The Miner's Girl

The best of both worlds. Life as a fly-in, fly-out girlfriend.

Category: Emotions

A problem shared, is a problem halved

Following on from World Mental Health Day, October is Mental Health Month, where we live, in NSW.

via http://mentalhealthmonth.wayahead.org.au/

via http://mentalhealthmonth.wayahead.org.au/

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….

I worry what other people think:via http://mentalhealthmonth.wayahead.org.au/

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.

via http://mentalhealthmonth.wayahead.org.au/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 .

My heart has been split in two, but I couldn’t be happier

I know, I know, it’s been a while since I have posted on here, and for that I seriously apologise – but I have a good reason, I promise.

I would like to announce that Mr Miner and I are expecting our first baby!! And although we are both incredibly excited and happy about this, it has taken me a few months (ok, six!) to work out exactly how I wanted to say this.

Let me say from the start that I feel incredibly, enormously, ridiculously lucky right now, as this is something we have both wanted for a long time, but that doesn’t stop a lot of other feelings coming into play and the last six months have definitely seen some mixed emotions.

Loneliness (with a dash of fear)

Copyright Minersgirl.com

Copyright Minersgirl.com

Early on I got a serious reality check that, at points, this will be a journey I am taking on my own (yes, I probably should’ve worked that one out before!).

From the moment I found out I was pregnant when I was home alone (expecting a negative test again), to experiencing terrifying cramps in my first trimester, to lying on the couch feeling sick as a dog, just wishing that the magic cheese-on-toast-making fairies would come and save me, it slowly dawned on me that it wasn’t all going to be easy and there were times it would be hard and I would be alone. The thought ‘what have I got myself into?’, dashed through my mind more than once.

Luckily the midwives have been generally understanding of the DIDO situation and awkward scheduling. Much better than the GP I went to after 12 months of trying to conceive, who asked when Mr Miner would be home. When I explained he worked week on, week off, she replied, ‘And when is he going to be home for good?’ Gah! Although I am still being asked whether a family member could help out… yep, I’ll just get them to nip over from England for that appointment then…

Worry (with extra fear)

Due to the cramps early on we decided not to tell anyone before 12 weeks, but I also needed that time to get my head around it all. I am usually a pretty well person and not known to take sick days, so the first trimester came as a shock, both physically and emotionally. I was not prepared for constant, incessant tiredness and nausea, but less still was I prepared for the overwhelming fear that accompanied it.

After trying for nearly two years and having attended our initial appointment with a fertility specialist, it’s fair to say that I was astonished when I fell pregnant naturally. As I suffer from Polycystic Ovary Sydnrome (PCOS), which meant my cycle was in no way regular, and Mr Miner is away 50% of the time, statistically and logically the odds were never in our favour.

When I found out I was pregnant, not only did I find it hard to believe, but also I couldn’t get past the feeling that someone was going to come along and say ‘only joking’, and take it away from me. I didn’t want to do anything to ‘jinx’ it, whether that be telling people, reading too much about it or thinking too far forward.

Despite my boobs swelling to ridiculous proportions (you know they have the fruit and veg scale for the baby’s growth? I could’ve had that for my breasts!), I wouldn’t even allow myself to buy new bras until after the 12 week scan in case,  just by making myself more comfortable, something bad would happen. I was overjoyed, excited, but constantly terrified.

Guilt (with some anxiety)

Obviously you can’t live in a terrified state constantly (although even writing that is making me anxious!) and by the time I started to feel better and my tummy had started to swell, my parents had arrived in Oz and we could start telling people (as I wanted to tell them first), but here come the mixed emotions again….

The reason this is not a Facebook post is because I know what it’s like to see lots of pregnancy and baby announcements when you’re facing constant disappointment, and I was aware that I had friends in the same position.

The more you try and the more disappointment you face, the more you find that other people are going through the same thing. Lots of women, whose partners are also in mining, reached out with stories of how they were trying or tried to get pregnant (including some hilarious stories of conjugal visits and turkey basters!), but also other people in my life who, whether due to fertility issues, timing issues, or those altogether more complicated issues for my friends in same sex relationships, were in exactly the same position as us. This was so comforting when we were trying too, but I suddenly became acutely aware that I had crossed over to the other side and become ‘one of them’ – the gleeful fertile, so shiny and happy, and for this I felt incredibly guilty.

Thankfully my friends are an absolutely stellar bunch (which is probably why I keep them around!) and once I began to tell people they were all supremely happy for us, and brave faces or not, I knew they were truly excited.

And then came the really hard bit, the moment I knew my heart had been split in two forever….

Sadness and joy all rolled into one (with a tiny bit of terror)

The joy of reaching the ‘home straight’ of semester three arrived hand-in-hand with Christmas, which should also be a joyful time, but when you live 17,000km from ‘home’, it is also always a reminder that you have loved ones elsewhere and it’ll never quite be the same without them. Not helped by the fact our family Christmas is the best ever (FACT) and everyone else is doing it wrong (I know you want to hit me right now).

And with Christmas also came the realisation that until now I had been free to come and go as I please. I had always been lucky enough to have the time and funds to be able to go home whenever I wanted, but it suddenly dawned on me that financial implications and responsibilities will mean I can’t be as free as that once we have a new family member, someone else to consider and no longer a full double income! (seriously, you think I would’ve considered at least some of this beforehand).

Despite thinking I had accepted that I was probably here for good a long time ago, because as long as I was with Mr Miner it makes more sense as a couple, it’s more financially viable, (plus he said from the very start that he never wanted to live in England again!), it has all become very, very real. Having an Aussie baby means saying goodbye to my traveller life, goodbye to fantasies of home and fully admitting to myself that I am definitely here forever (gosh, that’s a big word!).

There is a quote, which I think is by the author Miriam Adeney, but let’s face it – I saw it on Facebook! Anyway, I think it sums up what I am trying to say here:

Quote by Miriam Adeney, via Pinterest

– Miriam Adeney, via Pinterest

“You will never be completely at home again, because a piece of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of knowing and loving people in more than one place.”

I know the year ahead is going to be another year of mixed emotions. This is going to be a year of ups and downs, absurd highs, but also lows (I know I will have to say hi and bye to my Mum already). There will certainly be rewards and challenges. But most of all it is a time to be positive, because through it all, I vow to remember that I am incredibly lucky to be able to feel any of this.

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