Michael D

If you asked me 11 years ago if I was ok, I would have looked at you, smiled and politely said yes.

Nobody knew what I was going through. Every time I answered yes, I was hiding my issues and problems from my family and friends. I felt worthless, ashamed, and weak, but also had my own demons inside my head that I thought I could face and fix on my own, but to be totally honest, I needed help.

When I visited the doctor in July, 2008 I was diagnosed with depression. I was 130kg, was in poor physical and mental shape, I was coping with my issues by living an unhealthy lifestyle which included fast food and copious amounts of alcohol.

The sudden death of close family members in the Black Saturday bushfires 2009, increased my drinking habit to five nights a week until the early hours of the morning, which lead to continuous thoughts of suicide and eventually how I could try and take my own life.

The one time I can remember vividly, is I got in my car, drove about 15 minutes from home and lined up the biggest tree I could find at around 215km an hour. At that time I was ready and a very strange feeling came over me. Right before I acted, my parents and brother came into my head, my favourite songs from Blink 182 and Strung Out were playing on the radio and I realised that the pain I was feeling right at that point in time would only be passed onto my family, friends and the small community I was living in if I acted. I hit the brakes, pulled the car over, cried for a few hours and then made my way home as if nothing had happened.

At that moment, I never thought that I would be sharing my story to help stamp out the stigma associated with mental illness. With regular conversations with my loved ones, a healthy diet and exercise, this has helped me stay on top of my own mental and physical health.

The reason I share my story with everyone is so that people who might be struggling with their own personal battles seek the courage and strength like I did, to open up and talk about their problems to a loved one or someone they trust.

What are you doing for your well-being? What are you doing for you? Are you prioritising the things you enjoy?

As hard as it was for me to have that initial conversation, it changed my life by doing so.

Be authentic, be genuine and do everything in your power to be the happiest version of yourself possible.

Remember, no matter how challenging or hard life can get, there is always someone willing to help you. You are never alone.

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