During Mental Health Week, Rocky Bay client Melanie is on a mission to break the silence around mental health issues.
Melanie is one of the 20% of Australians who experience mental illness in any given year, having been diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression in 2008 and with bi-polar disorder in 2014.
“Please don’t suffer in silence,” she said.
“I know it’s hard because you don’t want people to judge you, but you need to share what you are going through and find people who can fight with you, not against you.”
For Melanie, that meant persisting to find a doctor who would listen to her and seeking support from Rocky Bay to find and maintain employment.
“I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t get off the couch and I wasn’t looking after myself. I spent months going to different doctors to be told nothing was wrong, they didn’t know what was wrong, or that I was anorexic,” she said.
“Some people don’t like labels but for me it was a massive relief – I thought I was losing my mind, but then I found out I had a real condition that the doctor could help me address.”
Rocky Bay’s Employment Services program has helped Melanie to find her “perfect job” as a team leader working nightfill at Woolworths. The employment program currently supports hundreds of people with a disability, 41% of who live with a mental health illness.
“When I am not working I feel like a drain on society. Sitting at home gives me more time to stew on things, which starts the cycle and I spiral out of control,” she said.
“(Working) gets me out of the funk, out of the house and meeting people, and gets me out of the cycle of being in my own destructive headspace. Yes, I am bi-polar and have my ups and downs. But I am a hard worker, a good person and I deserve a chance at a good life.”