My name is Kietah Martens-Shaw and I am a little nervous but mostly excited to share with you how living with depression has driven me to make a lasting impression. Previously when speaking about my story I struggled to share and open up. Not because I wasn’t exactly sure of what to say, but because my journey to get where I am today was challenging and tough. Every time I share my story I feel another form of strength, support and inspiration from those around me. So thanks to you I am strong enough to share my story today with the world.
I was born and raised in Wagga Wagga, yes a country girl a heart! And have now been in Sydney for over 11 years and although I call Sydney home my ‘country girl’ foundations are still holding strong.
Growing up my highest priority was sport – waterpolo being my number 1 and every other sport under the planet closely followed. A life without waterpolo, sport and physical activities was not an option.
After school I was lucky enough to complete a degree in Business Management and Events and very lucky to have worked across numerous roles whole studying to get me ahead after graduating. My hard work had paid off! I landed a job as the Wedding Planner of Daydream Island in the Whitsundays. After living 6 months in tropical paradise, my 22 year old self was ready for the next adventure.
The words would ring in my mind ‘the world is your oyster’ and so I headed back to Sydney to see what was next.
On my return to Sydney I realised I was saying the wrong words, and should have been thinking; ‘life can throw you curve balls’.
After some check ups and further examination I was given the news that I needed to have priority surgery to remove cancerous cells from my cervics. The curve ball comes into play..
My world was turned upside down in every way, with dietary plans, medication restrictions and a ‘no exercise policy’ in the lead up to and after my surgery.
I couldn’t believe that my body had failed me.. let me down.. and my internal battle began.
10 months later I was hospitalised and diagnosed with kidney disease after an adverse reaction to some medication – and yes this resulted in another 4 months of recovery (and no sport).
I soon noticed my personality, mood and love for life was fading and depression had set in.
It was hard for me to understand why I was crying everyday, why I didn’t want to go outside, why I was scared to be in social situations.
Following my recovering and during moments of internal darkness I lost two family friends to suicide and I had received unfortunate news that my cervical cancer was back. I now had operation number two on my door step.
Facing more complications after the second surgery my recovery was long, painful and testing.
This is when I realised I was not at my lowest point 6 months prior because I was now!
I didn’t want to be here, I didn’t want to go through what I had been through again, I didn’t want to go without sport and exercise any longer – my will was fading and I struggled to know what would help.
At this point in my life was when people really didn’t know how to help me, how to reach out to me or what to say to make me feel better. It was clear that my loved ones around me felt helpless. It was challenging more so for friends and family who were not geographically near by and unable to physically cheer me up.
Although I had support around me I never felt more alone.
In this dark place is where B.OKideas was founded.
A dream that is now a reality; to start a one stop shop for ideas on how you can let someone know it’s going to B.OK from anywhere in the world.
From my personal experience with depression and anxiety I have been driven to ensure each item in the B.OK box is tailored specifically to assist and guide people to lead a happier and fulfilling life. In my struggles I noticed a connection between lows and highs in my mental state and season, this is why I have placed a focus that each box offers lasting support over 63 days each season.
When I was going through my tough times, it was always hard to remember the small things or the positives – I knew this had to change for others. B.OKideas is now the first gifting box on the market to offer long term support. Over the course of 63 days of a season the recipient will open 6+ envelopes with creative tasks, positive mind practises and confidence boosting reminders. They are also guided through each of the 12+ other items in the box to help build a positive mindset.
Still to this day I feel down and have tough times like we all do but I can confidently tell you that tough times do not last. Knowing and believing this has given me strength each time I feel down and remind myself to put my energy towards something positive like a new idea to share, new methods that have helped me or the latest tools that I can pass onto others through B.OKideas.
B.OK has not only saved my life but it has made me a better person, it has strengthened me internally and shown me I can achieve things I couldn’t even imagine and overcome whatever my next curve ball is.
We all know what it is like to go through tough times. We all know what it is like to have someone close to us going through tough times and how important it is to support our friends, parents, children, colleagues and strangers around us. The simple fact of knowing we have someone to reach out to, to turn to and to lean on when times get tough can make a difference.
I really do believe that B.OK is the start of more than a gifting movement providing physical methods and tools, but a platform and community that people can speak up, share and lean on others for support. Living in a world knowing there are communities, platforms and projects accessible for our children, best friend, siblings etc. a place that individuals can build the confidence to open up and reach out for help within a safe and supportive environment.
For those interested in having access to B.OK Buddy support and happiness and positivity updates, please join our Facebook B.OK Buddy Community.
My eternal hope for B.OKideas is that it can help those who want to reach out and offer support, to have access and ideas on way to say it’s going to B.OK and not to feel helpless like my family and friends did.
Founder of B.OKideas