What I See with Peter Fiorenza: Opening up about my mental health battle has led to overwhelming response

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton Guardian columnist Peter Fiorenza has opened up about his recent mental health battles.
Camera IconGeraldton Guardian columnist Peter Fiorenza has opened up about his recent mental health battles. Credit: Supplied/RegionalHUB

To say I was overwhelmed by the response to my recent column about my mental health experience is an understatement.

In fact, it was humbling to know there are such caring souls in our local community.

My recollections of a very scary period in my life resulted in many comments on social media, but also to me personally.

There were many people who rang or even just stopped me in the street to have a chat and thank me for exposing the topic.

To be honest, I did agonise over writing the piece for fear of what response it would bring, but my trusted editor suggested it would be both cathartic and also broach a subject that is something of a stigma in the community.

It was refreshing to know, that despite the many negative aspects there are in this modern world, people actually care and, also, are reaching out for help.

Now, from my limited knowledge, mental health is quite broad, with my experience being restricted to severe anxiety.

Even so, there have been several people who have personally contacted me to have a chat and get any advice I could give to them.

It was astonishing to think there are so many people who have been suffering, like me, for a long time and what I went through resonated with them.

Mental health issues affect both men and women, but it is mainly men who suffer most in silence.

Society is still someway off in respect to breaking the macho image that has always been prevalent.

Today, our young men are struggling with demonstrating their emotions because being tough and not crying has been ingrained in them from previous generations.

Hopefully, articles like mine will go on to to arrest such a stifling stigma.

The column about my issues also reminded me why I choose to live and work in Geraldton.

I didn’t realise how many friends I actually have and how warm and caring people are.

Even people I hardly know have seen me out in public and made the effort to have a chat, see how I am going and thank me for bringing the problem to the fore.

When I was in hospital, I also got a lot of phone calls, but one in particular sticks in my mind.

One day, early in my stay, I was feeling really low, when the phone rang.

I picked it up to the sound of a very familiar voice on the other end.

It was the man who I buy my morning coffee from every day, just ringing to say hello.

Colin, you won’t believe how much your familiar voice raised my spirits.

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Peter Fiorenza hosts Fiorenza on Sunday between 10am and noon on Radio MAMA.

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