Ugly Ducklings Inc is ready for 2015

Ugly Ducklings Inc is ready for 2015 Hi Ugly Ducklings! And Happy 2015! We dearly hope you enjoyed the holidays and are now ready to have fun, enjoy, and be surprised by wonderful things that this year will bring. We have a great announcement that we’ll make very soon, and for now, we just wanted to give you a heads up.

Check Twitter and Facebook

Don’t lose sight of the ducklings on social networks because they will be explaining the first big thing that we have prepared for you for this new year. HOWEVER, since you’re reading this, we’ll tell you the secret (but shhhh!!):

  • We’ll launch our new t-shirt designs very soon
  • We will hold our second charity raffle!
  • We have prize packs you won’t believe (and they all contain something signed by actress Jennifer Morrison)
  • We will also have some more goodies and producks you can get to help us support Mental Fitness Inc.
  • We’ll be working alongside Sanah Jivani again for this upcoming Natural Day!!

You can tweet at the ducklings here, and like us on Facebook, too! Besides that, we are looking forward to starting our new series of blog posts with topics that will inspire, encourage, and help others to become who they really want to be. Can’t really tell you more than that!! Just keep your eyes open for what’s coming!

A family secret: I suffered a mental health problem

Mental health awareness

I diagnosed myself when I was fifteen;
seven years later, a psychiatrist did it.

In February 2012, I was confronted with a family secret: My grandfather had been a patient in a psychiatric hospital for six months when my Dad was a teenager due to a mental breakdown and psychosis. While my grandfather was there, he was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Whether that was type I or type II, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone does.

I confronted my Dad about why I was never told of this, especially because of my continuous depressions through my life. He tried to play it off, like it was no big deal. (I’m not looking to make my Dad seem like a bad guy because he certainly is not; he just doesn’t seem to be proud of his – my – family’s history – except for the good things of course.)

mental-health-story-quote-1Well, that night I made a decision to go to my doctor and demand to get a referral for a psych evaluation. I’d been going to him at least once a year since I was 15, telling him that I needed help and he’d just kept sending me to psychologists who failed to recognize any signs. But this time, I wasn’t going to listen to him; this time he was going to listen to me!

Three weeks later, I went and told my doctor to give me that referral… He finally did. After seven years, I was finally going to get the help that I knew I needed. Since my first serious depression, I’d known that it wasn’t “just” a depression. I knew it was more than that, but no one would listen to a “hormonal” 15 year old.

Six months later I went to the psychiatrist and filled out a questionnaire that would determine if I had an actual mental illness and if so, which one. After I’d filled it out, I went in for the consult and I told him why I’d sought for psychiatric help as opposed to psychological and we made an appointment for another consult a month later.

August ended and September 21st came; I finally got there and sat down in the waiting room. Of course, the doctor was late. Typical, isn’t it? When you’re about to be late and you rush to get there, whoever you’re meeting is late. It didn’t take long for him to pull me in and give me my diagnosis. “Hi Camilla. So… There’s no doubt about it. You have Bipolar Disorder type II.”

No doubt. No doubt? After seven years, at least seven depression consults with my doctor, three psychologists and countless counsellors, it took one test and one conversation with a psychiatrist to get a diagnosis. A diagnosis that I had known I would receive. For seven years I had dealt with the downside of this illness and no one had been there to really help me.

mental-health-story-quote-2Less two months after I got my diagnosis, I went through another downward spiral, with the snap of two fingers. All I remember is waking up one morning and not being able to get up. I, physically, couldn’t. I lied there, listening to my alarm going off until my Mom came in half an hour later and asked me why I wasn’t up yet. I just looked into the air and said, “It’s gone bad again.” And so, another battle started, but this time we knew why and how to help it.

I ended up dropping out of school –third try on getting an education– to concentrate on getting better and staying better. With a diagnosis it wasn’t hard to have the system work with me instead of against me. They set me up in a mindfulness-ish class that had a couple of painting hours a week, which were the only reason I went. I wasted seven months there until I could get into a program for people who aren’t fit for work or school.

During those months, I did my best to experience as many things that would give me joy as possible. I went to Paris to meet one of my two best friends for the first time. Two months later I went to the Monte Carlo TV Festival with my other best friend – my best friend for longer than forever, as her and I say. And that same Summer I was lucky enough to not get renewed at that mindfulness-ish class, so that I could have a month vacation before starting the program. This break gave me two weeks in Skagen; this annual trip was exactly what I needed! A week of having fun with a friend and the next with my Dad and sister – later joined by my sister’s mother – where I spent most days relaxing in the sun. Perfect.

And finally August came and the program started.

This program has three subjects: music, art and theatre. And since August 2013, I have been an amateur actress. This place is safe. If you’re energized and overjoyed, you use that energy to do theatre work. If you’re tired or sad – or both – there’s a place upstairs with a couch, where you can lie down if you need to. It’s a place where you have support your co-workers, the guidance counsellors and the ones who are in charge of each subject. There’s room for you there. Continue reading

Skin Cancer Awareness month

get your moles checked to prevent skin cancerWhen people hear the word cancer they can’t help but feel a little scared.

Even if they haven’t suffered from it themselves the chances of knowing someone who is living with or has died from cancer are big.

People do a lot of things to help others and to protect themselves: they raise money for cancer research organizations, they do self-examinations of their body, they get vaccinations, but what about the little things like,

  • Not staying out in the sun for long periods of time between 10am and 4pm
  • Avoiding getting a tan, and UV tanning booths
  • Maybe just remembering to use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually and each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of other commont types like breast cancer.

It is said that one in five Americans will develop it in the course of a lifetime. So, why aren’t people doing everything in their power to stay safe during the sunny days?

Because they want to hide their natural pale skin.

They go through desperate -and dangerous- actions to get what they want without thinking twice about the risks. But why do they so desperately want a tan? Having a tan isn’t something society has brought on.

Yes, people who go get a tan might have gotten inspired by seeing a specific celebrity and want to get it themselves, but in style, there’s nothing that says you have to have either a tanned or paled skin.

Both are in style.

Melanoma

Jennifer Morrison, moles removedIn November 2011, actress Jennifer Morrison did an interview with US Magazine called “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me: Jennifer Morrison”. Most of them were fun facts about her, but number 22 was more serious.

“22. I have seven scars from having moles removed.
One was a melanoma, six were precancerous. Get your moles checked!”

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and these cancerous growths develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations (genetic defects) that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.

Continue reading

Women who inspire Ugly Ducklings Inc and beyond

The founders of Ugly Ducklings Inc couldn’t let this opportunity pass. That is why they also wanted to share women that have inspired, are inspiring and will inspire this movement and our lives.

Banner, inspiring women for Ugly Ducklings Inc

We recently celebrated our first anniversary as Ugly Ducklings Inc. I think Erin and I had never thought that our community would be made of more than a thousand members, but most importantly, a community full of respect, kindness, positivity, and care for one another. Many of you might know how this whole movement started, but just in case you don’t, the main person who inspired what Ugly Ducklings Inc is today is Jennifer Morrison. So many days later I want to thank her once again, and let her know that every day that goes by more and more people are finding out how they can turn into beautiful swans, and that we will be here to help them out.RobynUDI

Robyn Hussa Farrell is the Founder and CEO of Mental Fitness, Inc., the non-profit we support here at Ugly Ducklings Inc.  Marie and I have been in touch with her for over a year now, and she is a constant inspiration to us.  Robyn works incredibly hard to ensure that children grow up with a healthy mental fitness; something that is very important and inspiring work.  We are so happy and proud to be a part of such an amazing organization that really is changing the lives of children in America.  

Malala Yousafzai“Death didn’t want to kill me”. Those are the words Malala Yousafzai told Diane Sawyer in a recent interview. This Pakistani girl is not even 20 years old yet, but she has the strength, the determination, the talents, and the influence to empower the people to do better things of any world leader today. She inspires me greatly because her life is a miracle, and she is helping both children in Pakistan to get educaction, and adults to change their mindset, and understand that girls can achieve the goals they’ve set for themselves in life.

If there is anything we know as Ugly Ducklings, it is that the human experience can be enduring terrible or catastrophic circumstances.  One thing that inspires us every day is reading the stories of the women (or men) who have had these crazy things happen but have made the choice to continue standing or to use those circumstances for good.  When one shares their story, they inspire others to do the same.  That brings light to the darkness.

So, one of the reasons we are here and we, as ugly ducklings, are working hard on is trying to help out all those victims of bullying we see both in real life and online. We have mentioned it many times, but remember that our Facebook, our Twitter forum and our website are places where you can come and talk about your experience, and get support from friends that will help you out in any way they can. 2

And how about sending a shout out to our incredible assistants? These girls also inspire us, because their support and the time they put into this cause makes us really happy. Mariah is our Resource Assistant and she helped us put together the Resource page, for all those who might need assistance. Maaike is our Research assistant and she has collaborated with our blog. Read her latest contribution here! And Camilla is our wonderful Social Media assistant and Ducklinspiration hunter. All those inspiring quotes you see everyday are found by this amazing lady.

ALL OF YOU inspire us EVERY DAY!  Every time we hear a story, see a photo, or simply see who you are, we are inspired.  You inspire us to keep going when we feel like we are out of energy.  You encourage us to continue to build this community.  

I have to say that actors inspire me greatly, because they are doing things that I want to accomplish one day. One of them is Nicole Kidman. She has said in some interviews that she felt like an outcast in school, and that’s why she decided to act. She is also a spokesperson for the United Nations. Other inspiring women for me are girls and women who fight and stand up for themselves every day.

There are so many women in my life who are inspiring.  I feel so blessed to be in touch with women who have a genuine love for life and people and a genuine compassion for others.  My sister is probably my greatest inspiration: she devotes her life to helping others and has impacted every facet of my life.  But really, I look for inspiration everywhere.  And I usually find it.  So if you need to be inspired, make sure you’re constantly seeking it!

Thank you to all the women in our lives who inspire us to be better, to be creative, to take risks and to change our lives.  Love to all of you!

– Swan Out.

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A Woman Who Inspires Allanah

We continue with our amazing blog series for Women’s History Month, and today is Allanah’s turn. She was kind enough to send us this text, where she reveals that it’s not really one person in particular who she feels inspired by. 

 

Women who inspire

The women who inspire me aren’t necessarily famous or even well off. The women who inspire me are the ones who go through life and are able to face adversity and stand up for what they believe in. That’s not to say that some of these women aren’t famous some are but it’s not because they are famous that they inspire me.

The first of these women is my mother; it seems cliché, but it’s true. I love my mother. She is the one who taught me to stand up for what I believe in and to stand on my own two feet. Both in a literal sense and figuratively. She is one of the reasons I strive to be my best even on days when I feel my worst.

Hamlet, by ShakespeareIn my English class recently, we were discussing Hamlet and in this discussion, the role of women came up. There are only two female characters in Hamlet and in the times of Shakespeare, women were treated as second class citizens and had to be obedient to men. We started comparing how women were treated then and now.

It came to light that while there are some differences, some things are still the same; there are still misogynistic people in the world, people that believe that being female makes you less of a person. Because of this, strong women in general inspire me, because in a world that could still be called patriarchal, they stand up for themselves and their rights.

The next women who inspire me happen to be famous. Both Lana Parrilla and Jennifer Morrison inspire me. They are strong women and are able to speak out if something unjust is happening. Lana spoke at a human rights campaign gala recently and she was speaking out for what she believed in and what she thinks is right. While I’ve never met either of these woman, to me they seem like the kind of people who you could be yourself with and would accept whatever flaws or differences you may have.

I look up to all these women, not only for what they believe but what they do to stand up for what they believe in. If you are a woman making your way and trying your hardest, even if you are having some troubles, I look up to you. Even if I don’t know you. Because you are trying and you are alive and doing what you can. These are the thing I look for in inspiration.

You have something inspiring about you. You do. Even if you don’t know it.

A proud ugly duckling,
Allanah

Allanah is 16 years old and lives in Australia. She is currently in her final year of school and enjoys writing and maths. We want to thank her deeply for sending this piece! 

Sophie’s Ugly Duckling Story

from a small town but with big dreams banner

Sophie shared this very positive story last year. Perhaps she never felt as an Ugly Duckling in the most traditional of ways, but still, she felt she wass slowly turning into a swan, and we could all learn a couple of lessons from this tale.

Hello! My name’s Sophie. I guess I should start by saying that I’m from a small-ish town in Australia where opportunities for the more ‘creative’ careers are seldom to none. I’ve spent my whole life wanting to be either an Actor or a Writer. Unfortunately, even at the best of times, both are extremely difficult professions to break into, and, given my geographical disadvantage, I spent most of my years resolved to the fact that I would probably be neither.

Nonetheless, I continued to actively participate in my Drama and English classes, as well as my school’s musical productions.

Sophie as Dorothy - Wizard of OzIn 2011 (when I was in Year 11), I was privileged to play Dorothy in the school’s production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Throughout the entire rehearsal period, I kept thinking to myself: ‘This is what I want to be doing!’ Then the performances started…

Show after show, I was having the time of my life. Finally, I began to believe that maybe I could make an actual career out of performing.

At the same time, I was really getting involved with the writing side of things as well! By 2011, I’d had three of my short stories published in children’s literary books sold nation-wide. I was really beginning to feel hopeful!

childrens book written by Sophie Volker At the end of my final year of High School in 2012, I graduated top of the year for Drama, English, and English Extension. All my hard work had finally paid off! But there’s a huuuuge difference between being successful in High School and being successful in the big, real, scary world.

I guess you could say that my final test came on the 16th of March 2013. The day that would decide if my personal willpower and determination could overcome the obstacles, fear, snide remarks, and blatant nastiness that the real world has to offer.

It was the day I shaved all my hair off to raise money for cancer research in Australia. It had been something I’d wanted to do for years, but never had the guts to actually do. And when I finally did commit to it, I faced a lot of people saying it was a bad idea.

“You’ll look like a boy…You’ll back out before it happens… You don’t have the guts… blah blah blah…”

Let me just say that I am SO glad I ignored those people! The day my hair came off, I had never felt so proud. I felt like I was part of something big, and to be able to share that day with all my family and friends was absolutely incredible.

World's greatest shave 2013. AustraliaThey were all so proud, and I’m still so grateful to every single person who supported me through it. I know this seems a bit off-topic, but what I’m trying to say here is that I passed that test. I did something that I wanted to do, regardless of what the ‘haters’ said. I did something that made me truly smile, in spite of what others said I wouldn’t have the guts to do. I did it.

And now, thanks to the support of all my fellow Ugly Ducklings (especially Erin and Marie, who made this whole phenomenon happen), I know that I can be whatever I want to be.

Next year I’m moving to the bigger city of Brisbane, where I’ve been accepted into a Bachelor of Creative Arts Majoring in Writing. While I’m living there, I’m also going to sign up with an acting agency to pursue the art of performing that I love so much.

Both of these plans make me so happy and I’m so excited to jump into the next chapter of my life. I’ll spread my wings and become the swan I’ve been dreaming of for all these years!

And who knows –maybe with a whole lot of ducky-ducky-luck and hard work, I could be blessed to act alongside the beautiful Jennifer Morrison, or perhaps Jennifer Lawrence!

Thanks so much for reading my story. Hope you enjoyed!