Monday, 22 March 2021
Last week I had an interesting and enlightening conversation with a woman in my electorate Dr Kate Witteveen, who in the depths of despair in an emotional breakdown, threw in her long-term career as an academic, took herself off for some self-healing and wrote this book: How Being Good Can Be Bad For You. It's a catchy title and a great read. It's about how striving for perfection and high achievement and saying yes to everyone led to her burning out.
The book steps through Kate's journey from rock bottom burnout to a career overhaul, where she is now helping other people with burnout. She has redirected her doctorate in psychology to work as a life coach, where she says many people are presenting to her practice with similar physical and mental health symptoms, trying to be all things to all people and losing themselves in the process, which can be very damaging.
Kate said while there is no blood test or X-ray for burnout, it is a diagnosable condition. It presents as a combination of physical, emotional and psychological symptoms, building over a long period of time. Kate said she was constantly tired, anxious, unwell, found sleep and winding down difficult and was in an adrenaline overload. She said learning how to say no was the hardest habit to train. She wants people to know that self-care is not selfish—I think that's a great line: self-care is not selfish—and that you must learn to take time for yourself to be the best for yourself and for those people around you.
Mental health issues affect approximately one in five Australians every year, and there are experiences like Kate's and different ones too. Not all mental health issues are the same, and many people can recover if they receive support early on.
The Morrison government's total commitment to mental health support is $5.7 billion this year, including funding for critical frontline services and suicide prevention, and the Morrison government is putting more funding into Lifeline, Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline to make sure people can get the services they need. More than four million Australians experience a mental health disorder every year and more than half will be affected at some point in their lifetime, with anxiety disorders forming a large percentage of those—a significant issue and one that needs to be combated.
If you live in my electorate of Petrie and want to take steps to get help, you can visit your local GP. At any age, if you need to take steps to get away from feeling like that hamster running on the wheel, getting nowhere, to improve your mental and emotional wellbeing, speak out and perhaps grab a copy of Dr Kate's book, Why Being Good Can Be Bad For You. It's a great read.