After the devastation, which still continues for many, and the threat of which, will not reduce until after summer, you may be feeling like you shouldn’t, or can’t, get into a usual routine; that it isn’t right to laugh, to do everyday tasks, to forget about the fires and all of our losses for a while, to go forward with your plans.
You may experience a sense there’s no point, that we can’t recover, even, that all is lost. This is grief, and, is to be expected. You are not alone.
Depending on how close you were/are to a fire in your own home, if you fought fires, or are still fighting, were evacuated, or even live in a severely drought affected area, or one where you see the devastation constantly, you may be experiencing post traumatic stress (PTSD) along with grief. This is to be expected, and, you are not alone.
I have lived with PTSD from events in my life, for many years. I have also experienced depression and live with anxiety. These things are extraordinarily difficult, but can be managed, with help. Getting help is critical.
To help in general, try these things:
1. See your GP for a referral to counselling
2. Contact Beyond Blue Lifeline SANE Australia Kids Helpline
3. Practice deep breathing and mindfulness exercises – try the drop anchor technique, where you regularly stop, take 3-5 deep breaths in and out, then notice 5 things – something you can see, hear, feel, smell and taste. Or mindfulness in your morning routine – slow down and experience fully your morning shower, how the water feels and sounds, the smell of soap, the taste of breakfast.
4. Go somewhere nature is thriving, reminding yourself of what we still have. Walking is wonderful for mental health – practice mindful walking.
5. TURN OFF SOCIAL MEDIA & TV/RADIO. Take a break. Read a fiction book, listen to music, bake a cake, make something, write something, have tea with friends.
6. Don’t use alcohol, drugs, shopping etc to soothe – short-term fix, longer-term problems
7. Participate, connect, share your feelings. Allow your sadness and worry. But also, allow joy, humour, excitement and attention to your life.