My name is Shirley Astill. I have lived in Griffith nearly all my life, as my husband and I moved here from Sydney in the 1970's.
We thought it would be a great place to bring up our children. We raised nine children and we were a big happy family. I was always a happy-go-lucky person, always laughing and having a joke with my friends, until my husband died suddenly of a heart attack. He was only 42 when he died, and that set me back a bit. I was grief stricken and felt depressed for quite some time. I went from a happy person to an unhappy person in no time, I didn't feel like going out or talking to anyone I use to just sit alone in the house by myself not wanting to see anyone or talk to anyone. I was so depressed I thought of doing all sorts of things, but after a few months my friends started coming around and talking to me giving me some good advice and trying to help. I started thinking YEAH! They're right, I knew my husband would've wanted me to be happy and be my old self again, so I started enjoying myself again and getting back to my old self. Things were OK for a few years then bad luck struck again.
There were more deaths in the family. I lost 3 grandchildren. They died in different circumstances and I had to deal with more grief, not knowing what to do or who to turn to. My friends and other family members gave me heaps of support and tried to stop me from going insane.
I tried not to go back to the way I was before, so I battled on the best way that I could. I was on anti-depressents and sleeping pills to make me sleep at night so I wouldn't lay awake all night thinking and feeling depressed. When you have bad thoughts and you're depressed you think of things you wouldn't normally think of. You sometimes think you are going mad. I did the best I could to stop feeling depressed.
I wanted to end it all. I couldn't take the pain and suffering. I took all the help I could from family and friends and tried to stay calm. I went for walks, went to different classes and it stopped me thinking so much, because I had my mind on other things. It was working for me, keeping active and not thinking so much about my pain and grief.
Just last year it happened again. I lost 2 sons, four months apart and I said 'Dear God, what have I done to deserve all this." My whole world fell apart again, I thought 'How am I going to deal with this?' it was all too much for me to take, I just wanted to kill myself.
I wanted to end it all, I couldn't take any more pain and suffering. I thought 'How could I live without my sons, I didn't think I would make it this time, I have been through so much the last few years and I thought 'Why does God keep doing all this to me?' and one of my friends told me that God does everything for a reason.
But whatever his reasons are I don't know why he took so many of my family from me, I guess I'll never know. It has been very hard for me trying to come to terms with losing my two boys last year. I was starting to get depressed and feeling down again, and a good friend of mine told me about these two lovely ladies who could help me with counselling.
I got in touch with the lovely Val Rowe and she helped me to get counselling with Pat Corbett. Pat helped me and my youngest son so much, when I had the first meeting with Pat I walked out feeling so much better. I thought the whole world had been lifted off my shoulders. I knew I had a good friend in Pat who could help me and my son and I had three sessions with her and she did a wonderful job with both of us. I didn't feel depressed any more. She gave us a whole new meaning to life and I'm happy to say I am back to my old happy-go-lucky self again.
Val Rowe I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the help you gave us. You do so much good stuff for people in Griffith you should be given a medal. You are truly an inspiration for everyone and what a great lady you are.
You are an angel! God bless both you and Pat Corbett.
From the GO Magazine,March 2008.