Helping others keeps me well

The Enemy Within

The Enemy Within

So many people comment how busy I am, I'm always on the go & to be careful I don't burn out - to be honest, keeping busy keeps me alive and well.

For those who don't know my story, here is the story in short form.

I am a Wiradjuri 1st Nations man born in Cowra and raised in Wagga. I was like many other Aboriginal boys from the country, dreams of playing in the National Rugby League (NRL) I signed my 1st scholarship contract at the age of 13 to the Sydney Roosters. I had a fantastic relationship with the great Arthur Beetson whom my parents lived with when my old man was playing for easts in 1985.

I was thrust into adulthood at a relatively young age, and was plying regular 1st grade bush footy at the age of 14.

I moved to Sydney to finish school having just turned 17, I was in the big smoke and I loved the atmosphere.

Even in my youth I was battling a tortuous mind of self doubt and continual noise of worthlessness running between my ears.

Joe the Rugby League player

Joe the Rugby League player

Although having made it successfully into playing top grade NRL, I began to self medicate with alcohol and prescription and social drugs - copious amounts of drugs & alcohol were the only thing that could quieten down the noise that screamed between my ears.

After a few years of abuse on my body, I decided to give away all substance abuse. This coming December I will be 11 years clean and sober from alcohol and drugs. Give away alcohol, give away drugs - the one thing that carries burden on my life constant hi & low periods of a mental health.

Having being diagnosed with Bi Polar/ Manic Depression in late 2008 I was medicated (& still am) and after a marriage breakdown, then a breakdown of another relationship - all of a sudden I went from having great pride in being a father, nor not living with 3 of my kids - things begin to really get on top of me and I decided that the world would be better off without me. On a day where the battle inside my head increased beyond imagination, I sat and wrote letters to my children saying if they ever needed me, jus talk and talk - I will never be far away, I'm proud of you, I love you, but sorry I can't be there for you anymore.

I then attempted to take my life...

Very fortunate I woke the following day, with a foggy head of confusion!!

I was later admitted to a mental health facility and told I was lucky to have survived. I knew that I had been given a second chance; in that moment I made a promise to myself, that everyday I get to open my eyes I am going to make positive impact on somebody's life. From that day forth I set out on helping people who struggle with similar illness I have (Bi Polar) and anyone who is not having a great time in their current circumstances & mental illness.

It was a couple of years after, in 2014 I decided to make my battles public. The release of short film The Enemy Within detailed my struggles. The amount of people that came forward, telling me of their struggle & how me opening up had given them hope to lead a more positive life.

Since my attempt, I have helped countless people across the globe through my awareness and education programs with my charity The Enemy Within.

Joe the boxer

Joe the boxer

My sporting life has had its ups and downs, just as my life has also, but I have lived as a professional athlete for approximately 15 years - playing in the NRL with South Sydney, Penrith Panthers & Canterbury Bulldogs. I finished playing rugby league and started professional boxing having 16 fights with 12 wins 3 losses 1 draw. I won the WBF world title twice, WBF International & Continental also the WBC Asia Continental title. Approaching the end of my boxing career, boxing has taught me how to remain mentally strong in tough situations that life throws at us.

Living now with 4 children, I am grateful everyday I get to open my eyes.

I am lucky enough to travel across Australia and throughout USA delivering my wellness programs and have daily contact with individuals experiencing mentally tough times.

When peole tell me to look after myself, it is the business of helping others that keeps me well & alive. I have always been raised to put others before myself - but it is in helping those, I find compassion & gratefulness for the life I have been blessed to live.

I am still living my 2nd chance at life with that same promise to myself - making positive impact on people every single day that I can, and whilst ever I am alive to do so - I will continue that journey.

Every day I still live with those negative & suicidal thoughts I spoke earlier of, but it is a constant reminder that everyday is a battle...


It may battle me; it won't beat me