Life has its up and downs. Every person struggles at some point and it’s important to remember the power of simply checking in, and asking how friends and family are doing.
‘R U OK Day?’ takes places annually, recognising that not every person is OK all time. Medibank telehealth triage nurse, Angela Perry, shares her darkest moments as a reminder of why it’s crucial to ask someone if they are OK.
In 2011 Angela’s world was turned upside down. During her pregnancy, she experienced a placental abruption, leading to the traumatic birth of her son Noah. He survived for six days. Angela says what initially started as grief, soon spiralled into a deep depression.
“There was an acceptance from me and those around me, that I was going through the grieving process. It wasn’t until about six months after Noah’s death, when I realised things were actually getting worse instead of improving,” she says.
“Some days, getting out of bed was all I could do.”
Angela, right, with friend Karen who was by her side through the hard times.
During this time, Angela says she was torn between craving company and not wanting to be around people.
“There was always guilt that I was affecting the people around me in a negative way. I felt like an empty shell.”
According to Angela, hitting rock-bottom presented thoughts about fixing herself. The problem was she didn’t know how, which added to the pressure of an already difficult time. Angela is open to admitting she had suicidal thoughts, and that this was the wake-up call she needed.
“It was a catalyst for me, changing the way I thought and how I saw life. I had an epiphany one evening when I was sitting at home, looking at the door like I was waiting for someone to save me. It was only then I realised the person I was waiting for was myself.”
This moment led Angela to call a psychiatrist, as well as have conversations with family and friends. They’d been there throughout her struggles, and had continued to reach out during her darkest times, especially her brother Steven.
According to Angela, simply asking ‘are you OK?’ could potentially save someone’s life, adding that sometimes a person just needs to be listened to, and not given advice or answers. It’s reassuring to be reminded you’re not alone.
Despite more openness surrounding mental health, a stigma still exists. Angela says it’s important to reach out and ask people if they’re OK because so many are suffering in silence. ‘Are you ok?’ has the potential to prevent a person from giving up on their life.
She says being a part of Medibank has been a constant positive. From the beginning of her career with the company until now, Medibank has been a strong support and source of understanding when it comes to the hard moments in life.
“When I was first offered a job in 2012, the recruitment team told me that one of the reasons I was successful was because I was open and honest about my journey. That was amazing. The flexibility is incredible. My colleagues are extremely understanding and go above and beyond if there’s anything I need. And I know this extent of support isn’t limited to myself.”
Angela with another one of her strongest source of support, Rebecca.
As a telehealth triage nurse with Medibank, Angela has the opportunity to offer support and assistance to those who need it.
“I feel that my personal experience and knowledge is beneficial in that I can provide callers with education and a compassionate ear. I know it’s what I needed and still do at times.”
Today, Angela finds herself in a healthier mindset and living a more positive life. She says if she could face her past now – when she was in a deep struggle, sitting at the bottom of a well looking up at the sky and waiting to be saved – she would tell herself everything will be ok.
“I thought my life was going to be miserable forever or I might end it, but it is possible to feel good again. It’s alright to give yourself permission to feel better about yourself again.”