Written by Steph Coombes – Editor, Central Station.
As the editor of this website, I get to (ok, technically I have to) read every blog before it’s published; it’s like being the only person at the world premier of a movie every week. Every now and then I’ll send a blog on to my co-manager, Jane, saying “You must read this before it comes out!”. I’m about to do it again.
I’ve just read through and uploaded a post by my good friend Jodie, which by the time you read this, will have been published yesterday (Thursday). I’ve just read about my friend’s struggle with the Black Dog. It’s something I already knew a little about, but she’s just opened herself right up, not only to me, but to all of you. Earlier on this year, another one of our wonderful hosts, Kylie, also shared her experience.
Jodie and Kylie’s honesty and bravery have inspired me so much, and I bet many of our readers too. One thing I slowly but surely learnt during my transition from child to teenager to young adult, is how common anxiety, depression, and the whole suite of other symptoms relating to mental health are among people. Not just how common it is, but how quickly it can develop and escalate. I’m still being reminded of it every other day. Initially I thought maybe it was just my circle of friends, maybe I was a magnet attracting people who were struggling? “Surely not” I thought, my friends were all in different circles; they were different ages, from different backgrounds, working in different industries. The struggles people go through are as varied as the landscape of our great country; some are brief, some are long term, some are intense, and some appear as a niggling feeling you can’t quite put your finger on. I should know, not just from being there to support my friends, but from leaning on them and asking them for support myself.
Mental health and our industry have a funny relationship. Not “haha” funny, but strange. On the one hand, there are plenty of people who have stood up to discuss the issue in an effort to remove the stigma. Despite what people may think, our industry is incredibly open minded and progressive. On the other hand, our industry (unofficially) prides itself on being tough and strong. Going at it hard, and battling through without complaining are how things are done. Exhaustion and burnout have become badges of honour, especially for those working several weeks or months without a day off. It’s just the way we do it.
I’m certainly not here to prescribe any sort of answer. Horses for courses; different people need, and respond to, different things. Three of my friends were involved in the Barry the Bike campaign last year, and I got a lot out of discussing the project with them, throwing ideas back and forth about what Barry could do and represent. I think that no matter what your situation is, there is something we can all take away from the Barry. His advice can be therapeutic, or preventative; take it as you please.
Some things are out of our control. Focusing on these events, or others that have occurred in the past, is not helpful to developing positive thought patterns. When this occurs, mentally tell yourself to stop it, and physically change what you are doing – go and do something else.
You can do it! You can change!
Depression and anxiety are treatable – MindSpot.org.au is a fantastic place to start.
Healthy mind = healthy body (and vice versa!)
Give yourself time each day for a little ‘down time’, have a laugh with the crew, have a beer, etc.
Find Your Balance With Barry.
Sometimes when we get a little caught up in it all, we tend to lose sight of the bigger picture and the things that make us happy. Why not take a step back and enjoy the small things in life . . . like little Harry Austin!
Remember guys MindSpot.org.au have a comprehensive array of tools and checklists to help people feeling anxious or depressed. Be sure to check it out.
Find Your Balance With Barry
If your cattle were struggling, you’d speak to a vet. If your machinery was struggling, you’d speak to a mechanic. If your business was struggling, you’d speak to an accountant. If you were struggling, who would you speak to?
Right now I’m in a good place, as are most of my friends and family. I still try to live by the advice in this post though because I know how things can change, especially when you’re out on a station dealing with all the things that come with the job and the lifestyle. Last week was National Mental Health Week in Australia. It’s great that we have a week to raise awareness about Mental Health, and of course there are other days and events throughout the year, such as R U Ok? Day, but let’s remember that it’s ok to talk about mental health anytime, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, or what’s going on. Let’s keep the conversation going.