That Iron Will Travel

Whilst I was living in Melbourne, in 2000, I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) after a traumatic event happened.

The OCD started with me checking things around the house. Initially, it took me two hours to leave for work, but during high-stress times, it could take four hours. I was frightened that something would happen that I would put things in the boot of the car such as the iron before I went to work.

During this time my partner started to wonder why everything was turned off including the DVD recorder that had been programmed to record programs that they wanted to watch later. My response maybe we had a power blackout. This culminated when one day they wanted to iron a shirt and they could not find the iron.

After this, my partner encouraged me to seek medical advice, and a doctor’s appointment was made. This led to me being transferred to a Psychiatrist that specialised in OCD. We undertook cognitive therapy, along with medication, we managed to handle and get better with my OCD tendencies. This wasn’t an easy or quick journey.

We moved to Tasmania, while I managed my OCD any stressful situation flared. Part of my coping strategy was running. In 2019, I had a serious work accident where I injured my right ankle. I was told by the doctor and orthopedic surgeon, I would never run again.

The injury made me feel isolated as I was unable to drive, or get around easily. I didn’t want to be a burden to others. My OCD and depression started taking hold. The voice in my head kept repeating I am a failure and not worthy of anything. The little voice just kept repeating this over and over and over.

I started making plans to end my life.

At this stage, my husband, daughter, and other family members realised I needed help, and encouraged me to seek help. I called Lifeline 13 11 14, then attended the Royal Hobart Hospital Emergency Department. The hospital admitted me as an in-patient for two weeks, where I had the support of counselors, Psychiatrists, and started a course of medication.

As part of my workplace accident, I was assigned a rehabilitation provider. They notified my employer that I had a mental health disorder, with OCD. Previously I hadn’t told anyone at my work, that I suffered from depression or OCD, as it has not affected my work. My employer being advised happened whilst I was working from home and Tasmania had shut down with non-essential employees working from home.

I believe this provided my employer an opportunity to make me redundant. During a zoom meeting with my employer, I was advised my role was no longer needed and I was being made redundant. I feel that being advised of mental health disorder was an opportunity to make my position redundant. How they went about the redundancy and advising me of it was impersonal and didn’t care about the well-being of an employee who had been working in the organisation for seven years. To make matters worse, I had to meet the manager to drop off all work documents and equipment, without a thank you or good luck.

With the loss of my employment, my mental health continued to dive. I felt worthless, a failure, and depression clasped its menace around me. I couldn’t get out of bed and didn’t want to be here anymore. My husband made contact with my doctor, to make sure I went and saw the Psychiatrist to review my medication.

One day my husband wanted me to go to the Emergency Department at the Royal Hobart Hospital, but I didn’t want to go as it scared me. It scared me because of the waiting room, the people in the waiting room, and the noise in the waiting room. My husband, got me to take my medication and then just laid in bed with me until I fell asleep. The next day an urgent phone call was made to my Psychologist and Psychiatrist.

This was the point, that I started to realise that I was not alone on this journey. There are people and organisations, out there that can help. The journey of learning about coping with mental health is ongoing, and through my experience and seeking help have developed strategies to help. Some of my strategies include listening to meditative music, journal writing, bushwalking when my ankles allow. Bushwalking has helped a lot. Recently I have added adult colouring books.

I am not alone in this journey.

So please if you ever feel depressed or suicidal please tell someone or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.