Often there is a common misconception that you can ‘detect’ whether someone has a mental health condition.
But, many of us put on a positive mask to disguise or hide the pain. EDI Project Officer, Hannah Quade, has battled depression and anxiety for over a decade, yet from her bright disposition, it can be difficult for some to fathom. She says there can be a stigma around mental health and some people may not be understanding, but above all she does not want to burden other people with her troubles.
For Hannah the road to recovery is a constant journey with no “quick fix” solutions, but she has found effective coping mechanisms. “Over time you learn strategies to deal with it. I found it was a combination of things, such as talking to professionals, the right medication and finding a network of people who are going through similar experiences.” Hannah has also discovered a meaningful purpose in life, which motivates her to get up every day – her dog Hallie. “Having Hallie, who relies on me and needs me, gave me a reason to start moving forward again,” she says.
Some days Hannah’s anxiety can engulf her to the point where she has to cancel outings with friends. While some people may find that unreliable, Hannah says her friends are understanding because they know how anxiety can sometimes cripple social experiences.
Working at the Division of Equity Diversity & Inclusion has given Hannah the courage to discuss her mental health with colleagues. “People at EDI are more receptive to differences, so I don’t feel too hesitant in disclosing what I’m going through. This is something I haven’t necessarily felt before.” Hannah now understands what situations trigger her anxiety and actively works to avoid them. “There are good and bad days, but that’s life.”
Everyone’s mental health cases are unique. If you are affected by reading this story or think you might need some help, please talk to your support network, contact a mental health first aid officer at UNSW, or reach out to a support service such as Beyond Blue.