This is from one of our lovely clients who has given us permission to share her story. J has extremely worked hard to regain her identity and acknowledge the issues of someone living with a mental health issue. J has bravely shared her story from the heart 💛
If you are struggling with your mental health, reach out to your GP or Health care practitioner.
Lifeline: 13 44 14 | Suicide call back service: 1300 659 467
Ok real talk this is gonna be a long post and poorly written so bear with me but I N E E D to get this off my chest.
I think it’s time for Australians to open up a discussion and find better ways to support people with mental health issues. End the stigma of talking about it. I guess that’s probably why I’m even doing this.
When I was going through the process of receiving a diagnosis (in other words, the only way to get proper treatment) just under 4 years ago, I was actually surprised that I was being taken seriously. You know why I was taken seriously? Because I was ready to die.
At 19 I went to a doctor around 5 months after my youngest sister, Annabelle, passed away. I went to my local GP begging for help with my mental health. There were significant changes in my brain that scared me, that I didn’t understand. I was literally hallucinating, and my doctor said “In my country we deal with many things that are much worse, you just need to suck it up.” That was the advice I got. I was afraid to go back to a doctor, for anything after that.
In 2015 I was working in my dream job. My mental health was rapidly declining and it was affecting my ability to work and do the job I loved and had wanted to do for so long. A lovely workmate knew something was wrong and reached out to me, and I’ll always be grateful to her.
However it wasn’t enough and I quit, after driving my self to the point of exhaustion and falling asleep behind the wheel one day on the way there. for a few years after that I felt a very big loss, I was on the career path I had wanted for so long and it was gone in the blink of an eye. I was suicidal.
I received a diagnosis of type 1 bipolar at the end of 2016 just as I finished my visual arts degree. It was around the time a friend had committed suicide which I think ultimately pushed me to get the help I needed. My boyfriend at the time completely shut me off while I was going through the initial diagnosis phase which was a very mentally draining experience. All because I was being too emotional and highly strung. What? I couldn’t understand (I still don’t) how it’s so hard to support someone struggling so much. He dumped me in a text message not long after. What a surprise!!
In 2017 I found myself once again working in a job I had wanted to do for a long time. Long hours, but I was working with animals again. My happy place. I couldn’t do it. I was experiencing frequent panic attacks, wild mood swings and suicidal thoughts. Even with “support” I was told I didn’t appear like I even had bipolar, I’m just really anxious. All the warning signs were there but I wasn’t taken seriously. Suicidal, again. This time I came so close to actually doing it that I drove myself to the hospital, in tears. I almost slipped through the cracks, and only then did the mental health team I was seeing at the time take me seriously. I haven’t been back to them.
My medication costs me $44 a month, I’m not eligible for a health care card and I was told by my doctor that I would no longer be able to get it on authority because Medicare doesn’t cover it for bipolar. Say hello to $142 a month. But hey, I need it! It’s taken a long time and a LOT of trial and error to find the perfect fit.
Today was a good day. I had an appointment with the team who have managed my case for the past 3 years. We found a way to keep my medication affordable. I was told today that I should be proud of myself and what I have achieved. I joined the RFS, I’m about to start studying AUSLAN, I’m beginning to overcome my social anxiety and attempting to make some friends and most importantly I’m stable and my medication isn’t giving me serious side affects. Some of which include decreased kidney and liver function, loss of co-ordination and motor control, decrease in eyesight, Parkinson’s like symptoms and significant weight gain (a common side affect with many antipsychotic medications).
My mental health nurse said see you in 6 months, and meant it. Not see you next week, in a fortnight or a month. In SIX MONTHS. It felt SO GOOD to hear that. I’m finally happy and I’m finally succeeding. All because someone finally took me seriously when I said “I’m not okay”.
Thank you Dr. Cutts, Nic, My family, my friends and co workers for cheering me on, celebrating my victories and offering a shoulder in my lows. For helping me get to this point. I am so happy. Life is good
Check in on your friends and your family. Tell them how loved they are. Tell them they’re important and that you need them. Maybe it won’t necessarily help, but sometimes it’s just good to hear. Reach out to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Always be kind and If you need help, I know it’s scary to take that first step but you’ll be so much better off having done it. I promise.