17 In Depression/ Lifestyle/ Self-care

How have you changed from who you were 5 years ago?

5 years ago

5 years ago I was a shell of a woman. Deeply depressed, no confidence, no direction, and definitely no self-love. Having recently quit my job as a successful project manager at a telecommunications company, I’d jumped from a lava pit straight into hell in the form of a government department.

I was burnt out and wasn’t making the wisest of choices. Happy that someone wanted me, unbeknownst to me I headed into another 1 1/2 years of torture.

How have you changed from who you were 5 years ago?

In an environment entrenched in bullying, sexism, racism and questionable ethics, my anxiety soured. Suffering intense panic attacks and at my breaking point, I reluctantly followed a friend into a 6-month young women’s leadership program, something in which I had no idea what to expect. Before registering, I’d been considering leaving project management altogether, but exhaustion prevented me from looking for another job, and my mind successfully sabotaged any attempts as those niggling thoughts convinced me I was no good for anything else.

And then my Nan, the most important person in the world to me, died.

Her decline was rapid after she was diagnosed with throat cancer. Never a smoker, she passed away in her home, looking out onto the nearby trees and paddocks as the cockatoos sat in the trees and the horses frolicked. Finally reunited with Grandad, she’d finally been released from her deteriorating body.

My nan was one of the most beautiful people in the world. She never had a bad word to say about anyone. She treasured all life, and she was incredibly open-minded. She would always talk to the door knockers, no matter what religion, getting to know generations of Jehovahs and Mormons. I could talk to her about anything, from depression to anxiety, from gay friends to muslim friends. No longer having her in the world – the loss appeared too much to bare.

I don’t know how I got over the death of my Nan. I do know that the Young Women’s Leadership Program helped. Initially I struggled to talk to people, my introverted nature shining through. Even being the oldest in the class didn;t help, but as the program progressed and I was faced with the task of giving a public speech as an assignment, I slowly started to come out of my shell.

It was also during this program I discovered a thing called blogging, and started dabbling in social media (FarmVille and beyond)… I also started writing again, after suffering from writers block for many years, in the form of this blog (here’s my very first post!). Little did I know the path this would take.


Some would say I’m a different woman, and do I feel it, although having lived, fought and survived everything I have been through I can’t deny that it has helped make me the person I am today – strong, confident, happy, smart, and bloody stubborn. Yes, I’m still an introvert who has moments of extroversion and a penchant for loud laughter and moments of idiocy. Oh, and weirdly enough, I feel very comfortable with a microphone in my hand in front of a crowd. WEIRD!

How have you changed?

With relationships – both old and new – that are healthier and stronger, I communicate better, and am a hell of a lot happier having thrown caution to the wind and adopting a ‘fuck it’ attitude;

I can’t recall what exactly made me to do it, but one day I just stopped chasing it. Happiness that is. I also stopped talking about it. I stopped focussing on it. I even removed it from my ‘goals’ list.

That day, a few years ago now, when I stopped chasing happiness, that was the day everything changed. It was the day I allowed myself to BE happy. – Chasing Happiness

Living one moment at a time, that’s what I try to do now. As well as practicing a whole lot of self care.


If you want to read more about my journey, check out these posts:

Overcoming Body Image Issues

On being an introvert

There’s no such thing as perfect

 Want more like this? Subscribe to my weekly newsletter!

Join our list

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

  • Tara
    October 16, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Great post Janine. It’s amazing how much can change in five years, hell it’s amazing how much can change in one year. Thanks for sharing.

    • Janine Ripper
      October 17, 2015 at 10:28 am

      That’s so bloody true Tara! Have a great weekend 🙂

  • [email protected]
    October 16, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    It’s funny – I was thinking about next week’s Friday reflection and I was in the same headspace……basically stuff everything else, I’m doing fine and I’m proud of it – good on you for making such leaps and bounds over the last five years – imagine what the next five hold!

    • Janine Ripper
      October 17, 2015 at 10:29 am

      ‘I’m doing fine and I’m proud of it’ – you should frame that!

      The next 5 years are looking exciting 🙂

  • sue
    October 17, 2015 at 10:23 am

    How far you have come in 5 years Janine and you should be proud of yourself. Thank you for an inspirational post. I know I’m not the same person I was 5 years ago and am finally happy with who I am. #FridayReflections

    • Janine Ripper
      October 17, 2015 at 10:28 am

      How awesome is that! Have a wonderful weekend, Sue.

  • Mary
    October 17, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    So glad you are stronger and happier and have found your voice. Not many people are comfortable with a microphone in front of a crowd. Good for you!!!

    • Janine Ripper
      October 29, 2015 at 8:59 am

      Haha I still have my moments and the microphone thing is still very surprising! I think it helps knowing what you are talking about.

  • Mackenzie Glanville
    October 20, 2015 at 9:45 am

    I can feel your strength in this post, your power radiates through your words. Depression and Anxiety f’n sucks and I am glad you have fought it so hard and are winning!

  • Mama, My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
    October 28, 2015 at 8:16 am

    A great and inspiring story. I love the honest and open way you talk about the difficulties you’ve had. So many people struggle with these issues but not enough people talk about it. I’m glad you found a way to boost your confidence. I’m jealous of your confidence- I hate speaking in front of an audience and I have to do it relatively regularly.
    Thanks so much for linking up to #fartglitter x

  • Jennifer Wolfe
    October 29, 2015 at 10:38 am

    It’s so awesome to know that life has changed in such a positive direction for you. Wishing you more growth over the next five years!

  • I'm closing down my business - Reflections from a Redhead
    June 21, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    […] How have you changed from who you were 5 years ago? […]

  • How would you write the next chapter in your story?
    June 24, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    […] There were a number of former bosses who thought they knew best for me, and whilst it was great that they had faith in me and my ability, they succeeded in pointing me in the direction of a career that would almost kill me. […]

  • A simple life. That’s what I want.
    July 12, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    […] How have you changed in the last 5 years? […]

  • What Advice Would You Give Your Teenage Self? - Reflections from a Redhead
    July 20, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    […] How have you changed from who you were 5 years ago? […]

  • Screw New Years Resolutions. Live for the Now Instead! - Reflections from a Redhead
    August 5, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    […] I did it. I actually kicked 20 years of on-and-off depression in the ass. Gosh, looking back 5 years ago, well, I don’t think I could have done it then. I also quit my career in project […]

  • Growing old doesn't have to make you bitter - Reflections from a Redhead
    September 28, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    […] How Have You Changed from 5 Years Ago? […]

  • Send this to a friend