TRIGGER WARNING – this story discusses severe depression, suicidal thoughts but also hope.
Am I useless? The misuse of alcohol and other drugs can have a damaging impact on individuals, families and communities. It is important to get support if you or someone you know needs help to manage a substance use issue.
My story starts with a young man (me) living what is considered a good life.
Loving and caring family.
Competitive sportsman with a lovely girlfriend.
A well-defined career path.
Sociable, mild party animal who enjoyed both a drink and party drug use.
Life’s pressures to perform gradually found me increasing my intake and strength of both alcohol and other drugs.
It was only a year ago, I felt like I was stuck going nowhere in life.
Morbid and depressed, best described my state of body and mind.
I used these substances as an escape from reality which led me down a spiral of depression.
Isolating from friends and family, found me spending my time at work or alone in my room.
Hiding from the real world, from which I was seeking escapism, experiencing signs of depression, anxiety and paranoia.
“The eyes were open, but there was nothing happening behind them”
It is a feeling of not wanting to be in the here and now.
Suicide would solve all my troubles!
And the hurt that I was inflicting on those whom cared for me.
How many ways are there to finish it – an awful lot.
But they all require a total commitment – something I couldn’t muster.
Thank goodness that I didn’t have the courage to go through with any of them.
Today, I am a born-again human.
I came across Complete Health Geelong on Facebook and saw that they had a men’s Mental Health and Fitness support group along with a lot of other co-ed support groups (swimming, walking, social, Martial arts, cooking, Mental Health and disability groups) that I could go to.
Here men can work out together in a safe space, to talk about anything they had going on in life, negative or positive.
To begin with, I wasn’t only sceptical – I was frightened and embarrassed.
How could I tell people how far from grace had I fallen?
How dependent on ‘junk’ things had I become?
Opening up wasn’t an option.
These people were strangers, if I tried to open up, they could use my feelings against me.
Initially, I had one on one sessions with a trained counsellor and PT that also had lived a very colourful life, been through a lot and changed his ways.
The most helpful advice was “Don’t think for one minute that the others in the class were any different – initially”!
That not only gave me confidence, it strengthened my resolve to help myself.
After a couple of sessions with Complete Health I realised I was becoming more confident and prouder of myself.
No, I am not useless!
The interaction of sharing experiences with other like-minded souls gave me the space to open up and have a chat.
It is so relieving to find that I was not alone in my self-pity and mental suffering.
It had begun as a slow and steady spiral from normality to abnormality.
Since that first session one year ago I now no longer use alcohol and drugs as an escape.
I have a healthy work life balance and no longer isolate myself in my room or away from friends & family.
With the courage to start a new career after finishing studying, I’m also studying more and I am in the best physical and mental shape of my life.
And getting better every day,
It’s truly amazing to see all the other members also reaching their goals, finding purpose and meaning, studying, getting fit, getting promoted or even getting employed with Complete Health Geelong as support workers, and group leaders.
Being able to give back to the community, help people with mental and physical disabilities has helped me grow to the person I am now, this is so rewarding!
I am so grateful I found Complete Health Geelong.
Thank you to Troy Koerntjes and his team for helping me overcome my self-inflicted problems.
If you need to talk:
Lifeline: 131114 (24/7)
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Headspace 5222 6690
The Black Dog website have a ‘get help now’ tab (https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/getting-help/emergency) which lists emergency counselling services.
Story written by: John Wooldrage. Photo supplied.