How two Beyond Blue speakers dig deep to help others

Finding your voice isn’t always easy, but for Carina and Gavin, Beyond Blue speakers, it’s proven to be a helpful way to explain their mental health and wellbeing journeys. We’re pleased to share their stories.

Everyday hundreds of people share their stories of dealing with anxiety and depression. These conversations are just one of the powerful ways Beyond Blue supports local communities to connect and heal. Whether it’s in person – or online – these talks take place in workplaces, schools, sporting clubs and to community groups.

For Carina and Gavin, the opportunity to help others with their mental health keeps them going.

Having honest conversations

NSW-based Carina Bates joined the Beyond Blue as a speaker in early 2018 after recovering from her journey with depression and anxiety. Carina’s relationship with her own mental heath began back in 2008 when, within a short space of time, she became pregnant with her son and her husband was deployed to Afghanistan as part of Australia’s Special Forces Command.

She struggled with motherhood, resenting her husband and baby boy – but instead putting on a brave face, not daring to tell anyone how she was feeling because of the stigma around post-natal depression.

“Once I was on the road to recovery, I made a promise to myself that I would talk openly and honestly about my struggles with parenthood and how it impacted the various parts my life, in the hopes that others would hear my story and know they’re not alone.”

Nowadays, Carina has some great self-care strategies in place, such as learning to say no when she needs to and prioritising sleep, to rest and recover from the day-to-day stresses of life. She has learnt to accept that her struggles are part of life and aren’t a fault or a weakness.

Carina likes to share her tips when sharing her story in the community: “As a Beyond Blue speaker, I often share my strategies for staying well.  Every time I revisit those, it’s a prompt for me to reflect.  Am I really putting those strategies into play, or have some of them slipped a bit?  Being a speaker helps keep me honest about my own wellbeing.”

By sharing her story in the community, Carina feels like she is creating a safe haven for others where they can speak up about their own struggles and know that someone hears them.

“I became a Beyond Blue speaker because I wanted to be the voice I couldn’t find when I needed it,” Carina says, “sharing your stories takes immense courage.  Sharing your vulnerabilities is making you even stronger.”

 The privilege of sharing stories

Victorian Gavin Thompson has been a Beyond Blue speaker for the past two years.

Gavin has had anxiety since he was a little kid, but he was never officially diagnosed until much later in his teens after he sought help while at university. Later in life, as a young adult, Gavin also started experiencing depression. Luckily, due to his previous experiences with his mental health, he was able to recognise the symptoms and reach out for support.

Back in around 2015, when Gavin was a senior coach at his local cricket club, a (now retired) Beyond Blue speaker shared his story at an event. Gavin and the other players found the speaker’s story to be so relatable, raw, and heartfelt. Gavin was so inspired by the story and the speaker’s bravery that it motivated him to reach out to Beyond Blue to become a speaker himself.

“I’m always heartened when a request to speak comes through. It means people care about their members or their staff or their players. I see it as a privilege to be able to share my story and it’s a great positive I can take out of my journey living with depression and anxiety.”

Gavin manages his mental health by trying to exercise and eat healthily. He is also very conscious of how he may be travelling mentally at any given time and knows when he needs to seek some extra help. 
Beyond Blue provides free information, advice and support to help all people in Australia achieve their best possible mental health. For more information, visit the Beyond Blue website.

Here at Australia Post, we’re proud to support the Beyond Blue Speakers Program so more people can share stories of hope, resilience and recovery to people and places across Australia.