Starting as a Blue Voices member back in 2009 was the segue to Eddie becoming a Beyond Blue Speaker. At his Speaker induction training, more than 10 years ago, Eddie fondly recalls sitting in a room for the first time in his life with like-minded people talking about their most inner thoughts and discussing mental health issues like they were talking about the footy!
Eddie grew up as a third-generation farmer in WA and after losing his father in his late teens he found himself suddenly with a lot more responsibility, managing the farm on his own. With the added pressure, he first started experiencing issues with his mental health in his twenties, but he became good at masking how he felt and used alcohol as a coping mechanism.
It was only after several hospitalisations after attempting to take his own life and receiving support and treatment that at the age of 45 that Eddie accepted that he had an illness and realised it could be managed.
“I wish that someone came to my town when I was in my twenties and explained what having depression and anxiety was like as I may have begun to recover and learn to manage my mental health so much earlier in life.”
Eddie’s own experiences inspired him to become a Speaker and encourage audiences to seek help early, and not wait years to get help like he did.
When sharing his story, Eddie finds that he can be his own harshest critic. After a speaking event, he likes to debrief with a family member and gain feedback from the event organiser. He thinks the biggest aspect is to not judge himself before or after a presentation and he always makes sure to tell himself that he has done his best and leaves it at that.
Finding what works
Eddie believes that staying well is all about management, and a bit of trial and error - only by finding out what didn’t work for him could he find what does work. Through exercise, proper sleep, medication, counselling, mindfulness, removing alcohol, stopping smoking and reducing his caffeine, Eddie now has many great strategies to manage his mental health daily. Eddie also finds: “Each time I speak I learn a bit more about myself and my journey, but I know in my heart that I am helping someone out there who needs to hear this.”
When Eddie isn’t doing speaking events, renovating his house, or getting away in his new caravan, you’ll find him reading books, especially sci-fi, adventure novels and westerns. He also makes as much time for his three grandchildren as he can, doing school and day-care pick-ups, bike rides and sleepovers!
“It’s hard to have a favourite part of being involved with Beyond Blue, I have always enjoyed it, the people I have met, the professionalism of the staff, the other speakers, just telling people that I am involved is great! The one aspect that is a stand out for me, is knowing I am helping others understand they are not alone, that there is hope, and being involved in something bigger than myself is humbling.”