Please be aware that Speaker Spotlight stories often share experiences related to anxiety, depression and/or suicide. If needed, we encourage you to reach out to your available supports such as family, friends or support services like Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
NSW-based Ben Farinazzo is one of our most recent recruits in the Speakers Program. In his spare time, you’ll find him training with mates at the gym, art and painting, horse riding, skiing, and listening to audiobooks whilst in the garden. Ben’s other passion is rowing, and he represented Australia in indoor rowing and powerlifting at the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 - winning two gold medals!
Beyond Blue played a role in Ben’s mental health journey and recovery. He decided to apply to become a Speaker so he could return his support, help strengthen the national conversation about mental health and connect with the community.
Ben’s mental health journey started after returning home after serving for the Australia Army in East Timor. Back in the early 2000s, when conversations around mental health weren’t as normalised, Ben felt he needed to hide how he was feeling, forcing him to face an internal battle.
It wasn’t until 2012 when he was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and depression, after living with symptoms for over a decade.
“Fortunately, I was surrounded by a caring wife, loving family and tremendous professional support. Together with their help, I learnt to better manage my mental health.”
Managing his mental health was a journey in itself, and Ben soon realised that what worked for others didn’t always work for him.
He started with learning to accept his diagnosis and started making changes to his lifestyle. The first step of his recovery was to focus on his basic needs - sleep, nutrition and exercise. Then eventually he was able to focus on the things that fulfill him and bring him joy and purpose such as his family and remaining connected with a beautiful community of inspiring people and charity organisations across Australia.
He started with learning to accept his diagnosis and started making changes to his lifestyle. The first step of his recovery was to focus on his basic needs - sleep, nutrition and exercise. Then eventually he was able to focus on the things that fulfill him and bring him joy and purpose.
As a proud Australian with Italian and Aboriginal heritage, Ben found exploring his cultural heritage provided him with a wonderful tool to gain a greater understanding and acceptance of himself, others and the world around him. He also found that his family and remaining connected with a beautiful community of inspiring people and charity organisations across Australia brought him the joy and purpose he needed to continue moving forward.
“I really love connecting with people. I also love knowing that what we are doing is important and provides hope to others. I feel good being part of the ripple effect to reduce stigma around mental health.”
Ben was a part of our late-2022 Speaker’s training. He enjoyed having the opportunity to learn and be a part of a group of people committed to using their experiences to improve the lives of others. He is looking forward to sharing his story for the first time in the community.
The message he hopes the audience will take away is: Just keep going - the sun will continue to rise even after the darkest night.