Lifestyle

Zac works to keep it real

AWARENESS: Zac Wilcox’s life has been impacted by mental health issues and the Gympie man is fundraising to launch his Keep It Real project - an online tool for people to seek self-help.
AWARENESS: Zac Wilcox’s life has been impacted by mental health issues and the Gympie man is fundraising to launch his Keep It Real project - an online tool for people to seek self-help. Craig Warhurst

AUSTRALIANS find it hard to admit they are doing it tough, adopting the "she'll be right" attitude, but Gympie man Zac Wilcox thinks it is time to start breaking the silence, and stigma, of mental illness.

The Gympie man is working on his Keep It Real project - designed to help people suffering post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

He wants to create an online resource offering self-help, links to counselling service and, importantly, a safe space for people to share their experiences with mental illness and realise they are not alone.

Quite simply, Mr Wilcox believes sometimes the best way to help ourselves is to help others.

Robin Williams' recent death has thrown a spotlight on mental health in recent weeks, but it's what people aren't saying that says it all.

A focus on Williams' career and nostalgia for his achievements has overshadowed the reality of the depression leading to the actor's untimely death.

It's something that hasn't escaped Mr Wilcox's attention. News reports have danced around the depression.

It's not enough and a teaching opportunity is being missed.

"Australia has this attitude of 'no worries, mate', but half the time you cannot keep saying that," he said.

"Things creep up on you and while some people can get away with that outlook, others can't."

Mr Wilcox shared his story with The Gympie Times, hoping his honesty would chip away at the wall of silence sufferers, and society at large, often impose.

The Gympie man was out enjoying a night out in April last year when another man in his group's company turned violent after too many drinks.

Mr Wilcox decided to go home to avoid a heated situation and as he went to get in his car, the intoxicated man kicked the car door, jamming his head between the car and the car door.

"I dropped to the ground and when I got back up, (the other man) was trying to fight me," he said.

"I struggled to get off and a friend restrained him so I could get in the car and leave."

Mr Wilcox went to the Gympie Hospital's Emergency Department and after being sent home, returned against a few days later with fluid leaking from his ear.

He left with painkillers and while the physical injuries subsided, the psychological impact of the unprovoked attack lingered.

What followed was an ongoing struggle with post traumatic stress disorder and bouts of anxiety and depression.

Since revealing plans for his Keep It Real project on Facebook, the response has been largely positive, discounting the usual cheap shots that social media inspires.

Mr Wilcox is using online fundraising website, Go Fund Me, to finance his Keep It Real Project. He has set a goal of $5500 to replace computer equipment and gain online advertising to launch the project.

To watch Mr Wilcox's raw testimonial video announcing the Keep It Real project, visit gofundme.com/bo8hz8

Depression symptoms

Experience a lower than average mood for longer than two weeks

Lose interest in activities that you used to really love

Don't get as much pleasure out of things

Can't concentrate

Have a negative image of yourself

Feel like you don't have any energy

Have feelings of worthlessness or guilt

Have thoughts of self-harm or suicide or thoughts of death

Have feelings of hopelessness and helplessness

Have trouble with your memory.

Symptoms supplied by reachout.com. Anyone with mental health worries is encouraged to seek professional help.

Gympie Times

Topics:  health, mental illness



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