It is amazing what can happen when you start talking to strangers…
We are currently staying at a caravan park whilst we get ready for our event. A family of 5 staying in a caravan park does lead to conversations about us and how long we have been here/where we’re going next. To some this might seem a bit nosy but it has given us lots of opportunities to start the conversations about Mental Health, oh and Paul’s mechanic skills being tapped into by some of the guests!
Last night was no exception. A lady from Germany arrived and was staying in her vehicle behind our unit for just one night. Of course our kids did what kids do – said hello to her, and the next minute they were sitting around her table with their colouring books and talking to her. Kirstine and I were inside cooking tea. There was plenty of food and knowing that there was a guest behind us from Germany, Kirstine (who has lived in Germany a while ago) went over and invited Anna to have tea with us.
It was great to be able to discuss her holiday plans whilst in Australia and listen to her stories about her last trip to Australia (and encounters with large uninvited arachnids in her car!). When we explained what we are doing with our upcoming travels, Anna then described her own battle with depression. She also encountered the stigma that goes hand in hand with the diagnosis – “you have such a good life, why are you so sad?” It was really interesting hearing someone else explain what their journey to healing was like, and encouraging to see that she is back to good health. She also spoke about her mum’s current battle with the Black Dog.
Our conversation then moved back to travel and Anna described some of her scuba diving experiences in the Red Sea, Majorca, Oman & our own Great Barrier Reed. It’s always been a family activity, a positive memory to make with her father. Paul shared some of his own diving stories, gave Anna some tips, and as Kirstine is yet to dive, she was happy to be regaled with stories of underwater adventures 🙂
This morning before she left for her next destination, Wave Rock, Anna made sure she came past and said thanks for last night, for the meal and for the chat.
Aside from being friendly to a young lady travelling on her own, and having wonderful discussions about travel destinations and experiences over a pasta bolognese, yet again we find that the Black Dog has touched others lives, and they were willing to share their story with us. This battle we are trying to fight is the same battle being fought all around the world. This journey can be one to unite and connect those who feel isolated by their illness. We’re reminding everyone to look out for family and friends, it really is OK to not be OK, and there are services available to help them start their own journey back to better mental health. You could be the one to help them take that first step.