'I still feel terrible almost every day'
DEEP down I knew I was not OK.
As a reporter, mental health was always another 'sensitive topic' I had to be extra careful when writing about. Keeping it positive. Always trying to help.
I got used to present myself as someone who was always OK.
RUOK Day Has always been a personal favourite of mine, given that I have socially met members of the Larkin family who used to live on the Northern Rivers ‒ the late Gavin Larkin was the founder of the not-for-profit, and meeting members of his family gave me personal insight on the purpose and work of the organisation.
I always considered myself a stoic man, someone who could keep on going, no matter what. Somehow I guess I thought that was expected of me, although it was never said to my face.
The first red flag should have gone up almost exactly three years ago, when my mother passed away overseas after a short illness, and I got the news at around 5.30am.
I had had a chance to go see her, and her passing was not a surprise.
Still, that day I went to work.
It was not a normal day and, in hindsight, it was probably as distressing to my colleagues as it was for me.
Being South American, few people believe I could suffer depression, but after an episode in my teen years, and another one after I lost a partner in 2006, I can certainly say the black dog is always lurking around, but I try to keep it at bay.
A while ago, I started to feel palpitations and other symptoms.
I thought I was developing heart issues. Then gastric issues. Then all sorts of issues.
Two years later and after a long number of tests, I can say with a certain amount of certainty that I don't seem to be ill, but I still feel terrible almost every day.
According to my doctor, I should have a mental health check and plan done. He thinks I may suffer severe anxiety.
To my shame, I have heard that before.
I have done those plans and never went through with them. I blamed the cost of the sessions and I put it in the 'maybe later' basket.
Now, after years of knowing I was not OK, I have to face it and admit it.
Am I suicidal? No. I am not.
Could I be if I don't take care of myself? I think I know the answer to that now.
Writing this, 'coming out' if you may call it that, will make me accountable. It will also push me to deal with any sense of shame I may feel about this.
How can I ask people to be honest and tell me their stories every day if I am not willing to do it myself.
Deep down I knew it all this time. I am not OK, but I have a plan now and people around to support me.