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-An empty bottle or a deep squat-

What is mental illness? In all aspects of the phrase.

No I’m not a doctor, nor am I any kind of trained medical professional. So, who are you might you ask? Well, I’m a winner, I am strong, and I have won the battle. The battle that rages on inside millions of everyday people, The battle that is internally destroying your neighbor, your dads best mate, the soldier walking down the street that has a look of confidence that you have never seen before, the police officer who just drove past going to attend a potentially life threatening situation, The fire fighters and the ambos who run into harms way when we all run to safety, the girl you see on social media who protests constantly how happy she is, and finally your best friend who due to the stigma wont say a word, they will suffer in complete silence until it all becomes to much.

We all know somebody, and a lot of the time that somebody is us. Depression is dark, depression is evil, depression is the monster that lives under our beds, depression does not discriminate nor will it ever play nice. Although depression is all these things and more, I have come to a point in my life were I can thank it, I can thank it because without it, I wouldn’t be anywhere near the person I am today.

So that brings me to me, and why I have decided to write about how I used health and fitness to overcome my own battle with this horrible disease, and why I have chosen to design my career and the rest of my life around helping people achieve that very same control.

I was born in Canberra on the 16/07/1988. Throughout my childhood I was a very active, very fit kid that loved to play any and every sport there was to play, if you were to name a sport I would more than likely have had a go at it, but through my dads love for AFL that’s the sport I would eventually stick with. Footy was good. I was a strong young athlete that could compete at a high level and I loved it, every moment of it. But as the years went on and as I would get better, at the same time I was also getting worse. I like many other kids (my sister included) were being subjected to the gross misconduct that is domestic violence due to alcoholism, and to me this was the beginning of a long journey that would see me spiral out of control. From there, things never ever seemed to get better, my attitude became one that I didn’t care about anything, I was in inner turmoil every waking second, the things I witnessed on a constant basis as a young man had turned me into a monster. As the years went on everything, except my mental state changed, I had nothing, I was going nowhere, and then I discovered alcohol, cigarettes and everything else that accompanies the two. Nothing seemed to get better. And like thousands of others I drank to suppress the illness that was growing inside of me. This went on for years until I decided to join the Army.

At the time my decision was purely based on proving others wrong, people very close to me who would tell me there’s no way I’d be able to make it, and even if I did go I wouldn’t be able to hack it. It’s funny because now that I look back that was the start of me fighting, me fighting for myself, having the desire to prove others wrong, a desire that I needed in spades later down the track to pull the knife away from my heart.

No matter how tough you think you are, how strong you think you are and how confident you portray yourself to be, there is nothing that will humble you quite like sitting on that bus on the way to Kapooka. In that time you are alone with nothing but the headrest in front of you and the 30 other petrified young men and woman who are undoubtedly suffering the same gut wrenching nervousness you are also going through. And it only gets worse when the bus arrives.

The next four years taught me a lot, I had to fend for myself, make new mates, learn things that your average person would never dream of learning in a lifetime, deploy to and spend months on end, in below par living conditions in a 3rd world country, on two separate occasions. Miss out on the biggest mission on the calendar due to injury and the whole time still fighting what seemed to be a losing battle in my mind. Things would only get worse before they got better.

Discharging from the Army was at the time the easiest decision I have ever made. But it quickly became the worst. My behaviour turned increasingly more fragile, fits of anger that would cause me to black out and not remember what happened, all over the smallest of things, severe anxiety started plaguing my mind, and everything I would do became mundane and difficult, things like crowds would send me into a nervous wreck, all the while I was drowning my thoughts at an alarming rate, taking my problems out on the ones that were closest to me, doing the exact thing that I swore I would never do, and that was become the evil I saw when I was growing up. Why do we become the person we always strive not to be? Is it because we waste countless hours thinking about it, that subconsciously that’s who we become? When I think back to all the worst experiences in my life, every single one of them without fail includes alcohol. Me nearly taking my own life Included.

This brings me to the purpose and evidently the name of this Blog “An empty bottle or a deep Squat” when we think about the wording it’s quite simple really, where do we turn when things get tough? When the demons become too much? Do we go for the short term fix that will only compound and make the problem worse? Or do we seek the option that takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and commitment?

For years I chose the first of the two, all the while admitting and knowing that I had a problem, but refusing to help myself, I would train for a few weeks, months at a time then give up, and fall back into the black hole that is depression, this would repeat itself over and over. Until I realized I was losing everyone close to me, no one wanted to know me, I was quickly becoming, if not already “that guy” that guy that nobody wants to know, that person no one wants to be seen with because all they do is carve a path of destruction everywhere they go. I found out very quickly who my closest mates were and along with fitness can credit one of them especially, along with my partner and daughter with effectively saving my life.

With all this being said I can honestly say that throughout everything I’ve been through, fitness has been the light that keeps on shining through, the light that would only ever fade because I would cover it up with my own dark cloud, only to dig it back up when I would decide to try and better myself. Through all the failed attempts all the buried lights and all the digging I have finally arrived at a place that I have committed, I have committed to myself my family, and my mates that through health and fitness I will not go down that path ever again, I have quit all that is negative and will never let it creep back into my life, and I feel amazing. This project has been put together to help others, to make people see the other side, from people who have been there, and know what it takes to change. I’m not perfect, but then again no one is.