Max’s Story – My Hope to Help Other Young Men

Max was a very normal high school student who loved school. He was not what comes to mind when you think of mental health. Losing sight of the bigger picture, Max battled anxiety in Years 8 and 9 that became so crippling he stopped coming to school. Now a Year 12 Prefect with a bright future ahead of him, Max shares his story to let others boys know…It’s OK to not be OK.

I’m Max Beros, a year 12 student and a College Prefect. As daunting as it may be, today my goal is to share my mental health story in the hope that if it assists just one boy in having the courage to seek help then I have made a difference.

My Trinity College journey started way back in Year 4 2014, eight years ago. I was quite a shy person and didn’t say much in my first couple days at school. I only knew one person at Trinity when I started. Walking into such a massive school, I felt like a grain of rice in hectares of paddocks but eventually I began to find my feet by the end of Year 4. In Years 5 and 6, I made strong friendships, many of which are still my friends to this day.

High school marks a new chapter in everyone’s life. For me I settled in reasonably well, however in saying that I had anxiety about a couple things. The main one was playing sport. Upon reflection this was because when I was playing footy in Year 6 I got a concussion. This scared me at the time and played with my mind, I really didn’t want it to happen again.

That nauseous feeling kept returning every time I played sport! I was adamant that something was wrong with me, but mental health never came to mind. I attended numerous MRI’s and neurologist appointments. Out of fear I didn’t play winter sport in Year 7. As long as I wasn’t exercising I seemed okay.

It was coming to the end of the school year, and I remember exactly the day. It was the 4th last day of Year 7. I walked out of PCG that morning and I got that nauseous feeling. All of a sudden I had to sit and couldn’t move. Going home that day, not wanting to see anyone from my school out of embarrassment, was one of the most isolated feelings I have experienced.

I knew Year 8 would be tough. Over the summer I didn’t leave the house, I sat at home and tried to avoid any social activities. Year 8 didn’t start well. It became a snowball effect, my anxiety was increasing and I was on the downward spiral.

I didn’t go to school for the first week of Year 8. The second week I only made it for 3 days. From that point on until Term 4 school was a daily challenge.

In Term 4 and with constant support from my family, teachers and school psychologist I was finally able to swing together a full five day week. This was a massive achievement, especially for my family. Missing important events like family birthdays, school socials or big sporting events made me think I didn’t want my life to be like this at all. My head was filled with negative thoughts and I would lay at home in bed, thinking how do I come out of this.

Year 8/9 summer was no better than my last. Staying home and avoiding it became my new normal. At the start of Year 9 I sought help from professionals both in and out of school and began to learn more about what was happening. I had to accept that ‘it’s ok not to be ok’ and embrace the challenges I had faced. Until I acknowledged this, things were not going to improve.

Right away, things started to look up. I was able to hang out with my mates again, and not have to spend recess and lunch in a classroom by myself. Instead of thinking mental health made me weak, I started to accept it. I was involved in school much more and I even got back to doing what I love…sport.

Now it’s 2022 and I’m better than ever. I want to share my story and make sure that everyone at school knows, it’s ok not to be ok. It’s so important to seek help and guidance from those around you and we are so lucky to have so many amazing teachers along with our support network who care and want to help.

Remember boys: IT’S OK NOT TO BE OK

This Blue Tree Week, Max has taken the courageous step of sharing his story and has helped all of us understand what it can mean to not be okay.  In alliance with the Blue Tree Project, Trinity College is raising awareness for boy’s mental health. Mental health can affect anyone, no matter the age, background, or walk of life they come from.

Last year we painted our very own ‘Blue Tree’ at Waterford playing fields. This is a constant visual reminder for us all that “It’s OK to not be OK”.

Today, Max alongside Young West Australian of the Year and Blue Tree Project CEO, Kendall Whyte unveiled a wall at the College, dedicated to his story and showing others that it’s okay to speak up when things don’t feel right.

Source: Trinity College Website