How I longed for Spring to come this year. Just to think about longer and warmer days makes me feel energized. And I need every ray of sunshine to dry the endless loads of laundry that my kids produce. Today my son was ‘buried’ at after school care – with jacket and all. I thought I wouldn’t have as much laundry to wash as my kids grew older but for as long as I can remember it’s been 5-6 loads per week. Anyway, this is a load that is easy to carry. A much heavier one has been managing my anxiety. Thankfully I’ve been able to lead a high functioning life but sometimes it’s not easy. And Thursday 10 September is ‘R U OK?’ day so I thought of talking a bit about my experience. If you are finding it hard to cope, be certain that there is light beyond the fog. Or if you know anyone that don’t look quite like themselves lately, you can start a conversation that can change (or save) a life.
It’s important to talk about the heartaches of life but we don’t find many people out there sharing what’s going wrong. In our hyper connected world fueled by social media we only peep into other people’s lives and what they let us see is usually ‘picture perfect’. Everyone seems to be having it easy and riding the waves of life like a pro, so it’s not uncommon for people feel isolated. If you are finding it hard to cope REMEMBER that you are not alone. There are 3 million people living with anxiety or depression in Australia.
I spoke with a friend this week that suspects she’s suffering from anxiety. I hope I’ve been of good help. It’s not easy to talk about needing help to deal with mental health issues. Unfortunately there is still a lot of prejudice, stereotyping and ignorance. I’ve heard and still hear well-meaning people saying or implying that you just need to be a positive (or determined, responsible, motivated) person and you’re immune to mental health problems. But the problem is that anxiety, depression and other mood disorders are not just a problem – they are an illness and as such they need treatment or they can take over your life. Anxiety and depression left untreated can lead to serious problems like addictions (not just to drugs; compulsive shopping, spending and eating, etc…) , inability to hold a job, family problems, suicide, etc…
Anxiety is much more than getting nervous before a job interview. Anxiety does not go away, it’s always present – you feel anxiety most days, if not everyday. Beyond Blue has a factsheet with signs and symptoms that is quite informative.
From my experience, I know that there are dark days, days you don’t want to leave your bed but you do it anyway because dragging yourself out of the house is better than staying there with your thoughts (or because kids need attention, bills need to be paid…). But I also know that there is a blue sky beyond the stormy clouds. The road to blue sky is not easy but with the right treatment and support the relentless mind starts to give space to a sense of calm and contentment.
If you think you can help someone by asking R U OK? check here to see how to start a conversation. It doesn’t have to be September 10. There are countless people out there that have their minds ‘hijacked’ by anxiety and they don’t even realise they need help. When I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder seven years ago, no one knew what was going on in my head while I was obsessing about dying of cancer – I wasn’t physically sick, it was all in my mind. After countless visits to the doctors, one of them eventually picked up my stress and emotional cues and sent me in the right direction. This doctor wrote in a small post-it note “ALL WILL BE WELL”. It was a gesture that made a world of a difference.