Just to simply share the things that have worked in my life living with anxiety and depression.
For you to understand where I am coming from, I am just going to write a brief history of myself. I want you to know that everything I share comes from real experiences in my life. Mental illness has no physical boundary, it is not a solid object and I believe we should talk and share our experiences. I once used to describe my pre-primary classroom as a fish tank where I could immerse the students in learning from all angles and they could take on those things that they are ready for. So I believe it is not up to me to decide what will work and what won’t but just to give you everything I know and leave the rest to you. The following history of me does not include details of my mental history just where I have been and what I have done.
I dropped out of school at 16, I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career so found no reason to stay. No love lost with school friends and I didn’t keep in touch with anyone I went to school with. My main social group at the time was the youth group of the local church our family attended. I got a job as a courier in the inner-city area of Perth on a little scooter I had borrowed, but it was very unreliable and I spent a lot of time pushing it to the repair shop. The only thing I really wanted at this time was to play my guitar and get my motorcycle license. My mother helped me apply for a job in the timber industry which was successful and I moved out of home to a town called Manjimup 3 ½ hour drive from Perth. I worked at a timber processing plant for 2 years and learned a lot about work, timber and myself. I was excited to get my motorcycle license on the day I turned 17and 3 months later was hit by a drunk driver and put into hospital with 2 broken legs. Recovery was swift and within 3 months I was back at work. The timber industry was shutting down and I took a redundancy package and a payout from my accident and set off to ride my motorcycle around Australia at the age of 18.
The ride was amazing and full of stories and learning experiences, but when I ran out of money I went back to Manjimup and was picking apples for a living. When the apple season finished, I got a job cutting cauliflowers with a family business that went very well. One morning while in the freezing cold in a cauliflower patch I decided I wanted more than this $7 per hour job. So, I made plans to move back to the city, finish high school and then enter into tafe to become a childcare worker. Christmas eve that year I was in a second motorcycle accident and broke my right leg and left thumb, I stopped riding motorcycles for quite some time. While I was finishing high school as a mature age student I became friendly with 2 mothers who convinced me that I should be an early childhood teacher as in child care I would just be changing nappies. This worked for me so I entered University and qualified with a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education.
While I was in my final year of university my relationship with my first girlfriend broke down. Broken hearted and very sad for a long time I decided to travel to England when I finished University and teach there for a while. I met a South African school teacher travelling and working there too, we decided to get married and I brought her back home to Perth WA to start a family and a new life together. My first year of marriage was difficult as now I had to be accountable for my moods and my journey with medications and health care professionals started here. We had a reasonable life together for 10 years. We had 2 children, a girl and a boy. When the marriage ended and I could only get visiting rights once a week with my children which over the years has become less and less. I had to leave my job teaching when the marriage ended due to massive conflicts in my mind over not being able to see my own children but still being able to teach a class of other peoples’ children. My depression spiralled out of control and I wound up in hospital for several months.
My brother was running a successful motorcycle riding training school and he took me under his wing and I became a motorcycle instructor. This went well for a while until I got a job at a motorcycle wreckers dismantling wrecks and basically doing whatever the boss told me to. This worked well as my mind was still a mess and just doing what the boss told me was very easy. My relationship with my girlfriend of 2 yrs. broke down here as depression reared its head again and I became numb and unable to be with her even though I still loved her.
My mother had recently died so I moved back into my fathers’ house for some company. I tried some historic motorcycle racing on an old banger I build at the wreckers and found some relief in the adrenalin rush that could provide. I completed a mature age apprenticeship in motorcycle mechanics while I worked at the wreckers which was a 4-year process.
I stopped motorcycle racing when I discovered swing dancing and that was now my number one outlet for feeling my best. I did not get involved in any relationships during this period because I honestly believed that I was incapable of being a partner to anyone. Sunday visits with my children were going well and the both enjoyed spending time with me and seeing their grandfather regularly. As my children got older they stopped coming for visits and I was not in a well enough financial or mental position to fight their mother through the courts again.
At one of my dance classes I met this lady, her name was Kay. After a dance one night she invited me for a coffee. I was explaining to her that I struggle with depression and that I just go dancing as much as I can because it makes me feel well. I explained that I was single because I don’t think anyone would understand the depression and the addiction to swing dancing. Kay explained her situation as almost identical to mine. We have been a couple for 2 1/2 years and our relationship is strong and healthy and we are both very happy. I haven’t seen my children in almost 2 years, not by my choice but through circumstances beyond my control.
I left my job at the wreckers for a new job as service manager at a larger motorcycle dealer ship. The job fitted me well and speaking to customers about their motorcycle repairs and servicing seemed very natural. I was swing dancing 2 or 3 nights a week and had joined a swing dance performance group.
My life now is the best it has ever been. Depression and anxiety are still real and part of my daily life.
I am now working full time on this website.