Two inspiring Sunshine Coast sisters have teamed up to share their stories of mental illness and raise funds for ReachOut.
Ashleigh Morris, 29, and her sister Jaine, 30, hope that by speaking openly about their own tough times, they’ll inspire others to talk about what they’re going through and get help. They will also be running the Sunshine Coast Marathon in August and holding a yoga and afternoon tea to raise funds for youth mental health.
The issue of youth mental health is close to Ashleigh and Jaine’s hearts. By the time Ashleigh was 10, she was already experiencing thoughts of suicide. Things soon spiralled and she left school at the age of 14.
‘For a long time I was down and out, didn’t have a place to live, I felt lost, derelict, an outcast,’ Ashleigh said. ‘It was my sister who told me she believed in me and inspired me to apply to uni to do what I love – environmental science.’
‘It took every inch of strength I had to show up and do the pathway course to get in. I went through uni and have been incredibly successful because I found what I loved. I will be forever grateful to the teachers and people who supported me and made me see a new light.’
Ashleigh’s sister Jaine has also gone through her own tough times. Jaine worked hard and played hard as a young adult. ‘I was a party girl but always held respectable positions and was high performing in my job. But in my down times, I turned to alcohol and substance use as a coping mechanism,’ Jaine said.
‘I worked in an isolated community for a few years, became burnt out and being so far away from my family and friends, I turned to substances. I soon found myself on a slippery slope of addiction that I could not get off.
‘I eventually asked my family for help and I entered a residential rehab program here on the Coast. It changed my world. I now feel like I’m finally in a place where I’m starting to collect healthy coping skills and tools to deal with life and realise that I’m not a bad person.
‘I thought I was defective. Turns out I was just unwell.’
Jaine and Ashleigh now want to share their stories to reduce stigma and let people know it’s OK to reach out for help.
‘So many people here to get the point where life is hard, miserable, hopeless, and they feel like taking their own life is the only way out. We have to start talking about it and we want to get people to realise that there is hope at the end of the tunnel,’ Ashleigh said. ‘It’s really concerning that here on the Coast we have one of the highest rates of suicide in the country.’
‘Sometimes all we need is a helping hand and we can be the most incredible human beings.’
Ashleigh and Jaine will run the Sunshine Coast Marathon on 18-20 August 2017. Check out their fundraising page to follow their fundraising progress, find out about their events or show your support with a donation.
Need to talk to someone right now?
Young people can turn to ReachOut.com from anywhere and at any time for free self-help tools, information, and a peer support forum.
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