“I became a Beyond Blue speaker because I wanted to be the voice I couldn’t find when I needed it.”
NSW-based Carina Bates joined the Beyond Blue Speaker Bureau back in early 2018 after recovering from her journey with depression and anxiety. Carina’s relationship with her own mental heath began back in 2008 when, within a short space of time, she became pregnant with her son and her husband was deployed to Afghanistan as part of Australia’s Special Forces Command. She struggled with motherhood, resenting her husband and baby boy – but instead putting on a brave face, not daring to tell anyone how she was feeling because of the stigma around post-natal depression.
“Once I was on the road to recovery, I made a promise to myself that I would talk openly and honestly about my struggles with parenthood and how it impacted the various parts my life, in the hopes that others would hear my story and know they’re not alone.”
Nowadays, Carina has some great self-care strategies in place, such as learning to say no when she needs to and prioritising sleep, to rest and recover from the day-to-day stresses of life. She has learnt to accept that her struggles are part of life and aren’t a fault or a weakness.
Carina likes to share her tips when sharing her story in the community: “As a Beyond Blue Speaker, I often share my strategies for staying well. Every time I revisit those, it’s a prompt for me to reflect. Am I really putting those strategies into play, or have some of them slipped a bit? Being a Speaker helps keep me honest about my own wellbeing.”
Before an event, you’ll find Carina practicing her talk to make sure she can stick to the timeframe and to ensure she’s honed in on the parts of her journey that will resonate most with a particular audience. And, very importantly, getting a good night’s sleep and clearing her schedule so she has the space to be fully present with the people she’s speaking to.
By sharing her story in the community, Carina feels like she is creating a safe haven for others where they can speak up about their own struggles and know that someone hears them. She reflects on one of her favourite moments as a Speaker: a time when she was approached by the emcee after finishing her talk and was told: “you’re my new hero”.
Carina’s advice to other speakers is to: “Tap into the power of storytelling to create connection with your audience… and be kind to yourselves. Sharing your stories takes immense courage. Sharing your vulnerabilities is making you even stronger. Please look after yourselves so you can keep spreading hope!”