It is October 11 and a Thursday morning. On Monday I was informed through “Twitter” that is was; Mental Health Awareness week. This surprised me, for those that do not have this media platform I contemplated whether many indeed knew this was the case!
I read a startlingly statistic, that every 9 minutes in Australia seven people take their lives and five of this are men. Just think, that could be; someone’s, mother, father, brother, sister, daughter or son. That means every nine minutes, families are grieving. A grief that could have been avoided.
I don’t proclaim to know what the reasons are as to why these ones were successful, I know that when I couldn’t cope with the grief of losing my father five years ago, I indeed did try the same thing. The only reason I survived; my husband woke up earlier than he normally.
Everyone has their own reasons, grief, loneliness, despair and people who are doing it tough on the land. Our farmer’s are not getting rain, they see their very livelihood being crumbled in front of their pieces. Then you have those that take illegal substances, these one are very susceptible due to the side effects of this. You can argue that some will say “If they didn’t take it, they wouldn’t have the side effects” – the fact remains we all make choices in life, and for whatever reason this is, they are suffering, remember they are people just like you and me.
My journey into mental health started early when I was ten and progressed further in my teen years, depression hit. When I was twenty-two, my first breakdown, my first admission into a psychiatric unit. To say it was scary is an understatement. My parents, not their fault, admitted me as an involuntary patient in a public health system. That is the first time I experienced a loss of dignity. As my early twenties kept going on, I had another breakdown, in and out of psychiatric facilities, I developed anorexia bulimia disorder. I also learnt how to self-harm.
In my late twenties through the support, if a kind nurse, I got the support I needed. After fifteen years of suffering and suicide attempts, I found myself. It took some time, but with the work of health professionals and the determination of not letting the “black dog” win, I started to live.
I knew in 2002 I got my business certificate and even though in my teens I worked three jobs in the same shopping centre, worked so hard to earn all the money I could get, retail was fantastic! When I worked dealing in the public, I put my demons aside and was a different happy person. To this day whether I work or study and put myself in situations that I don’t want to, I become a different person.
Mental illness, be it; depression, anxiety, Bipolar I or II to name a few, we still find stigma is attached. I regularly now use Twitter. They now have their own #, which is; #endthestigma. That spells out so much. Why is it by the year 2020 that the leading cause of death in this country, the lucky country, Australia; suicide will be the leading cause of death in this country.
I feel for this generation, past generations and now the next generation, we need to educate and be more open in ending the stigma. Ask yourself this question; Why is it that mental health comes more to the forefront if someone who is a “celebrity” end’s their own life, and we say, OMG, he looked so happy?
It is not hard to ask someone through pure gut, how are they going? Even if you talk to a friend and they seem great, asking a question does not hurt. A smile doesn’t mean that anyone is fine. Please don’t get me wrong, I love when I know there are genuinely happy people out there, they don’t have this illness, no need to be jealous, but instead be kind knowing they are not suffering with it.
In essence, we don’t know what impact we have on others by our comments. We don’t need to be careful in what we say, because the opposite is this, talking to someone can make a huge difference in the life of someone. Your talk can bring a smile to their face. Your talk can actually change the life of someone.
Being kind in today’s society in sometimes forgotten due to how busy our lives are. The fact remains, that yes, we all do live busy lives. I study full-time at the university, friends of mine are raising their children and others get so caught up in life that they forget to look up from their phone.
We all have an obligation if we care enough to STOP!.
STOP, and realise that even though life is busy we are surrounded by our loved ones. Our loved ones are the reason why we get up each morning, even though we don’t want too! Personally, waking up each morning I think of my father, not a day goes by that I wonder if he would be proud of me.
Take mental health seriously, not just this week, and if you don’t know much about this illness take the time to educate, education is the most powerful tool that we have.
My passion to end the stigma of mental health grows each day. Do I still suffer like anyone to cope with my diagnoses of Bipolar II earlier this year? Yes, unequivocally this is the truth. I take the good, and love it. I take the bad, and wonder when will this end? It is the hardest cruel thing to have in my life. I would not wish this on anyone!! Those that read this and have mental health issues, will appreciate that this is the case.
“Here I am, being honest and truthful saying I do have a mental illness, and I am not ashamed of it at all!”
I have some key people in my life that support me, the ones that drag me down, well I kindly ask to take their negativity on this illness somewhere else. I have a life to lead and like everyone I have passions, desires and goals in mind. I want to travel, and see certain places in the world. I am passionate about my university studies and know that the short-term stress, will lead to a better future, financially. I don’t live for money, I live for myself! I live for the missed years that the “blag dog” took over my life. Does the “black dog” still hit? My word it does, those are my dark days. Those years may have been “missed” but I have learnt something so critical, we all learn in life, through the good and bad times. The big lesson, self-care. Balance life with what makes you happy.
My happiness in life right now is studying, exercising, reading, going out with my small circle of friends. I have happiness in my family. Their unwavering support gets me through. I have my auntie in Melbourne which is my mother. I have some beautiful cousins that “lighten” my load even if they live 2000 kilometres away. That is my balance.
Please let’s start making a difference because you just don’t know what a big change you can make in someone’s life!
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(Written by Lina-Raudino-Grosso)