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Trigger warning: This article mentions suicide and mental health issues

We couldn’t think of a better life mantra than the one Fernwood Toowoomba member Shayna follows each day: “Choosing a life that makes me smile.”

Shayna’s energy fills the room. Her smile radiates and her heart shines. After everything she has been through, and continues to face, Shayna remains positive and empowered and dedicated to her mantra.

The artist, mum of two and Fernwood Fitness Ambassador heads to the Fernwood club every day, and while she has spent time working towards physical health and fitness goals, she says being in the gym environment is more about nurturing her mental health and wellbeing. Sometimes she’ll take her laptop in and catch up on some work, or she meets friends for breakfast or a coffee. It’s a safe space for Shayna, but it was tough for her to reach this place in her life.

These past few years have been incredibly challenging and heartbreaking.

Shayna lost her younger sister to suicide. This tragic loss rippled through every aspect of her life. She left her job and was destroyed with grief. When Shayna was 38 weeks pregnant, she was rushed to hospital with a clot stretching from her ankle to her belly button. The doctor’s said it was a miracle she was still alive.

It was a moment of clarity for Shayna to make a change and focus on her health. But change hasn’t ever come easily to Shayna. She worked up the courage to contact the Fernwood Tuggeranong club and book a tour. Her husband drove her and sat in the car waiting just in case she wanted to leave. Shayna has always found it incredibly difficult to go somewhere new and be in situations where she might not know what to do or where to go.

“I was afraid people would look at me...I was afraid I would walk into somewhere where I didn’t belong...I was afraid that I’d embarrass myself...I was scared of everything.”

Fast-forward about 18 months and Shayna is in the club every day, has seen a huge improvement in her self-confidence, has dropped over 65kg, and does what makes her feel happy. It didn’t happen overnight, and the journey wasn’t without its challenges, but she wanted to do what she could to improve her health and wellbeing and be there for her family.

“I can do things now that I never thought I would be able to do.”

This information is of a general nature. It does not take into consideration your personal or health conditions. Always consult your GP, medical specialist, or mental health specialist, for health-related advice. If you, or someone you know, needs crisis support, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14. For urgent medical attention, phone 000 immediately.

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