AS the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the nation and isolation becomes the norm, people’s mental health is being tested.
After witnessing and personally feeling the effects of poor mental health, Hamilton’s Maddison Kelly encouraged locals to reach out and support those who need it most.
Ms Kelly said she had felt completed isolated lately as everything she once enjoyed had been temporarily taken away from her.
“Personally, I have found the pandemic to be very detrimental to my mental health,” Ms Kelly told The Spectator.
“I have had to engage with services more regularly and really ensure that I am checking in on myself.
“Some days I haven’t wanted to be here, I think that’s a thought that could have crossed a number of people’s minds.
“It’s so important to reach out and have a chat to people or be the person there for your friend who is struggling.
“Reaching out may save your life.”
Ms Kelly speaks from her own experience with mental health, something she has dealt with since the age of four.
A car accident has resulted in her suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while through her teenage years she struggled with depression and anxiety.
During her early 20s, Ms Kelly was diagnosed with bipolar two disorder, which has seen her engage with psychiatrist.
She said her mental health journey has had its ups and downs - there are times where she feels elated to be alive and others where she feels alone and depressed.
Ms Kelly described the thoughts that go through her head as “scary”.
“Depression for me manifests in my head,” she said.
“I often have suicidal thoughts, thoughts that I would be better off not being here, thoughts to hurt myself, thoughts that there isn’t a single person on planet earth that would care about me or if I wasn’t here anymore.
“These thoughts are common, persistent, alarming, scary and out of my control.
“I think it’s important for people to recognise and understand that people with a mental illness don’t want to think or feel the way they do, but that they have a chemical imbalance in their brain that doesn’t allow them to be rational.”
When thoughts enter Ms Kelly’s head, she relies on the people closest to her for help.
She couldn’t be more emphatic when she says, “suicide is real”, and is something she experienced at the age of 16.
“For me, I often require someone to step in and help me be rational when I am having those thoughts, whether that’s Sam (her partner), Mum, Dad, my sister or the many mental health professionals that I work with,” she told The Spectator.
“I have attempted suicide on three occasions, thankfully unsuccessfully, but suicide is real, and suicide happens every day.
“When I was 16, my godmother suicided.
“The impact this death had on me was phenomenal. I was heartbroken, but I wasn’t angry with her, that’s not what it’s about.
“I was thankful that she no longer had to live with her dark and evil thoughts.”
Ms Kelly believed coronavirus was more than just isolating.
Earlier in the year, one of Ms Kelly’s family members took their life, leaving behind countless loved ones.
“I believe that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on people’s mental health,” she said.
“On April 1, my sister-in-law (Corrina) suicided.
“She left behind her four children and a huge family who loved her so much.
“I don’t believe one single incident would lead someone to taking their own life; I do however believe that COVID-19 and the thought of being in lockdown was a contributing factor to her death.
“Corrina is strong, she is brave, and she suffered on her own.”
Since lockdown began, helplines have received record numbers of calls from people in need of support.
As a result, the Federal Government has announced a $12 million funding boost for mental health services.
Since March, over 11,200 suicides have been recorded in Australia.
Ms Kelly said although it can be hard, people need to seek help and not fight their battles alone.
She said without the support she has received; she might not be here today, and the outcome of a phone call or conversation could change a person’s life.
“I’m not a professional at all, but I am a person with mental health issues,” Ms Kelly said.
“I’m a person who has faced much adversity and I’m a person who wants to help others, because I don’t want people to feel the way I have.
“I would advise people to seek help.
“While Hamilton has limited services, it does have some wonderful GPs, mental health clinicians and psychologists.
“I know this, because I have a team around me who support me and without that, I wouldn’t be here.”
Helplines like Beyond Blue, Lifeline, Kids Helpline and Suicide Call Back Service are available 24-7 for any enquires.
Beyond Blue can be contacted on 1300 22 4636, or Lifeline on 13 11 14.