South Perth: Esther Foundation youth co-ordinator draws on own experience with depression in role

Carla Evans (left) and Sophie Byrnes at the Esther Cafe, South Perth. Picture: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d481514
Carla Evans (left) and Sophie Byrnes at the Esther Cafe, South Perth. Picture: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d481514

DEPRESSION is a growing issue in today’s society and Esther Foundation youth co-ordinator Sophie Byrnes is no stranger to the darkness it can cause.

At age 12, the South Perth resident started showing signs of severe depression in the form of self-harm.

She said she had no motivation because she thought that she wasn’t good at anything.

“When I was very young I had some terrible things happen to me and I was never in the right frame of mind that I could begin to deal with the issues that arose from that time,” Ms Byrnes said.

“Getting out of bed was impossible and I would go dangerously long periods without eating or sleeping because I hated myself so intensely.

“By the time I had reached age 14 my parents had become so desperate not knowing how to handle my situation that they decided they were going to admit me to a psych ward.”

Upon researching wards, Ms Byrnes’ parents found the Esther Foundation, which supports women to overcome life controlling struggles and issues in a safe and structured environment, and set about arranging an assessment for her.

Esther Foundation youth co-ordinator Sophie Byrnes.

After 16 months, Ms Byrnes graduated from the program and went on study fine arts and drama.

In 2016, she decided to return to Esther, taking a position as youth co-ordinator.

In an effort to spread awareness of depression and its impacts, Ms Byrnes and other Esther participants and staff will share their stories at the foundation’s sixth annual Women’s Morning Tea, held on May 4 at the South Perth Civic Centre.

“I flourished being in a vibrant and loving community among young women that had also been in circumstances as dark as mine, some even darker,” Ms Byrnes said.

“This helped me to realise that I was not on my own and that others did understand.

“That realisation is a legacy I feel obligated to give others, just as it was given to me.”

Tickets are $60 per person.

All fund will go the foundation to support its programs.

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