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Tony - Finding the right support helped me back to where I belong

I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere with my mental health recovery until I connected with one-to-one mentoring through Flourish Australia. They’re genuinely thrilled for me that I’ve found the determination and drive to turn my life around so completely and put myself back where I know I belong.

An incident ten years ago led me to lose my fitness business, my marriage and everything I owned. I went from being on top of the world, living in a big house with a happy family and a reputation for being the best personal trainer in Australia, to having zero! It shook me to my core and for years it felt like things were going from bad to worse, but after three months in hospital battling deep depression, I found the right support for me and was finally able to turn things around. 

With the assistance of Flourish Australia’s HASI program I transitioned from hospital into an apartment of my own. I hadn’t been out of bed for the best part of a year when my Peer Worker Antoinette first started visiting me. Little things were so helpful to my turn-around, like her morning phone calls which motivated me to get up and get going each day. I felt so hopeless at the time that I dreaded seeing anyone, whereas now I can’t wait to see her and share all of the new and exciting things that are happening in my life. 

Just having someone who’s willing to listen

and genuinely happy for me when I make progress 

gives me a powerful sense of belonging


As I started to feel more connected, I noticed changes in how I felt about myself. I realised I’d let my physical health go out the window and wanted to get back in shape. Fitness had been my absolute passion in my former life as a personal trainer, so I told myself, no more surviving on $5 pizza specials! I started investing in better self-care and gym workouts, shed 20kg of excess weight and committed to making healthier food choices. 

It was a real boost to my self esteem when I received a call from a former client, asking whether I still offered online fitness training. Though I wasn’t working at this stage, I’d reached a stage in my recovery where I felt hopeful about future possibilities, so I saw it as an opportunity to get back up and running in an industry where I belonged, and said yes. Referrals followed and business is going well. In fact, better than it has ever been, because now that I’ve taken my personal training online, it frees me to work from wherever I am in the world, which means I can more easily maintain a work/life balance that meets my needs. I have a holiday to Thailand planned and I think it’s brilliant that I’ll be able to still log on from there and deliver programs to my clients.

I feel I’m back to where I belong in my life, at last. I’m doing what I love for a living and can actually go out and treat myself to a decent meal when I want to. The longing to be who I am and be where I belong has been my motivation for taking steps to restore contact with my kids. We lost three years out of our lives together so we’re making up for lost time on weekends. I was surprised and delighted when their mum invited me to our daughter’s birthday party recently. I lavished her with gifts. 

My heritage is Greek and that whole culture is all about family, so it meant a lot to me to also reconnect with an awesome bunch of my Dad’s old mates. We enjoy catching up regularly. I look out for them and keep them moving so they stay in shape. Greek music has been a big part of my life, with many good memories, so I put a fun video clip together with them and it’s been watched by more than 100,000 people on social media. 

When I set my sights on something I want to achieve, Flourish Australia are so willing to come alongside me with the guidance and advice I need to get there. With every step I’ve taken toward recovery, I’ve found a new lease on life. I want to keep doing good and being well so I can be there for my kids as they make their own way in life.

I have a little quaker parrot who’s a real character and great company. Caring for him gave me one more reason to keep going every day through the hard times. I still shake my head that after hitting rock bottom and going in circles for years, it only took me a matter of weeks to turn things around for the better once I had the right support alongside me. Because of my lived experience I can relate to what other people are going through and I try to be an encouragement, in the way that I’ve been supported. 

We can never know what’s going on inside someone. Making the effort to help them feel they belong might just mean the world to them. 

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