Dust off the depression

Host: Zoe Hayes
Location: North West Queensland

If only it were that simple….

Photo credit: Jacqueline Curley, Gipsy Plains Brahmans

The drought has been beyond cruel in Queensland, and while the stock are suffering, our farmers are too. The livelyhood they depend on gambles on Mother Nature & at this stage she isn’t playing game.

The long, hot and grueling days take its told on everyone involved, and depression comes in waves. Most are far too proud to admit they are struggling, so with that let me take you on my personal experience.

I am a 23 year old Jillaroo; I originally grew up in Perth, Western Australia and am currently living and working on a cattle station 64km north of Cloncurry, north west QLD. I have first hand experience and have witnessed extreme cases of mental health & depression. Although I wasn’t born into this agriculture industry I’ve always had a passion for it since attending high school at Bindoon Agriculture College, WA. My story really starts in September of 2012 when my mum suicided; I am an only child and a child of divorce. Having no where to really turn I found myself living and working on my first cattle station in the Gascoyne, Western Australia, at the age of 20.  Having a job that provided accommodation gave me a sense of security and something I really needed after living in a world where I’d never felt so alone.

Over the last couple of years I’ve travelled to many parts of Australia living and working on cattle stations in the camp, as a cook and a Governess. I’ve learnt a vast variety of skills, created new friendships, and had a sense of security and belonging to a community. I find whereever I have worked I’ve become emotionally involved with how everyone around me is, and something I’ve noticed is just how fragile mental health is in our rural industry.

First year ringers being home sick, bullied or having self doubt in their own abilities to make it in this culture. Station owners feeling the pressure of having a successful season; providing a safe & enjoyable work place for staff; making sure everything runs like clock work. Managers feeling the pressure of meeting targets for owners, and; being an approachable and inspiring mentor to the team working underneath them. Mums (parents) ensuring their children in remote areas are getting the best education and opportunities as possible, while being home schooled or using distance education. There are so many factors that can contribute to mental health & depression – yet its something most struggle to A) come to terms with, and B) openly and confidently speak about. I have witnessed hundreds of situations and factors that all come back to mental health and/or depression.

Photo credit: ZHE Photography

“Dust yourself off; you’ll be right” I have been told countless times by people throughout my life. After a nasty crash off a young horse, a break-up with an ex-boyfriend or just a simple trip up in life … in the heat of the moment or in a frenzy of yarding up 3000 head of cattle, don’t be discouraged or offended if your head stockman or manger doesn’t stop for a heart to heart with you then and there. Remember, everyone has their own stresses to deal with. I’ve learnt that what ever role you plan on being in, in a station environment everyone needs recognition of a job well done and someone to now and then just ask “#RUOK?”.

I guess where I’m going with all of this is that no one can physically jump inside your mind and alter the way we think. I personally needed to have self-confidence and self-love in order to take away the limitations I was merely putting on myself from my stressful experiences. I found having a small check list to mentally go through at the start and finish of each day helped me lift my mood and get me through the days whereas prior, I would have felt stuck in a rut.

  1. Find something to be grateful for in each day no matter how insignificant it may seem!
  2. Always have a dream or goal to work towards – one of my all time favourite quotes “if your dreams don’t scare you they’re not big enough!”
  3. Find something you love about yourself, something you truly love about you, weather it be something physical, emotional, intellectual what ever that quality is love it; flaunt it!
  4. Mentally praise yourself for something that happened in your day that your proud of, give yourself the kindness & recognition you deserve even if its achieving a small personal goal that no one else saw. It’s not about what others think of you but how you view yourself.
  5. WEAR BRIGHT COLOURS- who cares what you look like usually it’s only the cattle you have to impress; so go bright & go bold! – This last statement is what inspired me to create my own business Made By zoehayes_eaton making rural hand made jewellery & work neck scarves for rural girls. With 10% of proceeds being donated to Beyond Blue.

Together agriculture & depression have a strong bond but one our community is stronger about fighting against!