Following on from World Mental Health Day, October is Mental Health Month, where we live, in NSW.
I’ve written about anxiety before for my Mining Family Matters column, but wanted to write about mental health here too asI think it’s particularly important in mining.
Data from the National Coronial Information System showed that in the three years to the end of 2014, 239 construction and mining labourers died by suicide, which was almost double the suicide rate among skilled construction trades workers.
Isolation, long-distance relationships, working long hours and separation from loved ones can cause additional stress and worry and accentuate pre-existing mental health issues, not just for the miners themselves, but also for partners and families.
I think that’s why the theme for Mental Health Month 2017, “Share the Journey”, resonated so much for me. Sharing is so important where there is a tendency to think that you have to ‘cope’ with everything happening and communication can be made more difficult due to remote working and distance.
With that in mind, I wanted to share with you a few of my worries, not only because a problem shared is a problem halved, but also because I think we often think we are the only ones to worry about these things, when in fact we’re not alone. So here goes…
I worry about Mini:
I think this is the part of becoming a parent that people don’t tend to warn you about, but from the moment of conception, daily (sometimes hourly) worry consumes me:
Is he too small?
Is he too big?
Why won’t he sleep?
Has he been sleeping too long?
Why won’t he eat?
Is he eating too much?
How many dried apricots is too many?
I’m pretty sure he has watched five episodes of Peppa Pig today….
And then there’s googling every bump and lump you find! Not to mention that every time he looks at me with that toddler manic grin, I wonder if he will turn into a mother-killing psychopath…. Maybe I shouldn’t have read We Need to Talk About Kevin…
Is he missing Daddy?
Which brings me to Mr Miner:
Is he missing Mini too much?
And then there’s obviously the dangerous job; I worry about him working underground, with big machines, driving seven hours each way… my heart can barely take it! And, of course, men die before women so combine that with the night shifts and the fact he’s older than me and I’ve pretty much written him off… the end is nigh!
I worry about work:
Am I doing enough?
Am I doing too much?
Can I get a balance? Does that even exist? (I’m pretty certain the answer is no.)
Financially I should be working more, but I feel like I should also be spending more time with Mini.
Do they think I’m lazy working from home? What am I missing out on working from home?… Oh the FOMO!
Oh, and I should really be writing another blog….
Why is everyone else so cool/young/pretty/well-dressed/fashionable/successful (according to Instagram, Facebook and all other reliable sources).
There is no way I have the right lipstick/eyebrows/handbag/thigh gap/jeans/job/garden/taste in music/life…. Aarrrggggh!
And then occasionally, I have to admit it, I worry about myself.
I need to sleep more, eat more healthily, exercise more, get that mole checked out.
How can I get my arms to look toned in a wedding dress?
Should I have studied something more useful at University?
Are my eyebrows on fleek? Do people still say on fleek? Etc, etc,
So the list goes on. Add to that some good old mundane concerns, such as; Is that tap leaking on our side of the meter or the council’s side?; Should I paint our bedroom grey?; and; Will Trump’s presidency actually result in WWIII? and it’s a wonder I ever sleep at all!
I realise some of these worries seem pretty small and petty and some of them are, but the point is that whether these are silly worries, or ones that cause great anxiety, talking about them can help.
So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by a huge list of worries, or you think someone else is, remember to share the journey! Good social connections not only improve our overall mental health and wellbeing, they also build our resilience.
For more info on Mental Health Month, go to http://mentalhealthmonth.wayahead.org.au/
If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide call Lifeline (13 11 14), the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467) or a doctor today.
The RU OK? website also has great tips on how to start a conversation if you want to get talking about mental health .