Chloe, she/her, SA, 35
Like many people this year I’ve been forced to address mental health needs much more regularly than previous years. I’ve found previously I could ‘get by’ on very little and accepted that thriving was possibly not an option given mental and physical health concerns. When faced with a global pandemic, I immediately saw my anxiety increase and the stresses of daily life threatening to overwhelm me, especially during times that were constantly changing.
I really needed to take action early on. As a parent, I can’t afford to put further strain on my son and husband. Finding ways to assist and improve my mental health as well as address my quality of life became a priority very quickly.
I think self-limiting and self-stigmatising beliefs really steered me previously and when faced with a pandemic reality, I began to see life (and health) as something precious and to be protective of. In this way, I began to allow myself to savour and enjoy any of the not-so-stressful times during this year. These moments and mindset proved to be effective and I began to seek joy and practice gratitude whenever possible.
I’ve been able to see my struggles shared and found solace in this. Knowing I wasn’t alone and hearing many people begin to speak plainly about how much COVID had effected their mental health really inspired me to share tips and step up my advocacy. I’ve certainly experienced an increased ability to see and value the good things after years of lived experience and lonely hardships around having a chronic health condition.
As a person with an illness to manage, I’ve seen great changes in the way I can access services this year (such as Telehealth). This has allowed me to use my limited energy in smarter and more effective ways. Witnessing people’s increased awareness of safe distances and hygienic practices, validates myself and those with low immunity and has helped me feel a priority, in ways that previous years have not. It’s been incredibly validating for me, after experiencing many years of (self) isolation, exclusion and stigma to see mental health, physical health and other illnesses as major topics of conversation.
I’ve valued being able to commit to less this year and live a slower paced life. It’s allowed me to practice saying no and enforce my boundaries. I’ve been able to fit more fun into my life and discover things that nourish me. As a parent, self-care is generally pretty low on the list. Ensuring I stay well and functioning for my family has enabled me to look at my own needs in ways that I’ve not attended to previously. Perhaps what was once seen as a luxury, we now see as non-negotiable requirements in order to sustain wellness.