Joey O’Dell

Brought up by my mum in sunny Manchester, England. I grew up without a Dad who ran away on knowing that my mum was pregnant. He passed away when I was just 5 years old without me ever having the chance to meet him. As you can imagine this started my life off hard, growing up feeling frustrated and slightly unwanted/confused. It caused me to struggle a lot as a teenager, not fitting into certain groups, feeling alone, and still very unsure of where I really fit in to life in general. Heading into my twenties though and having had two “serious girlfriends” cheat on me, all this pain sparked my sense of adventure and I left the UK to work on cruise ships, travelling the world. It sounds truly amazing being in a different country or continent each day, and to be honest it was and I have some of the fondest memories of my life aboard the ships. Just like the FIFO world though it meant being away from loved ones for large periods of time (up to 8 months at a time). Downtimes were alcohol fused binges in the crew bar after shifts, that could sometimes roll on for weeks on end depending on the type of ship, people and ports we were docked in. To say that in the 7 years on board I didn’t have a stable relationship would be an understatement. Eventually though I thought I had found the one that could change it all. So i left the ships and moved to a brand new country, in the middle of nowhere (Central QLD) to be with the one I thought could change it all for me. What failed to pass through my thoughts at the time was three weeks prior to meeting her I had lost the only resemblance of a father figure I had ever known, missed the funeral and instead chose to bury my life into this poor woman’s heart. It was only until about 6 months later that it all came to a head. All the buried emotions came up and I destroyed that relationship and destroyed the family that had been so kind to open their arms to me. I ran back to the place I felt most comfortable. That ship with its warm inviting bar, lots of people running themselves, and it’s glasses and bottles of “hope”. Three months went by with not a day missed in that bar and a nice accumulation of killoage on my body. It eventually took its toll and then one night after an argument with some people, I downed my last bottle, walked to the open deck of the ship, climbed the railings and gave what I thought would be the last message to the world before ending it all. To this day I don’t remember why I didn’t jump, all I know is that I am glad that I didn’t. The next day I saw the welfare officer who sent me to the Dr for a mental health assessment. They were both helpful in their words, but I was never offered any practical advice that would really help. Just that I needed to stop drinking. I was a regular visitor to the gym in my past and after seeing one of my co-workers training and never in the bar, he got me onto a plan that he was doing. It was intense but right up my street. So I did it and for 3 months I was sober, fit and healthy. I got the taste for true training.

After this I had several more brushes with mental health issues. From a partner holding a knife to their throat if I left them, to challenging work environments. I took the time to look deeper into myself and really understand me. Soon my thirst for knowledge became stronger than my desire to drink and became certified as a Life Coach through the work I undertook and also manage a professional boxing gym. I have clients in the FIFO industry that work both with me in the gym and with my life coaching, and also with business professionals that manage some very reputable businesses. My favourite though, is talking and helping educate those on mental health. Seeing them say no to what I went through, laughing with me at how insanely similar our situations have been/are, and those that open up and realise they are not alone in this world and really realise how important they are to themselves.

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