• Being Brave, Not Strive For Perfection

    If there's one thing I learnt about my mental health journey and recovery, is that there is no perfect medication, no perfect hospital system, and no perfect support network. Over the years I have tried a lot of medications, trialled different support networks - whether that's in art, or changing the treatment team. I learnt through all these constant changes that it doesn't help to be perfect, but more importantly, being brave in all these situations.

    The Covid-19 has affected me in a way that I have become anxious daily - I have started to feel 'the panic' and here I remind myself there is no 'perfect' emotion for these sort of events too. I like and tend to ride my anxiety emotions - I went to the psychologist yesterday and told that I was anxious, and the psychologist helped me identify ways to minimise these anxiety emotions. I think it's completely normal to feel anxious about this virus though, but if it gets too much, it's good to step back, and re-assess on how it's affecting you and your activities of daily living.

    I want to also remind everyone that during these times, it's also important to be kind and gentle to yourselves. There's a lot of things one can do at home, whether that's doing art (painting), listening to music, putting on a face mask, dance like no one is watching, and cook delicious and healthy meals.

    I think it takes a lot of bravery for me to share my journey and story to you all - where I'm at now. My journey hasn't been steady, but I hope it will somehow help you. 

    Photo by Phim Truong The Bo & Bo Studio

  • How Clozapine Changed My Life

    In my previous post, I talked about How The NDIS Changed My Life - but in this post I want to specifically address How Clozapine Changed My Life. 

    Clozapine is "a medication used to treat certain mental/mood disorders (schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorders)." ~ Webmd

    I have been on this powerful medication, if I remember right, almost over two years now. I have greatly benefited from this medication, in combination with my Abilify monthly injection as well. The combination works for me.

    1. I sleep for at least 10 hours each night

    This medication has a sedating effect after taking it, I literally have to be in bed half an hour or so after taking clozapine, and I become all drowsy. I have at least 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, and every morning I feel energised to get out of bed after having a sleep of at least 10 hours. As you may know, the sleeping pattern for people with mental illnesses is really important. For some people, this is a lot of sleep, but for me to be in 'working order' - I need this amount of sleep to function.

    2. I properly carry out all my ADLs each day

    I cook, I clean, I study, and look for employment every day. Clozapine has had a big effect on my mental health - in terms of dealing with my activities of daily living. I try balancing out my work-life balance. I have a reason to get out of bed every day, and I feel motivated to reach my short term and long term goals in life. 

    3. I become more responsible in my mental health

    As I mention earlier, I juggle with a lot of things in everyday life, and I wouldn't be here without the help of this medication, which perfectly chemically balances me. I realise that my counselling appointments are just as important as my social life appointments, psychiatry appointments as well as NDIS meetings with my support workers too.

    Photo by Phim Truong The Bo & Bo Studio

  • How The NDIS Changed My Life

    I am one of the lucky ones who have received a really good package out of the NDIS and I am plan-managed and not NDIA-managed. I have had an immense amount of support throughout these two years of receiving the NDIS package. It has changed my life, and here I list why:

    1. They supported me to drive again

    This one was a tricky one for me to overcome. Having had two car accidents in my lifetime, I was traumatised to not drive for about 3 or 4 years. The NDIS paid for all my driving lessons with the PA Hospital so I can rebuild my confidence in driving alone again. The amount of support I received from this area in my life was great. I am confidently driving again, and I am so so proud of this achievement.

    2. Reinforced my love for art

    The NDIS funded all my art workshop/classes with Access Arts - I was given opportunities that I did not know about at all. One opportunity was the chance to paint a real piano and have it displayed at the cancer ward at Princess Alexandra Hospital. I was very blessed to also showcase my art at different art exhibitions and I am so grateful for that.

    3. The way my support workers encouraged me

    I have to say a big thanks to Ario and Jasmine - my support workers who brought out the "best" in me, and encouraged me that I can overcome anything and helped me stay clear of what I ultimately want to achieve and do in life - help me refine my goals and help me achieve it one by one. My support workers are not my taxi drivers too - if I can go grocery shopping alone without any support, I get a sense of achievement by doing this alone rather asking my support workers. 

    4. I could do horseriding

    Although this year part of my package was not able to do horse riding like the previous year, but I still had a go with horse riding through my first NDIS plan. I learnt to manage my anxiety better when I was on a horse. It played a huge part in my mental health recovery. I absolutely loved and enjoyed every second of horse riding. I am hoping when I have more stable income, to pay for these lessons, I would absolutely do that.

    Photogaphy by Phim Truong The Bo & Bo Studio

  • Extra! Rocket Girl Modelling Launch and Fundraising Party

    To say tonight's event was amazing IS an understatement. I really enjoyed this event, and especially the charity component of it. I love to support Brisbane local designers and it was good to see some of the same designers that grace the runway again. I also saw some new designers that I haven't seen before, and here are my top two favourite outfits from each designer:

    Above: Kiara-Bella Designs

    Above: Kiara Bella Designs

    Above: Alyssia The Label

    Above: Alyssia The Label

    Above: Moreno Marcos 

    Above: Moreno Marcos

    Above: Juliette Felicity

    Above: Juliette Felicity

    Above: Tigerlash

    Above: Tigerlash

    Above: Soloman Stephen in Harpi

    Above: Harpi

    Above: Yellow Thread The Label

    Above: Yellow Thread The Label

    Above: S.K.J

    Above: Rosine in S.K.J

    Photography by Suzanne Dang

  • Why 2019 Was The Best Year Of My Twenties

    Today is 30 December 2019, and as I'm reflecting on what a great year it has been for me, I am also excited about what 2020 will have installed for me. I have improved and recovering from my mental health issues, and tackling each issue at a time. I want to share why 2019 was the best year of my twenties with you:

    1) I got discharged from the mental health rehab

    I stayed for over a year and a half at a mental health rehabilitation place. There I found support not just for the mind (I have Bipolar Disorder Type I), but budgeting help, independent accommodation, and also advice on how to develop new coping strategies when I start hearing voices again. 

    2) I started driving again

    I had two car accidents in my early twenties and it traumatised me to not drive for 3-4 years or so. The government paid for me to start learning and building confidence to drive again through lessons supported by my NDIS. Just last week, I drove my grandma to the shops and back to her place. I absolutely love driving, and the confidence it has given me

    3) I started working, after being unemployed for almost two years

    I gained employment for over the Xmas period and absolutely loved the challenges I faced, the beautiful managers and employees I met who are so kind and lovely. Having employment, even though it was mainly for over the Xmas period not only gave me a sense of purpose in the community but also build my confidence in my own skills. I absolutely love working and the joys of making hard-earnt money are just so satisfying.

    4) I learnt to love myself first, before loving anyone else

    This year I chose to stay single, even though I went for a few dates, but ultimately single life for me was amazing this year. I love spending time with myself, watching movies at the cinemas, and even doing some fine dining by myself. Being 28 has been an amazing year for me.

    5) I found comfort and peace in God

    I am a Christian, and although I am not very good at attending church at times, I find peace in Him and listening to Hillsong songs as well. I have learnt to be bolder in knowing God, and pray for people and my friends who are having a difficult time as well. I believe He heals, and He allowed all the bad things to happen in the previous years of my twenties, so I can truly obey Him and put faith and trust in Him.

    6) I lived in independent accommodation for one year

    This month marks one year since I moved into my studio/1 bedroom apartment. I cook, I clean and do self-care almost every night since moving in here last December. I find comfort and safeness in my home, and I love living by myself. It's just so much fun and I feel good in myself. 

    Photo by Michelle Fleur

  • Dear Suzanne, So What Did You Learnt Above Love?

    Dear Suzanne,

    Love is difficult for you to explain. And because you have been through the form of abusive love, you have to be careful how you give your heart and love to people.

    You pray you will meet someone nice - someone who respects you at all times, and not use you as a sex object like the other guys you met. You are a lovely girl with passion, and you would easily sacrifice yourself to make it work.

    You haven't made the best choices in love over these years, they have been abusive to you, not just sexually, but emotionally and mentally too. You want someone who not just respects you at all times, but will take care of you when you're not in your best self.

    You have made rushed decisions in finding love, and you learnt you need to be more patient, and leave it to God too. He will open and close the right doors for you.

    Just be patient, please.

    True love doesn't come easily. 

    So be patient.

  • AICD presents Off The Grid Fashion Show '19

    I really like how tonight's event was more than just celebrating the success of the AICD's Diploma of Fashion Styling and Media Class of 2019, and mentioning about the importance of mental health in the fashion industry. That this topic is still a taboo, and need to be spoken more about it to reduce the stigma. It was a lovely event overall, and I enjoyed the designs. Below are my favourite designs from each designer:

    Above: Mojalivin

    Above: MJ Bale
    Above: Tacoola Vintage

    Above: Emela Studios

    Above: Fifi The Label

    Above: Tracy Poblano

    Above: Yellow Thread The Label

    Above: Isabelle Quinn

    Above: Wendy Makin Bridal

    Above: Nikke Horrigan

    Above: Tigerlash

    Above: Kiara Bella Designs

    Above: Arkive Vintage

    Photography by Suzanne Dang

  • What's Life After Rehab Like?

    Spending over a year and a bit in a mental health rehabilitation place were probably the best and worst times of my life. During my stay at rehab, I heard voices and had a lengthy one or two hospital admissions. I was depressed and was suicidal as well. Also during this time, I learnt to cook, clean, do budgeting, and maintain my mental and emotional health. I learnt and studied all the DBT skills and as well as applying it into my life. My wonderful doctors and nurses at rehab were very understanding and kind. I couldn't have any better mental health care team. 

    I also established friendships during this stay, and although if I was to compare my story to others, I think my situation is not 'as bad'. Sure, everyone has their own battles, but I feel my situation wasn't as bad, and I would find myself comparing myself to the other rehab residents. 

    So where am I now in life?


    That's the right word I would use. I am thriving and I am living independently in my own accommodation as well as maintaining the apartment in a clean way, as well as working now. I have been offered a Christmas casual job over the Christmas season. I have also participated in a lot of group exhibitions during the time I moved out of rehab. I have developed my own style, and also reinforcing friendships as well, and I feel my friends and family understand me more.  

    What else is happening, you may wonder?

    I applied for a $10 000 art grant and I hope to find out in early December if I got it or not.

    I am able to maintain my mental and emotional health too, in a way where I am not too depressed or experiencing mania. Even if I do experience these symptoms in the future, I have strategies and coping mechanisms to help me go through it, so I am not afraid of anything.

  • Dear Suzanne, You Are Stronger Than You Think

    Dear Suzanne,

    You are stronger than you think.

    Remember the time you had a car accident, it was all your fault and you told yourself you don't deserve to drive again because you are an unsafe driver?

    Do you remember the time he broke your heart and you told yourself you never open yourself to anyone ever again?

    Do you remember when your high school teacher didn't believe you could get good grades and she implied you weren't smart enough?

    But darling, all these experiences and challenges have shaped you on who you are today. You are a strong, resilient and amazing woman with many aspirations and smashing goals each day. 

    You may not feel worthy at times, but you have to know that you ARE strong AND resilient. 

    Your flaws and imperfections make you who you are now.

    Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

    You have goals - short term, medium-term and long term goals. You are a dreamer and an amazing kick ass goal-kicker too.

    You need to know this, and remind yourself this every day.

    You are grateful for all the opportunities and challenges that come your way. 

    So Suzanne, please know this:

    You are stronger than you think.

  • Dear My Ex-boyfriend Who Abused Me, I Wouldn't Be Here If It Weren't For You

    Dear Ex-Boyfriend Who Abused Me,

    I wouldn't be here without you.
    You abused me not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. 
    I have learnt to survive on my own self because what you have done to me as a woman.
    I have learnt to say no when I don't want something, rather than agreeing quietly with everything you say to me to do.
    I would not have grown and reassess what I want in life if it weren't for you.
    I know who exactly and what sort of person I don't want to spend my life with forever.
    Thank you for treating me that way, so I know what kind of a man I DON'T want in life.
    I believe everything happens for a reason in life and we can't control some things.
    What we can control is our response to situations. 
    We can't change the people, but we learn to respond to it differently.
    From the relationship I was with you, I learnt how to love myself more, and always put myself first. 
    Even at the time, I "gave" everything to you and you abused that.
    I wouldn't be the woman I am today without you.
    I am winning in life, and succeeding my goals one by one.
    You help me realise I have strength I didn't know I had.
    So dear ex-boyfriend who abused me, 
    I didn't go out of the relationship and learnt nothing.
    I learnt so much about myself more than you realise.

    Yours Sincerely,