Travelling Alone

This first post is only for those interested in how an absent minded, clumsy and forgetful (is that the same as absent-minded?) person like me could EVER travel alone.

Friends, it can be done.

 

7:30am Monday 31st July

My flight to Auckland was supposedly at 7 o'clock, connecting to an LAX flight at 9:50pm. I possibly should've had my focus on that dilemma all day. However I'm ambitious, and wanted to fit in work, visiting my new baby cousin, packing and running daily errands. 

I was stressing a little, as even though I'd sorted my ESTA and ETA, they don't come in a physical form, simply attached to your passport. My attempt to check in at Christchurch resulted in a "Failed Immigration Check" and the machine spat out my declined boarding pass. I got help from a representative and she didn't understand what went wrong, however I was still holding on to that fear of getting all the way to LA and being declined entry for whatever reason.

What are the chances you meet a friend from your very small town of 2000, also headed to LA? He helped me along for that leg of the trip - making sure I knew the way to the International Terminal in Auckland, inviting me into the oh-so fancy Koru Lounge and helping me understand the endless maze that is LAX. 

31st July - Landed in Auckland at 8:30pm - 13 hours awake

Boarding the plane to LAX was quite simple. My bags didn't need to be re-checked in, so my only task was getting to the International Terminal which I hadn't been to for 5 years or so. Before having a few beers in the Koru Lounge, the lovely man at the counter had a look at my ticket, frowned and asked me "Would you prefer a window or aisle seat?" He then relocated my seat to an aisle seat with nobody next to me, which was fantastic considering how uncomfortable it was to sleep in those flights. I probably slept around 3-4 hours on the flight... although the lady across from me (Who I envy, as she seemed to be asleep much more than I) also said the same.

31st July (1st August NZ Time) - Landed in LAX at 3pm (10am NZ) - 23 hours awake (nap included)

At this point I felt pretty good about my travelling abilities, all seemed to be going swimmingly. We ate some fried chicken at LAX after remembering I was an underage drinker now that I was in the states. My transit waiting time was 8 hours so this wasn't good news..
Boarding my 5.2 hour flight to MTL was interesting. Everyone seemed to speak french to me, very quickly may I add. A girl around my age asked if I could swap my window seat with her window seat  a little further back, as her mother was next to me and didn't want to travel alone. I quickly obliged, soon realising I'd made a huge mistake.

A. I'm paranoid when it comes to flights (don't laugh) so I paid extra to sit in the exit row (stop laughing) and B. There was a screaming child near me for the first 2 hours of the flight. 

It was fine though, I realised how tired I was (31 hours awake at this point) and fell asleep before the plane even took off. Had about an hours nap, then bought some wifi and chatted to friends and family for the next 4 hours - my next mistake.

This doesn't really help, but I just wanted to use this photo anyway.

This doesn't really help, but I just wanted to use this photo anyway.

 

1st August (2nd August NZ Time) - Landed in MTL at 7am! (11pm NZ) - 34 hours awake (nap included)

I thought I'd be excited to be in the country, but I still had immigration officers to be grilled by and a bus to catch. So I wasn't necessarily ecstatic. I bused to meet my sister at one of the metro stations, which came right outside her house. I don't even think I've really caught a train before (maybe once or twice) so I was super excited by this. We arrived at her cute flat, settled in, hired some bikes and went out for Chicken and Waffles. I'll go more into detail later about Montreal's fantastic Bixi system, but for now I'll insert a few pictures of the first day

Most houses in the streets of MTL look a bit like these ones. Our Bixis in the left-hand corner. 

Most houses in the streets of MTL look a bit like these ones. Our Bixis in the left-hand corner. 

The weather was absolutely crazy, going from about 7 degrees to 27 degrees in the space of 2 days was certainly overwhelming. We biked, ate, took photos, went to the pool, got icecream and had a picnic - all in the sun. The group's plan for the evening was to go out, but I was almost falling asleep in the park at dinner. So I went home and went to bed around 8:30 after being mostly awake for 46 hours.

I'm writing this as I'm waking up on the 2nd of August here in Montreal. Quite frankly, long flights are gross and uncomfortable but I'd absolutely recommend getting as much rest as possible, even on the day you leave for travel if it's in the evening. 

So far, one of my goals is to try every single flavour of ice-cream at a soft serve place with my sister a few doors down. So far we've tried two flavours, however that is a completely different in-depth story to be published...

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Suffering with an Eating Disorder as a Musician

Recently, someone I looked up to (a lot) and worked with (a lot) commented on a part of my physique. The words he used in particular were "Aesthetically Pleasing" and those words were not directed at me. Regardless of whether or not he meant it - It stirred me for awhile, making me look at myself very differently. I couldn't stop thinking about a couple of girls I was compared to. I thought twice about everything I ate. I thought maybe I didn't belong on a stage.

I felt shit.

When I was 13-15 years old, I suffered with an eating disorder. I can't say exactly what brought it on, but I had been dealing with family grief, financial problems in the family and getting over the earthquakes. It started like they all do, slowly cutting food out, doing some exercise here and there. Eventually it became weighing everything I ate, hiding scales under my bed, sneaking out at night for runs and the occasional binge/purge cycle. It was something I was in control of, and something I certainly excelled at.

This was ruining my teenage years. Everything I once enjoyed was now much harder to do so. I couldn't go out for dinner with friends, I couldn't concentrate in class, I couldn't sleep (Staying awake burns more calories), I would lie, I was losing friends, I was disappointing my family and I was completely burnt out.

One day, I sent my mother a text. I don't have it saved, but I basically told her everything I wrote above. I said absolutely everything I'd done and that I needed help. The most important thing is putting yourself first, and realising you have a problem. Whether it be depression, anxiety, an eating disorder or any mental health issue - learn to put yourself first. 

If there is one thing I want you to take away from this, let me explain how I felt:

I didn't want to get better, but I wanted to want to get better.

(Don't read that sentence too many times, It made me forget what 'Want' even sounds like)

When PMH assess their patients for possible eating disorders, they put you in one of three categories: Bulimia, Anorexia or EDNOS. The main things to look out for when it comes to Anorexic patients are

  • Being Underweight
  • Thinking they are Healthy (But obviously are not)
  • Engage in eating disorder behaviours

Someone is usually diagnosed with EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) because they display all symptoms of Anorexia except for being critically underweight. Bulimia is generally diagnosed if the patient shows frequent binging/purging patterns. Often, Anorexic patients are the only ones underweight. Another thing to take away from this is that you cannot always see an eating disorder. Bulimic's can sometimes even be overweight, but it still causes potentially fatal electrolyte imbalances. 

As strange as it may sound, it was hard for me to hear that I was no longer classed as anorexic. In other words - I was no longer sick enough to feel like I was in control. It was extremely hard to deal with people saying "You look healthier" as opposed to "Have you lost weight?" 

For me, my worst point was 38kgs. I am now 63kgs and the same height. At this point, I would have been diagnosed with Anorexia. Although thanks to my supportive family and strong will, I managed to gain enough weight to be diagnosed with EDNOS and placed in the outpatient ward as opposed to the inpatient ward. 

Most people overlooked how much I was struggling, along with the other 77% of girls who are unhappy with the way they look. 

Recovering is certainly the hardest part. To watch a doctor draw a plot chart of my weight every single week was quite hard. Faking gaining weight was easy, but didn't help at all. It has been around 3 years and I still struggle every. single. day. 

One of the reasons I decided to tell my story was because of the recent launch of the NZ Music Foundation's Wellbeing Service. The Wellbeing Service is an online, on the phone and in-person counselling service fully funded by the NZ Music Foundation and provided free of charge to those in the kiwi music community who cannot access the help they need due to hardship and other circumstances. 1350 Musicians in New Zealand participated in a survey led by the NZMF about depression and mental health. This survey showed that Songwriters and Composers are 2.5x more likely than the rest of the population to be diagnosed with Depression. And over a third of these people had been diagnosed with a Mental Health Disorder. 

I think it is certainly hard to look out for yourself as a Musician. Being a musician already feels vulnerable enough. Putting yourself on display, letting people judge your art form is only the start of it. But I love how New Zealand is taking that extra step to put our minds before our bodies. We don't need to glamourise the Music Industry here, as it feels like one big (or small) family.

Check out NZMF Wellbeing Service here: https://youtu.be/XUXUCqZNtT4

I recently joined my local Volunteer Fire Brigade, this obviously pushes me to stay healthy. I also work with Children as a Singing Teacher, and it means a lot to be a role model to them. Stupid things will still send my mind swirling, which I think is a symptom I will live with for a very long time. I cannot deal with "Honest Constructive Criticism" on my body, as I don't think it's at all necessary or affects the way I live my life or pursue my dreams as a musician. If anything, the things I did to myself then were only detracting my focus from learning and writing more.

 

Candice