IN the 20 years Lee Dhepnorrarat has lived with bipolar disorder, she has strived to empower others going through similar journeys.
The Rossmoyne life coach helps people struggling with mental illness to get back into the workforce and not let bad days turn into stretches of unemployment.
She said it was time to talk about mental illness.
�I think it�s time, I�m sick of seeing such a negative spin on it � I think it�s detrimental,� she said.
�There is a fear around it (and) too many people are falling through the cracks�
Mrs Dhepnorrarat was diagnosed as bipolar at 19 years old; changes in her life had made her �crack under the pressure� and the then-university student quit her studies and was admitted to hospital.
�I�ve had friends who thrive on that kind of pressure and have gone on to become really successful but for me I went into hospital and it took me a month to get the courage to walk outside,� she said.
Her strength to build a life and community in between depressive lows led her to establish support group Mummy Mentor, and become a group facilitator at Even Keel.
�I made the choice to try empowering people before I had children,� Mrs Dhepnorrarat said.
Living overseas with her husband, she began playgroups with fellow expats to form support far away from home.
�From one friend, we became two�we grew from there and became a family,� she said.
After suffering post-natal depression, Mrs Dhepnorrarat became more determined to start the conversation about mental illness.
�The path it took me on helped me become a more loving mum, to get rid of the hang ups and become more determined,� she said
Later this month, Mrs Dhepnorrarat will draw on her knowledge and experience to help prepare women to return to the work force through seminars in Melville.
She said she would help set goals with people.
n Returning to Work: Helpful Tips and Guidance for Women.
An informal information session is being held on Wednesday, September 23, Civic Centre Conference Room, 10 Almondbury Road, Booragoon from 10.00am -noon.