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Pru’s Musings: It’s Okay Not To Be Okay

It’s been a long haul for us Victorian folk, especially those of us in Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire. We have essentially been in lockdown since the end of March. It feels relentless and endless…

Lockdown Stage 4

Our current reality means no weddings, limited funerals and no wakes, kids can’t play with their friends, teenagers are isolated at an incredibly vulnerable stage of their lives. We can’t spend time with anyone who doesn’t reside with us – not our friends, our kids or grandkids. Those dealing with mental health issues are particularly at risk, with a system that wasn’t able to cope pre-COVID now running at reduced capacities. Carers aren’t able to get any respite. Family violence (already a huge issue) is on the increase, victims spending 24/7 with the perpetrator/s, plus the added pressures of home-schooling kids and financial stress… the list goes on.

To be clear, I understand the restrictions and support them. We are doing what we need to do, and most of us are actually doing it, but it really sucks. And the longer it continues, the harder it is to stay strong, hang tough, keep your chin up, or any of the other terms us Aussies use. Technology is great, but a video chat doesn’t replace a hug.

I’ve (kind of) been here before…

For me, it has been an emotional ride. Having lived in Mozambique, ‘Skype wines’ with friends were common (even those who lived a few kilometres away, as it wasn’t a great idea to be out at night). It was normal to feel caged in and somewhat isolated. It was normal to feel unsafe, to be anxious when taking the kids to school, or doing the shopping. So, while I wasn’t in love with the idea of being isolated, I knew I would be fine – I’ve been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

Naive fool that I am *rolls eyes*. Along with that T-shirt, came a large dose of PTSD. It’s something I have been working on since our return to Australia, and I rarely experience the associated anxiety anymore, which is why it took me a few hours to identify why I felt gut-churning nausea at the prospect of driving out of my 5km zone to pick up my son from his Dad’s. Logically, I knew that it was a permitted reason to travel, even outside my zone. I knew that it was unlikely I would be pulled over and questioned by the police, and if I was, they wouldn’t put an AK-47 to my head. And yet, there I sat, unable to make myself move.

I am someone who already has the tools to identify and manage my anxiety, and still, some days are tough, really tough. Mostly I am okay. Sometimes I am not, and on those days, I need help.

The reason for this overshare?

It is essential that we continue to demystify mental health, remove the stigma, enable open and honest conversations. To clearly send the message that it’s okay to ask for help. You don’t have to keep your chin up, battle through, pretend… it is very human to occasionally lose your shit, cry, feel angry or frustrated, even under normal circumstances. I want this conversation to be common, and loud.

It is okay to not be okay and it is okay to ask for help x

If you, or someone you know needs support the following services are available 24/7
Lifeline Australia | 13 11 14
Kids Helpline | 1800 55 1800
MensLine Australia | 1300 78 99 78
Suicide Call Back Service | 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue | 1300 22 4636
Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling | 1800 011 046

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