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Steph Frazer
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Steph Frazer

Steph FrazerFinal Year Physiotherapy Student, Charles Sturt University; Mental health advocate.

 

Steph is a final year physiotherapy student at Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Albury.  Moving from Canberra to Albury led Steph to develop a strong interest in rural health.  Since 2007 she has been actively involved with her university’s rural health club, MARHS, the Multidisciplinary Albury Rural Health Society.  She was the 2010 president and the 2011 co-president of the club.  Stephanie has engaged in many activities including rural high school visits and indigenous festivals promoting health and health careers. 

 

Steph has lived with depression for many years which has presented a significant challenge to manage.  She recognises the involvement of many people in supporting her, highlighting the widespread impact of mental illness beyond the individual affected.  Steph's journey has led her to become very passionate about promoting awareness of mental health issues.  She has presented at a number of rural health conferences and events, and has successfully advocated for compulsory Mental Health First Aid training for students in CSU’s School of Community Health. 

 

Through openly sharing her story, Steph aims to allow the audience to connect on an emotional level, facilitating increased insight into the personal meaning of mental illness.  She hopes to foster a deeper understanding of mental illness beyond the surface level of general awareness and statistics.  This helps to promote greater sensitivity and enhance care in both professional and personal situations.

 

Steph is also an amazingly talented writer.  Check out one of her poems below.

 

Always There

It’s always there, the darkness...
Shrouding me in its black cloak,
Invisible to those outside its suffocating grips.
The darkness is all too familiar, but it still blinds me.
Occasionally the black retreats enough to reveal some shades of grey or colour,
A little brighter, but the darkness is never gone.

It’s always there, the voice...
The criticisms blaring constantly,
Racing around dominating the forefront of my mind.
The voice is all too familiar, but its words still hurt.
Occasionally the volume is turned down a notch or two,
A little quieter, but the voice is never gone.

It’s always there, the doubt...
Questioning whether all this mess is real,
Convincing me that I am a fake and a fraud.
The doubt is all too familiar, but it still sucks me in.
Occasionally the true reality becomes a bit more apparent.
A little more confident, but the doubt is never gone.

It’s always there, the heaviness...
Invisible weights dragging me down,
Turning everyday tasks into great challenges of strength.
The heaviness is all too familiar, but it still exerts its force on me.
Occasionally the weight seems not quite so cumbersome,
A little lighter, but the heaviness is never gone.

It’s always there, the fog...
A swirling jumble of confusion, apathy, and absentness,
Creating a cloud I must push through to somehow engage with the world.
The fog is all too familiar, but it still envelops me.
Occasionally the fog is thinner and easier to part,
A little clearer, but the fog is never gone.

It’s always there, the depression...
Overwhelming darkness, negative voice, doubt, heaviness, and fog.
Consuming me, gripping me, overpowering me.
But there is also hope...a flicker, at times...
And that is what I hold on to.
Hope is always there.

* I added the last line, “hope is always there”, as an afterthought. Sometimes I’m not sure whether I really believe that, because I certainly don’t feel it. But then I think about what hope is to me. Hope can be the tiniest of things...a message from a friend, the hint of a smile, simply surviving minute by minute. So I guess it is always there, you just have to be open to seeing and feeling hope, because it has great power.