Kiwi singer-songwriter and mental health advocate Julia Grace has revealed how three candid conversations helped her realise she needed to seek help.
In an interview for the latest episode of rova podcast Grey Areas, the author of Be Kind to Your Mind told host Petra Bagust how she thought “things were looking up” again after two painful and abrupt relationship break-ups.
But that facade came crashing down when key people had tough conversations with her that made her realise she was mentally in a poor place.
“The first was my beautiful daughter, Bella. I remember her saying to me, ‘Mum, it's like you're not even here’, and at the time I reacted badly to that,” Julia Grace recalled.
“But I remember stepping out of it and going, ‘Oh my gosh, she knows you so well and she's recognising there's a part of Julia that is just not showing up. It wasn't actually judgemental, it was incredibly insightful, but I just didn't want to hear it.”
The second person was someone Julia jokingly refers to as a “very rude friend”, who had dealt with his own mental health journey. She says he ignored all the standard social cues and told her point-blank that she didn’t seem well and should see a doctor.
“I remember thinking I was faking it so well – I turned up to coffee with a great outfit on, I was wearing my bright colours. And he looked way past that and said, ‘No, something's wrong.’”
“And then the trigger moment was when I went to see my accountant. She's probably seen me once a year for about 15 years, and I walked in and she goes, ‘You’re not your normal self’. With the greatest of respect, accountants are not generally known for noticing that sort of thing.
“SO I WAS LIKE, I NEED TO START LISTENING, BECAUSE NOT ONLY ARE MY FAMILY AND MY FRIENDS NOTICING, PEOPLE WHO DON'T EVEN SEE ME VERY OFTEN ARE LITERALLY LOOKING AT ME AND GOING ‘SOMETHING'S WRONG’.”
Julia says these conversations prompted her to go to the doctor, which led her to start taking antidepressants and start new habits that have sustained her and allowed her to take greater control over her mental wellbeing.
“The doctor was such a beautiful voice in that moment… He said to me, ‘Look, if you'd come in here for high blood pressure or diabetes, there'd be no stigma or embarrassment.’
‘You're dealing with depression and anxiety – there’s no stigma or embarrassment, and zero judgement for taking medication.’ It was such a life-giving voice, and it's one that I have really tried to make sure I amplify in my work.”