On September 13 you were encouraged to ask your loved ones R U OK? But have you asked a friend or family member that question since? Have you followed up on that initial conversation, if that person you asked was not ok?
I get it. You’re conflicted about asking them again. “I don’t want to annoy them.” “I’m sure the feeling has passed.” “They’ll reach out if they need me.”
I’m here to tell you, they won’t. They’ve internalised their despair and their feelings have exacerbated. They’re ready to explode. Or worse, give up. They will not want to burden another living soul, while spiralling within their own self-pity and hopelessness.
I know. I have been there. That was me.
My long-term relationship ended, my house lease ended abruptly and the woman whose maternity contract I was covering returned to work earlier than 12 months. I was on the Sunshine Coast and away from any support system. I couldn’t talk to my ex about anything apart from who was getting the dryer and the nutribullet. After eight years my world changed within eight weeks.
I was single, homeless and jobless.
So, I did what I do best. I went on a holiday; I escaped the problem and immersed myself in white water rafting and rolling down hills in giant inflatable balls in New Zealand (it’s called zorbing… and it’s the shiz!). It wasn’t quite a ‘Julia Roberts Eat Prey Love’ trip, but I wanted time to feel normal and recharge my internal emotional batteries.
When I returned, I switched into autopilot. I found a job back in radio in Warragul, I signed a lease and I worked out how to get the electricity connected for the first time in six years (the pilot light for the gas took me another two years to master).
Six months later I arrived home from my morning work in Breakfast radio. I drove into the carport and switched the motor off. And I just sat there. I sat in my car, in the cold, and I didn’t move. I couldn’t move. I felt frozen in time. The driver’s side door felt so far away, and my right arm felt like it weighed 200kgs.
So, I sat there in the car. I just sat there for two hours. I felt alone.
A call from my friend Fiona broke the silence and I put my happy mask on “Hey Fi, what’s up?”.
“I was just thinking about you, how are you?”
My acting skills were unconvincing because Fiona could see right though the phone. “Lee, what is it? You are not ok. Talk to me”.
I had a friend who knew me better than I knew myself in that moment and she must have seen the trail I left behind over the last 12 months. She made me confront what I had been ignoring. My world shifting off its axis. I had not addressed my emotions. I wasn’t just unhappy or sad or confused or angry; I was depressed.
That was eight years ago. I still struggle weekly, but I am taking control of the disease. It does not define me; it is just apart of my story and allows me to empathise deeply with others. I continue to see a doctor, I have taken medication and I have spoken with professionals. I work out (Flick Ryan PT is currently getting my arse back in shape mentally and physically) and I do yoga when I can. I eat well, only drink bubbles occasionally and I make sure I speak openly with my closest confidants.
The journey continues but I have so much more joy in my life now. And it all began with one amazing friend asking me “Are you ok?”.
Stampsy is on the socials so get around her @lee_stamps on Insta & StampsyKROCK on the book!
Stampsy is the Music Director and Drive Announcer at K Rock in Geelong