WARNING: Distressing content and images
Barry Carey can pinpoint the moment his life changed forever — waking to beeping monitors as an aching spread across his entire body.
The then-34-year-old had just tried to take his own life, in a final act of desperation to quieten the noise.
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Instead, he woke in hospital feeling heavy, weighed down by multiple injuries and a clouded headspace.
“I shouldn’t have been alive,” he told 7NEWS.com.au.
But he was.
It was a second chance — one he was not going to ignore.
Three years on, Carey dedicates his life to helping others in the hope of saving them from that darkness.
He has been navigating mental health struggles for as long as he can remember.
The Irish national moved to Australia in 2008 to chase his dream lifestyle but found his problems only followed him.
“I struggle with health anxiety,” he said.
“I’m a bit of a hypochondriac and (was) diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder, so I used to overthink everything and think everything was wrong with me.
“I probably struggled to make a cup of tea when I was in the depths of my depression.
“It just takes everything away from you and I’d just lay in bed for days on end.
“It all came to a head in 2020.”
Barry suffered multiple injuries in the attempt on his life. Credit: Supplied to 7NEWS.com.au
October 2020 was not Carey’s first attempt at taking his life, but it was a tipping point.
“I had three bad spells over the years,” he said.
“I decided to make an extended move back to Ireland in 2020 to get my head back in order.
“I struggled to come to terms with things at home, too, so I decided to try to end it, as I was just over all the pain I was going through mentally.”
His attempt on his life left Carey in a wheelchair for weeks before he could slowly begin to walk again.
He knows it could have been much worse.
“It was a pretty hard time.”
Recovery is an ongoing journey. For Carey, it meant finding the courage to ask for and accept help.
It’s a reflection of his own strength but also, he says, due to the ongoing support of amazing family and friends.
“It was about setting small goals each day or each week ahead of me and accomplishing them and then moving on to bigger tasks and slowly chipping away at getting my confidence back,” he said.
“I’m very nearly back to where I was before, when I was good.
“If you’re in a dark place right now, and you’re wondering how you’re going to get out of it, just remember there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
“And with the support of family and friends and guidance from mental health professionals, you will find your way out.”
Barry is back to doing what he loves – athletics – and now shares his story through motivational speaking. Credit: Supplied to 7NEWS.com.au
Things such as exercise and journaling also helped transform his life.
Now the 38-year-old is almost back to working full time and shares his story by motivational speaking — something he never would have dreamed possible.
Athletics played a huge role in Carey’s life over the years, with running an escape from reality.
“I thought that was it and there was no way back, but within two years, I was back to winning ways,” he said, adding that he recently placed in the top 20 for this year’s Sydney Harbour 10km race and was once again doing what he loved.
“Never ever write yourself off.
“Don’t think that this is the end because it’s not.
“There’s a much brighter future ahead of you, but you just can’t see it yet.
“All you have to do is go and look for guidance and you’ll find it.
“I’m living proof of this.
“Get positive people around you that are going to support you and lift you up, and tell you that you can do something.
“And, along with that, and your own belief, you can move mountains.”
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.