Before lockdown, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) received about six hundred calls a day. During lockdown this went up to 1,400 calls.
One could say that lockdown worsened the mental health of our country, but maybe it just brought to light something that was there all along.
Last year, it was found that over 17 million South Africans suffer from some mental health issue and yet, it’s still not something we talk about. Here, it’s not socially acceptable to be depressed or have an anxiety disorder. We are scared to be seen as ‘different’ or have people think there’s something wrong with us and so, we stay silent; we carry a weight inside ourselves that can impact every aspect of our lives.
But this doesn’t have to be the case.
As humans, we experience millions of emotions every day. So we’re bound to feel anxious, scared, unsure and even depressed. It’s completely normal but now more than ever, we need to start acting like it is. We need to reach out and talk about what it is we’re feeling. This doesn’t necessarily mean going to a therapist (though sometimes professional help is vital), it can mean talking to a friend or a colleague or even a family member.
It’s not easy, but you have the power to make it easier; to give yourself the life you really want and the kind of mental wellness that will help you create the kind of life you’ve always wanted.
If this pandemic has shown us anything, it’s how strong we are when we’re at our most vulnerable. Let’s carry on living that truth, let’s realise that sometimes, it’s really okay to not be okay. And then let’s help each other through it.
When we’re at our most open; when we let down our walls and let people in, that’s when we’re at our most powerful. Feeling good about ourselves and our lives starts when we can express what's bothering us.
We’ve spent the last six months surviving. Now, let’s thrive.