I’m sure you’ve heard by now that we’ve been in deep water.  My team and I are safe but shaken, both from our own experience of the flood and from bearing witness to the experiences of our community. We are definitely the lucky ones with our dry homes and comparatively small collateral damage. But I won’t forget the experience of waking to find my home surrounded by thigh-high water. My inbox pinged telling me my latest Update in Under 30 instalment had been released: Positive Psychology (PP) – it’s likability & its limits Oh the timing.  As I followed the SES guidelines, packing a small backpack with my passport, licence, warm clothes & my external hard-drives, madly filled every container I could find with fresh water (in a flood, clean drinkable water ironically, becomes the scarcest commodity) and popped my dog and my elderly neighbour’s backpacks on a surfboard to cross the road-come-river to evacuate…I thought long and hard about my and everyone else’s mental health.

I found myself thinking: See here, this is a moment NOT suited to positive psychology!
Feel free to laugh, it’s hilarious where my mind goes in a crisis 🤣

But seriously, to focus solely on and emphasise the positives might mean I don’t pay enough attention to the threat and I don’t make choices and take action to ensure the best outcome.   Sometimes focussing on the negatives is not just important, it’s downright essential. So too, with our mental health. As soon as I was huddled with my neighbours in the primary school, in spite of the ongoing rising flood waters, risk and growing uncertainty about our homes and our safety, my stress and anxiety, fear and panic, lessened. Wow – the power of social connection –  we are back of course to a core tenet of PP! Following a bad night on the classroom floor, waking repetitively to look out and assess if the water was rising or falling, we miraculously woke to dry houses we were able to return to, yet devastation all around. Survivor’s guilt, some called it but I called the profound distress that ensued, empathy – simply feeling the ‘human heave’ and heaviness around us.

Our community was without all communication for a week.

Stop for a moment. Take this in.

No phones, no internet, no tv.

The only information you received, was from someone’s mouth, when physically in their company. Someone you go to check on, or bump into on the street or you hear shout out a list of updates (donations needed, volunteer directives), when you walk (no working cars & for many no remaining roads) to our little town’s own DIY Help HQ. Quite the enforced digital detox. What to do when all that is gone? Get physical (mostly mops and heavy lifting), think a lot, including ask yourself a lot of unanswerable questions, & make solemn promises to make good of your life and join the SES asap…and return to reading books. Fortuitously, just pre-flood, I had taken receipt of the seminal textbook in this little video above: Psychiatric Interviewing (3rd edition) by Shawn Shea, thanks to the recommendation of a lovely integrative psychiatrist, who mentioned it in our recent group session. Suddenly, I found myself with some firm footing.  Because I may not be able to hike and canyon out to our stranded community members trapped by landslides, in our surrounding hills, to stabilise their broken bones – but I felt somewhat soothed knowing I could spend some of this time, refining my skills in an area of health that inspires me every day and that calls out for our attention more loudly every minute: Mental Health.

Just before the flood, I’d also finally realised a long-term passion project of mine & released a video for the public in an effort to spread the message further about Mental Health & the role of nutrition.
Oh the timing!
Please share – let’s get the message out there.

For integrative health practitioners and people working in mental health related industries. We encourage you to use this engaging visual presentation to educate your clients by giving them this link. Contact admin@rachelarthur.com.au if you would like to receive a digital copy to add it to your website or other online platforms.

Nutritional Psychiatry

How would nutrition improve your mental health?