My Journey -
Suzy is one of the first Group of women to Complete the program. This is her story.
Q. Tell me what your life was like prior to joining the Women’s Spirit Project.
Suzy: I was feeling quite lost and unsure about what to do with my life. I haven’t worked for quite a long time due to mental health challenges. I did complete a six-month course at TAFE last year, which was a great achievement for me, but that had finished and I wasn’t sure what steps I was able to take next. I was lacking purpose and meaningful connection to people in my local community who were actively participating in their life and working toward some of their dreams. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I’d like to do, but feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by the fact that my mental health was holding me back.
Q. What made you decide to apply for the Women’s Spirit Project?
Suzy: There were two main reasons I decided to apply. Firstly, I was very attracted to the fact that the Women’s Spirit Project had a big focus on physical health and wellbeing because it is an area of my life that has needed attention for quite some time. I was doing a lot of work around the mental health stuff (therapy/counselling etc) but I knew that the physical side of things in my life was lacking. A four-day, three-night trek is something I would never have done on my own. So being presented with the opportunity to do something so unique as part of a large, supportive group was something I didn’t want to miss out on! Secondly, I really wanted to connect with women in my local community who have also faced adversity, and be part of a group that supports, understands and encourages each other. It has been hugely beneficial for me.
Q. What is the most important thing you learned from the program?
Suzy: Where do I start?! I have learned many things from participating in this program. Probably the most important is having a direct experience with how much physical activity, especially when done with others on a really regular basis, positively impacts my outlook on life and helps me to feel much more capable. Of course we hear all the time these days about how important physical activity is for our mental health, but now I have my own proof!
Q. What was the program’s biggest challenge?
Suzy: The 67km trek we did was of course very challenging, but I actually think the most challenging thing for me was getting out of bed and turning up to the program every single Sunday for months, regardless of how I was feeling and whether or not I felt like being around a large group of people and lots of activity! I took the commitment I had made to myself and the program seriously though, so I always went and I’m proud of that.
Q. What was the most surprising thing that happened for you? What was your favourite moment? Or favourite activity?
Suzy: I think it would have to be that I completed the trek!! At the start of the Project, back in November 2018, I couldn’t even walk up a small hill at Overport Park without really struggling for breath. And only about six months later, I embarked on a physically challenging four-day trek (which included climbing Arthur’s Seat!) and actually really enjoyed it! And every single woman who embarked on that trek with me completed it. I am surprised and super proud of our effort. There have been many favourite moments along the way and it is an experience I will treasure forever. I have loved having a laugh with all the women, through our various struggles and triumphs.
Q. How do you think your life has changed now that you have completed the program?
Suzy: I feel much more inspired about my future. Being surrounded by amazing, capable, resourceful women can’t help but have a positive impact on me and I really feel like my involvement with the Project has helped to pull me out of a rut and put me on a much clearer path. I’ve recently started some volunteer work which is something I have wanted to do for a while. I didn’t have the courage before starting the Women’s Spirit Project. Feeling supported by a whole bunch of incredible women is very inspiring.
Q. What is your goal now?
Suzy: To continue with my fitness journey. Even though I have come a really long way since starting the Project, and have achieved some great physical milestones, I’m at the beginning of it all and would love to keep making great improvements for my overall benefit. I will continue with my volunteer work and next year I would like to enrol in a Diploma of Community Services. And I really hope The Women’s Spirit Project is able to run again next year, which I’d love to be involved with, to help and support the new women who are lucky enough to do it.