Libby Trickett, Queensland Mental Health Ambassador interview

My name’s Libby Trickett and I represented
Australia at three Olympic Games, at Athens, Beijing and London. That feels a little bit like a lifetime ago
now but I’m actually working in a marketing role in a tech company at the moment and also
mother to a one year old daughter called Poppy. Mental health is something that I’m incredibly
passionate about and when this opportunity arose I just wanted to jump at it because
I am so in love with wanting to help people with their mental health, I think it’s such an important issue in our society. I think the biggest thing that I’d like
to achieve through being in this role is giving permission to people to talk about their issues,
to say that it’s ok not to be okay, if we can just talk about it more and give that
opportunity to voice those concerns then I think that will be my job done and and that’s
what I really want to get out of this role. Talking about my story and and my sort of
bouts of of depression and I think people are really surprised, I don’t think that
they image that someone who’s competed at an Olympics or is an elite athlete would experience
things like that. There are a few factors that have sort of
contributed to those really low periods in my swimming career. I’m a perfectionist and so
I place a huge amount of pressure and expectation on myself. I didn’t have any other definition in my
life. I was a swimmer and that’s all that I was
and so when I wasn’t performing that really made me feel really frustrated and really
down about myself. If I wasn’t good at swimming, I wasn’t
any good at anything um so it was very all-encompassing. The main ways that I really overcame those
sort of depressed periods in my life was communication so, you know, with my loved ones, my family,
my husband Luke, to have a really open dialogue with him is really important. I needed to see a psychologist, that was
has always been a big thing throughout my swimming career and then also now I continue
to see a psychologist, it’s almost like seeing the doctor just to get a check up and
make sure I’m on the right track. There are a number of challenges that I
face in transitioning to the corporate world. I had never worked in an office before
so how to function within an office, how to relate to other people, how to engage
with other people, how to ask for help because I didn’t know exactly what I
was doing so I had to constantly ask questions, I had to constantly be vulnerable
so that was big blow to the ego ahaha, especially coming from, you know, swimming where I was
really successful, you know I was the best in the world at one point, you know at
the age of 23 and then all of a sudden I’m starting in a corporate environment where
I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, so that was really challenging for me. I think through my experience in moving into
the corporate world you realise how much burnout there is, you know, how how many hours
people are working and you’re constantly connected and you’re constantly answering
work emails no matter what time of night. One thing as an athlete that I learnt is that
you need to switch off, you need your body to recover but I don’t think that goes into
the workplace so much so you know I would really encourage employers to know the
signs of mental health issues, to to see their employees as people, you know, to make sure
they are taking care of those people because I guarantee you if you’re looking after
the individual then I think that’s just going to benefit not only the business which
is obviously really important but the individual because that’s that’s the core of of business
and of companies as well. Meditation and exercise for me is is a really
crucial part of my mental health but I know that getting good quality sleep and making
sure that I am putting good nutrition into my body massively impacts how I feel mentally
as well. I think when I am feeling good physically,
so you are not tired, you you are not run down and you are feeding yourself really
well, that’s when I feel my best. Change is hard for anyone, but it’s understanding
those pressure points, or those stresses that can really affect your mental health
and and trying to put into place some processes for you that work for you and make sure that
you stay happy, healthy. Transitioning into the corporate world
was a big challenge for me. Transitioning to life as a mother was
a whole nother level. I personally have experienced depression
and those low periods in my life but probably even more so I have seen it within
my family, everything from depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, schizophrenia
and obsessive compulsive disorder, so a very broad spectrum of mental health issues that
I have sort of seen from probably twelve years of age. Seeing those experiences of my family has
been a really great tool for me to learn about my own self and and making sure that I am
taking those precautions and making sure I am putting things into place to make sure
that I take care of my mental health. Growing up in North Queensland, I really
saw a lot of mental health issues ‘cause I think in those rural communities
it’s still very taboo and it’s still kind of that almost macho feel to it
where you just kind of have to dig in and get on with it and unfortunately you see far
too many people in those communities go so far with their mental health and go down
such a spiral that it ends in suicide, and we are losing so many Australians that just
shouldn’t be lost and so many families are impacted by that devastating, those devastating
circumstances so I hope that, particularly in this role, that we are able to sort of
break down those barriers and go well if you are struggling you can talk about it and
it’s it’s you know it doesn’t mean you are soft or you are not dealing with anything,
it just means that this is a challenge that you’re facing and we can get through it
together if we talk about it and especially I think that some people internalise their
thoughts and their stress and their anxiety and then it just stews and and brews inside
them and then it makes a problem bigger than it probably was. There are always options available and and
just because you might be struggling doesn’t mean that you’re alone and it doesn’t
mean that there aren’t options available to help you get through those times.

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