News, Truckie Profiles

Truckie overcomes struggles to get back behind the wheel

After leaving trucking for 10 years following a nervous breakdown, Adam Meek is now back in the driver’s seat and enjoying being back on the road.

For Meek, it was always about the trucks as a kid. “I grew up around it, my dad had trucks as I was growing up. All I really wanted to do was be a farmer or drive trucks – so I did both. I started driving from the day I got my L plates, so I was driving at 16,” he said.

“Then I had a nervous breakdown, I couldn’t even look at the truck. I thought my health is more important than driving, so I stayed on the farm full time.”

Meek, who is now 35, was working as a truckie from the age of 18 until 25. The father of five, who has another on the way, came back into the job earlier this year and says he’s in a much happier place.

“When I left trucking, I just wasn’t happy – my mental health wasn’t going well. I had been fighting some demons and they started to get on top of me. And I started second guessing myself when I was driving. My dad always said if you start second guessing yourself, that’s the time to stop. I had a break from it and got some help,” explained Meek.

“I had lost my passion for driving. I just couldn’t be bothered any more. I was under a lot of stress, I guess I was a bit in denial that I had a problem. When I had a bit of a breakdown I realised I did have a problem and needed help. Once I got that help, I was enjoying my life and my family again.”

He moved to Queensland two years ago with his wife and kids. While working full time elsewhere, he began carting sugar from the Atherton Tablelands to Mossman on weekends. “And I got the bug again,” he said.

“I was driving a 12-pallet rigid once a week, so I didn’t get burnt out and I was enjoying it.

“When my wife said she wanted to move back to Victoria, I said I’d go back to driving. Firstly because I was liking it again, and secondly because of the money.”

Meek drives a Scania R730 for K&S Freighters.

With that, Meek – who now lives in Ballarat – scored a truck driving job at K&S Freighters in January. He started out doing the Melbourne to Adelaide run but switched to local work about six weeks later. As of this week, he’s now back on interstate.

“We have five kids under 12 and another on the way so me being away from home was pretty tough. I didn’t want to leave the company so they shuffled a few things around and got me into local work to fill in for someone who was away. Now I’m going back to interstate,” explained Meek.

Yesterday, he loaded at Campbellfield, Victoria, bound for Millicent, SA. “It’s about 450km so it’s not a big trip but a nice one to ease me back into interstate. I’m employed to drive Melbourne to Adelaide, so that’s what I’ll be doing, carting general freight.”

“At K&S, all the drivers say g’day and you get that sense of mateship. There’s that sense of comradery at K&S. There isn’t much negativity from the other drivers. You have to find something that suits you; and that’s all that counts at the moment. If you’re not happy doing what you’re doing, there’s no point in doing it”

“When I coached the under 8s in Queensland, I asked them what was the most important thing about playing the game. I got heaps of answers, but the one I was looking for was: so long as you’re having fun.

“If not happy doing what you’re doing, find what does make you happy and do it. That’s the motto that I live by.”

He had driven trucks for 10 years before giving it up to focus on his mental health struggles.

Now that he’s 11 months back into the job, Meek says he hasn’t looked back, though adds that it’s not always easy. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s a tough industry to be in, I can lose a week’s wages for a couple of discrepancies in my logbook for minor breaches. I’m lucky I’m not an owner operator. With fuel rates, they’ve gone up 30 cents in the last three months, then there’s rego costs, insurance costs.

“I’m sitting on 60-65 tonne at the moment, so if I do the wrong thing, or don’t concentrate, or don’t judge what’s happening in front me, there can be severe consequences, and people don’t realise that. The regulations are making it tougher, but you need to be able to manage that.

“The main reason I went to K&S was that I wanted to work in a big company where I could turn up, do my job and go home. I get along great with my direct supervisor too.”

Meek has five kids and another on the way.

After overcoming his personal struggles, Meek has now found his happy place. “Baby number six is on the way in April. When my wife and I got together 13 years ago, she wanted six kids, I wanted two kids, and we compromised,” he joked.

“We have four boys and a girl aging from 12 to 2.5 years. I don’t know what we’re having, we haven’t found out with any of the others, so thought we wouldn’t start now.

“My older boys love the trucks. Declan turned 12 in October, he’s been in every truck I’ve driven expect for at K&S, because you can’t have passengers. That’s how I got into it. That’s the thing now, how do you get these kids interested if they can’t go in the truck with their dad? Most guys in the industry got their start riding with their fathers.”

Lifeline: visit the website or call 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: visit the website or call 1300 22 4636

Health In Gear: visit the website or call 1800 464 327

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