Tuesday 5th July 2022

Women Of Courage Series.#51. Anna. 65/2020.

Women Of Courage Series.#51. Anna. 65/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

I’ve been following Anna on twitter for quite some time. She is an author of a number of books, see below, and is aged in her late 30s. I have learned a lot about Anna’s resilience and her vulnerabilities via her tweets because she tells things as they are. For her. Yet, she always has something kind to say about many. When I asked Anna to be part of the series, COVID19 was in its early stages of infiltration in Australia. Now, at the time of publication, Anna’s hometown of Melbourne, Victoria is doing this hard lock down for several weeks. Anna tweets about that and more and she is admired and cared for by many. 

Thank you Anna, let’s catch up with your responses now. 

 

 

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

As someone who lives with significant mental health issues, I find it hard to understand myself in the context of this word ‘courageous’. I have had to find fulfilment in the small things, and be satisfied with minute progress day to day, and I suppose that manifests as a kind of courage – a will to carry on and to always find new reserves.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

This has always been the way.

I do think the challenge of chronic illness has given me skills to better deal with acute crises; when a situation calls for it, I can draw on the decades I’ve spent understanding myself, my feelings, my actions, and hopefully present more courageously!

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

Go to therapy, if you can!

It helps with so many facets of being a human.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

Yes, as above – years of trying to undo what my brain believes has taught me to push back on fears.

I’m still wildly anxious, but I’m much better at rationalizing it now.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

It’s within you, I suppose.

There’s a good chance you’re stronger than you think.

 

The responses may be brief here but there is a lot of wisdom and experience evident in Anna’s reflections on the questions. Thank you again, for sharing your views based on experience and truth. I always appreciate catching up with you on twitter. 

Denyse. 

Anna Spargo-Ryan
Copywriter, essayist, novelist

@annaspargoryan
Twitter: http://twitter.com/annaspargoryan
The Gulf & The Paper House
“Extraordinary” – The Saturday Paper
“Anna Spargo-Ryan is a writer to watch.” – The Monthly

 

 

 

The following information may be helpful to you or another. These are Australian-based.

Your Family G.P. can be a helpful person to listen and make referrals.

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636

Phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for 24 hour assessment, referral, advice, and hospital and community health centre contact details

Qualified Psychologists can be found by visiting https://www.psychology.org.au/FindaPsychologist/

Australian Counselling Association is on 1300 784 333 to find a counsellor

 

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women of Courage Series. #50. Anon. 63/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #50. Anon. 63/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

 

Anon, who is 60, and I first met via social media and then, totally uplanned, in person. Just a quick catch up but it was good. When I asked Anon sometime later if she wished to share her story as a Woman of Courage she replied “yes”. That said, this story may not be ‘as in the five questions’ but it is ONE woman’s story and done her way! Thank you Anon.

As with others who have shared their stories anonymously, there will be no replies from this Woman of Courage, but I know she will be reading with appreciation.

The Story Commences Here: 
At age 23 & pregnant with my 3rd child, I left my then, very self-destructive husband, taking the children to a refuge where we spent a month before receiving emergency public housing in Sydney’s Far Western Suburbs, having left a waterfront home in a Sydney beach suburb.
Unbeknownst to me, my husband had developed an extreme gambling problem & had stopped paying the mortgage amongst other things & our home was sold from under us. I had nothing.
What Happened Next: 
  • It changed me in many ways. Prior to this happening, I probably thought I was somewhat entitled to a particular lifestyle but what could have been a very negative situation, proved to be a huge turning point in my life.
  •  I learned just how strong, capable & self-sufficient I was. I was friendly with the neighbours but didn’t typically socialise with them, as we mostly had different values.
  • When my youngest child was 2yrs old, I attended the family law court to obtain a divorce & the following day commenced my first day in the very first intake of college based (now university) Nursing education.
  • I excelled in this environment, especially  on practical placements/6wk blocks within various hospitals around Sydney’s West.
  • At the end of year 2, the college asked me to consider returning there as a lecturer once I had attained my degree.
More To The Story:
  • Through-out these years my ex-husband, had maintained a close relationship with our children & me, whilst working on getting himself together.
  • As I was to learn 20yrs later, he had quite a few demons from his childhood, none of which were of his making but which are things we now know a lot more about. That was over 30yrs ago now.
  • We managed to get back together, many people we met in later years have no idea we’re actually divorced.

 

  • Unfortunately I never finished my 3rd year of nursing, I had a major seizure, which was never explained but I think I was simply trying to do too much.

 

  • I did however, go on to a very exciting career, in which I travelled the world for many years.
  • My ex-husband & I seem to have a somewhat envied relationship which makes me think to myself… if you only knew.
  • I do say to people, we’ve had our fair share of bad times, we were just lucky to get ourselves back on track but I doubt they’d ever imagine just how bad things once were.
And Continuing The Story:
  • There have been many bumps on the road in my journey, the worst of which concerned my children.
  • These things  really rocked me, not to mention them.
  • Things that I thought might initially break me but in reality they only made me tougher, stronger and more resilient

 

There is nothing that frightens me these days.

 

In Conclusion: 
The other thing that I think is really important to remember, is that regardless of who you are, no ones life is perfect.
It’s easy to get you get sucked into social media, (pre COVID_19) thinking everyone else has these amazing lives and perfect children & grandchildren (okay the grandkids are pretty perfect) and that they’ve found something you haven’t.
Trust me, they have their flaws and are still finding their way like the rest of us.
I recall my mother coming to me a few months after the upheaval I’d gone  through at 23 and saying that standing back to watch while I dealt with everything, rather than jumping in to ‘save’ me, was the hardest thing she’d ever done.
There was a part of me back then that did wonder why she hadn’t come to my rescue at the time but thank God she didn’t because it was the making of me.
As women, it can be easy to underestimate just how courageous we can be but when the time comes to put it to the test, we can be proud of the  courageous stuff we’re made of. As women we should always be each other’s champions.
There’s actually a song that has been my mantra since I first discovered it 20yrs ago, Strength, Courage & Wisdom by Indie Arie.

Thank you Anon. I do hope that sharing has helped you as readers will see what happened over time.

Denyse.

The following information may be helpful to you or another. These are Australian-based.

Your Family G.P. can be a helpful person to listen and make referrals.

Gambling help NSW. Here.

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636

Phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for 24 hour assessment, referral, advice, and hospital and community health centre contact details

Qualified Psychologists can be found by visiting https://www.psychology.org.au/FindaPsychologist/

Australian Counselling Association is on 1300 784 333 to find a counsellor

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends.

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Women Of Courage Series. #49. Rosemarie. 61/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #49. Rosemarie. 61/2020.

Trigger: miscarriage and infant death.

 

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

 

I have yet to meet Rosemarie, who is in her late 40s. However, we have connected! It was at Newcastle Writers Festival, where Rosemarie is the founding director  and that is where I heard Jane Caro speak  in 2019 and which was the beginning of the series of posts called Women of Courage. When 2020 Newcastle Writers Festival was cancelled due to COVID 19, I was saddened but of course that was the case for everyone to do with the much anticipated Festival. Yet, Rosemarie rallied and organised a series of on-line and web-based events which were a great way to remain connected to the great love shared between authors, and their words…their books. I was chuffed that Rosemarie agreed to share her story of courage. And thank her for the way in which she has done so. We will meet up I am sure!

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

The loss of two babies in the second trimester and the decision to try and have another baby afterwards required enormous courage.

In both instances, I went into premature labour and was forced to give birth knowing my baby would not survive.

The first time, when I lost my son Joe, medicos described it as an unfortunate but not uncommon occurrence.

The circumstances were particularly traumatic and the timing – a week before our wedding – meant that it took us almost a year before we were ready to take the risk again.

I then had a healthy baby boy and we didn’t look back.

My biological clock was ticking so we decided to try again quite quickly for another baby, buoyed by the trouble-free pregnancy and birth of our second son.

When I was 18 weeks along with my daughter, I was woken by the familiar onset of labour.

Contractions are not easily mistaken.

I remember going to the bathroom at the back of the house to phone the hospital.

The midwife said they had a room for me and to come in as soon as possible.

I wept, and waited for as long as possible before waking my husband.

I don’t think we – or anyone else – thought we would ever have another baby.

I remember holding my tiny, perfectly formed daughter, who we named Alice, and realising that I could not bear for her to be my only daughter.

So, with the support of a brilliant obstetrician and the guidance of another specialist whose area of expertise was miscarriage, we tried again.

My second daughter will be 10 in September and she represents the courage I managed to draw on a decade ago.

 

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

It may sound strange, but I remember feeling that a lot of my ‘every day’ fears were unnecessary.

I had faced arguably one of the worst things a woman could experience – enduring giving birth to two babies I knew could not survive – and worrying about the appearance of a wrinkle, or being attacked by a shark while swimming at the beach, suddenly seemed so silly.

I let go of a lot.

I didn’t feel naively invincible, but I felt like I had the ability to face whatever life threw at me.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

The whole experience demonstrated to me that there are few things more soul-destroying than the loss of hope.

When you’re in the midst of a crisis, it can be hard to hold on to the idea of a future, but if you can put one foot in front of the other, more often than not, you will make it through.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

See above.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

I was lucky to have the support of my partner, family and friends, but ultimately you have to rummage up the courage from within.

As an avid reader, it helped me to turn to books by other women who had endured challenges.

While everyone’s circumstances are different, reassurance can be contagious.

 

Thank you for sharing what happened during this time, Rosemarie. There is a sadness that never quite lifts, of course, but I found comfort in the ways in which you not only named your children but included them in your family life. I have learned from you too that there is indeed comfort in the stories of others and thank you for your generosity and frankness in sharing your story of courage.

Denyse.

Social Media:

Blog/Website:  https://www.newcastlewritersfestival.org.au/

Twitter: @RosemarieMilsom

Instagram: @rosemariemilsom

 

https://www.panda.org.au/

https://www.sands.org.au/stillbirth-and-newborn-death

Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14 – Crisis Support and Suicide …

 

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends.

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Women Of Courage Series. #48. Julie McCrossin AM. 57/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #48. Julie McCrossin AM. 57/2020.

 

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

Julie McCrossin, in her 60s, describes herself in these few words on twitter: ‘Broadcaster and Head & Neck Cancer survivor. Dog lover.’

Having the privilege of meeting Julie in late 2018 and then continuing to be part of conversations and more on-line with Julie, I can add friendly, inclusive and passionate…about a lot actually. But this is Julie’s story to tell.

Here we are together with Nadia Rosin, the CEO of Beyond Five, where Julie and I are Community Ambassadors. Julie, as a professional speaker, MC and broadcaster is host on behalf of Beyond Five on this series of podcasts found here, made by Beyond Five, for head and neck cancer patients, carers, families and professionals.

I have deliberately added Julie’s story in the days leading up to World Head and Neck Cancer Day, 27.7.2020. Julie’s tireless work in a range of different agencies helping those with head and neck cancer, their carers and supporters is a passion. She is also host of Cancer Council podcasts on a range of topics related to all cancers. This link to them is here. She does, however, have more in her life….and recently added ‘grandmother’ to her name. That too is another story for her to share.

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines courage as “the ability to control your fear in a dangerous or difficult situation.”

My life has given me several opportunities to exercise  this skill. As a bushwalker with a women’s trek training group called Wild Women on Top, I climbed a high rock formation in a national park. To reach the summit I had to clamber across a large boulder above a very large, life threatening drop to the ground below. A trek leader I trusted talked me through the process successfully, but I can still recall the heart-racing fear I felt crossing the boulder and then returning to cross it again on the way back.

A very different kind of sustained courage was required to support my late mother who experienced serious mental health issues over many years. It took courage to help her in countless encounters with health professionals who, all too often, lacked empathy or training in dealing with a mentally unwell person. I came to understand that anxiety is another word for fear.

It took all the courage I had as a daughter to front up repeatedly to the accident and emergency departments of hospitals, after receiving a call from my mother or a doctor, to try to help solve an insoluble problem.

However, the most distressing challenge I have had to face, that required all the courage I could muster, was the experience of receiving radiation treatment for head and neck cancer in 2013.
The cancer was in my tongue, tonsils and throat. I had to receive 30 consecutive days of radiation to this area of my body, plus weekly chemotherapy.
The radiation therapy saved my life and I will be forever grateful for it.
The challenge was that I had to wear a tightly moulded mask over my head and shoulders to hold me rigidly in position, as I lay on my back, while the radiation machine took 20 minutes each day to deliver the targeted beam to the tumours.
I discovered that I was highly claustrophobic. I was given mild sedation and I listened to music to help me.
But fronting up every day to be bolted down by the head and lie still while the machine did its job was the hardest thing I have every done.
Of course, I was also facing the fear of death as I had stage four cancer.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

I was traumatised by my cancer treatment.

I was shocked by the realisation I might die and frightened by the physical restraint of the mask.

I wept after the first of my 30 radiation treatments.

I then froze and I have struggled to cry ever since that day.

I have been unable to feel the relief of weeping for over seven years.

Do I appreciate life more keenly? Yes.

Do I value time with my partner, family and friends with a new intensity? Most definitely.

But to be honest with you, I felt life was precious before I had cancer and I have always loved the people close to me.

I think cancer has taken much more from me than it has given.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

I think I was sustained during my cancer treatment and recovery by the courage and love of my partner, children and close friends.

I felt their life force nurture me as the cancer treatment drained my own life energy.

So the lesson I learnt was the value of showing my vulnerability and accepting help.

I did not need to face the challenge alone.

It wasn’t only my courage that I relied on.

It was a team effort.

I believe that this was the experience of my father as a pilot with a crew in World War Two.

He survived as a Pathfinder pilot in Bomber Command.

It was a frightening job with a very low survival rate.

I thought of my Dad and his air crew as I received my radiation treatment.

The courage I showed was underpinned by the memory of my father’s bravery and the love of my family and friends.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

I honestly don’t know.

I fear recurrence of my cancer, as most survivors do.

I know I have a fierce desire to live.

I trust I will accept my fate and accept any recommended treatment if the cancer comes back.

I doubt I will be more courageous because now I know how tough treatment can be.

So I think I will be scared and anxious but I will do everything I can do to survive for the sake of the people who love me and myself.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

Ask for help from people you trust.

If you are alone, let professional people know and ask them to connect you to volunteer organisations who can provide support.

We don’t need to face life’s challenges alone.

 

Thank you Julie for sharing what I know has been an incredibly challenging time when you went through your head and neck cancer treatment. Julie’s passion for connecting and helping others is seen in her on-line forum, organised jointly with many professionals including specialists in head and neck cancer and allied professionals. which she is gathering to be launched for World Head and Neck Cancer Day on Monday 27.7.2020.

I too, have had a very small part to play and my words to the forum about the psychological aspects of having a head and neck cancer diagnosis and overcoming some of my challenges will be there somewhere.

This short video also adds more from A/Prof Richard Gallagher.

Families & friends of head & neck cancer patients are vital for our survival & quality of life. 2020 Video Series is for families too. Surgeon A/Prof Richard Gallagher explains. Videos available from 27 July World Head & Neck Cancer Day. #HNC #WHNCD https://headneckcancerforum.com/

Posted by Julie Elizabeth McCrossin on Monday, 13 July 2020

 

Once more, thank you so much Julie for sharing the words to help others understand how courage has helped you in your life.

Denyse.

Follow Julie on twitter here:

Julie’s Facebook Page For Head and Neck Cancer is here.

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends.

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