My Mental Health Story

To start with there is a few people I need to thank for the support they have given me along the way:

  • Kerrie O’Gorman my wonderful wife. If it wasn’t for you, I probably wouldn’t be alive.
  • Lachlan O’Gorman my fishing buddy and inspiration
  • Hunta O’Gorman my youngest son who challenges me every day. But makes me realise I need to keep trying to be a better person.
  • Colin and Michelle O’Gorman my wonderful parents who are always here for me
  • Michael Smith my best mate who has been there for 32+ years for me
  • And lastly all the people that have joined me on the Journey with “Fishing for Mental Health”. Without you all I wouldn’t be able to help so many people and meet some amazing new friends.

So here it is:

I am 48 years old and grew up in Gladstone. A smallish town in Central Queensland, that is known for its Industrial business. I moved to the Gold Coast in 1998. I got married young (22) and wanted to have kids at a young age so that I could travel when I was in my 40s. I have 2 older children son 26 and daughter 21. I also have 3 Grandchildren, all boys. I have not seen my eldest kids for nearly 17 years. So have never, and will probably never meet my grandkids.

I divorced my ex because she was a not nice person and felt sleeping around was more fun. I caught her cheating a few times and after trying to make it work (for my kids’ sake) I decided that I needed something better in my life.

As per the usual Child Support system. The kids lived with mum and I spent quality time with them.

Kerrie and I met when I was still with my ex (but only through a social Bowling comp). I never cheated on my ex, but after meeting Kerrie I knew there was more to life than what I was living through.

We have been married 19 years this year (2023) and have 2 wonderful boys. Lachlan is 16 and Hunta is 13.

Kerrie and I did everything we could to keep my other kids involved in our lives but the more their heads got filled with crap. The less they wanted to spend time with us.

So here is my Mental Health Story:

As you might have guessed I have a lot of my issues caused by my divorce and losing my kids.

  • I have had Severe Depression for 20+ years now.
  • I have had run ins with the ex, and very negative discussions with my eldest kids.
  • I have pushed a lot of friends away because of my attitude and anger.

Sport has been a very big part of my life.

  • I competed in Sailing from the age of 8. Winning 1 State Title in 2019. (Better late than never)
  • I competed in Judo for 21 years. Representing QLD and AUS during that period. Once I retired, I coached State and National Champions.
  • I competed in Triathlon to get me back into shape after putting on 20kg. (I didn’t want to go back to Judo, as my body is wrecked from the sport)
  • And have spent my whole life keeping fit in all different sports (Just for the fun of it)

I know fitness is a big part of MH but I just don’t have that want to be that person anymore.

I spent 20 years working as a Sales Rep, Branch Manager and State Manager of Electrical Supply Companies. The pressure of these jobs was like a drug to me. I wanted more……. But as my MH got worse the pressure finally caught up with me. I am a VERY high achiever, so the pressure that bosses put on me was always 60% of the pressure I put on myself. If my managers wanted $1mil. I would tell them we would do $1.5mil.

I had 3 break downs. Where I couldn’t even get out of bed to go to work. It got to the point though where I was driving 45min to work and not even knowing how

I got there. My last Break Down was in 2019 which was the last straw for me. I went and saw my doctor of 20 years and he told me to immediately quit my job. (If I didn’t, I was going to either kill myself or someone else).

I spent the next 6 months doing regular visits to Psychiatrists, Psychologist and my doctor. My meds were all changed. And I was diagnosed with….

  • Severe Depression
  • Severe Anxiety
  • Severe Social Anxiety (this one was hard to deal with, especially considering my background dealing with people)
  • Autism
  • Bi Polar
  • Anger Issues

I was hoping once I got myself sorted (maybe 6 months) I would go back to work. I kept getting told that would not be happening anytime soon.

6 months after I stopped working, I was told that I WILL NEVER WORK AGAIN. That was a hard 1 to hear. But the more I try to think I am ready to go back to work, I realise that this is not an option.

When people ask me what I do for a job I say…..I am retired. That still does my head in. But I have now come to terms with the fact that I will no longer work in a proper job ever again.

So, what did I do to get through my days:

I do like playing around with boats and doing Reno’s on them. (I don’t like to play with Fibreglass boats though). It gives me a reason to get out of bed. I have always spent time working on boats. Doing them up to turn them into a product that people can enjoy on the water with family and friends. Now I just have taken it too another level and do a lot more of them and do renos and refits for other people.

BUT……. I needed something else to get away from the situation of having to work every day. I know a lot of people would say, “but that is what you are meant to be doing at your age”. I agree (I wish I was able to go to work every day). But my MH gets out of control, when I put pressure on myself. I was doing way too many boats a year and was promising people things that should have been done in a factory in 1 week. Not in a yard in 4 days.

So, I needed something else to calm me down, make me relax, make me remember that the world is a beautiful place that needs to be enjoyed.

That is when I started doing a LOT more fishing. I went from fishing with Kerrie 4 or 5 times a month, to fishing 2 or 3 times a week.

In a way it worked out perfect for me, as Lachlan was just starting to get into serious fishing. He wanted to compete in LURE ONLY competitions. So it gave me a reason to learn a new skill.

I struggle to go fishing for weeks on end sometimes. The depression gets to me and I know that I should just go have a fish, but that seems too difficult. Kerrie tries to push me out the door but I argue with her. She wins in the end. She gets Lachlan to ask me to go for a fish.

So, why did I set up “Fishing for Mental Health”:

I set up this page, because I love my fishing and was sick of getting told how crap my catch was when I posted it on pages. It got to a point where I was removing my posts and then not posting again. I wanted somewhere to be able to post and not have someone make a negative comment, being harassing or just in general belittle me.

I try and organise things for this page to make it enjoyable, but also beneficial to the members (comps, social days) which makes me feel like I have some control in my life again. My parents have said that I have replaced my success as a State Manager and turned that success into running this page. The way I organise things is very Military/OCD (I did do 4 years in the military) and that is what makes me tick, and that is what excites me.

This page has been good for me. BUT there have been a few moments where I have told Kerrie that I am going to close it down. I just didn’t want to deal with trying to help people. And I wasn’t interested in helping myself anymore. About 9 months into setting up the group I had another Breakdown. This one was pretty big. I learnt that it was caused by me trying to take on too much, and with the number of personal messages I got each night (which turned into conversations about their issues) I wasn’t looking after my own MH. I did have people tell me that I needed to show support where possible, but also know when to shut down and JUST WORRY ABOUT ME.

What is the future for “Fishing for Mental Health”:

As of writing this, we have over 2,100 members from all over the world. (My aim when I started the group, I wanted 100 members). We are Government Approved, which allows us to run bank accounts. We operate under the title of “Non-Approved Organisation”. This means we are able to operate as an Organisation that can sell Merchandise and raise funds for Charities (which we have aligned ourself with Beyond Blue), but not required to have an ABN and run as a full business.

I have been asked if I would consider setting up FFMH as a “Not for Profit Organisation”. But I am not really interested in that anytime soon. This would mean that I am essentially running a business again, and I DON’T WANT TO DO THAT.

There are always things in the pipeline. We have sponsors that are happy to support what I do. We have members that are always sending me gear to give away.

And that is something I love doing, GIVING AWAY PRIZES for our FUN comps.

I will continue to try and find ways to raise money for Beyond Blue. It is my goal to make a donation of $5,000 or more every 2nd year.

In 2021 we donated $5,000 from the sale of tickets in a raffle with 15 prizes. In 2023 the aim is to sell a boat, trailer, and outboard motor for a minimum of $5,000.

I don’t actually know where the future of “Fishing for Mental Health” is, and what path it will take. But what I do know is that what I have created has benefitted a lot of people and it puts a massive smile on my face when I see someone put a post up about how they are struggling and so many members comment with support.

A massive thank you:

THANK YOU to everyone that has joined this page.

THANK YOU to everyone that has every sent me a PM thanking me for the job I do or just commented that I am doing a great thing. A lot of the time I don’t feel like I am doing anything, but lately I have seen so many people helping each other. It is actually making me see I have achieved something above and beyond what I set it up for.

THANK YOU to all the wonderful businesses that have come on board to donate goods or prizes that we have been able to use to give away or raffle off.

THANK YOU to all the members that have donated fishing gear or generally anything that has allowed me to run our comps and giveaway some MAGNIFICENT prize packs.

Life is hard, I struggle MOST days but I will keep pushing forward. When I feel down, I turn to this page and just read people’s posts.

I am sorry if I organise something with you and then have to cancel. I will give you a reason why (but sometimes it is just an excuse).

I hope this helps people understand me a bit more. If you ever want to chat, just message me. I have met so many wonderful members from starting FFMH and I hope I get to meet more of you as time goes on.

Tight Lines
Michael O’Gorman
Founder of “Fishing for Mental Health:

This was written April 2023