• Sama Rose

R U OK? No, not really but I will be

To mark R U OK? day I thought I would share with you a personal experience.

I’ve been struggling with my mental health. For almost a decade I have been carrying the labels ‘depression’ and ‘anxiety’ in my heart. In the earlier years I would fall into a deep space of melancholy and desperation, often due to immense stress and panic. I’ve been well and happy for the past three years with small periods of anxiety but nothing like what I experienced as a teenager and woman in my early 20s. That is until this weekend.

This weekend I was faced with a few stressful realities. I was struggling with writing an article to a deadline (not for B.E), I had to accept that I couldn’t afford to go on the holiday I wanted, and those two factors in my mind were tied to the fact that I recently left a toxic job.

I try not to blame anyone for what happened but I found myself uncontrollably emotional about the situation. I told myself I was not good enough, that if I was, I’d still have a job. I’ve been unemployed for two months now and I took a two week break to really focus on my mental health. And it's clear that I'm not taking care of myself in the way I need to be.

So in this blog post, you (my dear reader) and I are going to explore what I do to keep myself mentally healthy and maybe it could help you too.

Writing poetry

I began writing poetry when I had my first boyfriend. As a self-confessed romantic I wrote my boyfriend poetry about our love and then, eventually, our break up. Slowly I found poetry to be incredibly therapeutic. I turn to poetry when I’m faced with extreme change. I wrote about what it was like moving countries every couple of years, about my first break up, what it felt like to be “diagnosed” (I was never really diagnosed — happy to write about this in another post), falling in love with Casey, facing loved ones and their cancer diagnosis, dealing with the death of my grandmother —

I think you get the point.

Poetry is a creative outlet but it is also a way I get all of the jumbled words and feelings in my mind onto the page — purging every thought as I go.

Observing the sky

I recently discovered that staring at the sky at dawn and sunset can make me feel comforted as I stare transfixed by the beautiful blue, pink and purple hues over head. As the sun rises I can mentally prepare myself for a productive or restful day. As the sunsets I like to think back on my day and what I accomplished.

Spending quality time with Daisy

Daisy is my golden retriever. She has the softest golden hair and big round brown eyes. When I spend time outside with Daisy I will mostly just watch what she does, as a form of meditation. She centres me in the present, and because she’s a dog, she will often stir up nature which is equally grounding to watch. Birds caw as they fly overhead, skinks will slither into hiding as she walks past them on our brick wall, and I get to hear and watch it all.

She inevitably comes over for gentle pats and a belly rub and knowing that she feels happy makes me happy.

Surrounded by love

I’m happily engaged and I live with my sister and her family, so there are a lot of people to spend time with and I get to feel so much love every day. And we don’t necessarily have to say we love each other but it comes in the form of a home cooked meal, or a cheeky take-out run with my brother in law, it can be when my nephew says “Sama pretty”, or when my fiance refuses to get out of bed in the morning because he wants to lay in bed with me a little longer.

When you surround yourself with people who truly love you, it’s impossible not to give them love back and it’s equally impossible to question your self worth.

Reaching out

R U OK? has a lot of advice on how to help someone in need and this is their simple plan to really get the conversation started, how to support them and how to then check in with them:

- Ask

- Listen

- Encourage

- Check in

Please read their full blog post to know whether or not you are ready to truly speak to someone about their mental health.

If you or anyone you know is in need of immediate help then please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or go to their website.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.