Scott. Daniel, and Anna have shared their stories and were sure there are plenty more stories out there please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if youd like to share your experiences and help reduce the stigma around mental health.
THE OTHER SIDE by Scott
Since the age of 14 I've always battled anxiety and depression.
I have always followed the Bulldogs and i have fond memories going to matches with my family to watch my cousins who played juniors and lower grades for the Dogs. Despite my anxiety and depression the Bulldogs have been my constant.
For as long as I remember I have been a chunky build and copped a lot of flack during school because of this.
Stuck in the mist of depression and at the age of just 34 my weight peaked at 173kg, which did not help.
But there is always another side a light at the end of the tunnel so to speak.
Last year I lost my Mum to breast cancer. She fought all the way to the end and never gave up hope.
My mums strength and experiencing my mums cancer journey with her taught me about life and how fragile it is.
I was deeply affected by the grief of my loss; but then I looked at it and thought it can either kill me OR I can draw on the courage my Mum showed and improve my life and my depression.
12 months later through cycling, diet and hard work I've lost 70kg i feel like a new man. In October, i will be riding in the Chris O'Brien Life House Conquer Cancer ride. 200km over 2 days in honour of my beautiful mum.
My life has completely changed and despite still having depression and anxiety i have learned how to live and cope with it.
In the darkest moments i managed to see the light and draw inspiration from it. Now I want to become a motivator and help others like me, because there is always another side.
TOGETHER.FOREVER by Daniel G.
I became a Country Club member of the Bulldogs in 2009, upgrading to GA membership in 2010 and also signing up my family. We travel down from Maitland for as many games as we can.
I have been a long time sufferer of Depression and Anxiety to the point where I have suffered numerous breakdowns over the past 10 years. My most recent breakdown occurred at work in March 2012 and I have not worked since being certified medically unfit by my doctor. Shortly after I was made redundant by the company I worked for which did not help.
I pretty much withdraw from society when Im at my worst and find that I am too scared to even walk outside my house. I tend to spend days at a time lying in bed having no motivation, drive or reason to get up.
However there is one thing that will get me up and out. Attending Bulldogs games and functions. When I am discussing anything Bulldogs I feel the passion rise up inside me. When I am at a game I can just forget everything that has been going on for a while and be me again. I have to confess that I have missed 3 games in the last 3 years (including the last 2) due to my depression. I feel that I let the boys down when I am not there.
Even when we had no income for a while last year, I made sure that there was enough money to get to the games. Being part of the Bulldogs family, chatting with the boys at members' days, sitting in the stands and cheering them on has helped me so much over the last few years and meant the world to me.
I may seem normal when people look at me or talk to me, but inside is a different story. So many conflicting thoughts go through your head. What are they thinking of me? Am I annoying them? Should I have said that? But the boys are so approachable and get to know your face so that they remember you when they see you. That gives me such a lift and makes me feel even more part of the team.
Throughout my latest layoff I am developing a love for photography and enjoy getting shots of the boys during warm ups (close ups) and action shots during the games. I have recently been passing on copies of my pics to some of the boys and I know that guys like James Graham, Frank Prichard and Sam Perrett appreciate getting the photos. I recently was able to get Josh Morris and Michael Ennis to sign a blown up copy of my photos which I am framing.
This is starting to give me a bit more confidence in life again. When I see my Dr we spend the first 10 mins catching up on all the Bulldogs news, and I know he appreciates the Bulldogs playing a part in my recovery. Each day gets a little easier, but there are days where you lose some of the ground you have made. But for me there will always be a Bulldogs game to watch again, or a game to look forward to attending.
Thank you Bulldogs for helping me through this dark time in my life. I stand by our motto Together, Forever.
ITS TIME TO SPEAK UP by Anna B.
I love footy. Really, really love it.
For 80 minutes a week I enter a bubble, an alternate world where all that matters is 34 tough guys, some dudes in pink, and a funny shaped ball. A world where my grasp of the English language reduces to four-letter words in various combinations. A world where the worst thing that could possibly happen is one of those dudes in pink making a decision I disagree with. Strongly. With four-letter words.
Footy is my escape. Its a place I can take a mental time-out and fall into the highs and lows of a contest slugged out between men at the peak of physical strength and fitness. Because its not about me. Its about my team.
And damn its fun.
Its an escape I need. An escape from anxiety and depression. Yep. I have those. Everyday. In my head and my heart, in my chest and my limbs. Am I ashamed? Nope. Am I weak? Hell no.
I was diagnosed four years ago, although it started long before that. A friend was worried about me and nagged until I caved and paid a visit to my GP. I remember that conversation. Sitting in the chair, shaking and sweating to the point that I could feel it rolling down my legs. Didnt feel great.
But Im glad I did it.
Depression and anxiety is in my blood. Ive seen a close family member struggle with both my entire life. I know my aunties and uncles and cousins have fought their own battles. I even found out my grandfather attempted to take his own life.
And Ive had bad stuff happen. Stuff I havent been too good at dealing with. I also live with several chronic illnesses thanks to some dud genes, which makes daily life just that little bit tougher.
It wasnt just one or even two of those things. It was all of them coming together, piling up until I got to the point where I just couldnt deal with it anymore.
So I spoke up. I got help. And slowly but surely I began to find my way back to myself. Life isnt perfect and I still have my bad days, but now I know what to do about them.
And now Im speaking up again to share my story. Because depression and anxiety isnt something to be ashamed of. Who decided that anyway? I have words for people with that mentality that I usually reserve for those dudes in pink.
It takes STRENGTH to tell somebody youre not doing ok. It takes STRENGTH to face the world when your head and your heart arent in it. It takes STRENGTH to recognise that despite how you feel, you deserve and can do better. It takes STRENGTH just like those 34 tough guys on the field, to tackle depression and anxiety.
Now its all come full circle. My club, the Bulldogs, is hosting a forum to discuss anxiety and depression. Its time we all start talking about it. 1 in 8 men and 1 in 5 women will suffer from some form of depression or anxiety in their lifetime. If it isnt you, it will be somebody you know.
So come along and lets talk.
Then we can get back to shouting at those dudes in pink.