[GEOFF] Helping people has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. And so that's what attracted me to medicine.
The world of medicine is very hierarchical, stoic, very competitive.
And keeping pushing on is a trait that's admired and that leads to a perfect storm.
So this is my photo from graduation. I was feeling pretty happy with myself
at the time and happy inside.
When I studied medicine, which is a few decades ago, there was very limited education
about mental health.
At the end of my training to become a specialist, the work stresses were significant
and the hours were significant.
I certainly wasn't sleeping. I'd spend the night worrying or ruminating
about often minor little things.
I'd always loved swimming, but I can remember doing sets in the pool, and I'd sometimes cry when I was swimming.
There were a lot of things going through my mind. I felt worthless.
The darkest stage got the point of not feeling like I was worth living.
My thoughts at that time were that I should have been stronger.
That doctors don't get sick.
I kind of wanted to hide it from my friends, my family
and certainly my colleagues at work.
At that stage, I went to the Beyond Blue website
and looked up the symptoms of depression
and pretty much ticked all the boxes.
And then there was a survey
that you could do online, which I took,
and then it was sent back to me saying,
'You're significantly depressed,
we strongly advise you seek treatment.'
Stopping, resting, starting some medication
and then starting to see a counsellor
was the initial steps to recovery.
And then I developed other strategies
that were my mindfulness.
If I've had a bit of a stressful day,
I might really belt the drums.
If I'm feeling a little bit more chilled
out, I might be a bit more of a jazz drum.
And it's good because it's rhythmic,
and it just keeps me
in this kind of moment of shutting out.
Swimming takes me into this mindful state.
All I'm concentrating on is my stroke,
and it's nice when you can
glide through the water
and feel like you're at one
with the water.
The legacy I want to leave
is a change in the way
we deal with mental health of doctors
and medical students.
And the stigma changing
so that the conversation becomes routine
about someone's mental health issues
and that they can seek help
in a very open way.