We’re thrilled to feature Helen Edwards in our Five Minutes With series this week. Her list of achievements is incredibly impressive and she does it all with a very realistic and inspiring approach. Take it away Helen…
First off, can you tell us a little bit about your story and why you started Recycled Interiors and Care 4 Social?
Hi I am Helen Edwards, ex-counsellor and charity founder, turned award winning writer, blogger & speaker. A passionate and genuine lover of people and planet, I have spent many years decorating my home in my own unique style and cherishing the stories that lie behind old stuff. I have lived with depression, panic attacks and anxiety, following post traumatic stress through my child protection work, as well as post natal depression, and I saw so many people getting stressed about life it made me want to do more. I also saw lots of people wanting to go back to a slower pace of life, to appreciate difference and connect with what matters in life and Recycled Interiors was born. I have spent my life helping, nurturing and loving human beings, animals and our earth. I am a tree hugger, a Mama of three gorgeous sons and wife to Mr Recycled. I am passionate about living a life that leaves this beautiful planet in a state that allows future generations and other creatures we share the world with, to live long and well. I love creating, designing, homes and interiors. I am also passionate about your health and wellbeing and believe these things can not be separated.
I founded an online counselling service for people with diabetes in 2001, www.diabetescounselling.com.au (I live with type 1 diabetes) when there was no social media and people had no idea how it could work. I successfully took this to a charity and won a series of awards, including a state final spot in the Telstra Business women of the year awards last year, and the Australian of the Year Awards this year. I have recently closed this charity and am no longer working in diabetes, because I want to focus on my work with Recycled Interiors. Care 4 Social is my online courses site, where I will be adding a range of courses across all sorts of topics including diabetes and wellbeing, mindfulness and health, sustainable living, and social media and business tips. I am launching a podcast in August and a sustainable home directory is coming later this year! I am also very proud of my new book – Healthy Planet, Healthy People, Healthy Home.
What techniques and practises do you do to care for yourself both mentally and physically?
Daily walk of about an hour in the local area, which includes a creek and national park. Trees are very important to me and the outdoors nurtures my mental health as well as my physical. Eating as well as possible with all my food restrictions. I am trying to spend more time getting back to my more formal mindfulness practice as well. I live with multiple chronic disease and health conditions that can be very complex and tricky, so I have a lot of juggling each day. I make sure to focus on the small moments and the quality time with my family.
What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions about mental illness and recovery?
Many people don’t realise that it is like any health condition – it is not your fault, or something you did or didn’t do, or an inherent lack of something in you as a person. In some situations, mental illness is a physical thing and medication is needed. In others it is more situational and counselling, meditation and mindfulness, healthy eating, sleep patterns and exercise, as well as time in nature and strong support, will help you move to a better place. It can also be something you live with and manage for the rest of your life, and you can have a very happy life, despite living with and managing mental illness. I see it as similar to managing my type 1 diabetes.
What does your morning routine look like?
I am an early riser, anywhere from 5 am – 6 am. I have a lot of medical things to do first, and have usually had the alarm set once or twice overnight to check my blood glucose. I will then get up and that is the first thing I do, followed by taking my insulin and a pile of medications. The kettle goes on and I have my toast and tea. I check my social media and email and reply to people on social media. If the day is going well and I feel like it, I may get started on some work, simple things like social media and emails, sharing the days blog post. I get myself and my youngest son ready for the day, and we usually walk to school, followed by continuing my walk for about an hour before coming back to start work.
What’s for dinner tonight?
Slow cooker chicken and vegetable casserole with beets and herbs from the garden
Sweet or savoury?
That is hard…I like both!
What new skill would you love to learn?
What does successful look like to you?
Successful to me looks like happiness, and making a difference to the world, even just to one person, that is success.
What are you proudest of?
My children – I was told as a 12 year old when diagnosed with type 1 diabetes that I would never have children and if I dared they would be born deformed, or dead…along with that, that my legs would potentially be chopped off, kidneys would fail, I would go blind and die 15 years sooner than I should. So my 3 sons are my proudest achievement. Followed by my work in the diabetes field the past 15 years, this was ground breaking work and I will always be very very proud. And then my new book! I am so excited to be publishing my own books, this is my dream since I was a little girl.
Many people often avoid trying new things because of a fear of failure. What does ‘failure’ mean to you and how have you used it to get where you are today?
Oh goodness, failure is just an opportunity to learn and do better, I have failed many times and believe it is vital to success. I am very much a go for it girl. And then if it works that is great if not, that can sometimes be even better. We need to stop seeing success as something that is all glossy and shiny and money based. Sometimes, for me, success is getting through a day with no diabetes dramas, getting out for my walk without any issues, seeing my kids happy and getting some things ticked off my list.
What words of wisdom resonate with you?
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. – Nelson Mandela
Finish this sentence. I never thought I’d…..
have my 3 beautiful boys
Where can our community connect with you:
All images by Helen Edwards