Interview with Casey Lyons from Livin

I am a very stubborn person and like to think that I am ok doing things alone and always had this perception of asking for help as a sign of weakness... Well, didn't that all change a year ago! I finally swallowed my pride (aka my ego) and walked through the doors at a doctor's surgery and finally asked for help... I knew I couldn't this alone anymore! And do you know what? "It Ain't Weak to Speak". After seeing a counsellor and openly discussing my problems with her I was able to see things in a new light... I remember sitting in her office one day completely mind-blown as to how much she understood me and how much she was able to help me see things in a different way. The only thing I would change about my whole experience with seeing a counsellor and talking about my problems, is that I wish I did it earlier. 

If you haven't heard the mantra "It Ain't Weak to Speak" then get to know it! Meet Casey Lyons from  Livin and get to know why and how this amazing organisation came about. 

Tell us a little bit about your story.

Im just your average 20 something year old Aussie bloke. I have spent my whole life living on the beautiful GC. My first love was rugby league, I miss it dearly. I love my family, friends and wife to be. When im not working I try to get away camping or play a round of golf. I love burgers, fries, wings, sailor jerry and 2pac. Before my life changed completely in 2013 I was a carpenter  

For people who don’t know what Livin is can you please tell us what it is and how/why it was started?

Livin was started in 2013 by Sam Webb, myself and our network of friends and family after we lost a great man, my best mate to suicide. Dwayne was a happy go lucky person, the kind of person that made people feel better about themselves, the kind of person that went out of his way to make you smile. He was loving, caring, hardworking and loyal. He was also a tough individual an Australian Amateur Champion boxer. He was blessed with a beautiful loving and supporting family and also some great friends. From the outside looking in he had the perfect life. On the inside however, Dwayne was experiencing something he found hard to articulate and that was Depression and Bi Polar. After Dwayne’s heart-breaking passing we were confronted by the alarming statistics that surround mental illness and suicide in this country. We wanted to turn the negative of losing Dwayne in to a positive (lack of a better word). We don’t want anyone to go through what Dwayne went through, what his family have gone through and also what his friends have gone through. When we sat down it was clear that there are plenty of great service providers in this country but there is a stigma stopping people from reaching out and asking for help. We aim to change this perception and eradicate the stigma associated to mental illness as mental illness is just like any other illness and should be treated the same way. We have 4 key areas in which we spread our message. 1) LIVINwell our education program that we take to schools, business’s, sporting clubs, corporates, construction/mining and the wider public. This is a 40-60 minute presentation that identifies warning signs, symptons, how and where to get help, how to help yourself, how to help others and some statistics. We use evidence based research from a lived experience perspective to reduce stigma and empower our audience. 2) We use fashion as a way to help spread our message, it is also a great conversation starter. Our clothing range has been received better than we ever imagined. 3) Community based events. We love bringing people together through a wide range of events or activities with the common goal of creating an aware and understanding community. 4) Social media we try to push as much content as we can just to keep educating and empowering people.

What are your goals for the next 2 years?

Every day we wake up with the goal to save a life and this will always be at the forefront of what we do.

Our other goal is to set up teams/communities across the country. We have established teams in Gold Cost, Mackay, Townsville, Sydney, Perth, Darwin, Adelaide and Melbourne. We have identified plenty of kea areas where we need to expand. In doing this we will have direct connection with each community and can affect positive change as needed.

Since launching my blog I have had an equal response from both male and females volunteering to tell their stories, have you seen an increase in the last couple of years that people are more open to the idea of speaking up about depression?

Yes, I believe this openness represents how common mental illness is in society depending on what stats you go by 1 in 4 people suffer from some form of mental illness. Through the combined efforts of yourself, Livin and many other great organisations people are more comfortable to talk about this then they were 5-10 years ago. This however is only a start we still have a long way to go, which is why we must continue to work hard as a collective to eradicate this stigma and empower people on their help seeking journeys.

Depression and suicide is becoming more publicised within the football community, beside promoting “It Ain’t Weak to Speak” what services do you offer to let guys know that it’s ok not to be ok and to speak up?

 The 4 steps I spoke about at the top. We are currently putting some campaigns together which will also address this.

Have you experienced depression or anxiety?

It was an extremely difficult period in my life after losing Dwayne. I went through a whole heap of stuff and I found myself spiralling. I was lucky to catch myself. I saw my doctor and was put on a mental health care plan, I only used 1 session but it was great for me. I also put in place a self care plan which I still use to this day which really helps me address and stay on top of any problems.

What was one of your biggest life lessons?

For me, never in my life did I think I would be here without Dwayne. From this I have learnt not to take anything for granted. Dwayne and I were lucky we always let each other know what we meant to each other, but others aren’t as lucky. So no matter what you are going through please don’t take the people you care and love for granted as tomorrow is never promised.  Remember we all have the ability to save a life whether that be our own or someone else’s. if in doubt reach out.

How did you “find yourself”.

This is a work in progress and I have a long way to go. I know I have a lot of grief to deal with and the day will come where I must in order to grow. Im not sure if we ever find ourselves as life is forever changing. We have our core beliefs and principles but the direction in which we go can always change I believe its best to stay nimble so we can adjust quickly and chase these new dreams  

What do you do to help prevent yourself from sinking into depression?

 I try to remain vigilant and proactive. I am learning to create boundaries in order to protect but also deliver the best version of myself. I have routines in place, I have a daily routine that works for me, things that are a must for me to stay on top, for example mindfulness and gratitude are something I must do every day. Im not a morning person as far as an early riser but I do try to win the morning through what I do before I get to work. I wake up and have a cold shower, im lucky to live near the beach so my fiancé and I go for a beach walk and then we have a good breakfast, I do not look at my phone until I get to work. I also have a routine in place for when I notice I am slipping.

What inspires you?

Dwayne, everything I do I do for him because I know he would do it for me. My fiancé, im forever grateful for the love she has given me and that inspires me to be better. My family and friends. Everyday people doing their thing. Music more importantly 2pac he has been someone who I have loved since I was in primary school. right or wrong he always stood up for what he believed in.

Do you have inspiring advice you could give someone who is still trying to find “themselves”?

Do what makes you happy. Don’t worry about the haters, what are they doing to change the world?

“ You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. “
— In the words of John C Maxwel