Stacey Norman asks: Are you taking care of you?

Stacey Norman asks: Are you taking care of you?

The 10th of October marked #WorldMentalHealthDay, a day celebrated internationally for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy against social stigma. 

Stacey and J Sbu mental health awareness day check in
East Coast Radio

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It is sad to say but mental health matters are still somewhat discussed in hush hush as if it it is something to be ashamed of. I know for myself in my upbringing, the subject was never discussed in the family home. 

It was not until earlier this year, when the chaos and uncertainty that was caused by the #KZNUnrest was in full swing that I had to catch my breath and have a serious conversation with myself with regards to my mental health.

READ: Stacey talks about her anxiety and mental health in special message for KZN

I have always prided myself as being 'strong' and for most of my life the word 'strong' meant that I had to keep up a front. The front was that 'everything was okay' even when things were not really okay. I am actually very good at this, it has almost been a coping mechanism for me. 

However, what I have learnt is - when you keep things in (bottled up) there will be a time when they spill over and let me tell you, the spillage is always messy and always at the most inconvenient time.

What, in the public breakdowns! 

READ: A mental health check-in with Dr Khanyile

Here is what I have learnt: 

1. It is okay to not be okay 

2. It is okay to stop and pause- when I feel overwhelmed

3. And it is okay to ask for help

Number three has been my most difficult lesson (because, you know, I love to problem solve). The idea of talking to someone about my feelings at first felt strange and like a pointless exercise. I am a very logical person and I know factually what I can do to help me breathe a bit better when my life is feeling a bit chaotic. 

READ: Stacey tearfully opens up during mental health check-in

It also does not help that part of my job is to always be 'on'. Part of my job with J Sbu every weekday is to be an escape for our audience, who they themselves may be going through their own mental health battles. 

Surely, the last thing anyone wants to hear on the radio is a 'Debbie downer- talking about how she is not okay today'. I am happy to say that I have learnt that this is not true. The one or two times that J Sbu and I have been honest with you, our friends, on the wireless have been some of the best radio we have ever done. 

READ: Emotional Breakdowns at work, have you ever had one?

It reminded me of the importance of being human. 

There is still so much to do in raising mental health awareness, particular in a socially and culturally diverse country like ours that is filled with misogynistic and gender-specific beliefs such as: 'men do not cry'. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people with mental health conditions are at higher risk of dying prematurely. Depression is said to be one of the most common mental health illnesses and the leading cause of disability while suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds. 

It's so important to take care of your mental and emotional health during this stressful time and also remember you are never alone. Check in with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group. This is an organisation that offers you support and the best part is that the number is toll free. 

Here are some free therapy sources:

Life line: 086 1322 322

SADAG: 011 234 4837

Suicide Crisis Lifeline: 0800 567 567

Trauma Helpline: 0800 205 026

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