The Resilience Project
The Aussie Big Bash Bubble October 2020. Being away from New Zealand for 3 months during Covid times has been a long time. It’s a long time in normal circumstances. However, when you have spent those three months in a bubble surrounded only by cricketers you’re playing with and against it’s not normal. The fact you can’t see family and that you can’t even get home if there is an emergency because of the two weeks quarantine makes home feel so far away.
After the NZ women’s cricket team’s tour in Australia, I headed to Brisbane to play in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL), but I felt so lost as a person. Part of that was because the values that defined me as a person were drifting away because I was surrounded by cricket, and cricket only. Cricket has always been the sport I love and my hobby, but never a job. I always believed I was so much more than cricket and that my true purpose in life wasn’t cricket related. However, the cricket environment and the new bubble life consumed me. Adding to that, I was grieving and dealing with depression and anxiety at the same time, and it made everything seem so much harder for me. Cricket was my happy place where my brain could escape but the enjoyment factor was decreasing, as were other things in my life that normally made me happy.
“I’m normally an upbeat person who brings out the best in others and because I felt lost, I felt worthless to others and all I have ever wanted to do is help people.”
During this time I was speaking to my counsellor every week, as well as a sports psychologist, a few teammates and family back home. Initially I found this hard as I didn’t want to be a burden to other people. However, it definitely helped, and I realised it was a lot easier than bottling everything up.
My counsellor used an analogy that made so much sense when I was thinking clearly. She told me, “If you shake a coke bottle up a
nd then open the lid it explodes, but if you open the lid slowly and shut it again a few bubbles get released.”
“Melie if you don’t talk about what is going on and keep holding everything in, eventually all your emotions inside are going to burst. However, if you speak to people and learn to open up you will slowly start releasing your emotions without having a breakdown.”
This advice was and is so helpful. Now I can look at it from this perspective I understand. People want to help, and if someone close to me told me they didn’t want to tell me their problems because they didn’t want to be a burden I’d think, but that’s what I’m here for. I want to listen and to be there for them. At the end of the day people want to help you, but you need to let people help you.
With the help of others, I managed to change my perspective while I was in that WBBL cricket bubble in Sydney. I asked myself what can I do to be happier? I tried to make my environment as similar to home as possible. I wrote down all my values and started living them more. When we live in line with our values it increases our mood as our values are the most important part of our identity – of who we are. I also started finding strategies to help me sleep at night.
I changed my perspective when I was in the Sydney bubble. How can I make myself happier? I tried to make my environment as similar to home as possible. I wrote down all my values and started living them more as when we live in line with our values it increases our mood as our values is what makes up the most important part of our identity/who we are. I started finding strategies to help me sleep at night.
The book that changed everything!
A friend of mine gave me a book for my birthday. That book was The Resilience Project – Finding happiness through gratitude, empathy and mindfulness by Hugh Van Cuylenburg.
“This book inspired me. The messages were so helpful. I was able to fall asleep happy as the last thing I did before sleep was something I enjoyed.”
I read this book at a time I was really struggling. The book helped provide me with a new perspective. It made me realise I wasn’t the only one out there struggling and Hugh also inspired me with the amount of people he had touched and the impact he has had on so many lives.
As I read his book, I realised Hugh had my dream job. I have always thought that my true purpose in life is to help as many people as possible to be as happy and fulfilled as possible. I also want to provide kids with opportunities and to set up a programme to help with mental health and to be part of a movement to decrease suicide rates in Aotearoa. The messages in this book were so powerful and I learnt so much that I read it again and started taking notes.
I began doing his GEM exercises (Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness) each night and noticed a massive difference in my moods. I had begun focussing on everything I was grateful for and taking as many positives out of each day as I could. This book was the main reason I was able to get through my experience in Sydney during the Women’s Cricket Big Bash League in those ‘cricket bubble’ 2020 Covid times. I really hope that one day I’m able to have an impact on others, just like the impact that book had on me. Finding happiness through gratitude, empathy and mindfulness is something I found in that book and something that stays with me today. These three simple things have helped me be more present and at peace.
Everyone’s journey is different and will require differing responses, resources and interventions but I just want to be able to share what has helped me in order to keep the conversation going.