Mental Health: Removing the Stigma


March 4, 2020

“When we leave this world, we don’t take our material stuff with us….

“When we leave this world, we don’t take our material stuff with us. Anything we regret, are stressed about or are hurting over, it will be resolved so that we don’t have to take that on to wherever we go.

“All we are going to have left is the love, the good times and the memories so we might as well heal now, enjoy now and make each day count.”

It took the better part of eight years – and a lot of physical and emotional pain – for Rachel Favilla to come to this conclusion about her life.

The Gym Glenelg yoga instructor admits she was living her life wrapped in bubble wrap, focused entirely on achieving the best results possible in all aspects of her life. And some times, that commitment cost her.

When Rachel was 14, she was diagnosed with Autoimmune Hepatitis – a disease where the immune system attacks the live, confusing it for a foreign invader instead of your own tissue.

She spent the next eight years doing whatever she could to fast track the healing process, including eating well, exercising and taking a more holistic approach to her life. But this placed an enormous amount of stress on Rachel.

“During my recovery, I put so much pressure on myself,” Rachel, 22, says.

“I shut down emotionally so I wouldn’t be stressed about what I was going through, I wouldn’t be stressed about every blood test. It helped me to trust that everything was going to be all right, but I think I also shut people out.”

Rachel is sharing her story today as we mark World Mental Health Day, which raises awareness and advocacy for mental health, and aims to boost education.

She hopes her story will shine the light on mental health and encourage people to speak up when they are suffering, as well as regularly practicing gratitude.

Rachel lost her father suddenly earlier this year and says that was a turning point in her battle with mental health.

“Losing Dad recently, it has made me think about everything,” she says. “I was barking up the wrong tree, thinking you had to work really hard to get the results instead of slowing down and enjoying your life.

“I think back and it’s all the times that I have been enjoying my life and having fun was when I had the best results. And I think that was the last piece of the puzzle with my liver healing, that I actually had to get to that stage where I was just letting myself enjoy my life a little bit more, easing up and having less rules. “

Like most of us, Rachel also placed a lot of pressure on herself when writing her first book, ‘Periods, Poo and a Glorious You’.

“I would have the moments where I would be in flow and love it,” she says.

“I would be like ‘this is so exciting and I want to make health fun and humorous’, but then I would step away from it and feel a bit empty.

“We can work hard if it is what we love and it doesn’t feel like work. But if we are working hard and it just feels like work, it’s a slog, that’s not living. If we are surrounded by people but we are not actually with them, we are in our own heads, that’s not living.”

We asked Rachel what her advice is for others going through a similar situation Here is what she has to say:

“Don’t judge yourself. You don’t have to live with this.

“People need to be able to talk about it without being judged. It is important that we are always talking about how we feel and taking the time to practice gratitude.

“If we can all find time to realise what is it that we do when time stops and do as much of that as we can. And realise who it is that we love the most and spend as much time with them as we can. I think that will help, greatly.”

If you need to talk to someone or know someone who is struggling, please contact Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

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