When I first started Retreat Yourself back in 2015, my goal was to make people truly feel happier in themselves and their lives. It was all I cared about. I didn’t care about making money, I just wanted to find a way to tap people on the head with a magic wand and help them feel OK. I deeply cared (and still do) about making this world a brighter place.
This deep care came from my own experience with mental health, which gave me the passion to want to help others with theirs too.
I grew up in a small town in New Zealand. I had a beautiful upbringing with a supportive family, but when I hit my teenage years I struggled with depression and anxiety. I wasn’t great at school (I later found out I have ADHD) and I experienced deep insecurities, which manifested in pretty bad disordered eating. Like many other teenagers do, I buried this deep by distracting myself with drinking and partying.
And while no one ever spoke about it, many others in my town were going through the same thing, and unfortunately for some, we didn’t find out until it was too late. The rate of suicide in my town was amongst some of the highest in the country and I lost a couple of friends to their battle with mental health.
It was around this time that my beautiful mum hired a life coach for me, which equipped me with skills and tools to build a solid foundation, helping me to withstand life’s highs and lows.
A few years later while I was living in Canada, I again experienced deep depression. I just wasn’t content with where I was, or what I was doing. I ended up leaving Vancouver one afternoon, very abruptly, to go and work at a ‘fire camp’. There were huge bushfires in Canada at the time, so I disappeared off to a very remote part of the country to assist at a camp. I stayed here for a couple of months; living in a tent, with no phone coverage, no internet, or no TV. I spent my time either working around the camp, learning to crochet, playing the guitar, writing in my journal or reading. There was literally nothing else to do, and it was life changing.
This very experience was one of the most pivotal; where I learned the power of spending time alone, of disconnecting, of trusting that when I cut off from the distractions of the world, I would find everything I needed within me. I’ve never felt as grounded or in touch as I did when I went to fire camp, and it has become a cornerstone in my mental health journey.
There have been many highs and lows over the years, and despite running a health and wellness business, I too have my shadows. I still have days filled with loneliness, anxiety and fear. It’s in these times that I have to dig deep into my tool belt to pull out the things I know that make me feel better; spending time alone, looking after my body, and nurturing my mind.
The reason I am sharing this with you is because I want you to know every person has a story. Regardless of what you see on social media or online, everyone has their own insecurities, struggles and challenges. And that’s what Mental Health Month is about; sharing our own experiences and being vulnerable to hopefully remove the stigma of mental health.
If you’re going through something right now, please know that you’ve got this. This too, will pass. We are right here beside you, and will do whatever we can to continue to support you.
There are so many resources available too, some of which I've listed below.
So please, not just this month, but every month; try to be kind to yourself and take it easy on yourself. You are doing the best you can.
Sending you so much love and light, Kate xx
If you feel like you're in need of some extra help, please don't try and battle through it alone. There are many organisations that are set up to help you, including some of the below:
Lifeline Crisis Support: 13 11 14
Lifeline online chat: https://www.lifeline.org.au/crisis-chat/
Beyond Blue Anxiety and Depression Checklist: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety-and-depression-checklist-k10
Beyond Blue Mental Health Coaching: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/newaccess
Beyond Blue Talk to a Counsellor: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/talk-to-a-counsellor