Throughout my schooling years I was a bright, friendly,academic, sporty, and community orientated person with a good group of friends. However, when I reached my later high school years I began to experience bullying. I was made to feel isolated and excluded by my group of friends and I was confused as to why, what had I done wrong? 

One ring leader seemed to lead this group astray, saying nasty, untrue things about me, and they just seemed to follow. 

I was upset with my friends for acting the way they did and listening to the mean comments being made about me. I continued to be bullied, by one girl in particular, and felt helpless to do anything about it. I sought help from the school counsellor to talk through my problems. Things didn’t really seem to improve but I made a new group of friends and focussed on getting through high school.  

Once I was at uni, life seemed great. I was studying in my dream course, living with my boyfriend and was completely naïve to what mental illness really was.. Things took a turn when my relationship broke down and I found myself feeling lost and alone. This is a feeling I wasn’t used to and I didn’t know how to cope. I started to feel down more often than not and couldn’t seem to stop myself from crying and experiencing negative emotions. After advice from my mum, I decided to be proactive and went to my GP to seek help. I told him how I was feeling and he referred me to a psychologist.She helped me to face these emotions and work through them. This was a really confronting experience as I generally push away negative emotions so I don’t have to deal with them. 

After this I began to feel better. The negative emotions were going away and more positive emotions seemed to be coming through. I continued to use the counselling services provided at uni to tried and get my life back on track. It was a real mental battle that I struggled with but eventually I started to feel on top of things again and enjoy life for myself. I had made new friends and was no longer worried about feeling alone.

A few years later I moved away from my home town near Geelong to the rural location of Stawell. The closeness and great community feel gave me a sense of belonging. I became involved with local sporting and community groups and landed myself a job at a wonderful and supportive organisation. I had made some really good friends and had a boyfriend too. I was learning to live away from home and be independent. However, what I didn’t realise was that I wasn’t actually being fully independent. I’d lived my life following the ways of other people, whether it be family, teachers or a boyfriend. I had never truly experience adult autonomy. So at the start of 2014 when I experienced another relationship breakdown, I began to spiral again. I was unable to cope with the negative emotions I was feeling. I felt lost and empty. Nothing in my life seemed to have meaning anymore. I felt that I had no direction. 

One day I broke down in tears at work and realised I needed to seek because of how I was feeling. I visited a GP in Stawell and she could also visibly see my distress so gave me somemedication to try help me feel better. A few days later I feltthe anxiety building up. I was shaking and crying uncontrollably. My heart was beating so fast and the pain I felt in my heart wouldn’t seem to go away. I rushed over to a friends’ house as I thought talking about my feelings may help me to get passed them. We were out for a walk when I broke down. Again, I was crying uncontrollably and couldn’t bare these feelings of distress. Having no control over the situation I was in made it hard for me to cope. I was asking ‘why me?,‘what have I done?’. I couldn’t seem to make sense of this all in my head.

I went back to the doctors shaking, crying and feeling helpless. She believed that the medication she had given me just days earlier reacted with other medication I was on, making the side effects worse causing me to have extreme anxiety.

I was admitted to hospital with severe anxiety and depression. I had the medication flushed from my system and nurses there to keep me calm. I was still in a daze, I wasn’t really sure what was going on. I sat there on the hospital bed, being poked and prodded, nurses surrounding me but everything was a blur. I felt alone, unable to move. I just sat there feeling numb and empty. This is it. I am having a breakdown. I have hit rock bottom. 

The next couple of days I spent in the hospital with my mental health being monitored. I had no appetite, no motivation, I felt nothing. I never once had suicidal thoughts but I felt so far down with no way of getting out. I couldn’t see the light at the tunnel and just felt like I had nothing to look forward to. My best friend had just gone overseas, my parents and other friends were also away on holidays and I was stuck feeling as though I had little support. Nothing seemed to mean anything to me anymore. Food had no taste, words had no meaning. Ifelt empty and alone. 

Whilst I was in hospital I was well supported. I had nurses checking on me and visit from a social worker and psychologist. A few days later I was discharged from hospital. I had follow up visits with my GP and the psychologist. I was determined to sort out my life again and get back to being the happy, motivated person that I know I was. I hated feeling so down and depressed. I wanted to be proactive in seeking help. I continued to see my GP who wrote up a mental health planfor me which referred me to a social worker to work through my depression and anxiety. 

Since then, I continue to work really hard to deal with my mental health issues and continue learning to understand andmanage my depression and anxiety. Ever since being hospitalised I have learned so much and realised I may have to live with and manage my mental illness for the rest of my life. I continue to seek help and learning to cope and sit with negative emotions. I openly discuss how I am feeling with my friends and family. Everybody in their life will experience negative emotions at some point and it is important to understand that it is okay to have these feelings. It’s learning to deal with uncomfortable emotions rather than trying to run away from them. It’s okay to talk to others about how you are feeling or to seek help. 

I want to encourage others to know that it is okay not to be okay and that you are not alone. Everybody should be able to talk about their feelings openly without being judged. Poor mental health is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength for a person to be able to talk to somebody about how they are feeling or to admit they need help.

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