Sharing hope: the message of Grease and Oil Change 2020

Grease and Oil Change organisers Melissa Brown and Cherie Stitt with guest speakers Craig Hamilton and Georgie Dent at Forbes Town Hall.
Grease and Oil Change organisers Melissa Brown and Cherie Stitt with guest speakers Craig Hamilton and Georgie Dent at Forbes Town Hall.

Craig Hamilton and Georgie Dent hope their stories can encourage others.

The two media personalities and authors were in Forbes last Thursday night as guest speakers at the fifth annual Grease and Oil Change health event.

They had an important message: mental illness does not discriminate, and help is available.

Hamilton, a radio sports commentator, shared how he had started having trouble sleeping, lost his appetite, and eventually suffered thoughts of despair before seeing a doctor.

He was later diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder, which he has been living with for 20 years.

For Dent, a journalist and editor, it was physical symptoms of vertigo that eventually led to a diagnosis of anxiety.

Both spoke about their hospitalisation and medication, as well as their ongoing journey to remain in good health.

Importantly, they want people struggling with mental ill health to know they're not alone and that help is available.

"I really thought I would never participate in society again," Dent said.

"The good news of my story, my experience, is that anxiety is something we have to manage but it is possible to manage.

"There are professionals who are amazing at what they do."

Grease and Oil Change is organised each year by locals Cherie Stitt and Melissa Brown, who are incredibly passionate about creating and continuing conversations about health.

Across events in Trundle and Forbes last Thursday, about 230 people gathered for food and conversation, and organisers were delighted.

Hamilton (Broken Open) and Dent (Breaking Badly) have both written books with more detail about their experiences.

It can be hard to ask for help, but service providers at Grease and Oil Change say there are a number of ways to take the first step.

Susan Baxter is our local drought support worker: this is a relatively new team of local, rural people providing free and confidential support to those affected by drought.

They are available Monday to Friday to have a chat in person, by phone or email. To access the Drought Support Team service call (02) 6881 4002.

You can also talk to your GP, and both Craig and Georgie spoke about how their doctor directed them to treatment.

In a crisis, phone 000 or go to the hospital emergency department.

Vital contacts include:

  • Mental Health Line 1800 011 511 for information and referral
  • Drug and Alcohol helpline 1300 887 000
  • Mensline 1300 789 978
  • Domestic violence line 1800 655 463
  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Suicide Callback Service 1300 659 467

Signals that you should seek help immediately include:

  • Feeling angry, frustrated or even aggressive;
  • Restless, disturbed sleep;
  • Feeling nervous or panicky;
  • Hopelessness;
  • Depressed or suicidal thoughts;
  • Tired / no energy;
  • Avoiding activities;
  • Isolating yourself.

Di Gill from the Rural Adversity Mental Health encouraged people to stay connected.

If you missed Grease and Oil Change, there's another event coming up soon: the Get Up and Go Garema Gathering with guest speaker Sam Bailey.