Hidden Voices

I thought the 4 corners report on the need for better mental health care in Mackay was very interesting, though heart-wrenching.  Was it an accurate depiction in your experience in Mackay?

I find thinking about mental health problems so complex. Complex because there are so many causes. Complex because there are so many different kinds of conditions. Complex because there is no simple fix.  Yet though it is complex we need to grapple with the issues.

I hope and pray that the government will continue to work towards better care for those with mental illness in Mackay.  Further I hope that as a new church in Mackay next year, we can provide support and play our part in helping people with mental health on the road to recovery.

3 thoughts on “Hidden Voices

  1. Hi

    As said in the name, I suffer from Depression. I’m a 17 year old girl who had to quit school because I couldn’t cope with the subjects once I became ill.

    While I haven’t had much experience with the hospital in Mackay, I am part of the choir that featured in the show.

    Those of the choir that I know well really echo with what the show said.

    & I can tell you myself, we do not have the psychiatrists in Mackay. I, and many people like me, have been and are sent to Brisbane to see psychiatrists.

    The Mental Illness Fellowship is the only thing I have found that makes me feel like being depressed isn’t so bad. When you go into the choir on a wednesday morning and you sing, you sing hopeful songs, happy songs. Uplifting songs. You go there and you smile, no matter how bad you felt that morning or how long it took you to get the motivation to get out of bed. (Or how many phone calls from the choir instructor to get you on your way. >.< )

    The best thing about that choir, however, is what it's done for my parents. If you've ever been around someone who suffers from depression, you know they can be a handful, particularly when they're really sad, but I don't think my parents really had anyone else who knew what it was like or were going through it, until they met the members of the choir.

    On that particular day, we were at a performance and two of my friends in the choir, two males, were talking to my Mum and my Dad, asking them how I was going, how good a support I must have for being such a good kid, just how good a job they were doing.

    For my Dad, in particular, it seemed to ease his mind a bit. Despite it being in our own family, I guess even my Dad didn't realize how common depression is or how bad it can be.

    My friends in the choir are survivors. They're still struggling, some of their illnesses aren't treatable. Some of the illnesses will never really go away.

    But when they sing, they're happy. When they come together, they're happy.

    I've never left a psychologist, counselor or psychiatrist, feeling the way I feel after choir.

    When I was first sent to Brisbane to see a psychiatrist, I was so disheartened. My first thoughts were 'Oh wow, they can't even deal with me in Mackay, I'm so bad I'm being sent to Brisbane?'. The whole idea hurt me emotionally, and in the months before I was able to even get a booking for the psychiatrist in Brisbane, my depression became worse.

    We don't have the facilities here to take any of us if we're feeling at risk. We don't have enough people here to see you if you need to see someone because you're just sad.

    I have to rely on my friends a lot more than I should, and because of that, I'm really weighing them down. It's hard enough for families to deal with depression in their children or partners.

    Try it being your best friend when you're 16 years old. Or your girlfriend when you're 15.

    The only good thing that comes out of it is that these people then know what it's like and they know that it's not 'contagious' or 'a title for depressing/boring people' they know what it does, what makes it happen, how to deal with it in some instances, and some very unlucky people even learn how to keep someone alive.

    KidsHelpline at night generally takes at least an hour, more often 2-3 before they answer your call.

    I don't know how many psychologists or counselors we have in Mackay, but what I do know is that in my close friends throughout my teenage years, I'd say the depression rate is 1 in 2 or 1 in 2.5 people.

    Of all my friends, by the end of the friendship or even in the beginning of it, nearly every one of them have something which I would recommend they see a counselor about.

    Maybe I just attract emotionally unstable people. But maybe, we really don't have the resources here to see the beginnings of depression, anxiety, or any other form of mental illness, no matter what causes it, let alone the proper testing, treatment courses or even facilities.

    I have known people who have the beginning stages or potential for being abusive.

    They get no help, either.

    My school teachers understand better than some doctors do.

    What people seem to forget, though, is that in the instance of one suicide, it can often set off depression in others.

    Where the health system fails one person, it then has at least two people needing the help it failed to provide the first time around.

    We just don't have what we need in terms of care for mental illness in Mackay.

    Or prevention.

    Or even awareness.

    1. Hey D.O.

      Thanks heaps for your comment and openness about the situation in Mackay and for you personally.

      I think like you say, depression is a big problem and prevalent in our society. Living in Mackay, I can really understand how it would have made you feel worse having to go to Brisbane to get help. And I think you’ve made a good point about the effects of one persons depression (or even suicide) on those who are supporting and helping them.

      It’s great to hear about the positive impact your involvement in the choir has had. Praise God! It makes me think about the advice the Bible gives where it says in Philippians 4:8, ‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.’ Sounds like you must have a pretty dedicated choir instructor!

      Thanks again for your thoughts.

      1. You’re quite welcome.

        & if I’m not honest and open about what depression is for me, how is anyone to learn?

        I hate that there’s such a stigma about it.

        How often do you hear “Oh wow, this person had a heart attack at just 30?!” & how often do you hear people going “Oh, the poor thing has depression. Has for years.” You just don’t hear it. But what’s the difference?

        My depression is from trauma, so I know fully well the effects of someone’s suicide upon family & friends.

        It’s kinda sad to say it, but, yeah, there are & have been times where I’ve wished I wasn’t alive, but I don’t even get the option to kill myself because I know that someone’s gonna find that body & that it’s going to do to them what happened to me. It’s how I got here.

        I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

        People kill themselves because death is easier than facing life. How could anyone want to go through a punishment worse than death? How can people not realize that we don’t need everyone taking a step back and holding their breath, we don’t need people asking if it’s contagious, or even acting like we’re crazy.

        We need acceptance. We need awareness.

        Besides. Some of the most famous people that everyone knows about are famous for their insanity. For their obsessiveness. For their little quirks and, in some cases, lack of social ability which amplified their intelligence, creativity or just plain understanding of the world.

        What kind of a world would we be in if we didn’t like Mozart or Beethoven? If no one realized the true genius of Da Vinci or Einstein? What about Van Gogh?

        How depressing is it that most of the people who have made the best impacts on the world, didn’t get the recognition until they were dead?

        We shun mental illness. We throw it under a rug.

        Then once the evidence is gone, we pull out the masterpieces, we bring out the beauty, and we say that this was done by the best of mankind. The most talented. The most gifted.

        If you did something great in your life, wouldn’t you like someone to tell you so?

        Rather than dying, thinking you’re worthless? (Mainly on Van Gogh here, btw)

        We hide from what we don’t understand.

        & it’s sad, it’s terribly, horribly, unmistakably sad. We need to be more like children, asking a million questions of why until you know enough to accept something.

        It’s why I’m so good at talking to people my age.

        If I don’t tell the people around me, how will they know what it really is? Under the stigma?

        You wouldn’t.

        & nobody asks.

        (Sorry for the massively long post, again. >.< It's hard to stop talking once I've started on something I care about. Haha.)

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