Jake, 18, has battled mental health issues since his early teens. When anxiety and depression overshadowed his life, he discovered his love of music and song writing helped boost his recovery.
“Mental illness can cause great distress for the sufferer, as well as for the people around them,” Jake said. “It’s important to raise awareness and let people know they’re not in the fight alone.
“From personal experience, when I developed anxiety and depression, I closed myself off. Not only did I become distant, but others became distant from me. People thought ‘moody teen’ and didn’t understand why I was like that. Previously, I was a very cheerful person. Other times, I would be in this dark place that no one knew how to navigate.
“People mistakenly believe depression is being sad 24/7, but it’s not. People can hide it very easily, but deep down it’s like ‘I’m depressed, help me’.
“It has not only affected me, but also my mum, which hurt the most. I could see that she didn’t know what to do.”
At 13, Jake felt overwhelmingly sad and tired all the time, missing a lot of school. Then, his love of music saw him try music therapy sessions at Children’s Health Queensland’s Child and Youth Mental Health Service Day Program North, which he credits with helping him to develop better coping strategies.
“My music therapist suggested writing my own songs and it became a great outlet,” Jake said. “Words can’t describe how much I love music. It’s an outlet, a joy, it’s happiness – headphones in, world out!
“Song writing helped me get what I couldn’t say out on paper. I could use it to vent and it became a whole new way to cope and allowed me to share how I was really feeling with my music therapist and my case worker – everything from the pain of being abandoned to loving someone and having your heart broken.”
“Music can really help with mental illness and I’d love to be able to teach other teens that. If you feel bad or sad, you can listen to a certain song and feel better,” he said.
“Mental illness is something I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life, but I know how to fight and I’ll keep fighting.”
Child and Youth Mental Health Service
Youth Beyond Blue