Helping Heavy Hearts
Australia is a wide and open land known to echo in its space and in its vastness. There’s something intensely beautiful in this – those long drives through the countryside fill me with wonder and get my mind dreaming up my next adventure, future friendship, new projects, fresh starts. However, this environment might also be seen to mirror a kind of head space that can feel—for some, for many—isolating at times. As a bloke who is very lucky to have never really felt those deep and ongoing blues that are seriously debilitating, it’s likely that I can’t fully understand the very real experience of depression and anxiety. But I know many people (some very close to me) that are affected by depression on a regular basis, and I can see just how difficult it can be for them. In saying that, I am aware that I must meet many more people who struggle with these very common, but challenging, mental health issues every day. However, I don’t even know they are struggling. Sometimes I really wish I did.
According to leading organisation for mental illness, Beyond Blue, it is estimated that a huge 45% of the Australian population will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, and in the course of a single year, 1 million people will feel and live with depression, while 2 million will experience anxiety. Depression is more than just low mood; it is a serious mental health issue, and can affect all aspects of your life, from your physical health, to your employment, energy levels, relationships and future outlook. The causes for depression are similarly vast and range from (but are not limited to) traumatic and stressful life events, genetics, personality and drug and alcohol use. People who suffer from depression may feel worthless, that they can’t see their future, or even have thoughts of suicide. These feelings are nothing to be ashamed of, but they are real, and we need to help each other when they arise.
Remember, we never truly know what anyone is going through, so be careful how you treat people; be gentle with one another. And if you get the gut feeling that someone is struggling, ask them how they are; chances are, even if they don’t share their full problem with you, they will at least feel supported knowing that someone has noticed a change in their mood, and that they are happy to help. Let’s not let these very real issues go unnoticed—for those that experience depression, you are not invisible, and you are never alone. There is always someone waiting to lend an ear, a cuppa, a helping hand, a warm heart.