As the end of semester draws near and the stress levels rise, if you’re anything like me you’ll be holding on by the tips of your fingernails. Complacency and exhaustion set in. You may have missed lectures in order to work frantically on that essay that is due tomorrow or just catch up on some much needed zzz’s and suddenly you’re well behind and feeling very overwhelmed…
Like, really freaking hard.
Also? It sucks.
I have been attempting to write a post like this for the last seven months. I have written, and re-written, and scrapped countless drafts — all in my head, of course. As you can see, none of that practice has helped me to become particularly eloquent!
I have depression. In case you weren’t sure. In my case, it also currently comes with a (not-so) healthy side dose of anxiety.
Here are some facts about depression and anxiety in Australia:
- Approximately 1 in 6 people will experience depression at some stage throughout their lifetime
- About 1 in 4 will experience anxiety
- Anxiety is the most common mental condition in the country
- It’s estimated that 45 per cent of the nation will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.
(Information courtesy of Beyond Blue: http://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts)
I am part of that 45 per cent. Have been since I was about sixteen. I didn’t realise it at the time; I thought I was just being a stroppy teenager with glandular fever. Retrospectively, however, I can see that it was much more than just your average teenage angst.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to be all ‘woe is me’ here, nor am I trying to be an attention seeker. Studying (living) with depression and/or anxiety is hard, and for those of you who also struggle with these demons, I’m just trying to say ‘Hey, you’re not alone.’ That’s all.
Everyone experiences these things differently. For me, it comes in bouts and stages. Like I said, it started when I was about sixteen, but it hasn’t been constant. It comes and goes, along with the stressors and triggers in my life. This latest bout has hit me pretty badly, and has seriously affected my studies. It’s also the first time I’ve had anxiety along with the depression, so that’s been another learning curve for me.
Lucky for me (and everyone studying at FedUni) the lecturers and support teams we have here are invaluable, and have helped me struggle though last semester, and begin limping into this one. I’ve had help from my schools undergraduate coordinator, the Student Advisory Service, and the Disability Liaison team, to name a few. All of them have been fantastic, and understanding, and they have put things in place that did help, and will continue to help me throughout my time studying here.
I think I’ll leave this post here for now, as I’m not really sure where I’m going with all this rambling. All going well, I’m hoping to write a few posts on my exploits with depression (or MEWD. Because that sounds like a cute noise a little kitty would make), just to give people some sort of insight into what depression can be like. Or something like that.
Editor’s Note: I somehow managed to miss this in my email, so I’ve managed to post it after the event. Nonetheless, mental health is an important issue and one that we can all benefit from discussing year-round, not just for one week, so I’ve gone ahead and posted it anyway (although some of the events may unfortunately no longer apply).
Nearly half of all adults will, at some stage throughout their lives, be affected by mental illness. That’s a heck of a lot of people. And yet discussion around mental health can still be surprisingly taboo. That’s one of the reasons Mental Health Awareness Week was introduced in 1990, to educate people and increase awareness of mental illness.
Mental Health Awareness Week is held annually, and is the first full week in October. This year it’s the 5th – 11th of October. That’s right, it’s right now! As part of this week, FedUni is holding various activities across campuses on Wednesday 8th October (that’s tomorrow!) to engage students and get us thinking about mental health.
Mt Helen: Live acoustic music outside the hub from 11.30 – 2.00, and free blue slushies are going to be handed out by the Fed Uni Gaming Society (FUG). The blue slushies are part of the promotion for the ‘Blue Tie Ball’ (http://federation.edu.au/staff/business-and-communication/public-relations/blue-tie-ball) being held on campus on Saturday 18th October, and to raise awareness for the Beyond Blue Foundation (http://www.beyondblue.org.au/).
Gippsland: Creative mind Pop up Art from 10.30 – 2.00, help create a mural in the Knuckle. At 12.30 join with others for a walk around the campus, starting from the Knuckle and going until around 1.00. Between 5.10 and 6.10 head to the Hexagon for a free Zumba session And if you have any free time, check out the mini art exhibition (displayed in the Knuckle) from artists in the community experiencing mental health issues.
SMB: Mental Health Week lunch at Fed College
Horsham Campus: Mental Health Week lunch in the cafeteria
World Mental Health Week also encompasses World Mental Health Day (WMHD) on the 10th October. WMHD this year has three objectives:
1. Encourage help seeking behaviour
2. Reduce the stigma associated with mental illness
3. Foster connectivity throughout communities
People are being encouraged to take personal ownership of their own mental health and wellbeing, hence the slogan of the campaign ‘Mental Health begins with me’. Check out the website (https://1010.org.au/) and make a mental health promise to yourself – it’s about taking the time to look after yourself.