Bathurst Storyteller: Sharyn Semmens

What does anxiety look like for me? Anxiety is the self-dialogue that manifests itself into the physical. Its feeling hot and flushed, your heart beating out your chest, your muscles feeling weak and your stomach churning. Waking up at 3am to think about things you should have said, how you should have reacted. Having entire conversations in your head and convincing yourself that its not worthwhile doing anyway. Throwing bad words and stock phrases back at yourself, inflicting pain onto yourself,

Like sticking pins in your soul so many times that you feel worthless, useless, worn out and a burden on the world. It is quite hard to take your mind and emotions back to a painful time in your life. Our instinct is to close up tight, put it behind us and move on. It's been more difficult than I originally thought, to cast my mind and feelings back in time, but I can now see how far I have come. The whole experience has actually been somewhat cathartic and has given me perspective. I have opened that door and looked squarely at where I have come from and can now acknowledge the gains I have made. For the TIMBA show, our brief was not to focus so much on what challenges were had, more so to talk about the positives. Where we are today allows us to stand before an audience and give hope and shine a light on mental health recovery. During rehearsals we have listened to the other participant’s stories. I draw strength from their authenticity, their honesty and eloquence. I have found that I unwittingly start to compare my story with theirs and find my own weak and insignificant next to their much greater challenges - but that’s not right. Its not a competition of who is the most affected, after all who really wants that trophy! We are all allowed to feel the feelings we feel (a quote I heard in a B-grade movie – LOL). Like the hashtag says #StorytellingSavesLives. We are all in this together and by speaki

ng out we can somewhat normalise mental health challenges. This means when someone is struggling, they can give themselves permission to reach out for help. Removing the stigma will allow everyone to be more open and less judgemental. Someone can get help earlier before their thoughts turn to despair and suicide, because they feel the world will be a better place without them. It will be a lifelong battle – some days will be easier than others. You may fall over and start to descend into a downward spiral. To know that you can stop it, and that you do have the tools to climb back up from the dark hole in your mind because you’ve done it before...

This is powerful

This is healing

This is possible