Warning: This blog discusses mental health conditions and suicide. If this story raises issues for you, help and support is always available at Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 and Lifeline 13 11 14.
By Sophia Hatzis | Digital Content Producer
Coastrek ambassador Georgina Mollison has experienced chronic depression since she was just 14. She wasn’t officially diagnosed until her late teens and when she found out she had depression, it was a time when mental health issues were rarely spoken about. Because of the stigma surrounding mental health issues, many people didn’t know how to react or cope when someone they loved was experiencing depression or anxiety. Georgie says people would literally put their hands up and walk away, not knowing what to say or do.
While depression has followed Georgie for most of her life, she’s also experienced the devastating impact of suicide.
“My best friend took her own life ten years ago, this year. She was my main support during my struggles. She had never experienced depression before and she then very quickly experienced some very severe mental health issues. She was the most strong, intelligent, amazing person,” she says.
“It’s been a real journey to come to terms (with it), and I don’t think you ever do.”
Georgie is now 40, and she’s only recently understood what helps support her mental wellbeing. She has four main strategies when it comes to maintaining her mental health.
Georgie’s loved walking in nature for as long as she can remember. When she was a little girl, she loved climbing trees and exploring national parks around her home town of Adelaide. Georgie has turned her love for nature, and her passion for the outdoors, into a career. She works as a wildlife ecologist so she gets to connect with the environment every day.
Walking in nature has done wonders for her mental wellbeing and it keeps her glowing.
Georgie is a qualified personal trainer, so exercise is a huge part of her everyday life. But she’s not just about burpess and pushups. She’s a hardcore hiker and loves exploring the wilderness with her girlfriends around Adelaide.
As a mum of two young kids with special needs, Georgie knows how hard it can be to prioritise exercise and her own health and wellbeing. But she knows it’s a must to keep herself on track.
“I think as women, we’re very good at looking after everyone else first. And I had to learn the hard way that if I’m not looking after myself, my body and my mental health, I can’t look after anyone else.
“Sometimes it’s the small, opportunistic things that make all the difference. The quick walk around the block because you’ve got a gap between meetings, or the extra set of stairs. Often when I’m really busy, they’re the things I get the most joy from.”
Another huge piece of Georgie’s mental health strategy is friendship. She has a small circle of friends who she trusts and can open up to. She surrounds herself with people who make her sparkle.
“You need to be able to talk. I’ve learnt to surround myself with quality rather than quantity. There are literally only a handful of them. I know that they’re there and I can be honest,” she says.
Georgie’s final coping strategy is being honest, not just with others but with herself.
“If you’re lying to other people, about your mental health or about how you’re feeling, you’re actually lying to yourself a lot of the time. I came to the conclusion only five or six years ago that I was spending so much of my energy pretending I was fine. It’s fantastic to ask for help.”
Georgie wants everyone to remember that it’s okay to not be okay and to seek help quickly because support is available. The support services at Beyond Blue are a great place to start because there are trained mental health professionals who will listen and support you with no judgement. You can find out more about Beyond Blue's support services at https://www.beyondblue.org.au/.
Coastrek ticks all of Georgie’s boxes of fun, friendship, fitness, and purpose. She took on the 60km Coastrek challenge this year as an ambassador, proudly raising funds for Beyond Blue. She walked for her own mental health and to honour her best friend.
“It’s my way of honouring her and saying to people, ‘This disease doesn’t discriminate. It can be the strongest, most intelligent, amazing person'.”
Her message to anyone who wants to take the challenge but is a little bit nervous?
You won’t regret it.
Are you ready to challenge yourself and walk for mental health? Register your interest in next year's EPIC Coastrek events here!