Eddie's mental health story

Eddies story"I grew up in Sydney and started having symptoms of mental illness when I was in Year 9. I was a really sweet, outgoing person, and then I kind of turned into a nasty person. I was super angry at everyone, my mood swings were off the wall, and I didn’t get along with my brother. I would put myself in risky situations and always go out, party and do drugs... I was manic and just not able to stop basically... and my lows were worse than my mania. It was nine days of sitting in a room not doing anything and not talking to anyone.

The first time I thought I should go and see someone was when I had finished school... I was talking to someone online and told them about my suicidal thoughts, and they helped me get into contact with the people I needed to speak to. I started seeing a psychologist and that was really good... I also saw a psychiatrist at Headspace in Camperdown...

My parents had always taken me to Jindabyne for skiing and I loved it. The opportunity came up to become a ski instructor at Smiggins... four months out of each year. It was my escape from Sydney, from the whole mindset... Then I would go back to Sydney, be okay for a bit, and then just lose it.

I moved down to Jindabyne in 2013 full time... You can just go down to the shops and have actual conversations with people because everyone knows you... Everyone’s nice to you, and it’s good to have that environment instead of when I used to live in the city... I had been seeing the same psychologist in Sydney from the very beginning, including when I would come down to Jindabyne during the ski season. I have never found anyone like her because we had such a great rapport.

There was only one available psychologist and I saw her on a mental health plan. We just didn’t click and didn’t connect, and after Medicare and everything was dealt with I had to pay $150. I never saw her again...

"I have seen six GPs while I have been down here. They leave after three months or so."

When I wasn’t seeing a psychologist I talked to my GP, and booked double appointments with her instead, because I could actually talk to her... I have seen six GPs while I have been down here. They leave after three months or so...

I see a psychiatrist over Skype through a service called 'GP to You'. The one I am seeing now is good... There is no psychiatrist in the area except for Canberra. If there was a psychiatrist close then I’d go see them, I prefer face to face. I don’t have solid Internet here, I have to go to the GP’s office... But if it doesn’t work and it keeps dropping out and I have to call over the phone, then it just becomes a waste of time, and it becomes stressful and frustrating...

My GP referred me to a service in Cooma called Personal Helpers and Mentors through the Schizophrenia Fellowship. I’ve been seeing them for about a year...

I’ve had a mental illness assistance dog for two years... He’s been by my side 24/7... He is amazing and he is doing really well with his training. He helps me confidence wise and can tame my reactions to things so that I don’t get as angry with people... I don’t work now... I was not happy with not being able to control my state of mind or my reactions to situations... Since I didn’t work, I didn’t feel I was applying myself in a social space... so now I volunteer with a wildlife rescue group...

I haven’t been to emergency or been in hospital because of my mental illness at all. I had a friend in high school who had bipolar and was in a hospital numerous times. I visited there, and after being there I haven’t wanted to be in a position where that happens... I know I will have panic attacks and things will happen, but it’s just about managing them so I don’t have to end up in hospital. It probably will happen at some stage, but thankfully I’ve been okay so far."

To read Eddie's full story or to download a copy, click here.

*Names and photograph changed to protect privacy. The views and opinions in these stories do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of COORDINARE – South Eastern NSW PHN, and is not advice that is provided, or information that is endorsed, by COORDINARE. COORDINARE is not responsible for negligence or otherwise for any damage however arising from the use of or reliance on the information provided in these stories.