With 1 in 5 Australians suffering from mental illness, it’s safe to say we all know someone who might be struggling. And yet, mental health is still an issue that isn’t talked about as often as it should be. Here at Ok To Talk, we believe we can all benefit from hearing other people’s mental health journey’s.
That’s why we’re starting a new blog series: one where we chat to people who come from different mental health backgrounds and experiences. Together, we can overcome the stigma attached to mental illness.
If you’re struggling with mental illness of any kind and are looking for professional help, Ok To Talk can help. Our free, online service helps Australians find psychologists all over the country. Start the process today by answering a few simple questions!
Amanda has lived with mental illness – specifically anxiety and depression – for many years. This is something she speaks about it publicly on her Instagram and YouTube. We decided to sit down and ask her a few questions about getting help, going to therapy and overcoming her struggles.
Can you tell us a bit about what mental illness(es) you’ve struggled with throughout your life?
For as long as I can remember I have been an anxious person, but I wasn’t officially ‘diagnosed’ with anxiety until I was 22. My worst anxiety was in 2016 when I developed a deep fear of death + the unknown, to the point of not being able to drive, sleep or shower alone. This slowly developed into depression which I was diagnosed with in 2017. Both my anxiety and depression have since been very present in my life, but I find come and go in waves. In late 2017, I felt more depressed than I ever had before.
How has mental illness impacted your life?
I try and see the good in my mental illness. It has taught me gratitude and how to be an open, honest communicator. In a bizarre way, I am grateful for the illness – but it has certainly had negative impacts on my life, too. It has affected my relationships – specifically, romantic ones – and I have struggled to keep a steady job due to my anxiety.
How has therapy helped you to overcome or manage your mental illness?
Therapy is one of the main things that has continued to help me on my mental health journey. I have seen a few therapists throughout different times in my life, but found an amazing one in late 2016 who I was with up until I moved interstate. My therapist did “acceptance and commitment” therapy with me which I find continues to give me a greater understanding of the illness I have and how to manage it. I feel like I have a strong relationship with my therapist which has made me a very open and honest communicator in my day-to-day life.
What was the point at which you thought you needed to get professional help?
In late 2016, I was in a romantic relationship and my anxiety got to a point where my boyfriend had to drive me everywhere and had to sleep at my house or I sleep at his. Then, I became anxious even when I was showering so he had to shower with me and/or stand in the bathroom and talk to me whilst I showered. Around the same time, my anxiety started to impact my work and I decided it was time to get professional help.
What advice would you give anyone who might be struggling with mental illness and considering getting help?
My best advice is to always try different therapists if you don’t feel comfortable with the one you are seeing. I have seen many, many therapists in my life but have only really connected and felt comfortable with one – and she was able to help me the most. I believe that therapy is an amazing help with mental illness and also a great motivator for change, it’s all about finding the right one.
If you’re dealing with your own mental health journey, you don’t need to do it alone. Click here to use our free service to find a psychologist suited to your needs anywhere in Australia.