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Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System

Personal story:


Greg* is an artist who experienced childhood trauma. He spent 10 years self‑medicating with alcohol and explained that his work as an artist helped him to manage his trauma.

Greg said that while many people supported him, the arts industry can be quite isolating.

There is not a lot of help for people in the arts, especially to talk to. In my world you’re dealing with a lot of ego, so fragility is not really a thing you show.

Greg said that lockdown as a result of COVID‑19 initially brought him a welcome break and allowed him to spend time with his family.

I got to rest my head from struggling from job to job and continually creating things.

However, Greg found it intensified his tendency to think negative thoughts and to catastrophise, and he was ‘beating [himself] up about productivity and not working enough.’

Greg recently experienced an acute admission to hospital, which he attributes to his childhood trauma and ‘a perfect storm of all this awful stuff going on in my head and feeling useless’.

It wasn’t just due to the lockdown, it was all sorts of stuff. It was childhood trauma, a lack of love and friendship and loss, generally feeling pretty useless.

Greg’s admission facilitated access to the acute care team and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which he has found particularly helpful in giving him clarity about how he feels. Greg’s treatment team are now responding to his underlying trauma experience.

The CBT has just been incredible, and everything that was offered to me by the acute care team. They were just incredible, they kept ringing, they kept in contact, they were just the best.

Greg said that access to CBT through his acute admission has helped him get back on his feet, and he is now feeling positive about life.

Thanks to my psychologist, my family, I feel like I’m in charge of stuff. I work every day, properly. I’m not beating myself up about wasting time, which I think a lot of people have done.

Source: RCVMHS, Interview with ‘Greg’ (pseudonym), July 2020.

Note: *Name has been changed to protect privacy.