Fluro Friday turns Four || Video and words by Birralee Hassen

http://onewaveisallittakes.com is a mental health awareness group, bringing people together around the world to create a safe community where the ocean and fluro colours reign supreme. Check out the closest location to you and get involved :D

I grew up surrounded by mental health “issues”, for lack of a better word. So why was it, that when my own mental health was at a low, I couldn’t recognise the signs? Was I in denial, or was I just unaware? (Thanks hindsight for letting me know it was most likely a combination of both). 


As I think back over my life, I can see that there has been numerous times where mental health issues have played a role. Even if not affecting me personally as an individual, then definitely in the way of family members and close friends.


My mother had on and off been dealing with mental health issues for as long as I remember, but things got severely worse following the birth of my youngest brother. I was ten. He slept with me from when he was a couple of weeks old. I remember creeping into my mums room, curtains drawn so my eyes would adjust to the darkness, making my way past the lump in the bed until I found the nappies and bottle lids I was after.


A fourteen year old me found herself suddenly in a new school, a tomboy in an all girl’s class, my only friend a boy who I would spend recess and lunch with. I lived in two different carer/foster homes around this time, and it seems that the majority of my days were spent sleeping. On the bus to school, during class, the bus home, before dinner, after dinner.


Year 12 and later at uni in Sydney, my time was spent much the same way, sleeping, studying, or writing myself off on various substances.


Thanks to my wonderful sisters, an extremely supportive boyfriend at the time, and my amazing friends, I did get through the times that were tough. But why didn’t I know I was depressed? And would it have made a difference?


Depression is suppression, a weird crux of the illness being that it can be really hard to talk about it. "I don’t want people to know when I’m not doing well. I love being happy. I feel guilty when I’m not."


There are times where it can be an intense struggle to get to sleep. And times where it can be harder still to get out of bed. But by making a choice to get up, to do anything that you know works for you, you can help to take steps in the right direction for a healthier state of mind.


The sooner you realise that you are the one that is in control of your mind, and not the other way around, the better off you will be.


There will be times, weeks, months or years that can be tough. But it’s always going to get better. You have to trust that you’re here as an unique human being that deserves a spot on this spinning planet just as much as the next living life.


Mental health shouldn’t be something that makes people be quiet. It should be ok to talk about experiences and how they made you feel. It’s ok to have down days. It’s the down days that teach us the greatest lessons. When things are going wonderfully often we can float along in oblivion to the emotion of sadness. We need down days to make us feel vulnerable, to teach us the importance of observing our thoughts.


While it is ok not to be ok, and it is ok to talk about it, there does reach a point where something needs to change. No one can force you to get better before you are ready; it needs to be a choice of your own from within. Keeping things inside serves no purpose other than to eat away at you as your mind talks to itself. It is far better to verbalise the words, to send them out so that they leave your head and maybe make sense before floating off into nothingness.


I know the feeling of deep-rooted sadness, of the hollowness in the chest bigger than a black hole vacuuming the joy from your existence. But I also know the feeling of extreme exuberance, a state of bliss found through thinking positive thoughts. Strengthening the mental state takes time. Be patient with yourself. You are an artwork, and no great artwork was ever completed in one go. Like everything in life, if you want to get better at something, you need to practice. Practice showing yourself some love so that you can share it with others. 

Birralee Hassen