ZOE Hayes is on a mission to lift the stigma around depression and mental health – an extremely important issue that is close to her heart.

‘Dust of Depression’, an online auction, raised much-needed funds – $4000 – for The Coo-Wee Ride, a mental health not-for-profit organisation which provides funds for farmers and veterans who are struggling with mental health issues around the country.

Zoe, a mother-of-one, has lost people she’s cared about – including her mother – to suicide and she wants it to stop.

“After my mother died of suicide, I couldn’t really understand why no-one had spoken to me about mental health and suicide. Initially, when my Mum passed away I was made to feel like I wasn’t allowed to say the ‘S’ word. It still baffles me,” Zoe said.

After looking at her family history, it turns out that her family members were no stranger to the ‘Black Dog’, a metaphorical representation of depression.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 3100 people died from intentional self-harm in 2017, dramatically rising to 9.1.% from 2016.

Zoe was almost one of those statistics. “It wasn’t until July of 2016, when I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders; a house mortgage, car loan, toxic relationship, working 8 days a week, that my health deteriorated so fast that I found myself writing what was supposed to be my last mark on this world,” Zoe added.

“Honestly – death scared me – so I drove myself to the nearest hospital and begged for help. I got it and I promised myself I’d never get that low in despair ever again,” she said.

“The bush life literally saved me. I now work in the agriculture industry, but I could see farmers suffering, bosses, fellow crew members, managers, head stockpersons and people surrounding me silently suffering so I told them about my experiences.

“If you’re ever feeling a little blue, I want you to never forget that at some stage in your life you have made a huge impact on someone else, maybe a stranger you didn’t even realise. You are loved, you are valued, and you are needed here with us,” Zoe continued. “It’s never weak to speak,” she added.

The fight to raise awareness of depression and mental health issues continues for Zoe, who still hopes to raise around $60,000 for The Coo-Wee Ride by selling various items on her Facebook Page: https://tinyurl.com/y4kkcpw8

“Depression and mental health are not glorified illnesses – they are as real and as traumatic as any other disease out there,” Zoe said.

“If there’s anything that I’ve learnt from all of this it’s: life goes on,” Zoe added. “From the very bottom of my heart, I can promise you that tomorrow is always worth living.”

For more information please visit: https://zoehayes.com.au/