Alexandra Redlich has a beautiful smile that hides a dark past.
In her own words, Ms Redlich says her life has “been riddled” with sexual assaults. The first when she was just a child in grade 4.
“None of these I ever reported due to fear, self-blame and shame. I genuinely believed that there was something I was doing wrong, that caused this to keep happening to me,” she says.
Unsurprisingly, her experiences have had a profound impact on Ms Redlich’s mental health.
“To begin with effects were small, shame, self-loathing, distrust, pushing loved ones away, sexualised behaviour and alcohol abuse,” she says.
“As the years progressed, the effects became more accentuated. My symptoms included depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, nightmares and insomnia. I began isolating myself, too afraid to leave my house. The symptoms then further worsened to include self-harm, suicidal ideations and a number of suicide attempts.”
Ms Redlich says she wanted to share her story ahead of a mental health awareness concert for the Let’s Talk initiative this weekend. Ms Redlich is a friend of the Fitzgibbon family, who founded Let’s Talk, and hopes she can help break down the stigma often associated with mental health.
In 2016, Ms Redlich finally sought treatment, seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist and starting medications for depression, anxiety and insomnia.
“The medications helped me to be able to quieten my mind and focus enough to be able to commence working on the root cause; the sexual assaults. My medications were changed numerous times, before we found one that was the right fit for me,” she says.
“I realised early on in my treatment that there is no ‘one size fits all’, and that different treatments and medications work differently on each person. So it can take time to find the right fit for you.”
Two years on, she is starting to see the positive effects.
“I’m not fully recovered yet, so the journey continues. But I am now able to see a happier, brighter future.”
She urges others to seek help.
“The journey may be long and you will have good and bad days. But in the long run, the good days will begin to outweigh the bad. There is no shame in having a mental health condition, and we all need a little help from time to time. Remember you are not alone and every life is precious.”
The Let’s Talk mental health awareness concert will be held at Ray Anderson's Music Homestead, 239 Mortlake-Framlingham Road, Mortlake on Saturday. The Mortlake Lions Club is hosting a barbecue from 5pm and music from local artists kicks off at 7pm.
Money raised will go to Let’s Talk, which aims to reduce the stigma around mental illness and encourage people to seek help.
- If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 131 114.