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"I wanted to die." Casey Donovan on the darkness she felt after being catfished for 6 years.

“No one’s ever gonna love me, no one’s ever gonna take me seriously. I’m just gonna be a joke.”

These were the heartbreaking thoughts that went through Casey Donovan’s head in the aftermath of her catfishing saga, which saw her strung along by a woman pretending to be a man named Campbell for six whole years.

She had been led to believe the woman – referred to as “Olga” – was a friend of Campbell’s, and was someone she could trust wholeheartedly. A friend, a confidant.

Instead, she had isolated Casey from her friends and family, and coerced her into having sex with her, using the guise of Campbell to request a night of intimacy with his friend. This, devastatingly, was Casey’s first ever sexual experience.

“You know, it really stuffed with my head. There were so many things happening, I didn’t know which was was up. I was grabbing at anything,” she told Andrew Denton last night.

Watch a snippet of Andrew Denton’s interview with Casey. Post continues after.

As months rolled into years, Casey began to suspect things were not as they seem. But having lied to friends and family about having met Campbell in person, she felt stuck.

“I stupidly didn’t tell anyone that I’d never met this guy, Olga was the only one that knew the truth,” she said.

“My mother had spoken to him on the phone, my aunt had spoken to him on the phone… Every time they asked ‘Did you see Campbell this weekend?’ I’d say ‘Yep, we hung out’. I was creating this big ball of lies until one day I thought ‘something’s not right’.”

She admits that while those around her had expressed their concerns about Campbell and Olga over the six years, it didn’t click until she felt it herself. In the meantime, she’d grown more and more distant from her loved ones.

“No matter whether it be my mother or family member saying ‘This isn’t right’… I didn’t want to hear it… I couldn’t see it for myself. It took me six years to realise.”

“She’d p*ssed all of my friends away. I had no one.”

Then, she says, she became like her own private investigator.

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“I’d search her room when she wasn’t home. I’d look for answers because I knew there was something not right.

“I’d be on the phone to Campbell and I’d say ‘Oh you just sounded like Olga’ and he’d say ‘Don’t be stupid’… there were all these things.”

Her catfish was eventually caught out with the help of her manager Jason, but things went from bad to worse for Casey.

Following the deep deceit, she developed a sex addiction as a coping mechanism, and admits she “wanted to die”.

“It got to that point where I was like ‘what the fuck have I done to my life’,” she shared.

While many of us can barely begin to imagine what it must feel like to endure a similar experience, there’s one feeling that overwhelmed Casey in the months that followed. And “embarrassed” – as some might deduce – doesn’t even come close.

Loneliness.

Deep, painful, loneliness.

“The silence was so deafening that I was like ‘I can’t be here’. I was so empty.

“The night I found out this was all a lie, I sat on the edge of my parents bed at around 3am in the morning and they thought someone had died.

“I remember my mum said we had to let you go… if we didn’t let you go she would have cut you from us all together.”

On a recent episode of SBS Insight, the former Australian Idol and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here winner opened up about her journey living in the depths of loneliness.

She said her life was still pretty lonely.

“Some days I honestly don’t get out of bed. I’m just beat. I’ll feed the cats, go back to sleep.”

But after listening to the other stories of loneliness, a defiant Casey told the crowd:

“I am not going to be scared and fearful of the little things like rejections. I enjoy some perks of loneliness, detoxing and sitting with a thought – but I might try new things.”

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner or in Australia, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

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