FOR Jo Brougham, just checking the mailbox when in the grips of anxiety and depression is a big ask because bumping into a neighbour means putting on a smile.
“It takes a lot of energy to put on a happy face all the time,” she said. “I get exhausted pretending that I’m happy but I prefer to give that impression.”
The 59-year-old Wanneroo resident’s struggle with mental health issues began when she was 12.
Mrs Brougham is sharing her story in support of a drive to deliver vital funds for Lifeline WA.
The Stepping Out of the Shadows campaign aims to raise $1 million to train more volunteers and mentors, answer more calls and save more lives.
“I have days when I won’t go out and get the mail, not because I’m afraid to go out, but because if I see one of my neighbours I’m going to have to get that energy up,” she said. “I’d be inclined to say ‘isn’t a beautiful day’; when I’m like that it’s usually when I’m really bad and I just want to hide away from everyone.”
But Mrs Brougham considers herself lucky.
“I’d had a lot of adversity and things to deal with in my childhood,” she said.
“I’ve come out the other end but at that time I can remember going on medication and really not wanting to be in this world.
“I’ve been able to get myself through times when I have gone to a dark place.”
She said her uncle committed suicide about 40 years ago, leaving behind his two children.
“All I remember is that everyone was worried and concerned about him and he would still come and visit and smile but he did take his life unfortunately,” she said.
“He had two little children who found him and it’s just horrific.
“It’s what happens when they’ve gone; it’s what happens to the families and friends and how they deal with it.”
Mrs Brougham said after trying to manage on her own and avoid medication when she was younger, she now accepts it as treatment like any other illness.
“I don’t like to talk about it because you’re admitting that you’re not coping and then the worst thing is half the time you don’t have a reason,” she said.
“It’s just a feeling that just comes over you and it’s really hard to shake.”
She said the pressure on Lifeline WA was great and hopes people will join the campaign to ensure the help is there.
*Source: emmaTM conducted by Ipsos MediaCT for 12 months ending January – Readers in Last 4 Weeks. Nielsen DRM