Get Creative & Get Mental Health Aware

October is Mental Health Month. This week is National Mental Health Week.

MHM__oct_web

This is an important week for many reasons – not only does it mark one year since I started this blog (thanks to those that are still reading!) but it is also a time when we are reminded as a society that there are many of us who live with mental health issues, either as a sufferer or a carer. I would hazard a guess that everybody knows at least one person who has suffered some form of mental illness (there are 3 million Australians living with depression or anxiety, according to beyondblue). The problem is, you might not even know it.

Mental illness can sometimes be a silent issue. People experience it differently and cope with it differently. Sometimes even those closest to the sufferer don’t even realise what’s going on.

There is also a social stigma attached to mental illness, particularly for men and for those that need to take medication to help them manage their illness.

As someone who has battled with depression since 2007 and who takes daily medication to help manage it I can assure you that it is no different to taking medication to manage asthma or any other condition that you have little control over. People with mental illness cannot “snap out of it” and we cannot “just do something that makes you happy and feel better.” In fact, when I was at my lowest I couldn’t even go to brush my teeth or walk down the stairs without having a panic attack. To physically get out of bed felt like the biggest struggle against unseen ties and pressures weighing me down against the mattress.

People with mental illness are not “crazy” or “insane” – we are normal people who just happen to live with an illness that can affect our daily lives in varied and sometimes profound ways. We are not all sad in our depression. We can be angry, guilty or apathetic. Sometimes, all of these at once. Sometimes we feel nothing.

It is some of these misconceptions and stigmas surrounding mental illness that make me so passionate about supporting mental health and raising awareness. It is also why I have chosen this week, Mental Health Week, to hold a charity auction through my business Cordelle Designs to raise money for beyondblue.

Auction album title

When I was first diagnosed with depression beyondblue was my go-to source of information and support for myself and for my husband as my carer. If you have any questions about any area of mental health or caring for someone with a mental illness please do go to their website and take advantage of the resources they offer – they are free and easy to download.

This year the theme I have chosen for my charity auction is “Get Creative” – creativity is one way to express yourself and how you are feeling. It can also be an outlet allowing you to maintain mental wellbeing. The submissions in the auction this year showcase Australian small business creativity – handmade, hand produced, personally designed or photographed. Some of the items on offer will even support and encourage YOUR creativity!

The auction kicks off tonight, Sunday 6th October, at 8pm AEST (NSW) on my Cordelle Designs Facebook page. You can find the auction album pinned to the top of the page or directly here. Bidding will run all week and conclude at 8pm Sunday 13th October. All money will go directly to beyondblue and will help this amazing organisation to “achieve an Australian community that understands depression and anxiety and empowers all Australians, at any life stage, to seek help” (www.beyondblue.org.au).

I really hope to see you at the auction! Here’s a sneak peek of what you will find…

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If you need more information about depression or anxiety, or feel you may be affected, please seek help from your doctor. I found taking beyondblue’s quick checklist a good starting point to understanding my emotions and mood, along with a consultation with my doctor. If you feel you need urgent help please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or get immediate help at beyondblue where you have options to call, online chat or email someone who can help you.

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