Life is only as good as your mindset
WELCOME TO HMHFUTURE
Healthy Mind Healthy Future was created in 2016 by Stuart Rawlins to simply help others through life’s tough times, with a particular focus on Mental Health and Unemployment.
Stuart’s passion to help individuals and businesses in these two areas was born through his own lived experiences, triumphs and challenges.
From being selected as a Detective to work as a part of the principle investigative team on Qld’s largest ever murder investigation (Daniel Morcombe) to being unemployed for 10 months while he battled with is mental health, Stuart has the firsthand knowledge to help you, your organisation or your students get through those tough times in life.
Focus only on things and people
in Your Life That Matter!
Stuart is an experienced speaker who has presented to small and large groups and achieves a real connection with the audience through real life stories.
As a caring coach and mentor, Stuart can provide assistance to really make a difference in peoples lives – it is his passion.
Sometimes all you need is a nudge in the right direction or another point of view to clarify a choice or solve a problem. Get in touch online if you are more comfortable with this approach.
What people say about us. Here are comments from individuals who have visited HMHFuture.
People have not stopped talking about Stuart’s story and how he navigated his way through his own journey with PTSD and Mental Health issues. He has literally brought the stigma of Mental Health and PTSD right out of the box and in doing so is setting others free to also talk about their pain and move into a place of healing themselves.
Stuart Rawlins has been a lifeline for me and provided me with amazing and unconditional help.
I was at a very low point in my life after applying for over 4000 jobs in various sectors. It was hard as I have been in safety for over 19 years. Stuart has been consistently responsive in understanding how hard it has been.
I felt like I was drowning unable to get any form of work and the need to find work got increasingly frustrating after being unemployed for over 2 years. I have never been unemployed for that long in my working life ever.
For Stuart to come along when he did and to demonstrate a strong skill set and knowledge of understanding and drive to help a total stranger from a post that I had put up on Facebook about the difficulties about finding work was amazing.
Stuart has taken the time to carefully help me and even contacted his professional contacts to help me gain employment again, his care for others is unquestionable. He stayed in touch on a regular basis to make sure that I was following his guidelines to secure my next position, my next career. I couldn’t be more pleased and happy with the relationship that I have developed with Stuart and looking forward to it growing over time.
Once again Thank you Stuart to the time you took out of your life to help me in my situation.
“Stuart has been a friend of mine for about 7 years. He has known me at my lowest of times, and now at my best frame of mind.
His articles on Mental Health hit home time and again. And I realise how even when I thought I’d come through my own anxiety and depression, there was still more sorting to do.
Stuart speaks from personal experience, and has come out the other side with a positive and healthy outlook on life. We don’t often think about the traumas inflicted on our emergency services personnel – what they witness day after day in their occupations I cannot imagine.
Thank you Stuart for all you are giving back to your and our community. You are a wonderful, caring and selfless human”.
Teachers are great at delivering curriculum and parents are fantastic at moulding students into responsible young men and women. But how do you train a child to respond to those more difficult questions in life, often the things that they simply shouldn’t have to deal with but more often than not they have to. That is why our College had Kerrie Atherton from Empower Life Solutions and Stuart Rawlins from Healthy Mind, Healthy Future present a program to our Year 10 and Year 11 students called “What would you do if…”
Kerrie is a counsellor with a wide range of experience and who has a personal story of her own that demonstrates how someone can overcome serious life problems. Stuart has worked in the Police Force and has the expertise to address a range of issues and questions that young people have. Kerrie and Stuart presented a range of scenarios to the students and they were presented with the question “What would you do if…” From the feedback we received, the students found the program very helpful and informative.
They were provided with a whole range of strategies to help them think through how they should act when confronted with that social problem that no one else seems to discuss with them. I encourage parents and teachers to find out more about this program as it is extremely helpful to young people today.
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My journey of taking medication for mental health related illnesses has been one that I have been on since I finally made the decision to start taking them in 2010 after suffering a full-blown mental health breakdown resulting in me not working at all for 11 months.
I can still remember the fear of initially accepting the script from my Psychiatrist, followed by handing it over at the counter at my local chemist, through to then having to take it every day. After accepting that it was an avenue that I needed to try it took me quite a while to get used to the feeling of being on medication for a mental illness as I thought that I would be on them for the rest of my life.
Initially I struggled to find the right medication for me as I found out that I was quite suspectable to the side effects of some medications and that I needed a medication that would also help me sleep. But after about 6 months it was sorted and I found a medication that at the time seemed to suit my needs and help me get back on track in life.
I reckon I took that medication for about 5 or 6 years straight before a discussion with another medical professional prompted me to change medications for one that was better suited to my conditions. The new medication took a few months to kick in and it was certainly much better for me than the previous one that I was on as the previous medication had a few annoying side-effects such as:
- Not making me feel full after eating food, thus I would eat more and more
- It made my lower legs sweat constantly.
Fast forward until February 2023 and I have been taking the same medication now for about 7 – 8 years with little to no side effects.
So why would I want to stop taking it all of a sudden you might ask?
Good question, so I thought I would share and explain my answer in case anyone else is taking medication and has ever contemplated going off of it.
You see I have absolutely no big issues with continuing to take my current medication every day for the rest of my life, it’s cheap to buy, has little to no side-effects and it has assisted me through some quite stressful times over the last 7 – 8 years.
But I found myself asking why? Why am I still taking this medication every day?
Is it because I really need it to function in life or could it just be a habit that I have gotten used to over a long period of time. You see I have been fully employed since 2011 and made a career in a completely new industry that has taken me to local, national and international levels, some of which carried really high levels of stress.
So, I started thinking, do I really need this medication now or have I evolved enough, built enough resilience and learnt enough to have a crack at life without it?
There is also something else that was quite a big driver in my decision to go off my medication and that was that I have been missing certain feelings that I have lost since being on my medication. For me it has been the loss of the ability to feel really happy or excited about things or to appreciate really nice things such as a beautiful sunrise, cloud formation, good news or simply something really beautiful.
It is quite hard to put into words and I am not saying that I have not experienced joy or happiness whilst on medication, but I do know for me that it kind of ‘dulled’ those low and high emotions and feelings, and kept me on a more level and moderated medium. I guess I also wanted to see with all I have been through in recent years am I strong enough within my own mental health to manage and do I have enough strategies in place to be able to go off my medication and get through whatever life throws at me!
I have gone off it once before about 7 years ago for about 5 – 6 months, until I received a promotion at work and found myself in quite a stressful situation which in turn triggered some of my not-nice physical symptoms of Anxiety, PTSD and Depression. I was quite ok about this at the time and simply went back my long-term Doctor and asked to re-start my medication. I can remember telling him that I have been dealing with this for long enough to know when I was not well and that I should go back on my medication, so I also had this in the back of my head (for good and bad) in February of 2023 when I was looking at going off my medication again.
My doctor was supportive and provided medical advice on how to down cycle my current medication so as not to suffer any major withdrawal symptoms too quickly.
For me this meant taking a half dose for 1 x month, then taking a quarter does for 1 x month before stopping altogether.
The Ride Begins!
Within a week of halving my dose came the headaches, nausea, lethargic feelings to name a few. These lasted for up to around the 3 x week mark and although not nice they were bearable and expected as they are also quite similar to the side-effects I got when I started taking medication. The good thing was I knew that they were temporary and that with some over the counter pain relief and some rest I could get through them.
One thing I didn’t count on was how reliable and dependent my body was on me taking this little tablet every day. Even when I dropped my dosage in the following months I would occasionally forget to take a tablet and my body would give me a subtle reminder of what it was missing by giving me a day or two of headaches and dizziness.
And then it happened just into the second month of my cycling down, and it is the first time in about 13 years I had felt that feeling. I was driving in my car and looked out at the amazing weather and cloud formations that we were experiencing (Spoiler – I have lived on the Sunshine Coast for 30 years so it is definitely a beautiful part of the world) and I simply felt a feeling of appreciation, joy and gratitude that I have not felt since being on medication.
I looked at the sky and really felt its beauty and appreciated it so much it brough a smile straight to my face, and in that moment, I felt a feeling that I had been missing for the last 13 years, the feeling of joy and euphoria!
That day alone has made the journey worthwhile for me, but it has not been without its lows as well. I have noticed myself being a bit more emotional and suspectable to the odd tear or two when watching tv or expressing my feelings verbally.
I am so lucky that I have a partner who I can talk to about anything, and I have shared both my experiences (high and low) with her and what changes she may see in me as I cycle off my medication.
As I write this article, I haven’t taken any medication at all for about 2 weeks and was only taking it once every 4 x days for the month before that and once every second day for the month before that as mentioned.
Having openly dealt with my mental health challenges for the last 13 years I am acutely aware of both what my triggers are and also what my coping mechanisms are to keep me ‘on track‘ and to be the best version of myself as I can.
I also think that now I have a few things ‘in order’ so to speak that has allowed for some lower levels of stress in my life which is definitely beneficial (Job/Partner/Fitness), had this not be the case I can say that I would definitely not have a crack at going off my medication.
Will being off my medication for only the second time in 13 years last? I hope so and I am pretty confident that it will and that I will be able to experience the highs that I have been missing and get through the lows that will happen.
What I do know is that if something dramatically changes for the worse, that I always have my medication there as a backup should it all get too much, and that I have absolutely no issues with having to make the decision to go back on it at all. Medication has been good for me, and I don’t regret taking it for a second!
I am happy with my decision and am looking forward to feeling those feeling that I have missed for quite some time.
If you are thinking of going off your medication, then please ensure that you consult your Doctor or treating specialist for advice and support. If you are taking medication and staying on it than that is also great!
I hope the story of my recent journey provides some information/assistance to you or somebody you know.
I do find it interesting that we have to wait for the start of a new year to look at improving our life when we have the ability to start working on these changes at anytime through out the year, but it is what it is so lets’s work with it.
So what can we do to try to make sure that when we do make some new years resolutions, that we actually follow through with them? In this article I share some tips that will provide you with some tools that will essentially boost your chances of achieving your goals to up over 85%.
Write them down – Remember the saying, ‘What gets written down gets done’? Well that certainly has some merit to it, as research tells us that you are 43% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Why? Well there are a number of reasons that writing down your goals significantly improves your chance of success.*
- Writing helps your brain with recall through what is known as ‘Encoding’. Encoding is what happens in our brain when it has to make the decision to determine if something is important to store in our long-term memory or discard it. So when we write down our goals our brain sees it as something that is important and will assign greater importance to it, as a result, it is more likely to sink in and be remembered.
- Further to this as a result of writing down your goals your brain will spend more time working on ways to make those goals a reality, even when you’re not consciously thinking about them.
- Want to supercharge those written down goals? Then be specific, detailed and draw pictures that link your goal to an outcome! Rather than just writing losing weight as a goal what about writing lose 3kg’s by 28/02/2021. Then detail how you are going to make that happen. The more detailed and planned out the more your brain will see it as being important and more the more ability you will have to recall the information and thus achieve your goals.
So now you have identified your goals, written them down in great detail, set some realistic but challenging time frames and drawn some pictures, don’t stick your list of goals in your bedside draw and forget about them!
No, put them in a highly visible place so you see them as much as possible, then move them around to different visible locations. You see if we leave them in the same place we get what is known as ‘normalization’, this is where our brain gets used to them being there and they blend into the background like everything else. So move them frequently to keep them front of mind which will again increase your chances of achieving them.
‘Motivation is crap. Motivation comes and goes. When you are driven, whatever is in front of you will get destroyed.*’ (David Goggins – Regarded as one of the toughest men on the planet).
To put it simply, being motivated is not enough to achieve your goals. Take it from someone like David Goggins who as mentioned above is regarded as one of the most toughest individuals on the planet. Motivation will come and go but consistent action no matter how small will take you towards your goals, here’s the kicker though. That action has to be taken whether it is raining, hot, cold, you are tired, busy or generally unmotivated. You have to be consistently taking the required actions to effectively move towards achieving your goals otherwise motivation will drop and they will become a mere dream.
At the time of writing this article I am actually most of the way through listening to David’s story ‘You Can’t Hurt Me’ on Audible and let me tell you he didn’t get to where he is today from simply being motivated. He was driven and took action towards his goals even when every cell in his body did not want to and it paid off, not the first time let me add but it eventually did as he managed to toughen his mind into forcing his body to do what it did not want to.
This mantra is further emphasized in Angela Duckworths book ‘Grit – The Power and Passion of Perseverance’, where she identifies why people who test high for talent often fail to achieve their potential, and why people who do not test high for talent often “overachieve” what others expect them to do. The book goes into detail about ‘Grit’ and what having grit is, means, how to get it and how when you have it what you can achieve in life. A quote that stuck with me from this book was ‘Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard’*. So remember even if you are not extremely talented at something by consistently taking action will go much further towards achieving your goals then someone who may be more talented but is not consistently taking action.
Get a Mentor – Mentors are great as they are able to share with you their journey and more importantly their failures and the lessons they learnt from them. Mentors are someone who has walked the journey that you are embarking on and made it through to the end. A mentor needs to be someone that can give you the right amount of time to share their journey, you also need to be able to relate it to what you are embarking on in some way.
An old mentor of mine taught something that I have never forgotten, when we would at special events or dinners with highly successful people in our field and it was question time he would ask a very different question to most at the table. He would ask ‘Tell me about what you tried that did not work and why’. The question was often a bit of a shock to the person and the crowd but he was wanting to know what did not work and why because he wanted to avoid those same failures at at all if possible.
Find an Accountability Buddy – These are people who won’t automatically tell you what you want to hear, they are people who will give you encouragement and support, but most importantly honest feedback when you are not following your goals. Research has found that the chance of achieving our goals rises to above 85% when we share them with an accountability buddy, WOW – YES 85%. Below are some tips with regards to sharing your goals with an accountability buddy.*
- Share process goals, not outcomes or identities. Don’t tell your friends you plan to be a data scientist in four months. Tell them you plan to do 10 hours of studying, coding, and project-building per week.
- Check in frequently with written updates.
- Ask for “process praise” rather than “person praise” or choose a friend who’s going to be naturally inclined to compliment your effort or the strategy you employed in completing a task, rather than complimenting your innate intelligence or talents.
- Ask for positive feedback at first, and negative feedback later on.
- Make your own call on social media, but avoid focusing on competition. Particularly in the early days, you want to be thinking about what you’re doing, not what others are doing.
So there you have it some tips on how to really increase your ability to follow through and achieve those new year goals or action plans.
Remember – Small consistent steps/actions towards your goals will always get you closer to them then just being motivated and thinking about them.
Stuart Rawlins | Healthy Mind Healthy Future
Mental Health & Employment | Educator | Speaker | Coach
Healthy Mind Healthy Future Copyright © 2016 ABN 788 329 212 96
*References: Stephanie Haney (WKYC), Charlie Custer (Dataquest), David Goggins (You Can't Hurt Me), Angela Duckworth (Grit), Brett Greene (The Psychology of Writing Down Goals).
With all the Covid19 challenges we have faced in 2020 I thought I would share a few non-Covid19 challenges that popped up for me this year and how I have manged to successfully and not so successfully navigate my way through them.
By sharing what worked and what kind of didn’t work I hope this article assists you or someone you know that may be going through some similar life challenges at present.
First of all it has been at least a few years since I have been through a significant personal challenge that has affected my mental health, so to be straight-up I was a little out of practice with using my previously identified coping skills when I hit my first personal challenge at the start of 2020.
In the early part of 2020 my sixteen year marriage broke down and as a result, my wife and I separated. With 50/50 custody of our three young school age kids, two different schools, an international job that involves meetings on average three nights a week and no immediate family to assist me with our kids during my week, my world was turned upside down in more ways than one.
To cope initially and for quite a few months I shut a lot of people out of my world and mentally went back into my man cave, concentrating on working things through in my mind alone without the chatter and judgement of others. I must state that the thought of ‘judgement by others’ was and is a self-imposed perspective I put on myself rather than what was actually happening in the real world.
Interestingly enough probably like most of us I know a lot of people who have separated but strangely I never thought it would happen to me, then there I was, a forty-five year old dad of three right in the middle of a major change of life.
I inhabited my mental man cave while I worked through things in my head and during that time I will admit I slipped back into the habit of drinking most nights, not to excess but simply a few glasses to relax and try to take my mind away from my current situation. A challenge I have is that I am an over thinker and I struggle to turn my brain off, especially when you want to do things like sleep.
I knew from past experiences that I wasn’t going to find my path through this challenge at local BWS store so engaged in some serious exercise of a type that I hadn’t done before; running! You see I have never ever been a running person, I am simply not built for it, I have some bad joints from doing gym for a long time, have never been any good at it and I have also always suffered quite badly from shin splints.
Well determination of the mind is an interesting thing! I managed for the first time in my adult life to keep running until my shin splints eventually went away, but running still hurt, it hurt my joints, my body……….but my brain loved it! The mental and physical challenge of pushing myself through the pain barrier to hopefully better a previous time had taken hold of me and I couldn’t get enough of it.
Now I want to stop you before you start thinking I was running marathons, I wasn’t. But within a few months I managed to reduce my time for a 5klm run from 37mins down to 28mins, I also pushed myself to run 8klms and a 10.4klm run through the forest trails.
Enter a few bad decisions that really hampered my running progress and ability to keep my mental health in check. Firstly I ran too much, too often and an old hip injury flared up causing me to get my third cortisone injection in my bursa sac in my hip. I then had to stop all forms of running for two months whilst I did physio which then identified a previous incorrectly diagnosed hip injury which was the main reason for my pain.
When I started running again it only took a few months and the pain came back just enough to make it moderately uncomfortable and enough time for me to tear a ligament in my knee on the same side as my injured hip.
A trip to my Doctor quickly resulted in advice to stop running, not happy with that I went to another Doctor where we take our kids where he abruptly told me to also stop running and to take up road cycling. Whilst there I asked him what the unusual growth was on the inside of my hand, under the skin, around one of my tendons as it was getting bigger and a bit sore.
He quickly told me it was a hereditary condition called Dupuytren’s Contracture, where fibrous tissue starts to grow around your tendon eventually contracting your finger inwards towards your palm.
Whilst waiting for my appointment with a hand surgeon the decision was made to sell our house as a part of the asset split up. Having only recently completed a significant internal renovation we had not completed the outside renovation/landscaping and we identified that some work was required to get the outside up to the inside standard.
The cost to pay someone to do all the outside was not achievable, so as I was living in the house and have completed this type of stuff before on other houses we have owned I completed the majority of the outside work to get the house up to sale standard.
When I finally got into see the hand surgeon he quickly told me I was always going to get it, it was inevitable, only that I have got it about ten years earlier than I should have. After a few questions he advised me that you would normally get it this early from a large stress on your body like major surgery……… or a marriage separation, bingo cause identified!
Instead of nasty hand surgery I was offered to be part of a new trial where your hand gets treated via radiation therapy at a cancer center. Five days of treatment followed by an 8 – 12 week break than another 5 days of treatment. Minimal side effects but at a considerable up front cost, with only a Medicare rebate as it is classified as day surgery and not covered by private health.
So just to recap on the challenges thrown up in a ten month period, without a hint of Covid19.
- Marriage separation
- Managing three kids every second week who go to two different schools and play a number of sports five days a week
- Working in a management job for a global company with international responsibilities and meetings three nights a week
- A hip injury
- A knee injury
- Not being able to run
- A strange and painful bump growing on a tendon inside my hand
- Radiation therapy
- Having to landscape and fix up a house so it can be sold
- Financial challenges
- Emotional challenges
As I write this article I am just about to finish my first week of radiation therapy and at the tail end of getting our house ready for sale so I know that all my challenges are not over just yet, but I thought as we near Christmas I would share my journey so far to hopefully help someone else that is facing some similar life challenges.
Below is a summary of the good and not so good decisions that I have made along the way to get me through this year so far.
Not so good:
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Shutting out a lot of our joint friends
- Not listening to my body and Doctors
- Doctor shopping
- Not taking time out for myself
- Not asking my friends for help
- Worrying about things I can’t control
- Doing a professional personal improvement course to assist in rebuilding my confidence
- Eventually listening to Dr’s and not giving up by having a go at road cycling
- Taking the odd bit of time out for myself to do things like a spartan race, climbing mountains or having a massage
- Talking to other single dads about the ups and downs I may encounter through this journey
- Reading articles and blogs on marriage separation from a man’s perspective and how to get through them
- Listening to motivational books like David Goggin’s ‘You can’t hurt me’ on Audible
- Continuing to do strenuous exercise to help my mind
- Using positive psychology to focus on the good things I still have going on in my life
- Utilizing the paid version of phone apps like Smiling Mind and Headspace
- Realizing that our kids have 2 parents who both have full time jobs, are good people and who both love their kids very much
- Not paying solicitors a fortune to drag it all out and do something that the government has a service for that literally costs stuff all
- Reflecting on how I managed to get through my previous mental breakdown from Policing where I didn’t work for 11 months and contemplated ending my life, but managed to get through it and totally rebuild myself and my life
- Stepping back into doing consulting and speaking work in the areas of mental health & unemployment outside of my normal day-to-day job
- Simply continuing to wake up everyday and turn up to face the challenges
Am I completely through all my challenges yet? Certainly not, but I know I will get through them and although life may not be the same as it was before, that may not be an entirely bad thing.
Please reach out if you would like to discuss any of these issues or topics with me personally.
Stuart Rawlins | Healthy Mind Healthy Future
Mental Health & Employment | Educator | Speaker | Coach
Healthy Mind Healthy Future Copyright © 2016 ABN 788 329 212 96.