My name is James, I’m 35 years old. I’ve been living alone, in a beautiful regional town in Victoria, Australia since March 2020.
After connecting with friends around the world over the past few months through social media, I noticed a common theme: we are all struggling in some way.
I found myself alone, which has been most uncommon as my profession has allowed me to enjoy communal living arrangements with colleagues and friends for the past few years. Suddenly I didn’t have work, I became depressed and soon got bored of Netflix. I was really out of my depth.
Where I’m living is about 100km out from Melbourne, a city which has endured the most severe lockdown regimes in the country. I truly feel for all my friends and family living in that beautiful city and by comparison, I have enjoyed some reprieve in terms of being able to move around.
That said, I went and spoke to a Doctor about my own Mental Health when I came to terms with the severity of my own mental health struggles. In Australia, we are lucky to have government assistance to seek professional help and I began the process of organising to see a General Practitioner, who was able to refer me to a local Psychologist. This was a relatively smooth process and with consultation between the two professionals, I was advised to begin a combination of cognitive behaviour therapy and pharmaceutical support.
I’m thrilled to report that, in spite of the initial shock of the problem being so severe, the results are proving to be overwhelmingly positive.
In my experience, it’s uncommon for men to speak openly about their mental health struggles but I have decided to, in the hope it might help others.
I set up the My Life In Lockdown project to give friends around the world a chance to share their stories from Lockdown, whilst also raising funds for a Mental Health charity in Victoria, Australia. The increase in the number of Victorians seeking mental health support during 2020 has been STAGGERING and the support available, although enormously beneficial, can definitely be improved. (It took me 7 weeks to get an initial appointment with a Psychiatrist)
I’m well educated, articulate and self-reliant; for anyone who has compounded issues, such as English as a second language, lack of financial options, whatever, I truly feel for them whilst navigating the system.
Since setting up the project I have spoken to many close friends who revealed they also have had their own mental health battles, which I had no idea about. So by speaking openly about my own mental health journey, I hope I have shown people they are not alone in feeling the way they do, and I also hope to encourage others to speak up about their own mental health, because it is nothing to be ashamed of.
Throughout the pandemic in Australia there has been a phrase doing the rounds: we are all in this together. Whilst we might be oceans apart, the sentiment is true; the commonality of our feelings knows no borders and I hope that this little project can touch someone, somewhere, in even the most minor way.
With love, ~James