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Amanda on why asking for help makes you strong

In this episode of the CFStrong podcast we hear from Amanda about her experience living with CF. Amanda discusses what she is most proud of, the importance of the CF community and the challenges of losing friends with CF. She talks about the value of being ok with not being ok and why you should ask for help when you need it.

This is the second episode of our two-episode chat with Amanda.

“…the help is there. But you’ve got to ask, and it’s not—you don’t look weak, you don’t look sick, if you ask for it. You actually look strong, you know, and… I find myself so proud of myself when I have put up my hand and say, hey, I need help. You know, that’s something that I, I struggle with, I still do. But I’m proud when I do it. And I think that’s you know, that’s massive.”

—Amanda

Transcript

Voiceover: This is the second episode of our two-episode chat with Amanda. If you haven’t already listened to the first episode, we encourage you to go back and do so before jumping into this one. 

 

Deidre Gorrie: Hi everyone and welcome to the CF strong podcast. My name is Deidre Gorrie, and I’m the programs and support services manager for cystic fibrosis community care in New South Wales. I am in the incredibly fortunate position of being able to chat with some of the most amazing adults living with cystic fibrosis from around Australia for the CF strong podcast series. The CF strong podcast series covers a broad range of topics including the challenges and successes of those living with cystic fibrosis, where you will hear real firsthand experiences and stories.  

 

Deidre: Hi, everyone, today we are very fortunate to have Amanda joining us. Amanda is going to chat with us and share a glimpse into her life. Welcome to CFStrong Amanda, would you like to say a few words to introduce yourself to our lovely listeners today? 

Amanda: Thank you so much, Deirdre. Thanks for having me on, I’m really excited. My name is Amanda. I am based in Brisbane, Queensland. I’m 28 currently when we’re doing this. I have cystic fibrosis, obviously. And I work in the mining industry. But I also play AFL as well. So that’s my, my big out from work. I’ve been working full time since I was 18 and came out of high school. 

Deidre: What would you say has been your proudest achievements so far, Amanda? And what’s the next thing that you’re hoping to take off this list, out of all the things you’ve done to date, like what is something that’s that’s up there that you’re really looking forward to doing? 

Amanda: Oh, my proudest achievement? That’s actually a really tough question, Deidre. Because– 

Deidre: Yeah, you’re welcome. 

Amanda: I am so proud of, from where I’ve come from, to where I am now. I am so proud of that. And that’s just in my life, in my health, in general. Becoming who I am, like actually growing into somebody who I’m proud to be was, is probably my, you know, it’s so hard. There’s so many good ones. You know, we can talk all day. 

Deidre: Yeah, I know, I know–we could talk all day.  

Amanda: We would be here all day.  

Deidre: So that’ll be our next podcast. 

Amanda: Do you know what my proudest achievements I reckon, thinking back now. I lost one of my very, very good friends who I grew up with quite a few years ago now. And he was the third one in about a span of about five months, you know, that had CF– 

Deidre: Yeah. 

Amanda: –that I’d lost. And that one was probably the hardest because we actually grew up together. Our parents did a lot of work with CF Queensland, and we grew up together. And you know, even though he was always a little bit older, and we sort of crossed paths occasionally and hospital and that kind of thing, losing him as the third person, in, you know, three people in the space of such a short amount of time was very difficult.  

I am okay to speak about it, because I’m proud of where I’ve come from, but I went into a very deep spiral when he passed away, and to the point where I’m not proud of the things I did. I knew that if I did certain things, I would be able to basically make my CF get worse a lot quicker. Because I felt like I didn’t deserve to be here when he did. You know, I had another friend who is still with us and she’s still one of my very, very close friends. And, you know, we may not speak every day, but definitely when we do you know, we’re always checking in on each other. And she was also very close with him, and I could see her hurting very much. And during that period, it wasn’t easy for me. I didn’t talk to anyone. You could see my health was declining. I struggled a lot. You know, I had a six year relationship breakdown over it. Because I was just going home, going to work going home, going to work. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to know anything.  

After that relationship breakdown, I probably started going out a little bit more. Alcohol was a big influence. And I wasn’t proud. I wasn’t proud of who I was. And it actually took, it took the team surprisingly enough. I had other people telling me. I had Ash, I had Emma. They were all sort of saying hey, you’re not doing good like, what’s going on? You know, and they tried their best, but it actually took Scott Bell to just stop me. Just say you’re not okay. And that’s okay.  

I ended up going into hospital for two weeks and he said to me, he wasn’t gonna let me out until I spoke to someone. So, five days passed, and I finally cracked. And I spoke to one of our team. And it was a bit of a lengthy process, it took me about a year, a year and a half to sort of come out of that very deep, dark place of I don’t deserve to be here, to really come out and be like, that’s not what they would want.  

Deidre: Yeah.  

Amanda: That’s not what our friends would want that have passed. They want us to live a life and be great and do all these things. And that’s when I, my mindset started changing too, I can do better. And I can be amazing. And I can truly put CF on the map. And that was my driving factor. I then also, you know, I’m so proud of how far I’d come. 

 

Short music break.  

 

Amanda: Took a bit of a flip of my life and took a job in the mines. So, I worked in professional sports for seven and a half years in various roles and I’d worked for various football clubs and AFL clubs, and then yeah, took a bit of a spin and went to the mines and said, why not give it a crack, you know, it’ll be great and haven’t looked back.  

And then I met, two years ago, I met my amazing partner who just excelled that fact that I was, I was on the right path. She truly helped me open up about, you know, how I truly felt and maybe something I didn’t realize that I probably been hiding in my sexuality. And she was 100% supportive about me, helping me get through that process and understanding it and learning it and understanding myself. And my, Ash was absolutely amazing through the whole thing. My family still have a joke and say it took you 26 years to realise, we knew before, but everyone loves to have a joke about it. And we all love to have a big laugh about it as well. But that would have to be my proudest achievement. You know, I’ve ticked that off the list that I got out of that.  

Deidre: Yeah.  

Amanda: And yes, it didn’t take somebody to say you’re going to stop and actually physically stop me. Because putting you in hospital for two weeks, it physically stops you.  

Deidre: Yeah. 

Amanda: But stopped me and then helped me get through it. And that would have to be my proudest achievement. I was, I was in a bad place.  

Deidre: Yeah, sounds like it.  

Amanda: And to come out the other end was just like a light in the tunnel.  

Deidre: Oh, absolutely.  

Amanda: You know, kind of situation. Say, yeah. 

Deidre: I think that’s a real reflection on, on yourself and your character and your drive and motivation. And just knowing that when you’ve got the head of the hospital saying it’s okay not to be okay, that we have those moments, we have those periods of time and knowing that there’s a way out of it. Even if it’s, you know, you’re staying in here until you talk to someone. 

Amanda: I think it’s understanding that that help is there.  

Deidre: It is there, yeah.  

Amanda: Especially here, both the Prince Charles and the martyr have amazing clinics. And the help is there. But you’ve got to ask, and it’s not–you don’t look weak, you don’t look sick, if you ask for it. You actually look strong, you know, and you you look, I find myself so proud of myself when I have put up my hand and say, hey, I need help. You know, that’s something that I, I struggle with, I still do. But I’m proud when I do it. And I think that’s you know, that’s massive.  

Deidre: That’s tremendous.  

Amanda: That’s massive. And I think that’s huge for anybody should put up their hand because I think so much more highly of people when they put up their hand and say I need help. 

Deidre: It’s tremendous to do it and also to be able to speak about it as well. And I hope that other people listening really take some solace in that and know that it is possible and there is an avenue to access help and resources and that they’re there as difficult as it is to ask for help. 

 

Short music break 

 

Deidre: And that leads really lovely and beautifully into my final question, which was around if you had any advice, final advice for anyone listening because I’ve just there’s so much that you’ve covered today, Amanda. 

Amanda: Yeah, I think when I talk about giving people advice, I always talk about just being themselves.  

Deidre: Yeah.  

Amanda: Be proud of the fact that you have CF. Don’t hide it, because hiding it, you know, it always comes to the surface. But don’t hide it. Be proud of it. Because it’s something that these days, so many more people are getting to know, people understanding it that, you know, you should be proud to say, Yeah, I do have it. You know, and I always encourage parents to let their kids go out and explore, obviously, within boundaries, as always. 

Deidre: Yeah, footnote there, boundaries, yes. 

Amanda: Boundaries, please make sure there’s boundaries.  

Deidre: Safety first, people safety first.  

Amanda: Safety first. Definitely got in trouble for a few of mine. But I always talk about that, give them an opportunity to go out and actually explore.  

Deidre: Yeah.  

Amanda: Give them an opportunity to go play sport, give them an opportunity to go and explore, you know, what they think they need. Because these days, our life expectancies are getting so much larger, with the medication around, you know, your child, or even you as an adult can go out and live such an amazing life, go and do it. And don’t let anybody stop you. Don’t let what you have stop you. Just get out and do it and be proud. Be proud of it. Because at the end of the day, if you’re proud about what you have more people are gonna want to know about it. Why are you so proud about it? Well, this is why. And that’s, you know, the why around why you’re so proud about it, is why everybody else will get excited about it.  

And that’s for me, that’s the advice that I always give every parent I ever talk about, let your kid go and explore why they have this and let them explore why they’re proud about having it. Don’t push them down. Let them go out, let them actually do it. Because I can tell you what, they’ll become extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. And I promise that you’ve already had some amazing people on this podcast. And I am nowhere near as amazing as what those people are.  

Deidre: Oh, I beg to differ.  

Amanda: But there is some amazing people out there that have what we have and let your kid go out and explore that. Let them learn and let them understand and make mistakes.  

Deidre: Yeah.  

Amanda: Because at the end of the day, they’re just going to be the next amazing person that comes along.  

Deidre: Yeah, I think that’s tremendous, that’s that’s really, really lovely advice. And I think every person that’s contributed to anything, in terms of podcasts, articles, anything when it comes to sharing their stories and experiences, everyone’s amazing. 

Amanda: I think also Deidre, like we talked about support systems a lot today.  

Deidre: We did, yeah. 

Amanda: That’s something that I’m huge on. I’ve been working with CFQ on it as well, you know, helping younger CF’s build that support network.  

Deidre: Yeah.  

Amanda: Because if I didn’t have the people I have in my life, if I didn’t have a best friend who just came into my life with open eyes and open arms and let me be me and learnt me and helped me through every step of the little rocky path that I’ve had. And I didn’t have a partner who has just jumped in hands first, let’s do this, let’s do this together, because I see a future. And also, you know, coming out and being openly open with my family and having her help me with that. I would have never done what I’ve done in my life.  

So having that support network that is non-judgmental, wants to be part of you, wants to learn is massive. Find those people outside of a CF circle. And you will be forever grateful and forever doing whatever you want. Because they will help you through those times. You know, and that’s probably something I don’t see a lot of young CF’s doing. They don’t have a huge support network, or they don’t have somebody outside of CF. And that’s my biggest advice is let your kids go and do it and let them find a good support network. Because you’re gonna need it, 100% you’ll need it.  

Deidre: Brilliant advice. I could talk to you all day, Amanda. You’ve just got so many fantastic experiences. Everyone, everyone I talk to does, and it’s just, it’s awe-inspiring. And I’m really grateful for, for all the aspects that you’ve shared today. I think they’re very enriching to our listeners and whatever field they happen to be working in if their parents, some of the clinicians, whomever they are. There are definitely some absolute gems that can be taken from your experience and what you’ve shared today and we’re really grateful that you’ve given us your time and an insight into what it’s been like for you working in the mines and kicking goals, I think we’ll have to get you back for more of this mine talk. 

Amanda: Yeah, it’s definitely, definitely been an experience. But I’m definitely grateful for it. That’s for sure. Being on a plane is a very unreal experience going back and forth from work it’s, very much opens your eyes. 

Deidre: Yeah. Tiny little prop plane going into a mine site.  

Amanda: Yep, pretty much. Landing on a dirt track and hoping that’s the end of it.  

Deidre: Hoping for the best yeah.  

Amanda: Getting flooded in. It’s, it’s definitely been an experience being fifo, that’s for sure. I’m very grateful that I’m now based back in Brisbane. Still working in the mines, but based in Brisbane, thank goodness, 

Deidre: Yeah, well, I’m, I’m definitely keen to get you back and hear more about your experiences and your stories. And I don’t doubt that we’re going to see a lot more of you in terms of not only advocating around CF, but just living your life and doing those things that are meaningful and important to you, which are all really wonderful things. And it’s just, it’s fantastic. 

Amanda: Thank you, thank you for having me on. And obviously, just to let the parents out there know, like Cystic Fibrosis Queensland is 100% there to help whenever they need. I do a lot of mentoring work with them, especially for younger CF’s. And also, parents that might be struggling. So, I’m always, always helping them out. And obviously yourself Deirdre being in New South Wales. I know you guys do amazing work down there as well and all our CF community around Australia do and but if yeah, you know, if you’re in Queensland, and you’re listening, and you need some help, definitely reach out to the ladies at CFQ because they’ve, they’re a pretty amazing group. 

Deidre: Absolutely, absolutely reach out to your local states because there’s some fantastic resources. In addition to the CFStrong, we work really closely across all the states. So always always ready there and willing to help. So, thank you so much for your time today, Amanda and joining us on this podcast. And no doubt we’ll be in touch and hear a lot more from you. 

Amanda: Thank you Deidre. Hopefully I can, I’d love to come back. 

Deidre: Absolutely. So, I’m gonna, we’re gonna wrap it up otherwise wee gonna talk all day. And we’ll be back with another episode of CFStrong very soon. But thanks, everyone. And thank you, Amanda. 

Amanda: Thanks very much. 

 

Voiceover: This is the second episode of our two-episode chat with Amanda. If you haven’t already listened to the first episode, we encourage you to go back and do so.  

Thanks for listening to this episode of the CFStrong podcast. Make sure you subscribe on your favorite podcast listening platform, so you don’t miss the next episode. And if you enjoyed this podcast we’d really appreciate it if you could leave us a review. It helps other people find CFStrong, or share us with your friends.  

Also, a quick reminder that the views expressed in the CFStrong podcast may not be reflective of Cystic Fibrosis Community Care’s viewpoints. The podcasts are designed to share information and provide insight into the lives of those living with cystic fibrosis around Australia.  

This podcast was made possible thanks to support provided by the Australian Government and was produced by CF Community Care and CF Western Australia. Our theme music is Spark of Inspiration by Shane Ivers from Silverman sound. Thanks for listening, and we’ll talk to you next time. 

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