A Wagga woman has finally overcome her life-long battle with trauma, depression, and anxiety, and is now planning to dedicate her life to helping others who have been in the same boat.
Victoria Koriaty has battled with her mental health for decades, but has recently made a breakthrough that is helping her live a normal life.
"Now I go for walks, go visit people, loving life, I guess," Ms Koriaty.
"It's possible to live life normally."
Ms Koriaty had spent decades dealing with trauma from her childhood years, when she faced bullying and racial discrimination for her Lebanese heritage at primary school, high school, and the local church.
She said the schoolyard bullying got so bad that she would eat in the principal's office to hide from the other kids during lunchtime, and on some days she would pretend to be sick just to avoid going to school.
These traumatic years left Ms Koriaty suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, which led in turn to depression and a lethargy that made it a struggle to even get up out of bed in the morning.
After decades of struggle Ms Koriaty gradually managed to turn her life around with the help of her psychiatrist Dr Luke Johnson, who would call her over Skype during some of her darkest hours.
"If I didn't see my psychiatrist, who is a very good psychiatrist, I wouldn't have gotten better," Ms Koriaty said.
"Unfortunately they're closing their doors. There's only a few psychiatrists in town and he's one of the best ones."
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Ms Koriaty said that her volunteer work around town also did wonders for her mental health, saying that helping others proved a great way to help feel a little better about herself.
She has been helping the Yazidi community adjust to life as Australians, helping them with their English, their TAFE homework, and translating documents for them from Arabic.
"You just need to get up and do something: help a family member, help people who need help, help others who also struggle with mental health issues," Ms Koriaty said.
"It helps build your self esteem and confidence up to be able to heal inside yourself."
She now plans to dedicate herself to helping others, and to that end she has recently finished a masters in mental health from Southern Cross University.
She hopes that knowledge combined with her lived experience will allow her to help others who have fallen on hard times in life, especially during this extra challenging period of lockdown.
"People should be kind to each other. Trauma happens when bad things happen, and people get depression and anxiety when people aren't kind to each other," Ms Koriaty said.
"We need to be kind to each other, especially during COVID-19. Ring each other up, ask them how they're going, connect with them over a coffee or a hot chocolate or a cup of tea."
If you, or anyone you know suffers from mental health issues you can call Accessline Murrumbidgee on1800 800 944, Lifeline on 13 11 14, and Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467.