Sophie Healey tells her story

SPEAKING OUT: Sophie Healey said listening to the stories of others has helped improve her own mental health. Picture: Morgan Hancock
SPEAKING OUT: Sophie Healey said listening to the stories of others has helped improve her own mental health. Picture: Morgan Hancock

SHARING her story is another part of Sophie Healey's journey to good mental health.

Ms Healey, 24, remembers her world crashing down around her.

"I was working full-time dairy farming for two different companies, seven days a week, when I began to have anxiety attacks," Ms Healey said.

"I would be crying constantly when getting the cows in and feeding the calves.

"I would get so anxious that I would become physically sick, but I hid it from the people around me because I blamed myself."

But for Ms Healey, who lives with her parents Timothy and Sherine at Glenfyne, things were to get tougher.

She lost her job, an event that led to the darkest thoughts.  

"I felt grief and heartbreak," Ms Healey said.

"I was exhausted and confused and had no self-worth.

"I decided I wanted to commit suicide to end the pain. I had planned how I would take my life and when I would do it."

While Ms Healey said she has always been close to her family, she had yet to tell them of her depression.

But unbeknown to her father, he was putting in place an event that would change his daughter's live forever.

Timothy Healey and a friend, Trevor Gardiner, had seen the problems mental health was causing in the community and were determined to do what they could about it. The pair organised a Mates Helping Mates event at the Cobden Golf Club.

Guest speakers were former South Warrnambool, North Melbourne and Sydney Swans football star Wayne Schwass and local mental health advocate Jack Kenna. Ms Healey went along, with those closest to her not suspecting the real reason she was attending.

The addresses from Schwass and Kenna were to have a profound effect.

"They told their personal stories of mental illness and recovery and it gave me the strength to tell people I was not feeling okay," she said. 

“I went to my GP who gave me a referral to a psychiatrist, who I began to see once a week and I began taking medication and I started to feel better.”

The road to recovery has had some bumps along the way, but Ms Healey is confident she can continue to improve.

She said her parents have provided unconditional support since finding out about her depression and she draws inspiration from her grandmother Rene.

“I still have my bad days, but I try to think positively because there is always light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

*For help, call Lifeline on 131 114.