Pictured: Rebekah, Boss and Squeezie
Warren Heggarty spoke to Rebekah about her surprising background
Very often, mental health issues begin to trouble us when we are young and can prevent us from going through the stages of life that others take for granted. So when people from Flourish Australia work alongside a person on their recovery journey, we often talk about setting goals for the future and ‘getting back on track’ as it were.
With Rebekah, however, it is a little different.
‘I am very driven. When I was a girl I remember praying Dear God please make me seventeen so that I can be a nurse!’
And so she did indeed become a nurse. ‘I was working as an AIN (assistant in nursing, or aged care nurse) while going to university to qualify as a Registered Nurse. I topped my class. While I was doing that I was bringing up the first three of my five children, who were aged 5,3 and 1. I also opened a dance studio and taught ballet, jazz, tap and contemporary dance.’
It is obvious that in the past Rebekah has always been able to find her motivation to participate in life.
‘At one stage I had horses and trained them and did dressage. I also worked as a dancer on stage, and I started teaching dance at 14. I did some modelling, too.’
‘When I was young, I idolised my own dance teacher and was devastated when I heard she was moving interstate.’
‘I haven’t had a single bit of life without trauma. I think staying really busy is something that I did to mask how I was feeling.’
In addition, her experience in the hospital system has been very negative. She is a registered nurse and university teacher but far from engendering respect, it seems to count against her. Especially when she pointed out things like errors in the medication they were giving her.
Rebekah’s early home life was characterised by violence and alcoholism. When she married, at 20, she tended to idolise her husband. They had five children altogether but the marriage ended in divorce in 2001. ‘He told me basically that I would not be able to cope without him.’ Her ex husband remarried. Rebekah felt that in retrospect this might have been a positive thing, although it didn’t seem like that at the time.
“Little by little I have noticed the rekindling of my inner strength.” -Rebekah
So on the one hand, Rebekah has many proud achievements behind her already. Yet on the other, she admits that her sense of self worth was in some way connected to these achievements or to her efforts for others. In this sort of situation, any shortcoming, however small, can make a person feel totally worthless. Rebekah is aware that this is not really rational, but we humans do tend to be dominated by our feelings.
So in looking to the future, Rebekah finds it difficult to be enthusiastic. Since her divorce, she says she has become more and more isolated and this is reflected in the difficulty she has with agoraphobia.
Fortunately, Boss and Squeezie the therapy dogs do not place conditions on the people they love, as shown by their adorable faces below.
‘Those dogs are what keep me going!’ she says enthusiastically. Boss and Squeezie are from Nepean Therapy Dogs. Rebekah volunteers going to nursing homes where the canines are always popular with the residents. Small things like this can have a giant impact on the quality of life of nursing home residents.
Sing out Strong is a Women’s Choir that Rebekah is involved in. Many of the women involved in the choir have similar backgrounds of abusive relationships. They perform at venues like Penrith RSL to raise funds for West Connect Domestic Violence Services.