When I look back on my journey through life with mental illness there are things that still shock me. There are also things I’m really proud of – like anyone looking back on their life. That’s the things about living with mental illness – it’s just a part of life.
This is my journey…
36 years ago I came into this life.
30 years ago I got into my first fight at school.
26 years ago I started at a new school.
26 years ago I fell in love with a game called Football.
25 years ago I was still getting into fights at school.
22 years ago anxiety became a part of my life…
18 years ago depression wanted to take over my life…
12 years ago my dream was taken away from me – my AFL career was over.
12 years ago I made a wrong choice – I tried drugs for the first time.
11 years ago I don’t really remember.
10 years ago I still don’t remember.
9 years ago is still a blur. What I do remember is taking a cocktail of drugs that should have killed me.
8 years ago I lost my will to dream…
7 years ago fate turned and smiled on me and I met my wife…
6 years ago I dislocated my knee, rupturing the tendon right off the bone. I also contracted a mysterious blood virus. This saw me in hospital with emergency surgery to save my leg.
6 years ago I was scared to go to sleep, because I didn’t want to wake up the next day.
6 years ago I didn’t want to wake up, because I didn’t want to see the light of day.
At this time I found myself on top of a roof contemplating jumping off. I wanted to end the misery and pain that was raging inside my head.
I remember looking in the mirror and the scariest thing happened – I didn’t recognise who was looking back at me.
5 years ago I had my first conversation with my wife. I told her that I needed help.
From this first step, I started on my pathway forward. I went cold turkey on the substances that numbed my pain – I haven’t touched a substance since.
I also had a dream of having 100 people walk to raise awareness for Mental Health. That dream built into a bigger dream of starting up a charity that tackled youth mental health concerns…
4 years ago Love Me Love You was born.
3 years ago I got married to the girl of my dreams…
3 years ago I walked from Sydney to Melbourne to raise awareness for youth mental health. This was the first Love Me Love You March with Me.
2 years months ago I walked around Port Phillip Bay on the second Love Me Love You March with Me.
18 months ago I became a parent…
Today, I get to be a dad to my beautiful little boy.
Today, I live my life understanding the challenges of my personal mental illness. I live my life acknowledging my triggers for happiness. I can look at myself in the mirror and respect the man that looks back at me.
Now, I live for today and make sure that I will always have my tomorrow.
And tomorrow – who knows…
My life to today has been quite the journey. As you can see above, there are many things that I remember as negative chapters of my life. That’s what happens when you live with a mental illness for majority of your life – you attach yourself to the negative and miss all of the great things in life.
My journey to strength and power is ongoing. What I took for granted before, I now hold onto with both hands. I make sure that I treasure the moments. It’s hard to do but I try – we’re always looking to the future rather than being in the moment, but I try.
Everyday we have 100’s of moments, actions, meetings – at the time we don’t know how these will effect our lives. But I try to look for the positive now, rather than the negative.