COVID-19 and My Mental Health...

If you don't know by now I am a massive advocate for mental health having suffered from depression myself. I speak on behalf of Beyond Blue around Sydney and I am open to talking about mental health in the hope to break the stigma associated with reaching out for help. I recently felt the decline of my mental health and wanted to share my story just to get the conversation going for you because in this crazy time we all need someone to check in on us and to know we are not alone.

When this pandemic, COVID 19, started and business's were being told to shut down it was a very scary time for everyone. It was something none of us had ever seen before. People were dying, hospitals couldn't keep up with the ill, people were losing their jobs, kids were told to stay home and be home schooled, offices were shutting up with everyone working from home, the world was a scary place!

I started to feel overwhelmed as businesses in my community were being told to shut down. It really became real to me that I could lose my business through no fault of my own. Everything I had worked so hard for to be taken away. I wasn't sleeping properly and I was so worried about others because we were hearing so many sad stories in the salon of people losing their jobs as well. Although we heard no news of anyone close to us sick, people were dying around the world.

When the government kept changing all the rules on us that was tough. We had to change everything around in the salon, make sure we had space between clients, get rid of makeup chairs as we were not allowed to do makeup anymore, the 30 minute rule was harsh, we rushed out to buy chairs for outside, we were going to make this work. But then that was lifted the day after. Everything we had known was changing and that was terrifying. We could only have a certain amount of clients on the premise, which included us, so that made it hard for the girls to keep covering their costs as they couldn't be as busy as before, so we worked that out, I literally was willing to try anything to stay open and afloat. It was an absolute emotional roller coaster.

Over that time which was only really about 2 weeks but felt like a never ending drama, I could feel my mental health starting to slide.

I felt the cloud come over me of worry and sadness. Everything I had worked so hard for was about to be taken away from me (well that's how it felt anyway) and everything that was happening was out of my control.

My anxiety was heightened, as was every ones, and I couldn't shake it. I started to feel extremely low. I felt myself slipping down and I couldn't stop. I was so worried I was starting to feel like I did years ago and that made me scared. I was so scared of ever feeling like I had in the past. Feeling so sad and having to escape. It made me so frightened I never wanted to feel like that ever again! I walked in to work one day and just sobbed. I opened up about how I was feeling at work and one of the girls just gave me a big hug. It makes me teary thinking about it because that was all I needed. To tell someone how I was feeling.

And you know what that is what I did different this time. I told people how I was feeling. If people asked me I didn't brush it under that carpet and say everything was fine. I didn't hide my feelings away. If someone asked me I just said, I was feeling overwhelmed, I explained I could feel my mental health taking a slide, I just spoke up! When I opened up others started to open up and express their feelings too.

So after chatting with the girls at work we felt it was the right thing to do for ourselves and our community we shut down for 2 weeks. We all needed a break from all the uncertainty around us. We needed some time out. It was the best decision we made.

So often we feel we have to go on and we never take some time to nurture ourselves. It doesn't make us weak it makes us stronger. I took time to read, paint my finger nails, cook (like everyone and yes we made banana bread too), rest (well we couldn't do anything else haha), spent time with my family, painting, playing games, doing puzzles, cooking yummy dinners and I think I went on about 1000 bike rides, but it was just what I needed to get my head around this whole thing. After only about 3 days I felt the cloud lift.

I definitely agree with practicing gratitude and looking around we have so much to be grateful for especially on the Northern Beaches. I am grateful for so much and yes practicing it everyday does help but sometimes we have have to acknowledge our negative emotions because if we never do they will not go away. Owning our emotions and feelings is the best thing we can do for ourselves whether they are positive or negative. It is normal to feel sad just as it is to feel happy yet we deny ourselves that feeling and brush it under the carpet.

So that is why I wanted to write this because I know there is still so much uncertainty out there but please if you are feeling worried or sad or depressed or anxious and it is just not going away please reach out to a friend or a professional. Speak up about how you are really feeling because just saying it out loud can help. Please reach out to your strong friend, your funny friend, your friend who say she's fine and you notice she's not, because now more than ever we need to stand by each other and know that we are not alone.

My hope in sharing my story is always to help others and start the conversation on mental health! xx

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