#1: LIVIN – Why it all Began with the Co-Founders Sam Webb and Casey Lyons
Welcome to the first episode of It Ain’t Weak To Speak brought to you by LIVIN: the mental health initiative, seeking to end the stigma around mental health through education, fashion and community.
In this episode and for the very first time, co-founders and childhood friends Sam Webb and Casey Lyons open up and discuss the motivation behind the creation of LIVIN: the unexpected suicide death of their dear friend, Dwayne Lally in the context of mental illness.
The modest LIVIN team (based in Burleigh, Queensland, Australia) began as a charitable clothing merchandise line in 2013 and has since expanded vastly, now entering its 7th year of operation in 2020. With a presence in Australia and the United States, it has had a global impact with their message–raising awareness and empowering those affected by mental illness to keep LIVIN because It Ain’t Weak to Speak.
- You matter
- The importance of self-care and practising it daily
- Checking in on your neighbour and spotting red flags
- Small acts of kindness go a long way
- Getting involved with the LIVIN community no matter your location
- Speaking up, seeking help
- It Ain’t Weak To Speak
For any questions, topics you’d like us to cover, interview requests shoot us through an email to: [email protected]
Thanks for listening to the first episode of It Ain’t Weak to Speak with Sam Webb.
If after listening to this episode, you don’t quite feel right or you want to reach out to someone to talk to, we have provided some useful resources below.
For immediate support please call one of the following 24/7 hotlines. Someone will be ready to take your call. Remember, ‘It Ain’t Weak to Speak’
If you are in Australia:
Emergency – 000
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
If you are in the United States:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline- 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: Text LIVIN to 741741 in the United States.
If you would prefer to speak with someone face-to-face, we recommend visiting your local GP (doctor) who will be able to have a chat with you about what is going on in your life and refer you to a mental health professional if need be.
For some tools to help you with things like stress, low mood, general worries, please check out our LIVIN tips and tricks here: https://livin.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/LIVIN-Tips-Tricks.pdf
If you would like to learn more about LIVIN, join the movement, or help spread the word, please visit us at the links below:
Shop Our Merch to support the cause and start a conversation that could save a life.
Get Involved in one of our upcoming events or book a program for your school or workplace.
Donate to support the mission and help us spread the message.
Join us on our Facebook Group to continue the conversation with Sam and to help grow the community so that we can reach more people and save more lives.
Subscribe to our Newsletter so you can follow our journey.
Sam: Hi, everyone and welcome to our brand new show, It Aint Weak To Speak. My name is Sam Webb and this show is dedicated to ending the stigma around mental health through the community, connection and the hard-hitting truth.
I’ll be speaking with guests from all over the world about life to inspire and to educate people to speak up so that we can save more lives. Thank you for joining me on this journey.
Sam: Hello, everyone and welcome to It Aint Weak To Speak. Today is a very exciting day for us because this is the first episode of our new podcast, so welcome. Thank you for tuning in.
I also want to say a special shout out to everyone who has supported us over the years and who continues to support us. Your time, your commitment to the cause, your energy, it never goes unnoticed and none of this stuff is even remotely possible without you guys.
Big love will go out to our dear friend and our brother, Dwayne Lally. May your death never be carried in vain, mate and your story will always live on, so that we can save more lives. To anyone else out there that might be struggling or who has lost someone to suicide, I want to say thank you. Thank you for being so strong. Thank you for holding on when times get very dark and I also want to say that this show is for you. It’s a community where we’re trying to bring people together, but I want to take everyone on a journey today. I want to rewind the clock and take you back to LIVIN’s origins, why it started, where it actually began and our grand vision so that we can help more people across the world.
I’ll be bringing on the show with me, my good friend, my partner in crime and my fellow co-founder Casey Lyons. It is an episode you don’t want to miss. We’ve never done an episode together like this. Our history takes us back to when we were kids. We were arch-enemies at one stage on the football field, to fellow housemates and then onto obviously starting LIVIN.
I want to make it very clear that safety is our first priority. This episode may contain sensitive content, so I’m going to place all resources in the show notes section, so please check them out if you need to. Without further ado, let’s please welcome Casey Lyons.
Sam: Welcome, Mr Casey Lyons. Mate, how are you today?
Casey: I’m well, thanks, mate. How are you?
Sam: Really good, man. Really good. Obviously, I’ve been here in LA, so I want to ask you first and foremost, before LIVIN, what were you up to? Talk to me about your relationship with Dwayne and your life. How was all that?
Casey: Dwayne and I, we met the first day of grade one, so we were the kids that got separated in– I think probably at grade three, they separated us. They couldn’t keep us in the same grade, because we were just too naughty, but that didn’t stop anything. We still saw each other at lunch and outside of school. We were still playing in the same football teams.
Our friendship started from quite a young age and it was something that we both cherished so much. It took on another path after school when the independence and freedom of having your own car came along and chasing girls and going to parties and doing all the things that young boys do. Wherever he was I was.
Through our early teens, we were somewhat separated. I was trying to play rugby league and Dwayne was doing very good at boxing and boxing just took up all of his time. He used to train before school, during school, after school, and that took him on to great things. Commonwealth games qualifier at a very young age, Australian champ at a very young age. He was going good in the boxing world and then he had two elbow reconstructions, which put an end to all of that. I suppose that’s him and I in a very small nutshell.
Sam: Almost like brothers from another mother, so to speak.
Casey: Yes. Dwayne was very cheeky and everyone or anyone that ever met him can attest to that. He was always putting shit on me, I was always putting shit on him, but it always came from a good place. I miss the cheekiness and that smile that certainly melted the ladies, but warmed everyone else’s hearts.
Sam: What were some of the key qualities and attributes that Dwayne– I know you’ve mentioned loving, charismatic, caring, cheeky, he’d throw around banter, but what were some of the best attributes Dwayne showed to you as a best mate?
Casey: I think he was honest. He didn’t tell you what you wanted to hear, he told you what the truth was, so you always knew where he stood, which was great. He was loving and then he was loyal. I suppose out of a friend, you couldn’t ask for any three better attributes or three better traits. We clashed heads a lot, but if we ever did have a fight or come to blows, it was all over pretty quick and back to being the best of mates pretty quickly.
I remember when we were young, I think I stayed at his house two or three nights in a row. I think by the third day, we were in a punch on; Kimbo dropped me back at home and then on Monday, it was like nothing had happened. That’s just what boys do, I suppose, growing up, but loving, loyal and honest.
Sam: Can we fast forward now to 2013 or maybe even prior to that to introducing Dwayne and I guess why LIVIN started and then maybe go back to the struggles that Dwayne faced as a young man and why you and I are both sitting in this situation today, running a mental health nonprofit?
Casey: That’s very hard to say when things started happening or things started changing for Dwayne, as it wasn’t something he liked to talk about. There was only a few of us that knew what was going on. Other people guessed or made assumptions.
I look back and I think maybe the end of his boxing might have had something to do with it. Something was taken away from him before it could unfold or take him to where he really wanted to go or where he dedicated himself to go. That’s all hindsight and it’s all speculation, but I know looking back, the hardest part for Dwayne was telling people or articulating how he felt. He never felt comfortable. He felt as though he was a burden to people and I didn’t quite understand what was going on back then. He’d told me what was going on, but I still didn’t have an understanding. I suppose that was, looking back, one of the reasons why we had to choose the path we chose in the way in which we’re doing it. There are plenty of people doing plenty of great things, but what we noticed, you and I, Sam, was people weren’t doing what we were doing. There was that gap in the market and for Dwayne, that would have been very beneficial had he had the information or the education that this is something quite normal.
Mental illness is very normal. He’s certainly not alone in his journey. There’s plenty of people just like him living with a mental illness and living wonderful, great lives, just managing their mental illness day today.
I suppose that was the catalyst, looking back, for doing what we are now doing. He just felt isolated. He felt different. He felt weird when he put his hand up to ask for help and felt like a burden and he didn’t need to feel this way.
Sam: Obviously, I know, because we speak together a fair bit and we mentioned that Dwayne suffered with bipolar and depression for a number of years, but he kept his struggles very close to his chest, so to speak. Why do you think that was the main reason why he held back? Why do you think, as Dwayne’s best mate, you knew more about him than most people? Why do you feel like he hid the pain so well and put a great big smile on his face?
Casey: Probably two reasons. Dwayne was always the life of the party, smile on his face and he just wanted everyone to have fun. He just always wanted people to have fun no matter what he was going through. That’s one side and that’s why no one could tell. Secondly, I just don’t think he felt comfortable in accepting his mental illness himself, because of these negative connotations that are out there and these beliefs that we’ve all been taught from a very young age. It’s just what he knew. That’s no one’s fault. It’s just how society is and that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing so we can change society.
He felt like a burden. He felt as though what he was going through was bringing everyone around him down and it was certainly not the case. I used to chase him around the Gold Coast and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat because it’s just what you do. I think his hardest point was he just didn’t understand, therefore he didn’t know how to communicate.
Sam: He didn’t understand what he was actually going through, so therefore he could not articulate it to someone, so he hid the pain behind all of that.
What a lot of men are told this day and age is, “Suck it up” or “You’ll be right, mate. Just deal with it.” He basically just sucked it up and lived with it day to day.
Casey: Yes. He didn’t want to be perceived as weak, I suppose. All of his mates, none of them are living with a mental illness. They probably wouldn’t understand and as you just said, a lot of them would probably just say, “Suck it up. You’ll be right.” That never helps anyone, but only adds to the burden and adds to the shame. Also, part of that was probably it too. He didn’t want to be perceived as weak.
Sam: It just goes against everything that I guess, what we’re trying to achieve with LIVIN, and that’s to end the stigma around mental health, through community, education within schools and workplaces and then obviously, the amazing apparel that you and I are both representing right now, which I’m sure many other people can relate to. I just want to ask anyone that is listening and who will be listening. If someone’s struggling in silence that doesn’t know who to turn to or what to do, what’s your personal advice to them?
Casey: It’s a complex answer because everyone’s completely different. I suppose the one thing that can relate to anyone, this might sound contradicting, people don’t care what you’re doing day to day and whatnot, as long as you’re happy. They don’t care.
They’ll move on with their life and do what they got to do, but as a whole, they truly do care about you.
To simplify it further, in the micro, people don’t care, but in the macro and your overall well-being, they care about you more than you’ll ever know. You are not a burden and it is okay to ask for help whether that’d be your parents, a friend, a family member or even a stranger, a teacher at school, people genuinely want to help. Sometimes, people don’t know how to help, so they might avoid it altogether, but that’s what we’re trying to change. We’re trying to teach people how to help each other.
Sam: And how to reach out and ask for help. Sometimes, when we don’t have the words to ask for help, we’ve got to learn and I guess, teach people those tools and strategies to better reach out and ask for help when they desperately need it.
Casey: Yes. I suppose to summarize all of that, the hardest point is usually first putting your hand up and reaching out, but it’s oftentimes most rewarding and it’s the start of a wonderful journey back to wellness and happiness.
Sam: Definitely, mate. I fully agree. Mate, I want to add to that. I remember my relationship with Dwayne obviously wasn’t as close as you and he was obviously, but I did get the opportunity to play football alongside Dwayne in representative touch football teams and whatnot growing up. To back everything up that you said, the life of the party, very charismatic, he was always having a good time. He and I used to always say, “Let’s go to the top.” It’s a place that we imagined. It was just a fun place that we’d be so confident and full of life together. That’s a place that we were always going to.
I remember very, very clearly, the night of September 15th of 2013, the night Dwayne actually invited me to his place for a little bit of a barbecue and drinks and watching the football and whatnot, I wasn’t really aware of Dwayne’s struggles. I was very similar to you in the regards that I didn’t really know what they meant. Even though I’ve had my own experiences with these things in the past, I didn’t really understand how to articulate it myself, so I can resonate with that.
I remember Dwayne calling me into his room that night and he opened up to me and told me some very secretive deep things that I didn’t even see coming. I was so caught off guard, I didn’t see it coming.
He mentioned that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I didn’t have any idea, but what I was trying to do was listen as best as I possibly could have. I was trying to reassure him that things were great and that he had an amazing support network around.
I remember Dwayne telling me that evening, that he’d tried to take his life before and I didn’t really know what to say. I know when I look back now and the things that I’ve learnt through the establishment of LIVIN and the people that we work alongside, problem-solving Sam kicked into play, so there was a lot of talking. “It’s fine. That’s what you’ve tried to do,” and Dwayne reassuring me that life was great and that his future looked bright and promising and it was certainly nothing that he was ever going to try and do ever again. Problem-solving Sam kept reassuring and talking, “You’ll be all right. Please reach out to me if you’re ever in a dark place again. I’ll always be here for you. You’ve got an amazing support network.” From the outside looking in, his life looked amazing, but obviously behind closed doors, as you said, Dwayne suffered from some challenges that not many people really knew about. At the end of the day, he didn’t really know how to talk about it.
I didn’t know that that was possibly the last time I was going to see Dwayne in LIVINg proof. I remember Dwayne telling me– Some of his last words was, “Webb, don’t worry, man. I’m fine. I’m sweet. All is good.” That was the last time that I saw Dwayne alive. Dwayne ended up taking his life that night.
I remember ringing him flat stick when I knew that he disappeared from the party. I was calling him. Calling and calling and calling and texting and texting and still no response. I still to this day, would have thought that he would have at least answered or reached out and answered the calls when I rang or when you rang or when his mum rang and stuff like that. I sit here and beat myself up about it every single day. “Could I have done more? Should I have done more?” I thought I said everything and listened as best as I possibly could have in the moment that I was there. That impact that Dwayne’s death, his suicide death had on an entire community, it was life-changing for a lot of us. I guess that’s where LIVIN started. I want to ask you this. Reflecting on that night, I remember speaking with you. What was going through your head? Were you thinking the worst? Were you thinking, “No, he’ll show up.”?
Casey: For a bit of backstory, I wasn’t there that night. I was at a friend’s homecoming. A friend that lived overseas for a bit. Dwayne was actually meant to be there, but I think once he got home from work– It was a Saturday. He’d got home from work, he’d had a few too many beers or he had two or three beers. He couldn’t drive, so instead, he invited the party to his house, but I couldn’t leave this person. We were texting each other through the night. We were hoping to catch up later in the night and whatnot. That’s the backstory there. When I found out he’d gone missing, of course, I tried to ring him a hundred times and message and whatnot.
Stuff like this had happened before, but this time, I just knew it wasn’t right. I knew I had to ring his parents and that was probably the hardest phone call I’ve ever made, just because I knew it wasn’t right and I knew something was wrong. They’re trying to ring him and when he didn’t answer their calls, I knew something was seriously up.
I was driving all-around in the Gold Coast, which I probably shouldn’t have been, I’d had a few too many beers, but I didn’t really care. I was actually ringing the police because I knew Dwayne had been drinking and I was telling them that. I wanted them to find him and pull him over and take him to prison because it would have been a lot safer for him. They pretty much told me to piss off. Obviously, I was quite stressed. I’d never been so stressed in my life. Come 2:00 or 3:00 AM, I’d never been calmer and I just knew. I just knew it was time to go home and I’d wake up to a call saying that he’d been found. I don’t know, it was weird. I was just at peace. I just knew what had happened and woke up to no calls, no messages.
I actually woke up to a message from a girl that I’d been trying to date or take on a few dates. We’d never been on a date. I’d tried, not through lack of trying, but I actually had a message from her saying, “Would you like to catch up for breakfast?” I was like, “This is weird.” I went on the date, but I told her, I said, “Look, I’m not going to be any good. This is what’s happened last night.” I think the food hadn’t even come out and I’d left and I’d gone with Dwayne’s parents to Broadbeach police station to lodge a missing person’s report.
Unbeknown to us at the time, when we were in there, a phone call actually had come through saying he’d been found. We weren’t notified for another three or four hours afterwards. I don’t know, I think because I had a greater understanding of the situation and I knew what was going on with Dwayne, I knew that it was real. I knew that it could happen. I was just stressed and I was just– Not really angry, I was just stressed, “Got to find him. Got to find him. Got to find him.” Looking fucking everywhere for him.
The next day, looking for him everywhere once again and I happened to be on his bed when we got the phone call. A car pulled into the driveway and I remember it clearly. It looked like his car, so I jumped up running. I didn’t even make it to the door when I got the phone call. I didn’t even need to answer, I knew what it was. It’s funny, the Bulldogs were playing that afternoon in a semi-final. I believe they were playing Newcastle. I felt for sure the Bulldogs would win on the back of Dwayne, but I think they ended up getting tailed up.
I think the rest after that was a bit of blur for a couple of years. Remembering it became bad and you look back and you talk to professionals. Trauma does that to you. Everything’s a bit of a blur. I remember the funeral or part of it and the weeks and the days after, but it all becomes one big blur. As you touch on it, it rips everyone apart. His family are the most beautiful family and he’s not here to be with them.
Sam: As you said, Dwayne was a very close man with his family and it’ll just never be the same again for them. That’s the hardest thing this impact has on so many people.
Casey: Dwayne’s mum comes in here once a week or once a fortnight. We go out and have lunch. It’s amazing, but I’ll never replace him, that’s for sure. We got married last year and he wasn’t there. Had a kid, he wasn’t there. This is what happens. This is what happens.
Sam: I guess when we look at all that and what’s been made in Dwayne’s honour and in Dwayne’s legacy with LIVIN, I’m sure he’ll be looking down right now and looking at the work and everything that’s going into LIVIN and looking at you going how grateful he is that this beast is saving lives.
Casey: He’d be laughing. He’d say, “Suck shit, look at all the work you’ve got to do.” Of course, he’d be proud and he’d be loving it, but he’d be very cheeky and saying, “Look how busy you are. Look how stressed you are,” and just point shit at me, which is good.
Sam: That’s him to a T. That’s your relationship to a T, man.
To add on to that, I’ve never seen Dwayne so happy on that night. After the conversation we had, he was just life of the party. The happiest man there, loudest man there.
Casey: He didn’t mean to do what he did. It just happened and unfortunately, it’s not something he can live to regret or take back. What happened happened. I can guarantee, if he had that moment over again, he would never have done that. Unfortunately, it happened. He would have been happy. That’s Dwayne. He would have been making sure everyone else was having a great night too. It just happened and it’s one of those spur-of-the-moment things where, in that moment, he made a decision and unfortunately, he can’t take that back.
We’ve just got to accept that that’s a decision he made. He’s a grown man and that’s a decision he made in that moment and we’ve just got to stop people from joining him.
Sam: Yes, definitely, 100%. That’s what we’re here for and that’s what we’re doing with LIVIN. Before we move on to this next part of this session, you catch up with Dwayne’s mum and dad and sister quite regularly, obviously. You mentioned that before. What are their thoughts on LIVIN and everything and the work that gets done in the community? Is it like a bittersweet feeling for them? Do you guys get to talk much about that? How does that all play out?
Casey: It’s kind of the unsaid. Very, very proud, but it’s a perfect world, they don’t need to be proud. Dwayne’s dad, he runs. Everywhere he runs, he’s got a LIVIN hat on and he’s got a shirt with Dwayne’s face on it. You see him running in all of the local Gold Coast events when it’s hot, when it’s cold, when it’s raining. He’s always got a smile on his face because he’s running with his son. It’s hard for him, it’s hard for everyone, but they’re proud. They love to see the impact that it’s having, all the positive impact that it’s having in people’s lives.
Sam: In its own unique way, it’s like Dwayne’s still with us. He’s still making a positive impact on people’s lives. This is what he set out to do.
Casey: Yes. I often say Dwayne lives on in the smiles of the faces whose lives he impacts. When someone, they’re smiling, that’s Dwayne, because that’s all he ever did. If he wasn’t angry, he was smiling, so 98% of the time, he was smiling.
Sam: Interesting fact too, they say a death by suicide has a direct impact on 115 people’s lives, but you and I both can attest that the number far outweighs that. You can’t put a number of someone’s life.
Casey: You can’t put a number of any death, especially by suicide. It just never goes away. It lives with you forever. Dwayne’s sister’s pregnant and I’m sure that baby will know all about her uncle. It just lives on and that ripple just keeps multiplying.
Sam: Yes, I agree. I absolutely agree with you with that. Mate, moving on, where are you right now? As we’re speaking, obviously I’m in L.A, I’ve dialled you in, whereabouts are you?
Casey: I’m in the office in Burleigh. I’m in my little hotbox. It’s a warm summer’s day. It’s about 33 degrees. It’s 9:30 in the morning.
Sam: I haven’t had a chance really to explain, because this is the first episode, introduce the show and I wanted to leave it for you and I to both let people know what we’re about. The people that don’t know anyway. Give us a bit of a rundown about some of the work that gets done at our LIVIN headquarters and an overall vision and mission, what we’re working towards.
Casey: Well we are a small team. We’ve got six of us in here, then there’s yourself, Sammy. Not to discount the wonderful volunteers and supporters that we have. Some of them jump in and get their hands dirty, but a lot of work gets pumped out of you for such a small amount of people. I don’t think people realize how small the team is, how many different hats we’re wearing.
We’ve got Kelly, she’s in charge of fundraisers. That’s processing the fundraisers. It’s helping coordinate the fundraisers, then it’s issuing all the receipts and all the compliance and governance in relation with the fundraisers.
We then got Shay. Shay has come on board this year. She’s in charge of organizing all the logistics for our LIVINWell education program, which is our crowning glory. That’s the education program which goes out to the schools, businesses, sporting clubs, all around the country. I believe we’ve delivered some sessions in other countries around the world, New Zealand, Unites States. I believe that’s it so far. Maybe London as well. I’m not sure. That’s quite a big job for one person.
We’ve got 18 facilitators right now. They’re just all subcontractors and they’re all around the country here in Australia. A 45-minute presentation, and this is what we believe will have that impact from an education standpoint. It’s something that we’re very proud of. It’s warning signs and symptoms, where to go for help, how to help yourself, how to have those conversations.
Sam: It’s something that you and I didn’t have growing up in schools and a lot of people don’t have in workplaces or universities. I guess that’s the reason why we kicked off LIVINWell so that we could educate the masses that it ain’t weak to speak, but also to educate people the warning signs, the symptoms, self-help strategies, maybe how to help someone else, where to go for help if they are struggling. It’s amazing, I can talk from my experiences as being a facilitator within schools and workplaces, how many people are actually uneducated around the topic of mental health and suicide prevention. I think we hear it firsthand, the impact that this program has on people from all over Australia. That’s for sure. It goes to show that programs like this are very much needed.
Casey: Certainly. I think we’re our own worst critics too, because we sit there and we always question ourselves and question each other. What more can we be doing? The LIVINWell presentation itself, when you peel back, it’s quite simple. That’s what’s needed because we’ve never learnt anything.
I think the real positive and the real strength of it is its simplicity, but also it’s real, it’s relatable.
Our facilitators, it’s a standardized program but they throw in their own lived experienced too, which makes it relatable and that’s what people really resonate with. It’s amazing to see all the different facilitators and the little touch that they put on it and the pride that they take in helping affect people’s lives.
These people were strangers to us not that long ago and now they’re part of the LIVIN family and we are so grateful for them and all the work that they do.
Sam: Each of them have got their own unique journey and their own lived experience and their own story which they add-in for the LIVINWell angle. I guess it goes to show that struggling and having mental health challenges or illness is very common. If you’re struggling with a diagnosed or mental illness right now, you’re definitely not alone. There are a lot of other people that are in a situation similar to yourself, but I’m also very mindful that no one knows exactly how anyone else feels. If I’ve got anxiety, in case you’ve got anxiety, I can’t sit here and say, “I know exactly how you feel.” I might get an understanding of how you feel, but I certainly don’t know exactly how you feel because that’s the beauty of being a person. We’re all very different and we’re all very unique.
Casey: Yes. That’s also the beauty of people getting help or self-care. What works for me doesn’t necessarily work for you and vice versa. It’s all about finding that balance and finding what works for you and what makes you happy.
Sam: The merch obviously creates a conversation and it’s almost like a behavioural change, people who become part of the LIVIN initiative so to speak. You get the nod of approval if you see someone else walking down the street with a LIVIN hat or a snapback or a hoodie on. Can you shed some more light on the vision around the merch, Case?
Casey: Yes. With the staff members, I just mentioned– I was going around and in my head, it’s easy to go around in order of where they sit in the office. Next to come off the rank is actually my wife, Amy. She’s been with us from when it was just Sam and me. She came in and alleviated some of that burden or some of that load on us. She’s across everything we do, but she’s mainly in the merch. It’s the background she came in from before. She had her own boutique and label and et cetera, blah, blah, blah.
The merch started for us, as the conversation started. It started as a form of advertising. When we first started, we had no money. No one has any money, so we had to use what we could use. Luckily for us, we knew a few famous people, somewhat famous, we won’t give them a big head, but Mr Alex Glenn (NRL player) opened up a lot of doors for us and a few of the other boys that we played with when we were kids and the joys of social media. A lot of free advertising; all these walking, talking billboards and it just took off like wildfire.
Sam: The merch, funny enough, it was the first thing that we launched within LIVIN back in 2013. I remember very clearly, you, myself and Dwayne’s mum and Travie sitting up at Mermaid Beach Tavern on the Gold Coast. I’ll never forget it. We were thinking around names, around this possible movement or whatever it was at that stage and LIVIN was born. I’ve got a few questions here. Can I spread a question there around LIVIN? How did that start? Where did the name come from?
Casey: It’s funny, Sam might have kittens when I retell this story. We were trying to pick a name and I think out of nowhere, I said, “What about LIVIN or Just LIVIN?” and everyone looked at me like, “Are you an idiot?” I said, “No, no. We’ve got some good reasons.” Dwayne, if you go back to his Instagram, it’s all there. He used to hashtag LIVIN and a few other things. L-I-V-I-N, same as us. If no one knows, Sam is also quite OCD clean freak.
Sam lived in America many moons ago, when he was– He was an investment banker, weren’t you?
Sam: No, I worked in finance. Don’t talk me up that much, mate. I was just in as an associate in finance, just out of uni.
Casey: You used to wear these oversized brown suits.
Casey: Anyway, Sam has got a house here in Burleigh, so this is– Dwayne’s alive, it was my birthday one year, and I was LIVINg in Sam’s house, looking after it, doing my best anyway, while he was LIVINg in America. It’s my birthday one night, Dwayne was there, a few of the boys from the footy club were there and we’re having a few drinks, getting a bit rowdy, and Dwayne goes, “Let’s have a ceiling party.” What’s a ceiling party? He goes, ‘I’ll show you.” He runs inside to the lounge room, grabs a dining chair and just straight up through the ceiling, the four legs of the chair. Pulls it out and does it again, and he’s got the big cheeky smile on his face. I go, “What the hell are you doing?” He says, “Just living.” That’s how that started.
Anyway, my jaw’s on the floor, I don’t know what to do next and Dwayne’s running up to my room to grab my laptop so he could Skype Sam and show him what he’s just done to the ceiling.
Sam: That’s insane.
Casey: He’s Skyping Sam-
Sam: I wasn’t too unhappy.
Casey: -and I’m yelling at him and he goes, “Don’t worry, I’ll be here to fix it tomorrow.” My birthday is November, it’s quite hot. The next day, he’s crawling through the ceiling, true to his word, fixing the ceiling, but the ceiling’s got all that insulation. Back then, it was the itchy insulation, so all I could hear him in this hot ceiling winging and I’m yelling out, “Who’s LIVINg now, you little shit?” It’s something that he always used to say and it’s what we want people doing. It’s a very fitting name, I believe.
Sam: It totally is. I’ll never forget that. I remember him Skyping me. I was in the middle of the midwest, obviously other ends of the planet. It was freezing and you guys are telling me about putting holes in my roof. I actually knew it was going to get fixed, but I was deep down trying to pretend it was going to be all good, man, but it was killing me. It was killing me.
On that note, I remember obviously, at Dwayne’s wake, and we put t-shirts together and we had Dwayne’s face on it with one of his messages that he used prominently on his Instagram and from a famous song that he likes by Xavier Rudd. The merch was one of our first pillars from LIVIN. I remember we were running a Merch from my kitchen at one stage, then it was the bedroom at the house at Dabchick Drive in Burleigh Heads.
Casey: Looking back at it, I remember we did these shirts for everyone to wear to the funeral. That obviously didn’t have LIVIN on them, and just as you said, Dwayne’s face and the song. We were going to give the money to his family, and they just turned around and said, “No, donate it to a charity or do something with it.” That’s how LIVIN first started.
We then had the meeting and came up with the name. Originally, we just intended to make clothes and donate to a charity, but when we peeled back the layers, we couldn’t find a charity that was doing exactly what we wanted to do or what we knew someone like Dwayne needed which was education to break that stigma and make people feel comfortable in asking for help. There’s plenty of great service providers in Australia, in the United States, but there’s also plenty of people living in silence through fear of judgment. We just knew we had to connect the two. We started with the clothes, and it just grew and grew and we kept adding things on, but the clothes were a great way for us. The first drop was five shirts and then 10 shirts, and it just grew each time.
Sam: I remember running home from my part-time job. It was full-time at that stage, packing orders and sending them off to people. One thing, like you said, grew to the next and before we knew it, you and I were full time in this organization. We’d originally pitched it to MinterEllison, turned us to a charity, and before we knew it, we were a nationally recognized organization.
Casey: From the very start, we’ve just been so grateful for what– We’ve received so much support from people. I suppose that’s probably because of how big this problem is. In a perfect world, we have no one asking us to help us, and we’d have to be begging people or trying to explain what it is, what we’re doing, but people just get it because it’s such a big problem and they want to help.
Back to that, I remember that store in the closet, mom and dad’s, and my house which is a crossroad from the office here. It’s funny that the house across the road from the office here used to flood. All the clothes were underneath. The house was on a hill. It used to flood, so whenever there was a lot of rain, all the clothes had to be stacked up in boxes. We’ve come a long way from hands and knees, packing orders and lining up at the post office to send them out. I still remember the first time I saw someone wearing a LIVIN shirt where I didn’t know the person. It was in James Street here in Burleigh. It was great. It was local as well. I just remember going up and shaking his hand and thanking him.
We’ve got some of our first shirts here on show in the office and I’m glad we’ve come a long way from there.
Sam: Yes, vintage, mate. Might have to bring them back one day, but as you said, it creates a conversation. It’s the cool factor that was missing that I think you and I brought to the mental health sector, so to speak. We wouldn’t certainly be in this situation that we’re in today if we didn’t have the help and the support from people literally all over the world. Australia, obviously, everyone’s been so giving, supportive. There are people literally in all corners of Australia that have bent over backwards for LIVIN, have helped push LIVIN in the right direction. We thank you guys wholeheartedly for your countless time, commitment and it goes to show that there are a lot of Dwayne’s out there. Casey, you and I hear stories of suicide pretty much on a day to day basis. This is something that we’ve been hearing now for six years. The problem hasn’t necessarily gotten any better. What’s your thoughts? What’s your visions for the future? How do you think we could really make a difference here?
Casey: That’s another question that we always ask. We have a roundtable here in the office because I suppose we’re lucky. I haven’t actually mentioned that to other staff members yet. We’ve got our marketing manager, Jordy, who, she wears a million different hats. We’ve got Luko, our psychologist. Luke, we’re very lucky to have him on board. He’s formerly of the Australian Defence Force. All these people, we have a culture of continuous learning. I don’t think any of us sit back on our laurels and just let things happen. We’re always wanting to be better.
I know next year, we’re going to embark on a social impact journey, just so we can gauge where we’re at and better communicate with the masses, the impact that we’re having. Take more people on that journey with us, because it’s just what we need to do.
I suppose the grand vision is to affect change so people feel comfortable in asking for help, increasing that help-seeking behaviour, because as we said earlier, there’s plenty of great service providers in this country. Even outside of that, there’s plenty of great support networks, your friends, your family, your dogs, your cats, even. There’s plenty of these great support networks around. It’s just about educating people on how to engage with them and how to connect and bringing happiness back to people’s lives. It’s such a culture of busyness and stress now that we just need to remember how to be happy.
Sam: I’m looking at your shirt here, mate, and then obviously the picture in the background. You’ve got Dwayne and yourself on a handcrafted piece of artwork behind you in your office, but you’ve got a shirt that says “You Matter,” which is obviously made through one of LIVIN’s collections.
Every single person matters, and it’s something that we touch on quite regularly within the culture within LIVIN and it’s something that we push across to our community. If you ever feel alone, in the show notes, there will be a list of professional service health providers within the area, both local and national, that will provide within the show notes. If anyone is experiencing a hard time or wants to find out how to get help or take the next step, we’ll make sure that we can help point you in the right direction there.
Case, before we wrap up the show, because obviously, we could talk all day, this episode is dedicated to the start of the LIVIN podcast, It Aint Weak to Speak podcast. We want to send this message viral. We want everybody to know that they aren’t alone.
We want to educate communities to speak up and to seek help, because the more people that we can educate, the more lives that we could potentially save. We want to reinforce that with our mantra, It Ain’t Weak to Speak. Now, Case, before we close, before we wrap up, what’s the takeaway message that we could leave our listeners with today, that are wanting to join the journey and be part of the LIVIN initiative? What do you say to them?
Casey: I suppose you touched on it before. You matter. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’re experiencing, you matter to us and we want you to feel part of the LIVIN community and make it your own. You might live in Catherine, Northern Territory. You can create a LIVIN community there. Just because you live in Catherine doesn’t mean you can’t be part of the LIVIN community.
We want people to feel a part of that community, and we want people to be pillars or advocates of change and lead by example and practice self-care daily. Whatever it is that makes you happy, practice it daily. Encourage those around you to practice self-care daily. Checking in on the neighbour next to you or mowing someone’s lawn or paying for someone’s coffee, that’s something that’s so small, but will make you feel good and make the person that you give that gift to feel great.
I think it’s about doing the little things right. We want people to do the little things right because they add up to the big things. Consistency. Wellness is a journey, so
you can’t just go take one tablet and think to be cured. It’s a continuous journey and we want people to continually work at their wellness, because you matter and you are worth it and you are loved.
Sam: Absolutely. Amen to that. For everyone listening, if you want to find out more, you can head to LIVIN’s socials at @LIVINorg or you can head straight to our website and find out more about who we are which is www.LIVIN.org. If you also want to join the Facebook community group after the podcast, to continue the conversation, you can find that as well at the LIVIN.org website as well.
Thanks for joining us on the first episode of It Aint Weak to Speak. We look forward to speaking again. Keep LIVINg, keep working and send all the love to the staff and we’ll chat soon.
Casey: See you, mate.
Sam: Please like, share and spread the love to as many people as you can. Let people know that you subscribe to the show. Don’t forget to leave a review or comment so that we can grow this community together, because a conversation could save a life.
If you want to continue this chat, please join me on the podcast Facebook group at @LIVINorg. I can’t wait to share the next episode with you, but in the meantime, stay well, keep LIVINg and remember, It Aint Weak to Speak. Thank you and have a top day.