You’re not on your own – By Hayley Knight

“But how am I supposed to know what you’re feeling?” my husband, Chris, asked. It was a moment that I wish I had one of those 90’s mood rings that I could flash in his face.

“I don’t really know” I responded. Deflated knowing that I couldn’t help him to help me.

In times of COVID and lockdowns, increasing financial pressure and tighter industry regulation, we are all ‘feeling it’. The messaging around awareness of our mental health and reaching out is everywhere. We all know what to do or where we can access assistance but a lot of us don’t, including me to an extent, so I thought I would share my experience in the hopes of bringing comfort in knowing that you’re not the only one.

Most of my adult life, I’ve been stereotyped as a classic ‘overthinker’. Someone who struggles to switch off and just be. Over time this ‘over thinking’ evolved into restlessness, anxiety over controlling the future and more recently increasingly negative thought patterns that serve no purpose but create a whole lot of ‘white noise’ in my head.

As soon as I wake each day, I have a sense for how it will pan out mentally. Some mornings my head is ‘empty’ and I just go about my day relatively calm and collected. Others, I wake with a ‘fog’ or ‘heavy head’ and I know it’s going to be a tough one to get through.

Loud noises, poor eating, kids in a bad mood, things not going perfectly to plan, just life really, all contribute to the likelihood of what I call ‘implosions’ towards the end of the day.

It’s tiring and challenging, I know. Through this, the more I learn the more I can control it. I now know that when I cannot make eye contact, my voice lowers and I don’t want to engage, it’s time to find some space. I lock the door to my room and do one of two things when I feel an implosion coming on.

The first is plug in my ears to some classical music. Trust me, I am the least cultured bogan you will meet, so I’m usually streaming it from YouTube as it’s not readily available on my playlist. But I find it distracts me as I follow the flow of the music to try and guess where it’s taking me next.

The second is sleep. Regardless of the time of day. Just a few days ago, I slept from 5.30pm to 4.30am to try and break the tornado of thoughts and refresh.

Like you, I know there’s hotlines and websites available but have never called. I’ve chosen to work directly with a professional and naturopath to sort myself out both physically and mentally and it’s a long and challenging process but find comfort in my progress. Comfort in the less frequent implosions, comfort in understanding triggers and comfort in having more control over my mind.

The one thing I truly find comfort in is knowing that I am not alone. I share my story in the hopes that one person struggling out there will find strength in numbers. Reach out to those around you, lean on them, gather your supporters and trust them because a problem shared is a problem halved.

And finally, from one human to another, if you need someone, I am here. I get it. Connect with me and we can get through it together.

By Hayley Knight
AFA Pulse National Chair

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