In a year where seemingly everything has changed because of the pandemic, it’s hardly a surprise that many people’s mental health is feeling more fragile than usual.
Some people have lost their jobs or had their hours cut, many people have spent months in lockdown, and some have even lost loved ones. Personally, I had to quickly resign from a dream job and give up a flat that I loved, only to have my flights home cancelled. Then, when I did finally make it back to Australia, I had to spend more than five weeks in hotel quarantine.
Any of these life events on their own is a pretty big upheaval, but when everyone around you is experiencing similar struggles? It’s enough to make anyone feel out of sorts.
Speaking with Queensland Health, they explained that it’s completely natural — and expected — to feel a range of emotions in response to the pandemic. Feelings of stress, worry, overwhelm, and loneliness are all extremely normal. But just because these emotions are normal, it doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve help to overcome them.
Something that’s become increasingly clear as the year goes on is that every single one of us has a story about 2020, and every single one is valid. Even as I sat in quarantine for what felt like a lifetime, not once did I want my friends and family to pretend life (both the good and bad bits) wasn’t continuing outside my own four walls.
For any of my friends who were going through their own problems while I was dealing with mine, I wanted them to receive help just as badly as I wanted it for myself. Because while it’s easy to downplay your own feelings when everyone has something going on, it actually doesn’t help anyone.
There’s no wrong time to seek help for your mental health, and you’ll be much better off if you reach out sooner when things don’t seem so bad, than waiting to see if things get worse. In fact, research shows that early treatment can reduce the length and severity of mental health issues.
A good rule of thumb is that it’s time to seek professional help if you’ve been feeling worried, sad, down, angry, anxious, depressed, numb, or even just ‘not yourself’ for several weeks or more. If the way you’re feeling is affecting your ability to cope at work, school, or in your relationships, book an appointment with your GP or consider taking advantage of the many free resources available online.
We know that with so many sad stories emerging every day in 2020, it’s easy to feel like you need to downplay your own mental health issues — both to yourself and to your loved ones. Even without the pressures that 2020 has brought, mental health conditions like depression and anxiety do not discriminate and can affect anyone, at any time. And if you feel like other people have it ‘worse’ than you do, we’re here to tell you that it’s time to show those feelings the door.
Here’s the truth: downplaying your own mental health concerns because other people ‘have it worse’ helps *checks notes* absolutely no one. In fact, it can actually be very damaging to push aside your own feelings, and we’re pretty sure you’d never tell a mate to downplay how they’re feeling, so why would you do it yourself?
Help is available to you, no matter where in the country you live. Telehealth is on the rise, so booking an appointment to speak with someone is easier than ever, even in the most remote corners of Australia. Plus, there are government-funded online courses you can also do to overcome your mental health struggles, too. If you’re not sure where to start, check out Queensland Health’s simple one-pager on how to start looking for help with your mental health.Image: BBC Pictures / Hulu