'I didn't want to be a burden': CQ miner's silent battle
DEPRESSION and anxiety are "just a part of being human", Blackwater miner Knoxie Paul says as he steps away from the tools.
"It's always ongoing, it's something you have to learn to deal with... unfortunately," he says.
Before he was diagnosed with anxiety in his mid-20s, the now 28 year old didn't even know what the illness was, let alone that he was dealing with it each day.
Compounded with depression, a silent black-dog battle raged within him.
If he talked, Knoxie feared he would "burden" his friends or family.
But when the Yeppoon local lost two loved ones to suicide in 2015 and 2016, the father decided to break his silence on the subject often shrouded in stigma.
"Neither of those deaths that happened close to me were foreseeable," he said.
"It was very out of the blue and two people you wouldn't have expected to be dealing with any problems like that.
"That made me stop and think how many of my mates or family members might be dealing with this and talking about it.
"You think most people are happy to talk to you... depression is very stigmatised."
Today, that conversations starts as Knoxie's toes sink into the sand at the Indoor Sports Arena, Rockhampton.
He and his partner Bec Richardson are the driving force behind the Livin Beach Volleyball Charity Day, which aims to raise awareness on mental health and suicide prevention.
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"After the second (suicide) event I just wanted to put something together so that hopefully at least all my mates and extended family knew they could talk to me," he said.
"And reach out further and start a conversation in other people's lives and homes and families, where hopefully people can start talking about depression."
Knoxie said the Gold Coast based charity was his saving grace during his darkest hours, and believes there's other lives they can save.
"For me I didn't even know what the word meant, and I was having anxiety attacks like a lot of people do," he said.
"I didn't know how to deal with them, I thought something was wrong with me.
"I took a long time before I even realised it was all linked to what was going on in my brain mentally with my thoughts, it took a very long time."
Knoxie said Livin had worked with near 30,000 students across the state, and also closer to home for the mine operator.
"They have done a lot of work in the mining industry and construction industry which is where it's needed," he said.
"A lot of people working away from home, depression, anxiety and suicide rates are high."
Registration is closed for today's event, but anyone is welcome to join the action at the ISA on Hollingsworth St for some tunes, snags, beers, pool and high-quality beach volleyball from 9.30am.