Be Heard, by your Herd
If you’ve been out and about the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed batyr’s colourful billboards in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
‘Be Heard, by your Herd’ is our latest campaign and we’re encouraging everyone to keep talking for mental health. Even as lockdown restrictions start to ease in many states, many of us are still feeling the effects of physical distancing on our mental health.
Below are some responses from young people explaining why it’s so important to keep talking with their loved ones and what it’s like being part of the batyr Herd.
I’ve been super fortunate that I’ve always felt like my mental health experiences have been taken seriously. When I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety, my family, partner and colleagues were really understanding, and I think they actually felt relieved that there was a reason for all the changes I’d had in my mood.
My family, particularly my parents, and my partner, always encouraged me to talk to them instead of closing myself off and offered to accompany me to appointments with the doctor or the psychologist.
My family is of course still a huge part of my support group, but they live a few hours away now, so my more immediate supporters are close by. I’m also really fortunate to work with some great teaching staff at uni who I feel comfortable sharing my struggles with and who are totally accepting of me.
Being a part of the Batyr herd means so much to me because (as any of my friends will tell you) I love to talk about mental health and smashing the stigma, both in person and on social media. Being a speaker with Batyr gives me the opportunity to reach more people with my story and my message.
When I first shared my story, I learnt so much more about myself and my connection to my mates.
When you share a story, you share an opportunity to connect, and I’m so glad that I get to do that as a part of batyr’s Herd alongside a bunch of incredible humans beings.
My family is essential to my support network. I don’t know what I would do without them. For a FaceTime, phone call, or a hug, they can (almost) always make me feel better.
My friends are also really important to me. It’s hard being so physically distant from them at the moment but I’m grateful there are people at the end of a phone if I need them. I also stay in touch with my psychologist via online consultations. We’ve been using that approach for a few years because I moved states, and, after an initial adjustment period, I find it works just as well as seeing him in person.
If I’m thinking about a friend for whatever reason, I’ll tend to send them a quick text to let them know I’m thinking of them, check in and send my love. It’s a great way to remind people that they matter to you, and to stay connected with them even when we don’t necessarily have the chance to hang out in person or the energy for a full phone call. Voice recordings are also really nice – if your schedules can’t line up for a proper phone call, this is a good way to still hear their voice.
Being part of the batyr Herd feels like community. It’s knowing that honesty about my mental health will not only be accepted, but celebrated.
When I was just starting to recover from a long period of mental ill health, I spent a few weeks in a mental health ward for adolescents called U-Space. I had a conversation with one of the social workers there, David, who went above and beyond to make me feel heard. He not only gave me amazing advice but proceeded to type out and hand me a page long letter with suggestions on how to deal with these problems in the future. This still helps me today.
David showed that he didn’t hold any judgement based on what I told him the past few months had been like for me. He approached our conversation with a completely open mind and showed the kind of sympathy I would expect only from a close friend or family. Even if it is his job, I felt that having the faith of an almost complete stranger that everything would be fine was really reassuring.
My Herd consists of close friends, family and also some mental health professionals. My close friends are people I know I can always talk to without judgement and ask for advice. My family will always be there to listen and help me get through anything and my psychologist and psychiatrist help me immensely in dealing with past and future problems.
I make sure I text or call my friends regularly to see how they are doing. During COVID-19 times, it seems harder to stay connected with friends due to the lack of physical time together but I’ve come to appreciate the time I am able to spend with friends and family even more so than before.
Being a part of batyr’s Herd means having that sense of belonging, feeling like you can safely and openly be yourself without any fear of judgement.
Last week I felt myself slipping back into unhelpful thinking and unhealthy behaviours. Being part of batyr has made me aware of how important it is to lean on my allies – even when the initial conversation is unhelpful – so I told a friend I was struggling.
His response “ah sh*t, that’s no good” validated my experience. He told me he’d been feeling a bit low recently too and then he asked me what he could do.
Initially, it was uncomfortable. I don’t like to admit I’m not doing well and so it took me about 5kms of cycling alongside my mate before I worked up the courage to say something. As soon as I did I felt better though. It wasn’t just that he stopped and heard me, it was also that by saying it out loud I was admitting to myself I needed to change things up.
Who is in my Herd? My sister, my old boss, best friend, my psychologist and a few new friends which I’ve made since moving (like the fella I was cycling with).
I make a point of having one interaction a day that is not work-related and which is not via Messenger or SMS. It means a phone call or a Zoom/Skype every day with someone I love.
It was the first time I spoke to a professional about my struggles. I spent about a week researching trying to find someone that I would feel comfortable talking to about what I was going through. Eventually I stumbled upon a new GP and she was amazing. She referred me to a psychologist (for monthly sessions to begin with) as well as checked all my vitals and had me take a blood test to ensure that there weren’t any underlying health concerns that may have been contributing to my poor mental health.
What a relief, honestly! When you’ve been carrying around your own baggage for years; it’s such a great feeling to finally ask someone to help, and have them willingly lighten that load that’s been weighing you down.
My direct support network is definitely my fiancé – he has helped me through a lot over the years and I owe him the world. Also, It definitely helps that he’s a provisional psych.
Next in line is my actual psychologist at headspace whom I see weekly or fortnightly, depending on how well I’m coping. I’ve seen a massive change in how I cope with stressful situations, as well as how I process my own emotions on a daily basis.
Of course, my friends and family, but most of them are hundreds of kilometres away, so that can make things a little difficult at times.
Recently, with social distancing in place, and a lot of free time on my hands, I’ve found myself video chatting or calling someone new once a week. Once restrictions do start to lift a bit more I plan on making the journey down south to visit them all and spend some much needed quality time with them.
The first time I felt my mental health was heard, and understood, was thanks to my psychologist. I saw her for a year and a half, and it was a game-changer for me.
The first session I had with her, she barely spoke because I had so much bottled up that I wanted to address, but the whole time I could see she was actively listening.
No judgement, no telling me how I should be feeling/reacting. She just listened, nodded, and smiled. I knew she was listening because she would ask me specific questions that no one had ever asked. After that first session, I felt so optimistic that what I had been living with was treatable.
The first time I went to see her, it felt really weird and foreign. I had a lot of internalised stigma about seeing a mental health professional, but as soon as the first session was over I knew I had done the right thing. It ended up feeling so natural telling a medical professional about my experiences because I realised it was exactly like going to the GP and telling them I needed a blood test.
My Mum, partner, and friends are my support network. Thanks to them, I find it a lot easier to maintain positive mental health and I know they’ve got my back.
I stay connected by seeing my friends a lot, as well as staying connected through social media. I know that everyone in my support network has a busy routine, so having quick online interactions is usually a good way for me to stay in touch, like showing my friends dumb Tik Toks. My friends and I check in with each other regularly, so we know pretty quickly if one of us is going through a rough time.
Being part of batyr’s Herd means that I don’t have to “polish up” any aspect of my life when talking about my experience because everyone in the Herd gets it. The fact that I don’t have to worry about judgment and I can be 100% myself is not only comforting, it’s liberating.
The first time I felt my mental health experiences were heard was when I finally opened up to my friend of 14 years about how I was struggling. I had spent a lot of time before that in denial, always trying to put others first and feeling guilty for feeling anything less than happy. It was scary because I wasn’t sure how she was going to react, but a part of me was screaming that it was the right thing to do.
She was open to truly listen to what I was saying and without judgment. I was always that friend that was smiling and laughing all the time, so she was very taken aback but immediately supportive. She made sure I knew she was there for me and wished that I had told her sooner. She let me know that it was okay to feel that way and to know that there was hope and help out there.
It felt like a huge weight I’d been carrying and hiding had finally been lifted! All the fear I had going into it faded away. I had been feeling very alone for so long and finally, I felt I didn’t have to anymore.
My partner, family and some close friends are in my herd. I try to stay in touch at least once a week. If not once a week, we try to organise in advance so we can dedicate meaningful time with each other.
Being a member of batyr’s Herd means forming a piece of a diverse, accepting and hopeful community. I draw strength in knowing that I stand with a bunch of other resilient and empathetic young people who want to see positive changes in the way mental health and illness are perceived. It also means embracing my human vulnerability, by using my own experiences to connect with others and start conversations about mutual understanding and hope for the future.
If you’re in need of mental health support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.
For resources and up-to-date information for COVID-19 in Australia, check out health.gov.au, call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 or speak to your GP.