Smile a big ask for Jo

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Be A Lifeline For A Lifeline - By LAU­REN PEDEN

Join Com­mu­nity News­pa­per Group in sup­port­ing the Step­ping Out of the Shad­ows cam­paign to raise $1 mil­lion for Life­line WA. We are en­cour­ag­ing our one mil­lion read­ers* to do­nate $10 each. Visit www.life­linewa.org.au. 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

Ken­nealey Pic­ture: Martin d470020

Jo Brougham.

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