Friends of Moon Turtle: Loren Kett
The first of a new series, Friends of Moon Turtle! Everyone’s journey through life is different, and what I believe brings us together – especially in those of us who have experienced, or are experiencing rough ol’ times in regards to mental wellbeing – is vulnerability.
Friends of Moon Turtle is a space to open the discussion and delve into very personal stories that have elements we can see in ourselves. Humans are tribal by nature. Mental illness, mental unrest, can make us feel quite isolated. Friends of Moon Turtle is about sharing stories and experiences through with we can connect and learn.
Moon Turtle’s first friend is film editor, Loren Kett, who has so freaking kindly offered to share her story. What I found so inspiring is the way Loren has accepted and learned from the lowest times in life. She’s learned how to look after her whole being, and has so much passion for life, it’s hard not to be moved by.
As you’ll find out soon, she’s about to embark on her biggest adventure yet – cycling across Australia in the name of positive mental wellbeing, the value of connecting with nature, and the empowerment of women. You can support Loren’s incredible journey by making a lil’ contribution to her Give a Little page – big or small, it all adds up. And/or, you can support her by leaving words of encouragement in the comments section of this post!
Follow our beautiful, courageous and strong friend, Loren, on Instagram.
What can you tell us about your mental wellbeing journey?
The journey of the rise and fall of my mental well-being started at least from what I can remember in my last year of study four years ago, and it wasn’t to do with the stress or societal pressures, I was pretty comfortable with who I was and liked where I saw myself going. It started with physical and unknown pain.
I’d been struggling with extreme chronic pain for a while, and looking back no one really seemed to have any idea what was going on. But I put up with it, moved away from my family in Christchurch and set out to start my career and new life in Auckland with an extremely supportive company. Being pretty naive I thought it would all be fine.
The next two years of my life I may as well been a guinea pig in an animal testing lab (which of course, I’m very much against). I was still suffering from pain, so much pain that I was vomiting and on days being unable to walk, being tested on steroids, serious pain relief, countless scans and god knows what being pumped into my body for examinations, having invasive and pointless surgeries, being told I had an autoimmune disease one day and the next I was being told that ‘it’s all in my head’. I will never forget those words.
When a doctor tells you that everything is in your head and that you’re crazy, you start to believe it and second guess everything that you’ve ever felt inside your own body that you have grown to know so well.
And I guess that’s when I started to lose track of my emotions. I didn’t know what feelings were real, I didn’t know what pain was real. I was in a city away from my family which I absolutely hated, nothing seemed to be worth it and things began to spiral. I was so lost in myself, not as in my purpose, but I really didn’t know who I was anymore.
And to then lose a darling old friend to suicide, and then their friend, and then the man who worked next door whose dog we always played with, and then a friend of a friend – suicide was just so prevalent and seemed to be a constant not only in my life, but in everyone’s around me.
You didn’t need to be a close friend of mine to notice that I was a shell of myself, a completely different person with the darkest cloud constantly following me, and within that cloud was the constant guilt and anxiety of being a burden to literally everyone with a pulse. I felt so much guilt and shame for not wanting to work, not wanting to tell my family just really how bad I was, for having friends pick me up off the ground and provide me with a roof when I was at my worst.
I’m not entirely sure when the switch flicked, but it was probably around the time when I met a beautiful couple, Cat and Elena, who were spreading the message of ‘another beautiful day’, literally tattooed all over Cats face and body. We shared many stories and I gained so much from them, I hope they gained something from me too. They were spontaneous and full of life, inviting me overseas with them having only met them twice. I ended up deciding to put life first, just as they still do. I quit my job, left the concrete jungle, and meet them in Indonesia, along with one of my now best friends, Rosie.
It wasn’t just quitting my job and going on a ‘holiday’. I still had some of my darkest times over there, seeing a new side of the world that quite frankly I didn’t realise existed, well I knew it existed but I didn’t know how extreme it was – the poverty, pollution, malnourished children, burning rubbish everywhere and rivers riddled with plastic. But from living amongst this with people who had the same frame of mind as me, it gave me a lot of hope, gratitude and knowledge.
Now, living in Christchurch, seriously; Christchurch alone made me a million times happier. It’s a place where people say good morning and smile to you on the way to work, the ocean swells, the forests and hills, trails and cycle tracks, being surrounded by an abundance of nature with people I love, this is what I found truly healing.
I won’t say that I’m out of the woods, I still have anxiety attacks (I had one about 30 minutes ago) and on days I can have bouts of depression, but I’m managing to do life, to say yes to opportunities, to be motivated and find passion and joy in the things I adore, to spread love and happiness with all of my compassion. Those were some of the things that had seemed to have vanished for a long time.
I now seek nothing but happiness within myself, and within others. I’m advocating to everyone to put themselves first, and to live fearlessly. To be raw and honest to themselves, and break social conditioning in order to return to their true self in all of its entirety.
How does managing your mental wellbeing look like at the moment?
Managing my mental wellbeing now sounds quite simple, this is a pretty standard day:
Wake up and get out of bed – (yay, you made it!), guided meditation for 10 minutes, bike to the beach to watch the sun rise above the ocean before work, fill my day with things I love, and make sure to get outside, always have something to look forward to, tell my friends and family I love them, stand butt naked in front of the mirror and tell myself I love me, cook delicious healthy food and always eat with friends, dance to disco music, laugh, watch the sun set, guided meditation for 10 minutes before bed, sleep (sleep is important!).
Basically, I do all of the things that make me smile and give myself and others joy.
On days where my thoughts are spiralling and my heart is pounding and I’m not sure how to switch my brain off, I find it’s best to put pen to paper, or paint to paper, and express my thoughts through art – I’ve found writing this very therapeutic. No one needs to see it or read it, it can be as simple as making a piece of art of whatever anxieties are going on, and ripping it up so it doesn’t exist anymore, or turning it around to see a different perspective.
Music, nature and art nourish the soul.
If you had the chance to talk to past Loren at her lowest, what would you say her?
I find this one hard to answer because at my lowest I struggled with listening to advice, but all I can say is that now, I am so happy to be alive.
How has your past led to this very exciting mission you have coming up, and what does this mean for you and others?
It’s pretty wild to know that two weeks ago exactly a year ago, I resigned from my old job, and exactly a year after that I had done the exact same thing with my new job. Exactly a year ago yesterday, I started packing to move out of my flat in Auckland, while yesterday exactly a year later I began packing up my new flat. Exactly a year ago on May 8th, I was on a plane to Indonesia, while this year on May 8th, I will be on another plane to Australia to embark on the scariest and most challenging thing, physically and mentally, in my entire life.
I don’t believe in coincidences… but there is definitely something scary going on in the universe for three major events in my life to sync up exactly a year later.
In a way I have to thank the unwell Loren for finally letting me put myself first, allowing me to move home to the city I love with my family, see a side of the world that I never would have seen as I can guarantee I would have just been a career driven sheep, to meet and be inspired by people that I never would have met otherwise, and to lead me exactly to where I am now.
Where am I now? I’m about to get very lost, but this time it’s intentionally, and I am so excited for that.
I am about to attempt to bike across Australia, straight through the red centre between its widest points, to promote positive mental health, connecting with nature, and women empowerment. An opportunity of a lifetime that was handed to me by a man, Brando Yelavich, who had struggled in his past as well, but found nature as a true healer.
We want to show people the strength of human connection in its purest form, and what everyone is capable of. He has shown me the meaning of resilience and strength with everything he has achieved in his life, and words cannot express how humbled I am for him to ask me to take on the next adventure with him.
It means more than the world to me to be able to show people how magical life can be if you simply do what you want to do, and don’t live in fear of what other people think. To show people what our bodies and minds are capable of overcoming. To be able to do something so extremely out of my comfort zone, but yet something so simple and back to basics – all I need to do is bike! That’s it, simple.
I’m excited to grow, accept failure and that not all days are going to be good, but each day is another beautiful day, and that in itself is success.
I would not have the opportunities I have in the palm of my hands now, had I not been though the experiences I have been through; had I not hit rock bottom; had I not left Auckland; had I not worked on that specific film which somehow led Brando and I together in becoming expedition partners and soon to be the strongest of friends. I absolutely believe that life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you.