Can you imagine what it’s like to be so anxious you’re admitted to hospital? Struggling to cope. To get through another 24 hours. To stay alive.
Matty’s descent into mental illness was fast, cruel and unrelenting.
Life became an endless treadmill of self-harm, hospital admissions and rehabilitation.
He struggled to cope. To get through another 24 hours. To stay alive.
Sixteen years ago, understanding of mental illness was limited. Prescribing medication and simply controlling the symptoms was commonplace. No one was looking deeper at the problem. So all Matty could do was fight to survive.
Plunged into darkness, Matty tried to take his life more than once.
He was confused, afraid and alone. He didn’t know how to help himself – and there simply wasn’t enough knowledge about mental illness to help him.
Can you imagine Matty’s confusion and fear?
Breakthrough is Australia’s first and only dedicated mental health research foundation. Your support for Breakthrough can help change the past and create a new future free from mental illness.
Right now, one in five Australians has a diagnosed mental health condition. It’s a shocking statistic.
What causes mental illness, how to treat it and how to prevent it from happening are still the big unknowns.
You can help change this.
There are four key ways that your support will help people like Matty:
- Precision research to understand what causes mental illness.
- Early intervention to recognise signs of mental health issues before they turn into mental illness.
- New technologies to help manage mental health issues.
- Next generation therapies that can turn research into practice quickly and effectively.
Matty’s story is one of challenges, failure and triumph. Finding light in the darkness. And Matty is just one of the people who you can help. He is not only an inspiration but a tower of strength.
My name is Matthew Curnow but you can call me Matty.
For the last 16 years, I have battled mental illness. In and out of hospitals. Self-harm, medication, drugs and alcohol.
Today, I’m in a better place. I feel stronger. I still have bad days, dark days. But I understand my illness and I know how to manage it. I can even help others, too.
It shouldn’t have been this hard.
My family tried their best to help, but there was nothing they could do. They watched in agony as I drifted away from them. I pulled away from my friends, my football. I didn’t even know how to explain what was going on with me. I could just sense something was wrong.
In the past, most research has focused on how to treat someone following a diagnosis. But precision research drills into the science of the brain. It looks at what causes mental illness, so we can get closer to stopping it from ever happening.
Matty continues: “I was in and out of hospital between the age of 17 and 19, and in rehab for about 6 months after this. I was drugged up on medication, smoking or drinking. I was put on mood stabilisers, anti-depressants, Valium – things that would control me, but not teach me what was going on.
Every time I thought I had a handle on it, I’d go backwards. The self-harm got worse.
After one really bad cutting incident I had 13 stitches in my arm. I wound up in rehab… but it only made things worse.
A family friend contacted my mum and said, ‘it sounds like Matty has anxiety.’ It was the first time the word had ever been used. She connected me with a psychologist, which was a real turning point for me. She even gave me a diagnosis for my condition – depersonalisation disorder.
Since that day, I have never taken medication.”
Things could have been very different for Matty. If only his friends and family had known the signs of mental health issues.
Early intervention leads to better outcomes and less devastating effects.
With your generous gift, earlier intervention is possible. It will recognise the signs of mental health issues before they turn into mental illness.
“At the age of 31, I rediscovered running. My dad had been a state marathon runner and I’d loved Little Athletics as a kid.
Running has been key to coping with my illness ever since and still drives me to succeed today.
But it was when I was training for a marathon that I had my worst ever experience of depersonalisation disorder.
I remember being in a camp ground, brushing my teeth when suddenly it hit me. I thought I had lost my mind. Thought that was it. I’d been under so much stress that my brain just couldn’t handle it anymore. Depersonalisation took over and lasted for a year and six months – 24/7.”
Tackling and managing mental health issues is a battle. You can help to harness new technologies to find new ways.
Your gift today will help support current tools and technologies. This will help us find the answers we desperately need.
“I reconnected with my wonderful psychologist. She helped me understand what was going on. I was able to get help through work, take time off to cope. My girlfriend, my friends, running and speaking out, all helped reduce my stress and fear. Gradually, I recovered from this horrendous episode.
Imagine if research could help us find out more. Find better treatments and stop this from happening in the first place. Imagine if I didn’t have to be afraid anymore.”
With your help we will be able to translate mental health research into treatment. You’ll help to discover next generation therapies.
Your incredible gift will help create possibility. It will enable more targeted, personal treatments for people with mental illness.
“Today, I feel so much more at peace with my illness. I have reached out to others and spoken out. My online group, Mind the Noise, helps me and helps others to open up about the stigma of mental health.
Not a day goes by where I don’t fight off an anxiety attack. Where life around me doesn’t feel real. It’s exhausting.
But as the days roll on and the years tick over, I’m still fighting.
I go into battle every single day. The odds feel stacked against me. The weight of all my problems crushing me.
My thoughts can scare me at the best of times, but I grow. I learn. I change.”