why Im doing this

Movember – Why I Am Taking This Challenge

I met a beautiful lady this week who asked me why I was doing Movember, who’s husband had recently passed from a battle with prostate cancer, and I explained to her that I wanted to help men facing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Later that evening, I wondered why I had picked anxiety and depression as my primary drivers for the cause, and not physical issues such as prostate cancer. I began to write down my ‘why’ and today I’d like to share it with you. This is a very personal issue to me and I’m afraid to hit ‘Publish’ but here goes! If it can help a single person out there to face their own mental battles, it’ll be worth it…

Growing up, I had the confidence I could achieve anything I put my mind to. I was the first in the family to venture out of the norm and experiment with things I was unfamiliar with – I thrived on it. At the age of 18, I flew to Sydney for university studies and fell in love with this beautiful country.

Five years later, my whole world changed one week after I graduated. My residency application was rendered invalid because of a few changes in immigration laws made days before I submitted the application.

I was shattered. I had built a life here, I had friends who were family and I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving. I met with a migration agent who told me things were going to get tough before they had a chance of getting better, but he believed I could get there.

The next five years were challenging. I was unable to apply to a single graduate program as residency was their first line of criteria. To keep myself sane, I volunteered three days a week with a charity organisation while I continued to find work opportunities. Through building relationships with the people I met, hard work, perseverance and a dash of luck, I was able to move from unemployed to employed to being sponsored to work here, and in August 2015 l received the phone call that I once seemed like a lost dream. I was a resident.

During these past years, my confidence was shaken to its core. There were days I experienced anxiety and panic attacks with the mere thought of how far I had to go under conditions I had absolutely no control over. I felt overwhelmed and often considered throwing in the towel. I was, am and always will be so grateful for the amazing support network I had that continued to push me forward and remind me that I was not in this alone.

For someone who has always had confidence growing up, what I experienced terrified me and it was only a taste of what so many others go through everyday. It taught me a great deal about life, overcoming challenges and most importantly, not being afraid to ask for help – something men often don’t do. I grew in many ways that I otherwise would not have, and I can now look back and say it was meant to be part of the journey.

I registered for Movember this month, and I did it so I could understand more about men’s mental health issues. It wasn’t until I started talking about it to others, especially the lady that evening, that I realised why I particularly gravitated toward support men facing anxiety and depression. We all have our battles and mine showed me just how quickly a strong mind could be broken, but could also be restored. With this in mind, I would love your support in three ways:

  1. Please donate to the Movember cause if you are able to: https://mobro.co/patgudhka
  2. Please start a conversation with an important male in your life and ask them how they are doing. Sometimes a single conversation can make a person feel incredibly valued.
  3. Please take a piece of paper and list 10 achievements you are proud of – big or small. Gratitude is an important practice for good mental health and I discovered during low times that I only had to look back to see how far I had come.

Thank you so much for being here and taking the time to read this – I hope you have a wonderful day. I would like to leave you with something a friend once told me that I find to be a great way to approach any circumstances in life:

There are things you can’t change that you have to learn to accept. There are things that you can change that you have to learn to drive. Most importantly, know the difference between the two.

Here’s a photos of my mo (and it’s only 12 days in – *worried*)

Book Launch 10 November 2015


Movember: 3 Simple Things You Can Do To Treat Symptoms Of Depression

I’m participating in Movember this year to raise awareness of men’s mental health issues and raise some funds toward supporting this cause. To make any donations, please visit: www.mobro.co/patgudhka

I promised to educate myself on men’s health issues this month and came across a heartbreaking stat this morning. Did you know that at least 4 males commit suicide in Australia every single day? That’s 1,406 men a year. (Source: ABS 2013 data released March 2015

Shocking, right?

Depression is a primary driver of suicide and although some forms of it may not be entirely preventable due to it being triggered by chemical malfunction of the brain, I spent a bit of time reading up on habits and lifestyle approaches that play a part in preventing and delaying its progression which offer long-term mental health benefits. Three stood out to me as they are simple changes that one can make that seem to have incredible effects on depression as well as general well-being so even if you don’t suffer from depression, these are worth noting.

Staying Active

We know physical activity is great for our physical health, but many discount just how much it can improve on the symptoms of depression, anxiety and lift our overall mood. You don’t have to sign up for marathons (trust me, I’m far from doing that), but engaging in almost any type of physical activity for at least 30mins, three to five times a week can be great.

From personal experience, I’ve noticed that increasing my daily steps from 6000 to 10000 early this year and now to 15000 by walking from home to work and back, I feel more energetic physically and mentally, have a better attitude and a much quicker bounce back time for when things in my day go sour. As a bonus, I have plenty of time to listen to podcasts I follow. Is there anything you can do to add active time in your day?

Getting Enough Sleep

I cannot raise this point enough. Disturbances in sleep cycles have been linked to depression therefore it’s very important to get quality sleep. Here are a few things that I’ve learnt from experts and lifestyle entrepreneurs I follow that have improved my quality of sleep:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time daily when possible. This has meant early starts on Saturday and Sunday as well (a sleep in for me would be 9am).
  • Avoid screens 2 hours before (blue light disrupts the natural body behaviour that encourages sleep at the end of the day by supressing melatonin release). If you’re like me and need to check your smartphone before bed, use apps to invert the colours and eliminate blue light.
  • Sleep in 90 minute increments as each 90 minute block contains four non-REM stages and one REM stage (dream time) that your body needs. If you wake up after a 90 minute cycle you often wake up refreshed as you’re not interrupting any stages – I found this website useful in calculating wake up times so that I could enjoy five 90 min sleep cycles: http://sleepyti.me

Of course, depression is also a cause for insomnia so it can be a catch 22 treating both depression and insomnia. I came across this link which shares options that may help in such scenarios.

Watching Alcohol Intake

If you or anyone you know is prone to feeling depressed, pay attention to alcohol intake. Not only is it a mood-altering depressant drug, but if you’re at risk of depression you are also at risk of alcohol abuse and developing alcoholism.

Something I try to practice is a two-drink cap. If I go into a social night with that mindset, I find that I am more likely to stick to it – sure there have have been exceptions to this rule but the more I’m aware of it, the less I am likely to binge.

I hope these three points helps in some shape or form, and I plan to post more in the days to come. If you want to share anything that you’ve found useful or want me to do a bit of research into any particular men’s health issues, let me know in the comments below.

Thanks all.