Let’s Start a Conversation About Mental Health


Let’s Start a Conversation About Mental Health

*TRIGGER WARNING: This article discusses mental illness and suicide.

As I scanned Netflix the other night, looking for a bit of background noise, I couldn’t help but notice ‘Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations’ was trending.  

Although I’m a fan and have watched all the episodes, at any other time this might not have grabbed my attention. That day, however, the world had woken up to the heartbreaking news that Anthony had taken his own life. Further adding to the heartbreak, another high-profile suicide in designer and business-woman Kate Spade, earlier in the week.

As people have tried to make sense of the what, and the why, of both untimely departures, we’ve seen articles popping up everywhere. People are talking about everything from the price of fame; to money and business success not equalling happiness. And maybe this is another one of those articles. I was a fan of both Anthony and Kate’s careers. Have admired at looked up to both of them in professional ways. And I’ve had my own battles with mental health.

Even the strong, especially the strong.

Two and a half years ago I had a newborn, a four-year-old, a husband and a few businesses. I felt like I was failing at everything; failing at life. I was letting everybody down and worse, ruining my kids’ lives in the process.

With some rare alone time, on the way back from a Woolies run one night, I drove my car up to the boat ramp near my house and sat. Always seen as the strong one, I was fighting a battle in my head. I was battling a voice that was trying to convince me that being around them was doing more damage than good; that my family would be better off without me.

Because I was the strong one, no one ever asked if I was ok. And I wasn’t, not by a long shot, but I just kept going. Thankfully that night I won, and I turned around and came home to my husband, and my kids and the rest is part of a bigger story.

I didn’t realise it, but there were signs.

It took me almost a year, but one night I started to talk about it. And it wasn’t until I began talking about it, letting people in, that I heard them say they’d seen changes in me; that I had been unusually angry, withdrawn, avoiding contact with my friends and exhausted.

Last year, my fellow Smallville writer Tracy Sheen wrote an article reflecting on the loss of her best friend to suicide. In that article she says:

In my opinion, it falls to you and to me; to everyone reading this article; to everyone who interacts with a Small Business. It is up to each one of us to begin a conversation. To check on our Small Business friends, and to let them know that they are appreciated, and they are valuable and that they can, and should, ask for help.

And she’s right. The statistics surrounding suicide both in Australia, and worldwide are deeply concerning and we need to be on the lookout not just for our Small Business friends, but for all of our loved ones. We need to make a conscious effort to check in.

Where can I get help?

If you are seeking support and information about suicide prevention: 

Lifeline – Available 24 hours a day on 13 11 14 or you can chat online nightly, seven days.

Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467

Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800

So, if this is one of those many articles that is written this week, and that contributes to starting a conversation, then writing it and sharing my story was worth it.

Look up, take notice and reach out. You never know who might be needing to grab your hand.

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