Can you replace some of those with a face to face con­ver­sa­tion or some­thing more per­son­al?  For exam­ple; instead of send­ing a sms or emo­ji for a birth­day, spon­ta­neous­ly vis­it them, phone them to say ‘Hap­py Birth­day’ or send a card with say­ing some­thing thought­ful.
  • Say hel­lo to your neigh­bour when you see them. If they are elder­ly or poor­ly, offer to get them some shop­ping or put out their bin.  A sim­ple act of kind­ness can mean so much, if you do this with your kids, they will learn to care for oth­ers from your exam­ple.
  • Have a board game night with friends and fam­i­ly, let the kids loose and show them that this can be okay (you can also let them win one or two and remind your­self that loos­ing is okay too).
  • Attend one of the local com­mu­ni­ty events for Men­tal Health Week or go to a com­mu­ni­ty event like a school fete. Click here for events.
  • Have a go at doing the well­ness wheel it might help you to iden­ti­fy areas of your life that you may need to pay atten­tion to.
  • Want to know how to invest in your own hap­pi­ness, watch this Ted talk 
  • Go for a walk with the kids around the block before or after din­ner with no devices, you might find out a lot in that walk.
  • Watch a fun­ny movie, laugh­ing togeth­er builds bonds and good mem­o­ries.
  • Book a hol­i­day, you are prob­a­bly due one!
  • Leave work ear­ly or at least on time.
  • If you want to know how lost con­nec­tions adds to the expe­ri­ence of anx­i­ety and depres­sion, watch this Ted talk by Johan Hari or read his book, Lost Con­nec­tions.
  • Final­ly, if you haven’t watched old people’s homes for 4 year olds yet, give it a look. It gives a very insight­ful look into how the sim­ple acts of con­nec­tion and kind­ness change the rates of depres­sion and anx­i­ety.  It pret­ty much sums up the entire theme of men­tal health week and gives some real­ly good feel good moments too!