Tom Downie former Greater Western Sydney player, was the guest speaker for our Ambitious Initiative Program 2019.
Speaking candidly on mental health, Tom spoke of his own battle with anxiety.
The following article appears courtesy of The Advocate.
Tom Downie's mission of hope to the Coast
Not only is sharing his own battle with depression and anxiety a form of therapy for Tom Downie, the former Greater Western Sydney ruckman is hopeful he can help others dealing with the same issues by doing so.
The 26-year-old, who retired from the AFL in 2017 to focus on his mental health, will visit Ulverstone on Saturday as part of the Robins' Beyond Blue clash against Devonport.
Downie will assist coach Darren Banham on match day, before speaking at a free mental health awareness forum at the club from 7.30pm.
"I do hope sharing my story helps people that might be suffering to know they are not alone,'' Downie said this week.
In life in general there are definitely a lot of hard times that I will have to face, and am facing at the moment, so to have this opportunity really does keep me accountable to keep on fighting and moving forward and keeping positive.
"The reason I love sharing my story is because I found purpose when I was having a really low time after I got a lot of support when I did speak up about feeling low and having anxiety and depression, and that has made me want to make other people aware of that.
"We can all go through our bad times and suffer and it can feel, as I experienced only briefly, that there is no reason to look up and look to the future, but I realised that certainly wasn't the case when I became more open about what I was going through.
"Part of this for me is a therapy, but the sense of the connection about the way people can come together from making each other vulnerable and sharing not so great experiences, that is pretty powerful and can help a lot of people.
"In life in general there are definitely a lot of hard times that I will have to face, and am facing at the moment, so to have this opportunity really does keep me accountable to keep on fighting and moving forward and keeping positive."
Downie, who played nine games for the Giants, will visit the Coast the week after two AFL players, Collingwood's Dayne Beams and North Melbourne's Aaron Hall, took indefinite leave from their clubs for mental health reasons.
Beams then followed up with an Instagram post which opened up about the fact he is a "broken man", a moment Downie said was "quite amazing" and hoped would be a "game changer" when it came to people being able to open up about their own problems.
We can all go through our bad times and suffer and it can feel, as I experienced only briefly, that there is no reason to look up and look to the future, but I realised that certainly wasn't the case when I became more open about what I was going through.
"Initially you feel sad when you hear that (about Beams and Hall), but then you realise it is great that there is more support for these guys than there once was,'' Downie said.
"I feel there is more people that do want to talk about it and help people with their mental health, which is a big change, but we still have a long way to go with being proactive with this.
"Creating new language in how we talk about it, as mental health is something that can be quite scary and people shy away from that unless they are directly impacted, is also something we can look at."
Downie has returned to football, playing with Old Scotch in Melbourne, saying it has helped him rediscover why he first started playing the game at a level that contains much less stress and commitment.
Ulverstone vice-president Andrew Leary said mental health awareness was too important to ignore, and the club was proud to be hosting its fifth Beyond Blue match, in partnership with the Rotary Club of Ulverstone West.
Previously, Brock McLean, Simon Hogan, James Podsiadly and Troy Luff have featured in the match in one way or another.
If you or someone you know needs help contact beyondblue on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline on 131114.
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