Riverina farmer’s 15 year battle with depression
Read full article and listen to full interview here
8 October 2014
‘I had an ache inside for years that I didn’t understand.’
Sitting inside the home that he once so dreaded entering, Chris Wilson can now talk openly about his descent into depression.
‘It was like a long, slow walk into cold water. You’re up to your neck before you realise you’re in trouble.’
At its worst, Wilson’s depression had him contemplating suicide.
‘I’d be driving along in the ute or laying around at home, and the thought of ending my life actually would bring this sense of calm and a bit of peace within me,’ he says.
‘I never designed a situation like that, but I felt the tantalising effect of relief from this inner pain.’
It was like a long, slow walk into cold water. You’re up to your neck before you realise you’re in trouble.
Living on a farm outside the south-east New South Wales town of Wagga Wagga, Wilson would find himself on the couch for days, slumped in a cycle of watching television he hated and unable to even get up for hours, even to get a drink.
When he was able to step out of his front door, finally seeing natural light would immediately lift him.
‘Just driving around the farm, I’d instantly feel better,’ he says.
‘Then I’d turn around and get to the top of the hill and see that damn house, and it would drive me insane. I hated it.’
Despite his prolonged struggle, Wilson became skilled at hiding his illness from his family.
He recalls the moment his sister first sat him down and he admitted to her that he was suffering depression.
The relief in sharing his burden was quickly tempered by her suggestion they should call a psychologist right there and then.
Wilson made an excuse, stepped outside briefly, walked to his ute and drove away.
‘To confront my issue was to add more stress to my life, and at this stage, I couldn’t handle more stress.’
‘There was no way I could actually contact someone about it, it was just too confronting.’
It took three months before he spoke about the issue again.
This time, his sister locked the doors and windows of his house and insisted that this was the time.
‘It was like I put a white flag up,’ he says.
‘I just can’t do this anymore. I’m buggered. I’ve got to do something about it.’
He recalls randomly flicking through the phone book looking for psychologists. He still doesn’t know why he chose the one he did.
He called the number, spoke to the receptionist and booked in a session.
‘I hung up the phone and turned around to my sister and I started crying.’
‘I said, “you’ve just saved my life.” She really did. I couldn’t cope any longer. I was finished, I was done.’
Now Wilson is prepared to share his story with anyone who asks.
When he’s not harvesting grain or feeding sheep, he spends his time sharing his experience with the Wagga Wagga community in the hope that other men struggling with their mental health will not wait 15 years to ask for help.