by Milly Breward

Are you ok? It is okay to not be okay. It is better to say no, even if you start by saying no only to yourself, than to hide behind a lie.

I am generally a happy person, I have a loving husband, a wonderful family and great friends, but there are times when none of this is enough. Over the years I have found myself wondering how to move forward, work has dragged me down, alcohol has seemed to be a good way to hide, rosters have seen me spending more time alone than I wanted, all of which have found me unhappy and, in some instances, depressed.

So, this is a little note to say that sometimes we can be down but it doesn’t have to define us. Talking about problems and talking about how we feel is so important and more importantly is being present and listening if someone is struggling. Life isn’t always easy and discussing how we feel can help. Just saying the words “I am not okay” can make life a little easier.

Looking back I realise that I have a couple of strategies that have helped me to move past the hard times that I thought I would share.

Work: I have had lots of jobs, and worked in all sorts of companies, and I really haven’t enjoyed some of the jobs. When I have realised that work is the problem, I have taken some time to review my job. I questioned why I needed to work, was I doing work I enjoyed, did I need to stay in the same job or should I start looking for new work. Once I had made the decision to leave what had become an unhappy work environment, I was able to focus my attention to finding new work and preparing to move on. Just making a decision to review my work life improved my outlook.

Rosters: Roxby Downs is all about rosters, days/nights, 2:1 / 2:2, the roster that I found most difficult was when my husband worked 4 weeks on / 1 week off while I was living away. Living together in Roxby has definitely been easier as I see him every night and can catch up to share stories from our days. For each roster we try to review how well it is working and discuss what we can do to make it easier. Talking through concerns is much better than feeling stuck in a roster that is making you unhappy.

Remote living: Roxby Downs can seem very isolating. We live 250km from the nearest big town, 32km from Andamooka and 80km from Woomera. Often work requires us to work alone, here at Arid Recovery many hours are spent in the field working alone. When we first lived in Roxby I found the isolation incredibly difficult. I don’t play sport and we have no children which left me without a support group. When we decided to move back to Roxby 8 years after the first stint, I decided that I had to make an effort if I was going to last. I was lucky in finding work with an incredibly supportive group of people at Arid Recovery and I also found support within the community through volunteering. Roxby Downs has a great community spirit and it survives on the support of volunteers. I have been part of the RoxFM community for three amazing years and it has made a massive difference to making the town less isolating.

Me time: One major step was to give myself permission to take time for myself. As the partner who works less hours, I choose to be the partner who cooks and cleans and generally keep the house running but it took me a long time to realise that I could also take time for myself without feeling guilty. I can plan my day so that I can have a coffee with a friend, read a book, spend some time drawing or doodling or take the canoe out for a paddle on the lake.

Little things: Consider the terminology you use and slowly turn a negative comment into a positive. I found that simply changing how I thought made a huge difference to my mindset. Instead of thinking that I have done nothing all day, I would stop and consider all the things I had done, getting out of bed, showering, making dinner are all achievements that can be rewarded. Another change to mindset is instead of putting my to do list at the start of the month I put it at the end of the current month in my diary, this way I can look forward to my to do list. And the biggest of my little changes is the way I think about mistakes. Sometimes when we are not happy the smallest mistakes can send us into a spiral of failure. I have learnt to rethink errors and I only discuss learning experiences, after all it is only through errors that we learn and it always makes people smile when I walk in and say I have a learning experience I need to discuss. Try it, you will be surprised how much easier it is, no more sleepless nights about talking to the boss about errors.

I hope that by sharing some of my experiences and some of my strategies that you find a strategy that you can use if you find that you are not okay today. I would love for you to consider some of the strategies you are using to help turn your day into an okay day. Some days are hard, but each day the sun rises again and we can have another go at making it a great day.

If you are experiencing difficulties remember you are not alone. Talk with your friends, family, managers or call one of the many organisations available to help. Sometimes sharing your worries can help.