Thursday, 29 September 2016

Mental Health Week Launch

As a part of Mental Health Week and the panel that I've been asked to be on for the Mental Health Week forum, I was asked if I was available to be a part of the media launch as well. 
I was the only panel member that was available to go along, so I was very nervous about having to speak in front of everyone including the Tasmanian Minister for Health - Michael Ferguson.
Michael actually came to Aaron's funeral (I am still surprised as to who and how many people came to his funeral - I guess when you're a very loved school teacher that politicians and people from the community want to attend) and I've seen him a few times at different events since then including the Presentation Assemblies at Kings Meadows High School at the end of each year.

I was asked to share why I agreed to be involved as a member of the panel, so I shared a very short version of our story and then talked about how I didn't really understand depression and anxiety until I experienced it myself.  I also said that people often don't know how to deal with someone who is grieving or going through mental health issues, so I hope that by sharing my experiences that it may help others to either deal with what they are going through themselves, or it may help people to know how to help someone else.
After I spoke it was lovely to have people come up to say hi. This lady has an adult son who has Downs Syndrome.

After we spoke they had different organisations there getting everyone involved in different things that can help your mental health, including making a promise about what you will be doing to help your own mental health.

They had some instructors from the gym there so we jumped in and did a little workout.  It wasn't a good idea in a dress, so I didn't last long :)

I was interviewed by our local newspaper - The Examiner and then we were asked if they could take a photo of us to put in the paper.   The photo and article about Mental Health Week is here.

These are the people working behind the scenes to organise the Mental Health Forum including our friend Alison who has been running the Facebook page and taking portraits of people who are sharing their mental health story on the page.   Kobe's photo went up on the page today. He was so cute with what he wanted to say. You can read it here.
We couldn't resist getting a selfie with Michael before we left.

It's only a week until the free forum is on (Monday 10th October at the Tramsheds in Launceston at 7pm).  It should be really interesting as the other panel members have a lot of experience and knowledge to share.   Dr Mark Cross is running other events in town on before the forum and is also doing a book signing at the ABC shop.

This week we were told that there is now another panel member - Lisa Alexander who is the head coach of the Australian netball team.   Come along if you are in northern Tassie - it should be a really good night.
Thanks for some of these photos Alison.

Friday, 23 September 2016

The Possum Tree 11 Years Later

Every year for the past eleven years we have taken a photo of the boys in front of the same tree in spring.  It all started when one day I looked out the window and saw beautiful blossoms on the tree on the nature strip near the house we were renting at the time, so I dragged the boys out for a photo. 
Back then it was just Jay, Noah and Harri, and we continued to do it every year until we moved house.  I was so sad that it was no longer going to be a tradition that I made sure we drove back to the same tree every year since. 

So far the boys have been good sports and have agreed to get a photo every year.  This was taken last week. 

The first photo taken eleven years ago.  Poor Noah had outgrown his wheelchair at the time, and we were waiting on funding for a new chair.

This chair was so much better for him.
Terrible photo but at least we got one :)
Harri and Kobe were so cute back then.  
Noah is growing out of his wheelchair again!
Another new chair for Noah and also a feeding pump. This was taken just a month before he passed away.
Brave boys who had been through the worst year of their lives after Noah and Aaron both passed away.
Feeling a little happier with the addition of Milly to our family.
Genuine smiles again.
Growing up way too fast!  I can't believe what has happened in the past eleven years and that the years really do fly by so fast.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Lifting the Lid on Mental Health

A few months ago I got a message from someone I know, asking me if I would be able to meet up as he had something to chat to me about.  Rob is a social worker at our local hospital and is one of the organisers of events for Mental Health Week.   We met up and I was very curious to see what he wanted to talk about, and was very shocked when he asked me if I would participate as a guest panelist in a forum that they were wanting to hold during Mental Health Week.
After he explained what it was all about I agreed very nervously to be on it.  I'm not a public speaker at all, and the other panelists are all professionals so I'm feeling a little out of place with them, but he assured me that it would be a good balance having us all on there together and reminded me I would only be talking about what I have experienced myself.   To be honest he did actually promise me that he would try to get Hodgey to be a panelist as well, and I jokingly requested payment of a new car and a trip to the USA, but unfortunately he hasn't come through with the goods yet! :)  The forum is a Q&A type event and is going to be held on Monday 10th October.  It is free and open to everyone to come along.

I'm not sure if I have much to offer, but with the other panelists it should be a really interesting night. 

The other panelists are: Special Guest, Dr. Mark Cross, psychiatrist, senior lecturer at UNSW, author of book "Changing Minds, The Go-To Guide to Mental Health for You, Family and Friends". He was also on a three part documentary on the ABC which was also called 'Changing Minds'.

Michael Bailey, Chief Executive Officer, Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and

Dr. Judith Watson, Launceston family practice GP, Health Council of Tasmania member, Tasmanian Health Service Governing Council member, and the current Chair of Primary Health Tasmania.

There are other people working behind the scenes to help make it a really successful event, and our friend Alison was approached to take on the social media and to be the official photographer.  She has been very busy taking photos of locals and sharing their stories of mental health on a Facebook page that has been set up.  You can read the stories and find out more information about the forum on the page here.  

The boys and I are all going to share a very short version of our mental health story on the page, and so far Jalen's and mine has been posted on the page. Jay wrote his on his own and I was very proud that he was able to be so open and share a little bit of what he's been through in the past five years.  It's never easy to admit that you have mental health problems, especially when you're a teenager, but we hope by sharing our stories that it may let others know that they aren't alone if they are experiencing mental health issues.

You can read Jalen's post here.
My post is here.
Kobe and Harri's posts will be put up sometime soon, so like the Facebook page and keep following for other mental health stories, including theirs.

Share the word and come along on Monday 10th October if you are able to. It should be a really informative night whether you are experiencing mental health issues yourself or know of someone who is.  I'm sure I'll learn a lot myself.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016


Now that Facebook brings up your memories every day I have to laugh as it brings up all my old links to my blog posts from past years.  Yesterday there were three blog links and they all pretty much said the same thing...'I can't believe my baby is 10', I can't believe I have a 13 year old', 'I can't believe I have a 16 year old'.  

But am I old enough to have a 17 year old!?  Today at school one of the Kinder girls told me she could guess how old I was.  I asked her what her guess was and she said 26 and I told her she was amazing to get it right the first time! I actually feel 26 but then I also feel 56 at other times.  When I was 17 I moved to the USA to live for a year and felt so grown up, so it's hard to believe that Jay is the same age that I was then, and I can't imagine at all letting him go off overseas! I think I was very lucky that Mum and Dad trusted me enough to leave them for a little while to live so far away.  

Jay wasn't at all like Harri on his birthday as I had to wake him up to open his presents before school.
After school we went to Hogs Breath for tea with some of his 'Squad'.
I cracked up at Mel's card to him as she had KingJazza9 written on the front which was Jay's old YouTube channel that he started not long after Aaron died.   It was a great distraction for him at the time, but he has since deleted all the videos and has a great laugh about his squeaky voice that he had back then. His squad love to tease him about it now.
The Cupcake Fairy made Jay his cake and was lovely and dropped it off  earlier at Hogs Breath for us.  They asked her whose birthday it was and when we walked in they had a 'happy birthday' sign on the table for him. 
 Kobe and Harri absolutely love Jay's friend Rani and he is very patient with them :)
Kobe has a little crush on Skye and was cracking us all up as he was giving her a massage!
 Mel, Zoe, Rani and Skye all went to High School with Jay, so it's lovely that they're all going to the same 'college' (year 11 and 12) together still.
When we arrived one of the waiters asked me if I wanted them to sing to him when they brought out the cake. I told him he would hate it and so yes they should!
 Jay cracked up at the little pink hog that they had put on his cake.

Just before we went out for tea our friend Alison came around to give Jay a birthday present.  She gave him a Polaroid camera which he thought was very cool.
 It was a race to see who could Instagram it first :)
Now I really can't believe that my baby is 17! I wish time could slow down as I don't want to have to think about Uni and P plates just yet.  If only things could stay just the way they are right now.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Father's Day

It is easier every year, but September is still a hard month to get through with Harri and Jay's birthdays and also Father's Day.  If Aaron were here we would've made him a special breakfast and no doubt the boys would've made cute cards for him and he would've told us what he wanted for a present (in true Aaron style!).   The boys were happy with pancakes for brunch.
We decided to spend the day visiting the cemetery and thought it would be nice to drive out to Deloraine to visit Dad's grave as well.  Harri decided he wanted to be the photographer for the day. 
This photo of Kobe cracked me up - talk about a model pose!
We used to go to the cemetery a lot more regularly, but lately we've only been going every month or so.  We also went to Noah's grave before heading out to Deloraine.  
Dad used to love different types of music and loved some recent songs. He always cracked us up when he told us he loved the song 'Cool Kids' and we asked him if it was his theme song when he was younger and he laughed and agreed that it was.   We put it on as we were driving into the cemetery for him and had a bit of a sing along.

Before we left we also visited my Nan and Pop's grave and also my brother Daniel's grave.
It was actually the day before Daniel's birthday and he would've been 36 if he were alive now.
We had plans to do something fun together to make it so the day wasn't so sad and decided to go for a walk at Liffey Falls before we came home.    It was a pretty drive to get there.
We couldn't believe that when we got there the road was closed! It was still being repaired after all the flood damage a few months back. It's crazy to think that so much of the state suffered so much damage and it's still affecting a lot of places.
We were bummed that we couldn't go for a walk there (well some of us were...Harri actually wasn't keen as he's a party pooper, or so I tell him!) but Jay made me smile as he said something like 'it wasn't a waste of time as we got to see some cool things' as he's now appreciating things more now that he's getting into photography.  We stopped at a picnic area on the way back to have a run around instead.
When Kobe got dressed he proudly came out in this t-shirt and said that Aaron would love that he wanted to wear it for Father's Day. I agree Kobe - your Dad does rock and I wish he were here to do special things with you every day.   Little boys should be running around with their Dads, not visiting their graves on Father's Day.
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