Improving Your Image Through Visual Communications

Journalist - Photographer - Writer

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Bite the bullet and have a red hot go

By Darren Stones

There's nothing to be frightened of. It takes a mind shift and maybe it's a big one; however that depends on your thought process. When changing career direction, the sense of uncertainty can be palpable. Questions start circulating through your head as you start to over think: "Will I succeed or will I fail?" "Will I do well in a job interview, or will I crash and burn?"

Education provides a key starting point to a whole new adventure. Are you the type who is willing to embrace the challenge of leaving one career behind to pursue another? What is it that bubbles away within us to the point where we think it's time to move forward and leave other things behind?

Lots of questions, there is always lots of questions. Do they need answers, or shall we just bite the bullet and have a red hot go?

At age 46, I decided to bite the bullet and move in a whole new career direction. Earlier this year, my application was accepted by the Kangan Institute to study a Diploma of Community Services Work and Diploma of Community Development. For me, it's a huge change of direction. Learning about casework, counselling, cultural differences, and on it goes. What an exciting challenge, and one that has picked me up from the point of despair.

In August 2009 I had a mental breakdown in the Centrelink office in Broadmeadows, Melbourne. Many have since said to me that Centrelink causes many people to break down due to the way they operate and treat their customers like a number.

In writing these types of articles, one runs the risk of being stigmatised for ever. People like to judge, it comes natural to most. Frankly, I don't care what people think as this is me expressing my inner self with the intent to educate others. My story of experiencing depression and anxiety is something I've not written about often. That's a choice I've made due to not wanting to be perceived by others as a middle-aged white bloke who is piss weak. Piss weak I am not.

I'd like you to reflect on those who you know experience mental ill health. I don't anymore, so consider those who do. What is it about those you know who have depression, anxiety, or another mental illness that makes you think deeply about the type of person you are?

Let's consider for a moment those people who do not go outside due to not wanting to be seen. The people who are gripped with fear and their self-esteem is so low that they're embarrassed of who they've become. What can you do to help those people? What if I told you there was a point in August 2011 where I was afraid to go to my letterbox, but 12 months later was delivering a training session about marketing to my peers whilst learning the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment? Would you believe me or think it not possible?

I don't know whether we've become a society so full of apathy or not. I really don't know, but one thing I do know is that as a community we need to lift our game. I strongly detect that stigma is thriving in our community. The unsaid is often so telling. Saying and doing nothing leads to apathy. It was only a few days ago that I wrote to someone that I'm surprised at how little is done in my area for those experiencing mental ill health. Basically, it's difficult to get involved. Everywhere I turn there seems to be roadblocks to assisting people. What the hell is wrong in a city the size of Melbourne where so many people are choosing to be blinkered to what's happening right next to them?

In engaging in new studies, I've become to better realise that Australians are becoming more self-absorbed. I think it's unhealthy and I believe we need to take affirmative action to stem the tide of increasing mental ill health. We need to engage face-to-face and better appreciate one another.


  1. Hi Darren,
    You have obviously made a firm commitment to change your course and give yourself to helping others,especially after you yourself had been made powerless by despair and was able to rise above the black dog and find yourself again..

    That takes a lot of courage and determination,well done to you and all the very best in your new direction..Will you still have some time for your photography? as you built up a fantastic body of work.


  2. Thanks for commenting.

    It's a big challenge I've set myself and I'm up for it. With strong self-belief and determination to assist others, I have mapped out the next five years with some flexibility built in.

    This year I'm actively involved in photography as an educator, competition entrant, and competition judge. Earlier in the year I was focussing my photography shoots on surfing and coastal landscapes along the Surf coast in Victoria, however in recent months my studies have taken precedence.

    I'm looking at quality imagery every day and keeping tabs on what's happening. I'd like to be creating more photos in 2013, so at this stage will have to do so between studies and work placement later in the year.

    As things are currently placed, I see my future in photography as an educator and less so in selling products. Assisting people to enjoy and improve their photography is what is driving me, even though my current studies don't obviously match up. In fact, it's very relevant to my future and I see my expertise being attractive to organisations.

    So, as things sit as I write this, my community services work and community development studies are the priority, plus I'm looking forward to some photography training and judging in 2013.



  3. Hi Darren,

    Thanks for your very informative reply also.I think you have worked through carefully your new directions and with much confidence too.Great to hear,speaking as a fellow photographer also that you have expanded on your skills and you are far from leaving your creative pursuits behind.

    Both the areas that you are moving into are about helping others develop and work in parallel on many levels.Which ever way you look at it,you are going places with a happier state of mind.It takes a lot of guts to share publicly that you`ve been down and out emotionally,you deserve every success you make and you are getting on with it big time.All the best to you Darren.

    Cheers Bill


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Darren Stones