A new business is a big step for anyone to conquer, especially someone who has faced challenges with their mental health.
Stawell's Claire Preston has faced some "dark and scary times" throughout her young life, an experience she said has been made harder because she "just can't explain it".
Opening, KCJAY Kids Clothing, Ms Preston has put in place stepping stones to grow her online business as she manages her mental health journey.
The 23-year-old mother asked, how do you explain something to someone when you don't exactly know yourself what is wrong?
"Everyone goes through anxiety and everyone experiences anxiety at different levels," she said.
"My anxiety is what I'm working through right now but my mental health journey started with depression in pregnancy.
"When I was preparing to become a mother and working through my depression, was when my anxiety first come to light.
"Driving along the road I would think soon I will be having someone else in the car and it puts that fear into your head."
Ms Preston fell pregnant in 2016. She was surrounded by a loving partner and extended family of supporters who were over the moon to add another member to the family.
At about the eight week mark of her pregnancy, normally a time to rejoice bringing new life into the world, Ms Preston's world was turned upside down.
"My husband was working night shift at the time, and we just put my emotional outbursts down to hormones," she said.
"The uncontrollable crying was happening more often. Around the 10-week mark, I went to brush my hair one morning and laid on the bathroom floor shaking and crying. I was starting to not be able to leave the house.
"That's when I realised what was happening was much more than just 'normal' pregnancy hormones."
Ms Preston said her doctor explained to her about ante-natal depression.
"A lot of people have heard of post-natal depression but not ante-natal," she said.
"I was put on to some medication. It wasn't a cure it was something to relieve me when I would get the overwhelming feelings.
"It didn't work. I was working an evening shift in hospitality one night and remember having a plate in my hand and just had to put it down and go home.
"I couldn't drive. My body just went numb."
Mrs Preston visited her obstetrician to seek some answers.
"That's when I was officially diagnosed," she said.
"My doctor said in his 30 years I was one of a handful of people he had seen. People often hide it or don't talk about it and don't get it diagnosed.
"It got to a point where I didn't shower for a week, I wouldn't brush my teeth - just the basic actions of everyday life became too much. I'm not embarrassed about it, it's fact."
Hand-in-hand with the start of her mental health challenges, Ms Preston also faced a number of other health problems which enhanced her anxiety.
"I was also diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum - a serious case of morning sickness," she said.
"It personally impacted my mental health as well.
"I also started getting gall-bladder attacks in the night. That is something if someone has gone through they know exactly what it is like."
Ms Preston said the middle of her pregnancy was when her mental health deteriorated the most.
"This is when suicidal thoughts started creeping in," she said.
"I don't know what came over me. It was almost like my head went into another world and I just didn't want to be here anymore.
"My husband and mum pulled me through it. It was terrifying at the time. I mentally didn't know what I was saying although I could feel what I was saying.
"I was very lucky to have family support right next to me. I remember looking at them and realising I did have support there anytime I needed it."
Once her baby was born, Ms Preston said she felt on top of the world and thought her mental health was on the right track.
"Towards the end of my pregnancy I started to feel better - I just knew there was happiness and a beautiful life on the other side of the journey," she said.
"I was stable for about a year or so with the help of medication.
"One day I just had an attack out of nowhere. It frightened me. I don't know what triggered it. I had been good for so long. I was happy and didn't have a thing to worry about.
"I think that's where the confusion comes in. When you don't have anything to be upset, anxious or worried about you don't know what is wrong."
Ms Preston said she was prescribed a higher dose of medication, which made her feel ill. This in turn made her mental health decline once more.
"I spoke to my doctors who reduced my medication again," she said.
"I was in a really good headspace for about 12 months. My family and I were in a really good routine and were really excited about the future.
"My doctors reduced my medication and slowly weaned me off them. It was a big step for me because I had relied on it to control my feelings and hormones."
After being off medication for three months, Ms Preston can remember when the wave of anxiety and depression came back with a vengeance.
"It just hit me like a train," she said.
"I went straight back to the doctor to talk about going back onto medication.
"The hardest part was explaining to the doctor nothing at all had happened to trigger this."
Ms Preston said her mental health was up and down from then on.
"I fell pregnant with my second baby," she said.
"I was diagnosed with severe ante-natal depression.
"I lost that baby. It was an awful time. I am open about it. Many women lose a baby and mourn the loss. It's nothing that we shouldn't talk about.
"Since then, in different ways, I've mourned the loss of that baby. I know I haven't, but at the time I felt like I had failed as a mother."
Ms Preston said she knew she needed to get herself back on track for herself, her family and her son.
"I've been seeing a psychiatrist and have changed my medication," she said.
"My mental health is something I don't hide from. It doesn't help me, or anyone around me if I was to sit back and let it consume me.
"I made a hard choice a few months ago to quit my full-time job. I would class myself as a hard worker but I just didn't feel like I could give it my all while dealing with my mental health."
Ms Preston said people have an explanation of mental health within society, but not necessarily an understanding.
"I have found people don't always except it," she said.
"It's just so hard to explain to people that you can be in one of the happiest moments of your life and with a click of fingers you can get so overwhelmed with feelings that you need to go home and be in a safe space.
"Although I don't feel positive everyday, I'm just happy that I keep pushing to seek further help when I need to."
If you or someone you know has been impacted by this story, help and support is available.
- You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, send a text to 0477 13 11 14 or chat online via the Lifeline website.
- To contact Beyond Blue phone 1300 22 4436 or chat online via the Beyond Blue website.
- You can also call the Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800 or visit their website.
- Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
- MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78 or www.mensline.org.au
- In an emergency call 000
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