How being an advocate for Mother Earth can help you with depression

Are you okay?

Did any of you get a message from someone asking you this question on Are You Okay Day? Did you answer truthfully or just politely respond that all was fine and thank you for asking. And in that very day, did you feel extremely sad, had thoughts that were worrying you and were you agonised over how you could get someone to accept you pouring your heart out to them without second guessing whether they really care or if they are just waiting to run out the front door?

Are you okay? The message about mental health is growing and expanding and we are relieved at even hearing that celebrities and royals are finding life tough going. But the stigma does exist and even I will be the first to admit that telling even my closest friend seems non-negotiable, given that they have their own lives to lead and no doubt have their own pressures to be concerned for. It’s a really big shame that I stop myself from getting close to anyone, especially when I feel this way.

So where to from here? We all seemed conditioned in some sense to survive life like we are still in flight or fight mode. For a lot of us, it is a generational, cultural and societal thing that plagues us to the point of keeping things bottled up until something serious happens. Are we still shocked when someone like Robin Williams commits suicide? Oh, he was such a happy, funny guy! It’s just so unbelievable. Well, how sad that he had to go through such a low level of darkness and die because of it.

I haven’t even answered my question yet! I guess I am but one of the many trying to find an answer to such a common issue that seems to be felt by individuals at some point in their life. We try so hard to fit a certain image and no doubt, there has been plenty of activity and awareness around accepting that depression and anxiety and suicide is real and more needs to be done. And we do. But people are still dying! People are still ending up in situations that hurt themselves, feeling like no support exists.

If you feel this away, reach out. And when I say reach out, you may find that this is difficult to seek help from family and friends and even colleagues. So, don’t do it if you are struggling with that. You will only seek to have more anxiety. Try, then, calling someone or seeing someone that is not so close to your situation. Lifeline, Beyond Blue, Reach Out Australia, Relationships Australia…the list goes on if you care to Google it.

If this is something that can ease a little pressure, talking to a complete stranger, what is the worst that could possibly happen? It’s confidential, it’s free, it’s a service that will have someone listen to you for as long as you are willing to share. And it’s a way to seek advice or referrals for every level of mental health condition that you may be experiencing. And when they ask, ‘Are you okay?’, you can feel comfortable saying that ‘no, I am not’.

You may be concerned that I am saying not to go to those closest to you and to be clear, that is not what I am saying. If you have that ability to, then absolutely! Embrace that option with all your heart. It’s a gift to be able to reach out to those that do know you and do want to help you with the knowledge that they have about your situation and the circumstances that you may be in. I can only thank those people that helped me even when I didn’t ask because they know the history of my mental illness.

But there are times, and I know for a lot of us, that we may have people that judge us, that say they don’t know how to help, that are too stubborn and too proud to admit that someone they are close to does not reach out first. Oh, the stories I could tell you about my experiences dealing with this but there is just not enough space in this blog. But believe me, there are people that understand. I know. I believe you. I accept what is happening inside your head and you are not alone.

So, in this case, reaching out to others not so close is an option. And it should be taken. And not lightly. Because feeling down, feeling anxious, feeling suicidal is no joke. It’s very real and it’s a very lonely place when you have no-one to turn to. My own current experiences make me realise how really alone I am – emotionally as well as physically. And no matter how much I have reached out to the people closest to me, it just hasn’t been understood. And for years now.

So, I accept it. As much as I can. And find other ways to soothe my soul. Contacting the above mentioned organisations do help. They do help. And so does pushing yourself to keep focused on what may matter to you. Yes, of course, you may feel that the motivation is at an all-time low. But there are others that matter, too. And maybe helping a cause or helping another may just be the thing that uplifts you to feel like you are contributing to life in a positive way and that can make you feel good.

We all need to feel like we are serving a purpose. Is serving others a great way of doing it? And then there is the environment that I keep banging on about. The things we can do to make our world better, by reducing the waste can only be a good thing. Reducing waste means reducing pollution means reducing bad vibes means reducing negativity which creates the opposite. Increasing positivity means increasing good vibes means increasing motivation means increasing happiness!

Getting on board with something that can help the planet means you are helping others and above all, are helping yourself. Give it a go. Give it a real go. If anything, it can serve to be a really positive distraction. There is an array of organisations that care for the environment that will provide avenues for feeling good about what you are doing. And this is alongside getting the help you need for your low times. It’s necessary and it’s important. Because you matter very much!