Last month, things became “all too much” for Lucy Gallagher. The farmer and registered nurse found herself dialling a mental health crisis service, sobbing to the stranger on the other end.
Her breakdown came from little things; the washing, a shower. But beneath it was something far bigger.
It’s a crisis that’s currently gripping 97 per cent of NSW, along with large swathes of Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.
In a Facebook post that’s reached thousands, the mother of two, who lives on a property near the rural NSW town of Tamworth, described what unfolded that September day.
The morning had been spent adapting to scuppered plans. There were phone calls, paperwork, washing, a fence to be fixed, troughs to be cleaned. The afternoon was for feeding and watering the animals — chickens, lambs, horses and calves — with fast-dwindling supplies.
“While [I] was thinking, how the hell are we going to keep going, the dust blew in from the West, and half the washing [I]’d done flew off the clothesline and landed on the ground where there used to be grass but now there’s just dirt,” Lucy wrote.
“I was tired. After everyone else had their bath or shower, it was my turn. And being tired with a head full of dust, I felt like taking a shower.
“That’s when we ran out of water.
“I hugged the towel around me and I cried myself to sleep.”
Listen: What two girls from farming families want you to know about the drought. Post continues after podcast.