Growing up as a young bloke in regional country Dubbo NSW, and being diagnosed with Manic Depression AKA Bipolar Disorder, from the young age of 18 I found myself on the wrong side of the law numerous times, in and out of the courts and constantly worried about what was going to happen.
I came very close to being locked up for a serious assault on somebody, which really opened my eyes up. I had already been seeing a doctor prior to my altercation as I felt like I didn’t really have purpose in life and not really going anywhere. Lucky for me I had already been seeing a GP about my issues and had been referred to a psychiatrist which allowed me to not be locked up, but had me follow some very strict guidelines dealt by the courts. I was enrolled into a Drug & Alcohol Course and to see a psychiatrist on a fortnightly basis. I was given the ultimatum to follow these instructions until the psychiatrist sees that I am fit to do so, or break the conditions and put behind bars for more than a year.
This was a turning point for me as I had realistically been given a second chance to get my life on track and get the help that I needed. I had huge support from my family but found it hard and was constantly fighting and pushing back and not allowing them to help me, which became a tug of war. As I thought this was my turning point, I continued to live unsettled and tried different medications to get me back on track, however this was a lengthy process of it's own, as it can take months before you start seeing slow progression.
It took over 6-8 months for me to get some normality back in my life with some guidance from family, friends and my psychiatrist, and it was about 9 months before I was passed as fit for society and deemed in a suitable position to be able to continue on my medication and see a psychiatrist every month for regular check ups.
However I didn't learn my lesson and the rollercoaster continued, I felt like I was no longer in the spotlight and being overseen by the court system I was able to do what I wanted. I turned too alcohol and drugs, which is a recipe for disaster for anybody already with instability and a mental illness. I continued down this path for quite sometime and never getting myself better. This was masking the pain that I had inside and was an escape from reality for a short period. After a weekend partying with friends, Monday comes and all the pain starts to becomes unbearable again.
The balance between partying, trying to sustain a normal lifestyle, continuing to go to work and take my medication I was at a plateau and only just getting by. I got to a point where I quit my job, slipped straight through the cracks and back to square one. I stopped my psychiatrist appointments because I didn't want anybodies help, I stopped seeing my friends and shut myself off from my family.
I was no longer employed and continuing on this war path disregarding anybodies input, which I thought they were personal attacks. Continually denying this, I was sheltering myself in my room for days on end not wanting to come to terms with the reality of life. I will never forget the day when I reached out to one of my closest friends and admitted that I needed help and that I was really struggling and couldn’t keep my head above water. It was about 10pm and he came straight to my aid, sat up with me and stayed the night just talking about everything. This was such a relief to sit down and get my emotions off my chest and have someone listen.
This was a turning point for me to get out of my slump and get out of the house to do something for myself. I needed to try and get myself back on track and back into work. I still had a long road ahead, but a week later I had another friend reach out to just come and have a beer with him, so mum dropped me off. Half an hour passed by and my mate still hadn’t turned up. I fell into a really bad slump with so many bad thoughts in my head so had to leave immediately. My friend still hadn’t arrived. I called mum, she knew something was wrong. I burst into tears and asked her to come pick me up. I text my friend that I had to leave but didn’t mention why I was far too embarrassed to tell them the truth. Once mum picked me up I continued to uncontrollably cry and I couldn’t stop, I felt empty and useless. I asked her to take me to the hospital as we were equally concerned for my health at this point.
I went back to the psychiatrist and started a different medication. After about 6 weeks I slowly started feeling a sense of purpose with regular check ups with my GP, my psychiatrist and family and friends checking in. I finally had the motivation to get myself back to work after 3 months of unemployment, which were the rockiest 3 months I had ever been through. Coming out the other side of this was my biggest achievement to date.
Finally getting back into work and finding my feet and a steady pace I rolled along with the punches I would have my good days, bad days and just really bad days. I kept showing up for work which kept me reasonably busy throughout the day to give me little time to sit and think. As the years went by with regular check ups and continual support I was finally heading in the right direction with a positive mindset. However you can help yourself with a positive mindset and it starts with your overall health. At the top of the list is alcohol & drugs. If you remove these out of the equation you remove a lot of toxic energy that they both bring!
After the long fought battle between my illness, alcohol & drugs I made the move from my regional home town of Dubbo NSW to Sydney. I made the big move to better my career and start a new chapter with a positive mindset.
At the age of 21 the move was very daunting at the start as I moved there without any family but with an ex girlfriend. The relationship didn’t last 6 months and I felt as if my world was about to just fall completely back to where I was 3 years prior. However numerous phone calls to family convinced me to stay in Sydney and ride the wave. I struggled to get to work but I wasn’t about to let myself get back into that position that’s one thing I promised myself I wouldn’t let myself get back into that toxic mental state.
At the time I was a Leading Hand at a large landscaping business so I had a very good job I just needed to overcome some adversity and keep a positive mindset. I started networking and talking too friends and met a lot of long term friends that are now fortunately my best mates.
Sydney was my biggest challenge yet and the breakup with my partner from a long term relationship was a good test to me mentally to see how I would handle this. Thankfully I stayed true to myself and continued my journey in Sydney. I decided alongside my GP that after 4-5 years of medication that I would like to tackle all this without any medication. However my challenges kept rolling along as it was quiet an expensive place to live and being my first time out of home I struggled to find places that were affordable and in a good area of Sydney.
Thankfully I stuck it out and landed a good contract for work and also met my amazing wife Aimee. I met her 5 years into living there.
Fast forward to 2020, I am currently living with my wife on the Sunshine Coast, and I continue to work FIFO. If you had of asked me to work away from home whilst being away from family and friends in my earlier days there’s not a chance I would have been able to.
On moving to Sunshine Coast my good friend Dean properly introduced me into fishing, completely different to how I’ve ever been fishing in my prior years. Since being here, I've now owned 2 boats perfectly fit for estuary fishing. I spent every weekend, or week home from work fishing. This is where I finally found my calling, my ideal mental state, my release from everything.
Even though I has already stopped my medication and was in a much better mental state, it doesn't ever completely go away. You find things that make you genuinely happy, whether it's a sport, hobby, reading a book, adventure, camping or fishing. I found fishing to be just that for me. I could come home see my wife and forget about work, then go fishing by myself or with a mate. There's something very calming about being on the water, as if time would almost stand still. I was more focused on catching a fish, and even if I didn’t catch a single thing that day I was just in a great place mentally.
I am loving life working away, coming home to see my wife and friends as well as working on Rise & Find. To me Rise & Find means to Rise up for the day, get out of bed and get active, and to Find what you love outside of work whatever sport, hobby, activity or adventure that may be. The reason behind the business is for me to share my story about Mental Health and engage with the community to be a great Role Model and Mentor and “Bring it to the Surface”.
I have always loved being on the water, and having battled with my own mental health issues, I have seen first hand the benefits of being on the water, outdoor in nature, and having a solid support network.
I am currently completing my Certificate IV in Youth Work, and my vision for Rise and Find is to promote awareness, and provide support to those in the community, to help remove the stigma surrounding mental health.
With a combination of mentoring, support, outdoor events and an amazing team of ambassadors, I hope to help anyone battling with their own mental health issues, and show just how much the open ocean can improve your mood.
Please don't hesitate too reach out if you just need someone to talk to. My door is always open, and I am always up for a chat.