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  • The High Tea Party 2019

    What a wonderful day today. Louisa and I went to the Hilton Brisbane for The High Tea Party. We sat in the sold-out 12.30pm session. There were a few hundred guests and there was great entertainment from models wearing Intimo and Bird's Nest. I recognised Stace Mcgregs, a beautiful and confident curvy model. I loved her confidence on stage. The high tea was served with scrumptious sandwiches, petits and scones, as always. This was my second time to attend The High Tea Party - the previous one was so much fun as well.



    Above: My outfit for today

    Above: The scrumptious high tea



    Above: Stace Mcgregs strutting her confidence on stage


    Above: Shopping up a storm


    Above: My beautiful friend who came with me, Louisa Parkinson

    Above: At the pink carpet - how cute is it?!


    Above: With my bestie Louisa Parkinson

  • Because I Look 'Normal' Doesn't Mean I'm Not Mentally Ill


    I've been getting some recurring comments about how I look 'normal' and it seems I don't have a mental illness.

    Wrong.

    Being mentally ill has nothing to do with looking normal. I can have my moments, and have my mania and depressive episodes and still look 'normal'. I've been told I look like there's still life in me, and which makes me 'normal'. 

    If anything, I take these comments quite offensively. Or I could take it another way - don't give a f*** what they think. Whether or not I have life in me, I still have a chronic illness. 

    Mind you, there have been times I have been iller than before, to the point I couldn't bathe myself and feed myself. That was a long time ago.

    I still acknowledge that I have a mental illness, and although I may be 'better' now, I am managing this illness better - than IT managing me. I learnt to have a safety plan installed when something is going wrong. To be insightful of my triggers and side effects, and now a right action plan to solve problems to problems.

    Photo by Nina Timonen of Smile And Keep

  • What's It Like To Hear Voices


    "So you hear voices? Is it female or male?" - the psychiatrist asked me.

    I told him I couldn't differentiate whether they were female or male or not at the time. The psychiatrist continued to ask me more questions. 

    "Is it inside or outside your head? Do you think they control you or you control them?" - he continued with more questions.

    For those who don't hear voices, I've been told it's very hard for people to understand someone who hear voices. I learnt voices can appear when trauma is present in someone's life. Like for instance, the sexual trauma that I received. 

    Sometimes the voices have commanded me to do things to hurt myself and I had acted on it, to hurt myself. It can also be triggered by a lot of stress too. I started hearing voices when I was 14. At that time I wasn't aware I was hearing voices, and it was this age that I first attempted suicide. Looking back, I definitely was hearing voices - just wasn't aware of it.

    Throughout my twenties, I had episodes where voices were present and I had to be admitted to hospital for them and take specific medications for them. I try not to rely on these kind of medications too much, cause I think they can be quite addictive. I try other strategies like using my DBT (Dialetical Behavourial Therapy) skills, mindfulness and deep breathing. But the most effective way to 'get rid of them' was to take olanzapine.

    There is a connection with hearing voices and God too. As a Christian, I believe at times the voices were the works of Satan, and I have mistaken it for God's voice. It is very distressing to have these voices, and it tests my faith in God too. I have been offered prayers for against these voices. Sometimes I question whether I am a 'weak' Christian in some people's eyes - at times I felt judged by other Christians who didn't understand me or understand that it's all part of my chronic illness.

  • What I Wish I Knew About Love As A Disabled Person

    Having an invisible disability doesn't stop me from falling in love with someone. Of course, it wouldn't, as someone who is disabled, we can't limit ourselves to these sort of things. I haven't had 'much luck' when it came to romantic relationships. I first fell into an abusive relationship, emotionally and mentally when I was 19. I thought I was 'in love' with this person. We had met at a University social club, and he chased me and said 'I was hard to get'. In the first year, there was 'a lot of love', and I felt I was being heard all the time. The second year went downhill fast, there was a breakdown of communication, and I was abused sexually, not just mentally and emotionally. What had I wish I told myself before I 'dived into' in the relationship. I would wish someone told me these things:


    1) If I think this person is right for me, think again

    People change, and once they find something out about you that they don't like, they might possibly find another reason to forget you and move on. Don't fall easily into any relationship.

    2) Don't rush into it. Wait it out.

    Peoples' true colours will appear in due time, they might be all great and loving one year, and be abusive in the next (which I learnt the hard way). Take it easy and spend time knowing the person first.

    3) Find someone who is understanding and patient

    Having mania and depressive episodes, I need someone who has a listening ear and understands what I am going through. Don't jump into that relationship, if you find one thing good about the person, they might not overall be a good person

    4) Love hurts

    Love isn't all about exchanging pretty flowers, gifts and kisses. It's more than that. It takes hard work to build trust, be a strong communicator, to understand each other and compromising. Love will eventually hurt if one part or another is not fulfilled. 

    Photo by Nina Timonen from Smile and Keep

  • How Public Speaking Made Me More Confident


    When I was in high school, and if there was an oral presentation, I would always to try to make up a reason to not do it. Like many, I had the fear of public speaking back then. I was doubting in myself and how I delivered the content of the speech. But as I grew older, and learnt that I had an interesting story to tell, I wanted to challenge the fear of public speaking - and just do it. I have been on stage talking about sexual violence and how it impacted me. I have talked on the stage about my mental and fashion blogging. I also recently was given the opportunity to talk about my art at an art exhibition called "Lunar Down Under: Asian Art" at Arts From The Margins. I felt my heart was about to jump from my heart, but I received feedback on the same day that I spoke and look confidently.

    I was thrilled to hear this sort of feedback.

    Maybe public speaking isn't so bad? 

    There was something about beating the doubts and nerves after doing a public speaking gig. I felt accomplished. I felt successful, in my own ways. I grew confidence as I tackle each speaking gig that I received. One after another. I crave for more, I want to educate people about mental health through my story. I want to change and make an impact. And I am doing it.




  • INTERVIEW with Luka Alford & Adelle Ferguson || An Afternoon With The Girls Event


    Coming this March 30 this year, there is an exciting event I would like to share with you all. If you love being inspired, empowered and networking with other strong and resilient women out there, this event is for you. It will be at the glamorous Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise from 12pm-4pm this year. There will be raffles, food and plenty of beverages for ticket holders. And here I spend two minutes to interview the founders behind the event, "An Afternoon With the Girls" - Luka Alford and Adelle Ferguson

    SD: Tell us a bit about yourself - your passions, and your motivations behind hosting your event.
     
    LA: My name is Luka and I’m a 23 year old single mum to a beautiful little 11 month old girl Wynter. I left a very toxic relationship when Wynter was just 4 weeks old and knew that I wanted more for myself and definitely more for her. I studied personal development every day to change my mindset and learnt about self-love and self-worth and how important it really is. I also learnt how much I was lacking it. After learning all this I felt compelled to share it with other women who may know of someone in a similar situation or be in a situation themselves that is less than desirable. My passion behind this event is so strong and the outcome I hope to achieve is connecting other like minded young women to share their stories and connect with each other to form supportive friendships and of course learn about self love and self development.
     
    AF: I am a mum to a Beautiful baby girl and happily engaged to my gorgeous Fiancé. My biggest passion in life is to empower many women around the world. My passion comes from a place of abuse growing up. I want to inspire women and show them that no matter our story, we don’t have to let it define who we are. My motivation behind our event is knowing there are so many women struggling with their circumstances and feeling lost with how to overcome certain things they have been through. I want to teach them how to love themselves and also know their self worth because every women is truly beautiful.
     
    SD: Which part of the event are you most excited about?
     
    LA: I am most excited to meet with so many women face to face! I connect with a lot of women over social media but we’re all nation wide if not world wide so it’ll be so nice to finally get that personal connection and form an even closer friendship.


    AF: Most excited about, this is so hard to answer because I look forward to the whole entire day. I cannot wait to meet all the beautiful women who attend, listen to other incredible women share their stories and knowledge. If I had to just pick one answer it’s knowing all the women their will feel so empowered, it’s knowing we are helping them to over come situations that don’t serve them, it’s knowing they will feel so much more love and self worth towards themselves.
     
    SD: What should we expect on the day of the event?
     
    LA: A lot of real and raw stories about what some of us women have been through but also a lot of really inspiring, motivational and uplifting outcomes we have all experienced. Oh and of course plenty of laughs, food and a few champagnes to wrap up the day.

    AF: 
    I will be sharing my story of over coming abuse as a child. Other women will be speaking about self love and worth. Successful business women will be sharing their boss babe stories.
    Opportunity to meet like minded women and many new friendships. A day full of glam, a few champers, cheeses and a ton of EMPOWERMENT!
     
    SD: What inspired you the most to create an event like this?
     
    LA: The stories that I get on a daily basis about what young women are either currently going through or have been through, really is my inspiration for the day, they deserve a place to learn, connect and have fun!

    AF:  
    Growing up in an abusive home and being sexually abused from my step father at the time from 5 years of age. I suffered that abuse for 5 years. I watched my whole family suffer. My mum was beaten to near death many times. I watched my siblings suffer terrible abuse. Childhood was not a great memory for me at all. I struggled growing up but everything I know now is self taught and it’s because of many wonderful supportive people that helped me get to where I am. I am such a happy woman with a heart full of love and I know if I can get through many tough times. I know I can inspire many more women to over come situations they may have been in, teach self worth and love and to be genuinely happy.
     
    SD: How do you want women to feel after attending your event?
     
    LA: I want them to feel extremely confident in themselves and know that they can achieve absolutely anything and also to feel that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing there are so many women out there who are supporting you and who are wanting to connect with you.

    AF: I want them to know it’s possible to feel so happy within yourself, I want them to LOVE themselves because they are so dam incredible! I want them to feel so empowered and know they can achieve anything they put their mind to.

    SD: What is your favourite go-to quote to inspire other women?
     
    LA: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”
     
    I live my life by this.

    AF: 
    "I am enough"
     
    "I have always been enough"
     
    "I will always be enough"
     
    "- Always be you -"


    You can click here to purchase tickets. Don't forget to choose the Golden Ticket to fully be pampered. See you all there at the event!

  • What 1 Year of Rehab Taught Me



    I can't believe one year has passed already since coming to this mental health rehabilitation place. I have learnt and experienced so much. I have failed at times in my mental health recovery, and every experience whether it's good or bad is a lesson to be learnt I believe. I choose to stay positive, despite some challenges and hiccups along the way. 

    Medications

    This was probably the hardest part to get right. I tried many antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilisers in the past. It's taken many months to get the right dose of medications. I am grateful to have good doctors who help me find the right combination of medications that suits me. I am really happy with the combination of medications I'm taking now.

    Community

    Without this, I wouldn't be where I am now. As a resident in a 20-unit (apartment-like complex), I have made some very meaningful friendships and we all encourage and cheer each other on for all of our recovery. If it weren't for the community, this place would be pointless - dead and dry. It is so important for me to have social support from good friends. When I leave this place, I will, of course, miss everyone sorely when I leave.

    Creativity

    Rehab has taught me and showed me gifts that I thought I wouldn't have. Since coming here, I have started painting actively. I have been given the gift of art and painting. I love getting creative and let the creative juices run free. This year I saw how my art took me to different opportunities - even one opportunity where I sold my first "large" canvas for $300 at an art exhibition showcasing works of people with 'invisible' and 'visible' disabilities. It was like a dream come true.

  • JK Couture VIP Night at Morrison Hotel

    Jk Couture VIP Night at The Morrison Hotel was a night to remember. Guests were welcomed into a special function room from 6.30pm. Seats were filled with goodie bags that left me smiling. There were entertainment from a magician, musical acts and platters of savoury and sweet foods. Guests were also spoilt with a full course meal while the musicians entertained everyone. Joanne Hasson's, (the person behind JK Couture) story and motive behind this charity night was based around her mother-in-law's cancer journey and experience, so Joanne decided to hold a charity night for cancer. There were plenty of raffle prizes to win, and I won a $300 Xennox Diamonds giftcard (woohoo!). The program ended at 9.30pm on the dot, and was perfect timing according to the program which was great. I can't wait to go to the next JK Couture's VIP night. They are just so much fun!


    Above: Beautiful styling by Plan and Simple


    Above: The program


    Above: Delicious alcohol-infused cupcakes


    Above: One of the guests, Martha Yuna Lay


    Above: JK Couture dress


    Above: Musical entertainment by Lucy Taylor Music


    Above: Show-stopper


    Above: Martha Yuna Lay and Joanne Hasson

    Photography by Suzanne Dang

  • INTERVIEW with Christie Sutherland || Shop The City Event



    Coming soon this October 5 to Brisbane is the city's hottest shopping party: Shop The City. QueensPlaza, Wintergarden, and The Myer Centre will be joining forces to create a must-attend event in Brisbane on one big night. Here I interview Christie Sutherland - who is Editor, Stylist, Content Curator, Brand Strategist and of course, the person who will be curating the live fashion shows as well. I spend a few minutes asking her some questions about Shop The City event:

    SD: Brisbane’s biggest shopping party is back this year. What’s different and exciting about this year compared to the previous year?

    CS: It is back and I am thrilled to be a part of it! This year Shop BNE City will be centred around a large scale fashion show on the Treasury Brisbane Runway in Queen Street Mall, hosted and curated by myself as Treasury Brisbane's Fashion Ambassador, it is a fantastic partnership to see happening with our cities shopping hub. This year you will see new collections representing QueensPlaza, The Myer Centre and Wintergarden take to the stage all themed to a cosmic romance. And it is without a doubt going to be bigger and better with incredible theming set to launch the festivities under the stars off with a bang!

    Q: Which part of the event are you most excited about?

    CS: It is so hard to pick one knowing how many exciting activations will be lining the Queen Street Mall on October 5 for Shop BNE City... The Treasury Brisbane Runway is no doubt going to be a very exciting moment on the mall with fashion shows and live interviews running every hour on the hour from 10am-8pm, the first taste of the Limited Edition Rose Chandon at Wintergarden and how could I forget the Shop & Pop activation!

    Q: What sort of fashions will we see in the live fashion shows?

    CS: With ten shows throughout the day there will be a range of fashion that will take to the Treasury Brisbane Runway! We will have luxury season must-haves from QueensPlaza, resort essentials setting the summer scene in Brisbane, The Myer Centre with the latest trends, Australian owned designers from Wintergarden on show and we will also be showcasing a spring racing round up making sure track side fashion levels up this year.

    Q: What will you be wearing to this year’s Shop The City Event?

    CS: Think I'll keep that one a secret until the parades are finalised... but I am absolutely in love with Lee Mathews at the moment as well as Cue's fashion revolution, Talulah's First Time collection launch and Tiffany and Co's latest Paper Flowers range is refining the balance of femininity and industrial modernity.

  • Why I Stopped Posting Publicly Suicidal Threats On Social Media



    I remember I used to be really unwell. Like, really unwell. Unwell to the point I would update my status updates on Facebook, "feeling suicidal". I feel looking back, I was partly looking for attention... and on the other hand, I was crying for help. The comments I received when I updated my statuses were a bunch of friends who were worried and asked me if I was ok, and some even specifically said to me to "chin up" which didn't help much to be honest. Of course I did not reply to the messages anymore that I find not helpful. I feel looking back, my status updates were more of passive-aggressive threats. To see who would truly care about me and actually be there for me. Even one friend who I barely spoke to knew where I lived, and almost called an ambulance to my place to see I was okay.

    Looking back, I feel Facebook can be used for certain uses, we see a lot of people only post the "best" part of their lives - photos from holidays, prestigious events, to graduation photos for example. But I am intrigued as to why (and how!) I feel the need to use social media as a cry for help. It's interesting isn't it? And at times, it has bit me back on the butt-side for "oversharing" too much. I guess it's also good to see who your true 'social media' friends are. 

    So I learned that posting suicidal thoughts has its advantages and disadvantages. But I choose to not use it when I am feeling suicidal anymore. I have different ways to cope without using social media.

    Photography by Winston Boon