Hi, my name's Tom and I'm a bricklayer. Six years ago I was suffering from depression and a massive drinking problem and I absolutely hit rock bottom. I sought help and got better. This is my story. I probably would have been about 19. I was at uni. It wasn't going too well because, just drinking way too much. Yeah, it wasn't to have fun anymore. It was every day just... And not just a few drinks, like a bottle of bourbon or half a slab. Had a part-time job, wasn't earning a lot of money. Yeah, broke up with girlfriend, big troubles at home. Had no real hobbies. Big one for me was anger issues. That was massive with me, my anger issues and paranoia. I was just so paranoid about, "Oh, what does this person think about me? What are they saying about me?" It consumed me. Really anxious. Zero confidence. Having no confidence was affecting my life, my social life. Getting a job, anything. When you're a young man you don't understand it, you don't get it. I think that was the main reason why I was so frustrated and angry. I was smoking quite a bit of dope and that definitely wasn't a good mix, especially for my paranoia. It's hard to talk with your family about it and they definitely did not notice it because at home I probably... In their minds, it wasn't any different than any sort of teenager would act and I think they thought, "Oh, the drinking, that's just what teenagers are like". I hid how I wasn't feeling so well with the drinking. People didn't ever think... They just thought, "I'm just drinking to have a good time, that's just the way I am", but I definitely was suffering. I felt alone and didn't feel as if I could talk to anyone about it 'cause they wouldn't get it. And because I was in a bit of denial about it I just thought it would go away. It was probably my girlfriend who pointed out, "You really should see someone". At that point, I didn't think that I needed to see a doctor, it was more, "I'll do this for you, not for me". He suggested medication and see a psychologist. So, I took the doctor's advice, but I just went back to my old ways within a few months of seeing the doctor. I just kept pushing it. I was going about a 100 Ks to down a... just like suburban road. I turned a corner and just smashed into a tree, and that was the turning point. That was when I decided, "Nah, I'm doing something about this". I went back to the doctor off my own bat. I didn't need to be pushed into it. He had diagnosed me that, "You've definitely got depression. You have a mental illness". He said, "Look mate, try the medication again. Get into the habit of seeing a psychologist again, and we'll just take baby steps from there". It was really hard at first 'cause I remember within a few days of the accident I was back out drinking. So, it took a while... Even though I was aware, "Yeah, I have depression, I have to take this seriously this time", I still felt like I had to go out and drink. So, it was a real, slow gradual process getting out of that routine. My strategies were definitely getting a hobby and just focusing on that 'cause it gets your mind off drinking and it gives you a reason not to drink. And my things were fitness and health and general wellbeing. And music was definitely a big one for me. It was just this one positive thing I had in my life and it was just more reason to keep going. Part of my recovery was I thought, "Okay, I need a career. I need another thing to focus on". And that was bricklaying.
My current employer, I let him know of my past, not too intimately. He was really cool with it. He totally understood. Being able to tell my employer that and have a positive reaction, it's crucial because you feel comfortable going to work and if you do relapse, or anything like that, you are confident that he will understand and that understanding is so important. My advice to anyone who's going through what I've been through, which is depression, is definitely see a doctor, definitely. I think that was one of the best things I did just because it sort of just got me on that track... It kick-started. It was that little kick that I needed. Don't have to be overly open about it, but it's good to have a few people that you just rely on to talk to. I think that was really important. I had my girlfriend and I think just having that one... You don't have to tell everyone, but just having that one or two people and just getting something you love and you're passionate about. I'm gonna go back to school and get my certificate IV in building and construction which could blossom into bigger and better things. Earlier this year I won an award for Bricklaying Apprentice of the Year for the state. And for me, that was my thing, like I beat it, that's my thing.
It's not about being the best bricklayer or anything like that, about that, it was overcoming the obstacle by getting over my depression.
That's what it was.