Everyone’s experience and history with mental health is different. And, as you’d expect, the coping mechanisms people use to manage theirs varies also.
When struggling in the mental health department, it can often leave you feeling lost and helpless. It’s important to know that there is help out there, in many forms. And speaking to your GP is the first step to getting help.
It isn’t as scary as people think.
9Honey Coach spoke to four Queenslanders to understand how they stay on top of their mental health both day-to-day and during a crisis.
Kitty, a DJ in Brisbane, has been managing depression for two years and uses therapy, medication, and exercise to help manage her mood.
“It can be hard to change your mood when you’re in the thick of it, but I always try drag myself to a professional as soon as I feel my mental health is in jeopardy,” she tells 9Honey Coach.
“I try to exercise about 3-4 times a week to burn off nervous, angry or depressed energy. I love doing classes like Bootcamp and HIIT (high intensity interval training) because they’re so challenging and upon completion I feel really proud of myself. It helps me sleep better too.
It’s not just exercise that keeps Kitty feeling in control.
“Beyond this, I regularly see a psychologist. I had to speak to my GP and get a mental health plan, which has allowed me to secure reduced fees.
“Committing to anti-depression medication was also a huge step. Scary, but I felt real positive change. It’s been a crazy two years with depression, but I feel like I finally had the support I need to get through it.”
Pip, a teacher in Cairns, sought professional help after the sudden death of a family member. She now keeps on top of her mental health by focussing on the little things like exercise, eating well, cleaning and talking to loved ones.
“After losing my brother I struggled intensely with grief,” she says.
“I’m very lucky to have an amazing GP who I’ve been seeing for a number of years. She organised for me to have sessions with a psychologist through a mental health plan.
“She was able to put us in touch with counsellors through Lifeline. The Lifeline counsellor came to our house on a Friday evening and sat with us for hours. She provided us with so much information around the process we would face, helped us understand the physical side of grief and just talked with us about our brother.”
Pip stresses the importance of staying in-tune with your body and feelings.
“I try to listen to my emotions each day and really tune into how I’m feeling and why and make decisions for my day based around this.
“Eating well and regular exercise really helps keep my mood level. I mainly go for walks and jogs by myself early in the morning where possible.”
Jack, a small business owner in Brisbane regularly attends therapy sessions both alone and with his partner. He also uses group exercise to strengthen his mind.
“Both me and my partner are actively working on our mental health – it’s so important,” he says.
“After an assessment with my GP, I was provided a mental health care plan that gave me rebated therapy sessions.
“It took a while for me to understand the therapy process. I was a bit suspicious and weirded out by the whole thing at first but quickly got into the rhythm of it.
“Within four or five sessions I noticed an improvement in my mental health and became more confident with what [therapy] was all about. When you find someone who you relate to and understands what you’re going through, it really helps.
Jack also attributes regular exercise to keeping him happy and healthy.
“I’m also becoming more active and it’s really helping. I’ve started playing team sports once a week – a group of people I feel comfortable with, giving me the confidence to show up every week. I’ve also joined a yoga and movement gym, making me feel more in-tune with my body.”
Samantha, a media exec on the Gold Coast likes to stay on top of her mental health through healthy habits and routine.
“I know that my mental ‘demons’ can rise up, then go down, then rise back up again – it’s just something you have to manage throughout life. That’s how I feel about it anyway,” she says.
Samantha enjoys taking time for herself and knows how to make the most of it.
“I love driving,” she says. “That’s where I do a lot of my mental breathing or wandering, and find it extremely therapeutic.
Samantha says she’s spoken to her GP about her mental health before, who recommended at-home coping strategies, such as mindfulness and breathing exercises, but doesn’t think a psychologist is required. “My coping strategies work really well for me, and keep me in check,” she says.
Making the decision to get help can be hard. You might feel uncomfortable asking for support or worry that your mental health isn’t ‘bad enough’ to bother a professional.
But, when it comes to mental health, there is no wrong time to ask for professional help.
If you’re not feeling like yourself, don’t ‘wait to see if things get worse’ before seeking help. Queensland Health has information on how and when to seek support —https://www.qld.gov.au/health/mental-health/get-started