Nowadays it’s becoming more and more common to hear people opening up about their mental health and sharing their stories, writes Mikayla-Mae Glover.
Little by little it’s becoming less of a ’taboo’ subject and it’s become apparent that every single person, at some point in their lives, will suffer with poor mental health (of any kind).
Mental health can be affected by health conditions, chemical imbalances, work life, home life, relationships with people and many more factors.
Every single person reacts to situations differently, and that’s the inspiration behind this blog.
Harvest, for most, is now coming to an end after a wet and challenging season. Harvest is always a busy and lively time on any farm.
I have grown up on the family farm accompanying the drivers during corn cart but I’ve never worked a harvest as an operator myself until this year.
Never ever would I have thought how difficult and challenging it can be at times.
The hours, the heat, the pressure and the testing weather all have a part to play in the success of a season.
I’ve always admired those working through harvests as I like my sleep and it was hard to believe that while I’m nodding off, some farmers would have another few hours of work to complete.
When I was given the opportunity to cart corn this summer, I jumped at the chance.
I was ready to push myself and see what it’s really like chasing combines for 16 hours a day! The first week or two were amazing.
There’s definitely a certain feel-good factor about the sun shining, doing what you love and feeling a part of one of the biggest operations of the year.
However, unfortunately for me, the ’feel-good-factor’ soon wore off.
Weeks went by and so did my freedom. Leaving my house at 6:00am, working a full day, driving an hour home again and getting into bed at 1:30am.
It was beginning to heavily take its toll on both my mental and physical health. I was exhausted.
Every journey to and from work was becoming a chore, as well as a worry. I was running on empty and all I could think about was ’how come I’m struggling but no one else around me is’?
I was in such a deep, dark hole in which I was beginning to lose light.
The things which make me happiest in life were becoming a distant memory.
I was living in the same house as my parents, but yet I hadn’t seem them for weeks on end.
I couldn’t see my grandparents or any other family members. With my boyfriend also working harvest it was impossible to visit him and spend some time together.
I wasn’t able to join in with my usual hobbies and life became work.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know I may be starting to sound like a wimp and a whiner but I’m beginning to learn that everybody perceives things differently, and although my experience of corn cart was challenging, for those who have done it for years on end may absolutely love the buzz.
What may be easy for one, could be difficult for another. I had to start listening to my body. It was telling me I was under-nourished, un-cared for and extremely low.
I went from being a confident, bubbly, driven person to a snappy, un-enthusiastic mess.
The change really shook me up, I soon realised something had to give before I lost anymore of my normal self and character.
I ended up in hospital a week or two before work’s harvest was completed. I was rushed into A&E with a pulse rate jumping between 145-160 (normal being 60-100).
I was admitted as an impatient for over a week and it’s safe to say the whole experience shook me up a bunch.
It was made clear to me by consultants that once the bigger health risks had been ruled out, the cause for my sickness was fatigue which had triggered dormant, underlying health issues of mine.
It was explained that my body was putting up a fierce battle trying to fight off the illness and being so exhausted, my body was having to work twice as hard to keep me going.
Now being signed off for a few more weeks, it’s really hit home on the importance of listening to yourself.
I love my job and my passion for agriculture and I will forever continue to give it my all and be as strong as I know I can be.
I know that for anyone, sitting in a tractor cab on their own for days on end, with no real human contact other than a 2-way radio or a hand signal is a very tricky concept to adapt to.
I’ve been an operator for a year now and so I’ve gotten used to my own company, which is a strength you must have when going into farming.
It’s not for the light-hearted and it can take its toll on the strongest of people.
Being stuck with nothing but your own thoughts and the same songs playing on the radio, it’s easy to let your mind wonder.
With the heat blistering, and pressures rising, fallout’s with colleges are almost inevitable. It’s going to happen but you just have to remember everyone’s trying as best as they can, everyone is working for each other and it’s a team effort.
With mental health having such a devastating impact on the agricultural industry it’s time we started drilling together and planting healthier seeds for our own futures.
If the day’s feeling long, and you’re beginning to wear out, TAKE A BREAK!
No matter how busy the day may be, no matter what pressure is upon your shoulders, you must listen to yourself.
Accidents are going to happen if you’re unable to concentrate properly.
Everybody is entitled to a break, and it’s only humane to let yourself rest for such a small part of your day. If you feel yourself going into a negative head space, don’t assume you’re alone with your thoughts.
Speak and don’t be afraid to face your feelings head on.
Remind yourself why you started your job and why you’re so worth the life you’re living!
As farmers we’re doing an amazing job providing for the world on a large scale, it’s time we started to provide ourselves with self-love and comfort.
Check up on your colleagues, friends and family, be sure they’re not losing sight of what’s important in life.
Farming may be deemed a lifestyle to so many of us, but when it weighs heavy, take some time to re-connect with yourself and re-build the passion you have.
Don’t think you’re weaker than anyone else because you’ve not heard of anyone near-to-you struggling.
Our own mind’s are wired ten thousand times differently than any other persons.