Kirsten's story - What family and friends can do
So, I'm Kirsten. I originally I'm born in Denmark and grew up in Denmark and came out to Australia about eight years ago. And I have two beautiful little children that's six and four years old, single mum.
So my mental health journey's probably started about when I was nine. I'm 32 now, so it's been quite some years. I think some people they prevent speaking about what they're struggling with because of they're afraid of being judged by the community and people around them. I think for me growing up in Denmark, where it's probably not as much stigma as there is in Australia, if you ask me from my personal experience, is that I'm probably a little bit more open and a little bit more talkative to people and telling people where I'm at.
One thing I like about Australian culture is the "Hey, how you going?" But sometimes I also feel like that takes away from actually connecting because we're asking that to everybody and we're kind of just expecting a "Yeah, good." Or something. So if people actually would say, "Actually I'm struggling." People don't really know what to say. They're like, "Wait, this is not what you're meant to say or answer." I think when you have mental health, you are very good yourself at bashing yourself and say, "I should be able to cope with this. I should be able to do this." So if we can get rid of some of all that stigma and get rid of people judging and saying, "Well, you should be able to do this." Or "Why can't you clean the house, keep the house clean." Or all these kind of things that we might struggle with. There would be more support and we might even get to a point where people with mental health don't judge themselves so bad, and therefore we can maybe get a bit better quicker because we're not feeling so judged. Because it is like we're judged ourselves, then we feel judged by others, and others are judging us, we just get even worse. Instead of getting up we just kind of go down.
Having support from friends and family when you're dealing with depression, it's really important because I've had some that are just kind of been like, "Just get over it." And don't understand why I'm maybe struggling to get everyday life things done, like in a cleaning and stuff like that done, and just kind of just get over it. It's just in your head type thing. And that kind of just makes things even harder because then you, at least for me, I punished myself for struggling so much and then it gets even harder and more overwhelming to do.
When I was in Denmark is a good example. When I actually, when I got into the psych ward for that 10 days, I was afraid of the stigma that I would receive from friends because I was only like 20 or 21. It wasn't like I was... I was young, so I was afraid of the stigma. But I had one friend in particular, I think we did a once a week or twice a week, I would either go to her or she would come to me and we would cook dinner together. I had another friend or two that we would once or twice a week, we'd go for a walk in the forest together. We'd just schedule it in, it would be a set day, I think.
So I actually experienced a lot of support from a lot of people and just like, "What can we do? Where can we come alongside you and help you?" So that's really helpful and supportive rather than kind of just snap out of it and go for a walk on your own. Of course, I could have gone for a walk on my own, but I didn't. Having that someone that was depending on me and was going to meet me there, made me get out of the door, where if I didn't have that, I would have just stayed at home in bed probably.
I think it's very important for people to have a good understanding and education around mental health. If you break your arm or your leg, people understand that you're out of action or you can't fully function, but when it's mental health, a lot of people don't really understand it and they're like, "Oh, just get over it. Just snap out of it. It's just in your head." Yeah. So, that doesn't help someone that's struggling to be told those things.