opinion

Soul Food with Pia Richardson: In times of trouble, it’s wise to phone a friend

Pia RichardsonGeraldton Guardian
Railway Health Hub co-owner and Crossroads Life managing director Pia Richardson
Camera IconRailway Health Hub co-owner and Crossroads Life managing director Pia Richardson Credit: Kate Campbell

A few weeks ago, I had a major health scare that shook me and my family to the core.

It brought up feelings of anxiety, isolation and even guilt. It reminded me of what a wonderfully capable, loved and supported human being I am, but it also reminded me of how quickly our mental health can take a turn for the worse if we’re not caring for ourselves and paying attention to the warning signs.

Poor mental health for the most part isn’t something that you just wake up with one day — it’s a progression. A series of unfortunate events or thought processes that gently pull you down until at some point you pass the point of no return — that point where you know in your heart that you can’t dig yourself out anymore.

Looking back on the past few weeks, I can definitely see that pattern playing out in my own life. As a wife, mum, business owner and columnist, my to-do list is long and I have many obligations.

So here’s what I did: I took the time to recover fully before launching back into a busy life. Those things on your to-do list can wait.

Juggling them all can be exhausting, as we all know, and it often doesn’t leave a lot of room for error. So when this scare came along, I immediately felt the strain on my mental health.

I felt anxious that it would happen again, overwhelmed with emotion and even though I had an amazing amount of love and support, I felt isolated because I didn’t want to burden people with my worries.

This is where paying attention to the warning signs becomes so important — today, I sit writing this feeling calm, happy and well, but it could have easily been a different story.

MORE SOUL FOOD

So here’s what I did: I took the time to recover fully before launching back into a busy life. Those things on your to-do list can wait.

I made a phone call — I could feel all that emotion festering under the surface and I knew it needed to be released. I know this step is often the hardest, we don’t want to whine or dump on others or be seen to be wallowing, but sometimes we just need to get it out. Call a friend, a loved one or a phone service like Beyond Blue — as long as it’s a safe space to get it all off your chest.

Finally, I reminded myself that life isn’t all good all the time and that that’s OK — I coached myself through each moment of anxiety with a gentle reminder that this too shall pass, and though my anxieties were somewhat irrational, rather than berating myself for my moment of weakness I acknowledged that what I was feeling was perfectly natural.

I am reminded that there are many things in life that we can’t control but with practice and patience and a little self-awareness we can give ourselves the best chance to be happy, resilient and mentally well.

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