POWERFUL MESSAGE: South Burnett man Eddie Sloan is an ambassador for beyondblue and regularly shares his story with depression and anxiety.
POWERFUL MESSAGE: South Burnett man Eddie Sloan is an ambassador for beyondblue and regularly shares his story with depression and anxiety. Contributed

Eddie wants to spread hope to people with a mental illness

SOUTH Burnett man Eddie Sloan wants people with a mental illness to know there is light at the end of the tunnel.

And the disability employment worker speaks from experience.

As a beyondblue ambassador, Eddie shares his mental illness story with people regularly.

"You can move through these things in your life, this the takeaway message from the story," he said.

"Hope is the main emotion you can take away from it."

Running the family farm in Western Australia when he was 18, Eddie said this was where his journey with mental illness started.

"Although it took a long time to manifest and had a long incubation period before making itself properly known," he said.

"I went under the radar for many years before seeking help.

"I would fly into terrible rages, I would curse everybody and anybody and alcohol became a mainstay for me for many years.

"The after-effects would put me into a black mood that would last for days."

It was a friend who noticed Eddie's behaviour and started a conversation.

"This friend told me they had noticed a change in me," he said.

"They said I was not joining in and that I seemed to be avoiding situations and outings that I usually would go to - like the footy.

"I began to describe what I was experiencing, and this friend told me they had experienced similar thoughts and feelings, they had spoken to a GP, and encouraged me to do the same."

A GP diagnosed Eddie with depression.

Eddie sold up and moved across to central Queensland, but continued to battle mental illness.

"I experienced early morning panic attacks. Breathlessness, extreme fear, rocking back and forth, unable to communicate. I'd feel sweaty, and then hot and cold. I avoided people, situations, work and phone calls and was eventually house-bound," he said.

Eddie said his lowest points were in 2008 and 2009, when he was hospitalised for short periods of time.

"My depression seemed so dark, so empty, like someone had pulled all the happiness out of my soul. Everything I did required superhuman strength. I just couldn't see the point of anything," he said.

"They had to carry out a physical treatment for what I always thought was simply a faulty thinking process, but I can now say that depression and anxiety are definitely illnesses that need treatment just like any other illness."

Eddie, a beyondblue speaker since 2010, said he wanted people to know it was okay to talk about mental illness.

"You can hear a pin drop when you're telling the whole story," he said.

"At the end of the day we're talking the human condition, we can all fall victim to it."

Eddie said he spoke up so people could seek help earlier than he did.

"I did it because no one came through my town when I was in my 20s," he said.

"It became a real driving force for me.

"My message to anyone doing it tough is please take the first step - go and see a GP and discuss what's going on. Don't sweep it under the carpet or bury your head in the sand as I did for so long."

Seek help

  • For more information about depression and anxiety, visit www.beyondblue.org.au to talk to a mental health professional, contact the 24/7 beyondblue Support Service on 1300 22 4636. Web chat is also available 3pm til midnight at beyondblue.org.au/getsupport