I AM positivity. I am confidence. I am perseverance.
Those three simple statements might not mean much to the average person, but they're the daily affirmations that saved Simon Price's life.
It's not often you catch the Rockhampton father, husband and personal trainer without a smile on his face these days.
But for a long time, that wasn't the case.
For 10 years of his life, Simon woke up with no will to live.
"Normally I would wake up in the morning just hoping that I could just sit there all day," Simon said.
"I didn't want to function. I didn't really want to see or talk to anyone and there's a feeling in the pit of your stomach that you get when you wake up and you're like 'I have to deal with this all over again'.
"You're constantly wishing your life away, waiting for the weekend or your next opportunity to escape through bad habits, whether it's alcohol or gambling or anything really."
For 10 years of his life, Simon fought to break through a black veil of depression and the denial, shame and daily struggles that went hand-in-hand with the illness.
Looking back on his battle with depression, Simon said it all started when he was 19 years old; a time when he should have been having the time of his life.
"The thing about depression is that it normally sneaks up on you and for a while you might not realise that it's actually depression," he said.
"I was just working through a few things as a 19-year-old, changing life and all that sort of stuff and I had people telling me 'Maybe you should go and speak to someone'.
"I turned to things like partying and alcohol a bit too much and was just generally not being myself. People were worried…"
With the support of family and friends, Simon began to take the first steps in regaining his happiness, but said the stigma surrounding depression forced him into denial.
"I went and saw a doctor and psychologist and was probably a little bit resistant about it all initially so the treatment wasn't effective," Simon said.
"I was probably not committed, didn't want to do it and didn't want to admit I had a problem. Then it just progressively got worse.
"I managed and did all the right things, had a job, got married, bought a house and had kids - all those sorts of things but it's just one of those things where I didn't really have any passion for anything in particular for any period of time."
Simon said the highs and lows of the illness were a nightmare and he couldn't have made it through without the support of his loved ones.
"I think the only lasting thing was the people I cared about but the thing is, I felt like I was a burden on those types of people because the value that I had in myself was not great," he said.
"It was backwards and forwards from having good periods of time, to where I just wanted to give up on it all and walk away, because I thought that was the best option for everyone.
"It was just backwards and forwards like that and my struggle was a decade where it was up and down. Things were good at times but the majority of the time it was a façade. Internally I was struggling a lot of the time. I look back and it really was a decade of darkness with big highlights like the birth of my child, getting married and things I really valued but I couldn't say I was happy."
About eight years into his battle, Simon reached breaking point.
With a growing family relying on him, he said he knew it was time for change.
"It got to a point where my psychiatrist told me he didn't trust the illness and he wanted me to go into hospital and that's where that culminated and where I had electro convulsive therapy or shock therapy," Simon said. "I never really thought of seriously taking my own life but as they say it's an illness and the doctor said he didn't trust it.
"I took that advice on board, I went into hospital and I think the one thing that really turned it around for me was at one point I said to Tash (his wife) I would never do that. I would just make sure I'm always around for my kids and I think it's important that they have a dad always, regardless of how I feel.
"I realised that the example I was setting for them is that it's okay to be unhappy. It's okay to live a life just hoping, going through the motions, not achieving anything and making the same mistakes over and over again. I decided that wasn't an example I needed to set or that I wanted to set.
"From there I turned it around."
That was about two years ago.
These days, Simon wakes up with more will to live than ever before.
"Now I get up with a purpose each day," Simon said.
"I still have my struggles, everyone has challenges and I don't live in a land of fairies and unicorns and confetti coming from the sky. I still live in the real world where negatives happen every day but I see opportunity in negatives now and I'm willing to just do what it takes to back myself, find a way through, knowing that it's still just a moment and I'm not condemned to feel like that for the rest of my life.
"Getting up knowing I can get through it, I can help other people and set a great example for my family as well.
"It's all about using skills and mechanisms, the power of positive thinking, surrounding myself with great people, and knowing no matter what that I can deal with whatever comes my way.
"I think it's just a commitment to being well and getting rid of a lot of the denial and excuses.
"I think the main thing is doing things that contribute to my wellness as opposed to my illness. Depression is an illness and there's things you can't control about it, but there's also a lot of things you can control. You take care of yourself, you exercise, which is a massive component and why I've become a personal trainer, you talk seriously and you get counselling, you do what you need to."
With his darkest days behind him, Simon is determined to incite happiness in everyone around him and help other sufferers of depression win their battles too.
"Helping people is an inspiration for me really. I struggled for 10 years so I want to give it some meaning," he said.
For anyone battling depression and anxiety, Simon has this message.
"To anyone that may read this, just understand that it's tough and I understand that and there's a lot of people who do but you need to have the courage to ask for help and I know most of the time it's the fear of being judged but you don't have to do it publicly," Simon said.
"Find people who understand, like your loved ones, because all they want is for you to be happy regardless of what you may think of yourself and the best gift you can give anyone and the world is to be a happy, healthy you.
"No matter what happens in my life, I will always find a positive, even in the darkest situation."
If you are suffering from a mental health illness, or think you know someone who is, and need to talk to someone, call the beyondblue helpline on 1300 224 636.
BLACK DOG BALL
Saturday, October 11
Pre-ball refreshments at Archer Park Railway Station at 5.15pm
Guests then transported to Paradise Lagoons for a night of glitz and glamour
Fine food and beverages
Guest speaker Simon Price along with a range of quality speakers and entertainers
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