Sitting here the evening before my last day of study. I wanted to write about my journey and why I chose the Mental Health course.
Back in August 2020, I hit my rock bottom. You always hear the term ‘rock bottom’, and you think you understand…but when it happens to you, it feels like there’s no coming out of it.
I used to be an Events Manager, having the opportunity to work on some incredible events, such as sponsorships with the Australia Tennis Open, Australian Golf Open, and luxury weddings in the English countryside with guests like Elton John. I worked so hard for what I achieved, always putting the guest and clients first, creating unforgettable experiences. The hours were long, the behind the scenes was definitely not glamourous. But seeing the final product and the attendees having an amazing experience was always what made it worth it for me.
Then COVID Hit
I was lucky enough for my employer to keep me on, finding me jobs here and there to fill my time. But what I loved doing, (the events), gone. This all started back in February 2020, and slowly but surely I lost who I was. I’d lost what I had I worked so hard for, what I enjoyed, what I was good at, and I woke up each morning feeling like I was pointless. My partner classed as an essential worker. So he got to leave the house each day and live a partially ‘normal’ life.
However, I had to work from home, meaning I was on my own for 10 hours a day with no social interaction. Over time my work was finding it harder and harder to find me tasks to do, so the zoom meetings and the little social interaction I got to have diminished and eventually stopped. The only social interaction I got was one 15-minute weekly team meeting over Zoom…that was it. Just 15 minutes a week.
My family all back in England were dealing with my eldering (and some of them passing) grandparents. So I felt selfish if I tried to contact them, so I shut myself off from them. This continued for many months. I was, so depressed I would get up every morning crying, feeling physically sick. I would sometimes lay on the bathroom floor for hours until my partner came home and picked me up, him being the most incredible and loving support I could ever have imagined.
And so depressed, I wanted to kill myself every single day.
After 6 months I knew something had to give, and I resigned from my job. I had no other job to fall back on, no other financial incomes, but I knew something had to change for me to keep alive, and my Mental health needed to be valued over my salary.
Attending My First GP Appointment for Mental Health
Attending my first GP appointment for mental health reasons was absolutely terrifying. I cannot remember the number of appointments I cancelled before I actually attended, but it was a lot. I was scared of being judged, not being believed, being looked at as pathetic, the doctor not caring, the doctor being over sympathetic…the list goes on. But when I finally got into the doctors’ room, it changed my life. After a long talk, many tears, and one amazing doctor, I was prescribed with my first ever batch of anti-depressants.
My entire adult life I’ve always wanted to avoid medication. I never believed it was necessary and that there were other natural remedies that would work and cure almost anything. But I knew this was literally my last hope and I had nothing to lose by trying these meds. Several weeks went past and I felt no change. I was starting to feel stupid for going against my beliefs on medication. It wasn’t until the third week, (and I remember this as if it was yesterday), when I was driving my partners car up Beacon Hill Road on the Northern Beaches of Sydney that I felt this wave of release wash over my brain and across my eyes.
It was as those I had been wearing fogged glasses my whole life and they’d finally been taken off. I could finally see clearly, I could think clearly. The feeling is indescribable, but I knew it was the medication, and I had been wrong the entire time. The medication was working.
From that moment on, I had hope. I started practicing yoga in the mornings to set myself up for the day. I started going on walks, and we got our dog, Ziggy, to keep me occupied, focused and to give me purpose. It was as though Ziggy knew the moment we picked him up that he had a responsibility with me. From the day he came home, he has been the most loyal, attentive, and protective dog towards me. And we have this bound which I’ve never had before, which can only be described as unconditional love. To this day, if my depression starts to creep back in, he instantly knows and he is by my side, providing me with comfort and a distraction.
Once I had hope and could see light at the end of the tunnel, I felt I needed a career change in case Events were never back on the cards. One afternoon I had the Channel 9 News on in the background, and I heard them talking about how mental health support was going to be in such high demand over the next few years. And how they were offering subsidised courses to become qualified counsellors.
Instantly I knew this was my calling, and within 48 hours I enrolled to start online study. I wanted to show people that if I can come out of the darkest place possible, so can you. I wanted to be that point of hope for people, I wanted to understand what I should be saying and how to navigate conversations to make people feel safe and supported. And I wanted to show that there are other options out there, even when you can’t quite see them yourself.
So this is my journey over the last 14 months. And tomorrow my final criteria will be submitted and ready for grading. Over the past 18 months, I’ve always been pretty open about my struggles with depression. But I’ve never spoken about the reasons behind the depression. This has been a very raw experience to write this, but it’s also been a therapeutic and much-needed experience for me. I’m now ready to put my own experience and learnt knowledge from this course into action into the community. And I hope that this may inspire you that there is hope, and there is always an option