My Journey – Mental Health
I am going to start this post with a few content and trigger warnings for people. It does have discussions about Suicide, Depression, Anxiety and other related mental health details. So if these things are triggers for you it may be best to read with some support in place. I also want to set a few boundaries before i continue. This doesnt affect the services i provide. I dont want you asking about my mental health during a session out of the blue, unless it organically comes up in our discussion, If you are looking for a listening ear i am happy to be your listening ear. Please dont offer me further advice as this is something i have been dealing with for many years so have my own mental health plan in place. But i am happy to guide you in getting the support you need if you need some friendly guidance.
I have had Depression and Anxiety since i was a child. Part of it is because of a chemical imbalance that i have and part of it is because of trauma i have experienced. As a child and teenager i experienced bullying on a daily basis. I was considered different and because of this i got bullied daily. But i also made sure to have bullying redirected towards me to protect my best friend. As she would have experienced high levels of this bullying if i hadnt made sure it was redirected towards myself. Because i figured i was already experiencing it, a little extra wouldnt matter. And for many years afterwards i took that with me into adulthood.
As an adult i also had experienced a range of traumas, sexual assault by someone i knew and worked with over a period of a few months, and when i finally actually spoke up i was dismissed and told to pretend it didnt happen. And so again these are things i continued to carry with me.
There are many other factors to my depression and anxiety that is best not spoken about at least for me. But these are the 2 main things that really contributed to my depression and anxiety. Over the course of my adult life, i have lived almost daily with the thoughts of hurting myself, taking my own life, ending it. I continue to have these thoughts every day.
You may ask have i ever attempted to take my life. And the simple answer is Yes, i have tried a number of times and been either unsuccessful or been stopped before i have actually tried. It is something i have to work through each day. And i have to fight these thoughts daily. They arent something you can just get rid of it doesnt work like that.
During my adulthood i have developed PTSD from a few different traumas and along with my depression and anxiety these things lead me down the path of using alcohol to deal with it. I would drink just to get through each day. I would drink to cope, because to admit that i had these issues would have meant a stop in the career i had, there would be no further progression. My career would have stopped dead in the water. So i drank. And i did for a very long time.
Thanks to my family i ended up getting medical and psychological help to deal with my drinking. And through this help was able to also get help dealing with the range of traumas that lead me down this path. This isnt to say that i am no longer feeling the things i do, it is not to say i no longer have depression, anxiety or PTSD, but it is to say that 75% of the time i am now able to deal and cope and live with them much better. It means i no longer drink to cope with these things. But it took many many years before i got this help, and it took a long time for me to really open up and make the most of this help. Because it isnt easy and sometimes it can feel like opening Pandoras Box.
I have days where getting out of bed is really hard. There are many days where i ask God why he let me live to see another day. There are days where i think about ending things and sometimes these thoughts are still quite strong. There are days when things feel as though they are completely overwhelming and too much to cope with. And this is a daily struggle that many with Depression and Anxiety would understand.
Recently i have made the decision that besides seeing a psychologist i will take medication to help with some of the chemical imbalance in my brain and it has been somewhat helpful but it isnt for everyone and its really important to talk with your doctor and psych team before deciding on this option
But part of the reason why i chose to write this blog post is because i think its really important that we have this discussion about mental health. To show that yes many of us have this. That the struggle doesnt have to be done alone. I didnt write this for sympathy or to get help from others because i do have the supports i need in place to get through each day but i wrote it so that maybe if you are struggling and dont have the support in place, i am also here to listen. I may have mental health issues i have to work on daily, but i understand them and i am willing to listen and sometimes we just need someone to listen and hear us. To understand that there shouldnt be feelings of shame for having these.
I will be honest and say that yes as a sex worker, this job for me has actually had a negative impact on my Mental Health at times and hasnt always been helpful. But i am thankful that i have my mental health plan in place to make sure that on those days when it has had a negative impact i have been able to call or see someone within my plan to discuss what i am feeling and how i can get through each day.
Let me talk you through the process i went through to get support, as it took me many years to get something in place that really suited me and helped me, theres no one shoe fits all to this and it can be hard and difficult to keep motivated to get support. It can be really difficult.
If you go to your GP you can get 10 and up to 16 medicare rebated sessions with a psychologist through whats called a Mental Health plan. So if you are feeling depressed and want to see someone start with your GP and ask for a Mental Health plan. Through this your GP may be able to recommend a psychologist for you to see. It took me 4 or 5 different psychologists before i found one suitable to me and my needs so this is a process you may have to experience too. Or you might be lucky and the first one you see will be perfect for you. But its a good idea to have a couple of sessions with them before deciding. It may also be worthwhile getting a referral to a Psychiatrist from your GP to find out if there are underlying mental health issues and if you may need medication. I also found that in between sessions Online and Phone Support services really were helpful especially late at night if i was having trouble sleeping or coping with things.
Remember if you feel in danger, calling the Ambulance and asking to see the acute mental health care team at your hospital is completely ok and they can offer immediate support if you need it and even help you get referrals within the hospital if finances are an issue in getting the help you need.
If i have any readers who are currently serving or have previously served in the Military (in the US, Australia or NZ as i have resources for each) – Please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org as i have specific resources just for those of you who are or have previously served to get any support you need relating to your mental health.
Some helpful resources
SWOP NSW Counselling – For Sex Workers
Need Help? Mental Health Australia – There is a great list of online and over the phone support listed here, which are great as a starting point.
Beyond Blue – On this page i have linked gives you a few pages that you can go to, to find a registered Psychologist, Psychiatrist, or a social worker if you prefer
The Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467 provides immediate support to anyone feeling suicidal. In addition, they can provide ongoing support with up to six 50 minute telephone counselling sessions that will provide you with longer term support. The Suicide Call Back Service also offers online counselling.
MensLine Australia – Some great support for Men
1800 Respect – National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service
NewAccess is a free mental health coaching program
QLife 1800 184 527 3pm-12am – QLife is Australia’s first nationally-oriented counselling and referral service for LGBTI people. The project provides nation-wide, early intervention, peer supported telephone and web based services to diverse people of all ages experiencing poor mental health, psychological distress, social isolation, discrimination, experiences of being misgendered and/or other social determinants that impact on their health and wellbeing.