My story- By Kristy
Skip back to 2009 with a toddler and newborn in tow; time poor and financial pressures I started to notice my husband struggling with work/life balance, talking of suicide. So I did what I thought was the right thing by encouraging him to get some professional help.He willingly acknowledged there was a problem and started to get help only for the stigma around depression and taking antidepressants becoming too much for him to bear and an embarrassment for him towards. He had a very traditional family who intercepted and blatantly informed him that the antidepressants were “the devils drugs…and no son of mine will take those.” With this conflicting show of ‘support’, unfortunately my persistence to want him to get better and to continue to get help, only drove him to lash out at me and then completely shut off from me.
He became more distant and took to confiding in a young lady from his workplace and the rest… well I’m sure you can see where this is going. Our marriage broke down and I was now facing what I thought was the toughest challenge of my life – single motherhood. As I started to struggle, I went on a mental health plan and anti depressants because as our GP said “one of you needs to be healthy to raise the children.” I called the antidepressants my ‘don’t give a f#%ks’ as I was neither highly emotional or low for the few months I was on them. They helped lift a cloud that was around me and I took up study to further my understanding of mental health and the all important SELF CARE! Something a working/ studying single mother of two finds hard to do but really only needs 1-2 minutes per day to reduce stress and provide clarity. (Believe me I didn’t always practice what I preach!) Life was pretty tough but I had good support and I didn’t feel WEAK TO SPEAK.
Skip forward 3 years and my earlier struggles paled in comparison to what I was about to face. My best friend of 20 years, was murdered by her ex partner in a murder suicide after she had broken up with him. It completely turned my life upside down and I was not prepared for the sudden downward mental health spiral. She was my rock, my shoulder to cry on, my buddy that just knew how to make me laugh my troubles away. And now she was gone in the most brutal way that you could lose a loved one, from the deliberate hands of another. I was back taking anti depressants for 3-4 months and seeing a CBT therapist as the anxiety and grief had me shaking around the clock. I was also fortunate enough to be connected to the Queensland Homicide Victims’ Support Group (QHVSG) and their calls, visits and support were priceless. This group has been a saving grace; without judgement and continued support for which I’m forever grateful.After the dust had settled and everyone’s lives went back to some ‘kind of normal’ I now had drive to change the world for the better so her life was not lost in vein ,nor did I want anyone to have to go through what I did. The impact murder has on families and the community is astounding and violence is never okay. My best friend loved kids though she had none of her own – had her perpetrator been supported through his traumatic youth maybe he wouldn’t have done what he did? And so my purpose began to shine.
I knew I had to give troubled youth the chance to speak about their problems and arm them with ‘tools’ that they could take into adulthood. Safe, mindful tools-an ability to get your point across, feel heard or know when to walk away while not hurting yourself or others.
I furthered my studies and now work with troubled youth building on their social and emotional skills by helping them build relationships. Can I say it ain’t easy and some days really take their toll mentally and physically but the next generation carve our future and aiding them to do so in the best way possible -that is so worth it!
I’m also doing volunteer peer support work for QHVSG and provide support to new/existing families knowing all too well how hard this journey is.
I still struggle with anxiety somedays and especially on significant dates or times of year. I also know it’s totally okay to feel the emotions, have a cry, visit my happy place (mine’s the beach) and I can talk about it. Though I’m no gym junkie I exercise and meditate often. The positive influence it has on my mental health speaks for itself… I laugh I have fun and I feel pure joy. Tomorrow is a new day full of possibilities.
If something traumatic has happened to you I can’t encourage you enough to speak up and join a like minded support group to normalise so much of your day to day. It enables you to relate to others and build connections and make progress.
Life is full of challenges and sometimes we have to just stop and smell the roses; be grateful for all we have and all that we are. I was fortunate to have an incredible support network to help out through my journey thus far and I hope you do too and please know there are so many resources and groups to support you that are out there to assist, you just need to speak up.XX#ITAINTWEAKTOSPEAK