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Phoebe Burgess on her brutal mental health battle and “not being ok”

“It was the starting point to my mental health journey.”

By Maddison Leach
This article discusses anxiety and depression and may be triggering for some readers. If you or someone you know needs assistance, please call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Phoebe Burgess has opened up about her crippling mental health struggle in a refreshingly honest Instagram post for R U OK? Day.
The mum-of-two took to social media to air her battle with anxiety and depression, admitting that she has spent a long time "not being ok."
"I have had to 'be ok'. It wasn't until someone stopped me, forced me to check in with how I was truly 'doing', that I remember the feeling of being able to say… in a choked whisper… no, I'm not ok," she wrote on social media.
"In those moments after, the weight of the world just fell away, the pressure that had been crushing my chest eased just enough for me to take a deep breath in & then break …"

"I had pushed through so much shock, pain, trauma, deep humiliation that I had simply existed, but barely functioning to the point I was shutting down."
Sharing a photo of herself sitting in a garden smiling, Phoebe followed it up with a confronting shot of her lying in a hospital bed.
In the caption, the journalist revealed that the image was captured during her 2018 pregnancy with son William "Billy".
At the time she was struggling immensely with her mental health, writing: "I had stopped engaging, smiling, eating or drinking or sleeping."
"I didn't pass urine for nearly 2 days ... I was 26 weeks pregnant. With my son."
Then things took a scary downward turn when Phoebe suddenly "stopped being able to feel" her unborn son moving in her belly.
Phoebe opened up about her mental health battle during her second pregnancy. (Instagram)
"I remember lying on my left side, holding my belly desperately trying to count the movements … in my mind there weren't enough," she wrote.
"I couldn't feel him. My mind told me I was empty."
She was admitted to hospital and recalls asking the nurses to leave the monitors on her stomach so she could listen to Billy's heartbeat – that's when the photo was snapped.
The mother-of-two went on to say that it was in that moment that she was "forced to check in with [her] mental state" because her son's life depended on it.
It was in September of 2018, just months before Billy was born, that she was first prescribed medication to combat her anxiety and depression, as well as chronic pain.
Opening up about the experience, Phoebe said: "It was the starting point to my mental health journey - being able to check in with my 'ok' barometer helped me cope with what was waiting for me in the years ahead."
"I didn't know then, but my path was only going to get tougher. Acknowledging the signs of fragile or deteriorating mental health early on helped me to be able to build the resilience I needed to survive."
The dedicated mum appeared to be alluding to her "ugly" split from ex-husband NRL player Sam Burgess.
She took their children to live at her parents' Bowral property, where she has nothing but happy memories.
Concluding her Instagram post in the comments section, Phoebe shared an honest message of hope for her followers and others who may be struggling.
"We don't know what's coming for us in life - but I do know you can control only what you can control - and you might be able to control your ability to say, I am not ok," she wrote.
"I accept it is not easy, or a fix, but it might be your start too."
Fans and friends flooded her post with messages of support and thanks, praising the mum-of-two for being so candid about her mental health.
In an age where there is still so much stigma around "not being okay", messages like Phoebe's can start vital conversations around mental health.

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