Vice President of Beechworth to Bridge Inc
I am a 48-year-old male and I am blessed to have 4 children; Natalie who is 27, Jai 17, Noah 16, my youngest Archie who is 11, and 2 beautiful granddaughters Keira & Alannah. In 2016 I experienced losing my mother, who I loved beyond words, I had two relationships crumble in the space of six months that left my world in a dark place clouded in confusion and a constant state of unhappiness.
I was, on the outside for all to see, my usual bright, energetic persona, but inside I was drowning in a sea of feeling like the world would be better off without me, suffering anxiety and a constant feeling of hopelessness. I was self-medicating with a huge amount of alcohol every day - an old family coping mechanism I had learnt from a young age. I started visualising my own suicide, or as the experts say, suicidal ideations.
I had a plan and I had prepared everything I needed to do it. I thought about it a lot, and then I thought about it some more. I had thoughts about who would find me, and it was most likely going to be one of my boys, but still the thoughts kept coming no matter what I did - they wouldn’t stop and I felt myself propelling more and more out of control.
It all got that way because I just felt so helpless and confused and didn’t know what to do or which way to turn. I thought it was the only thing to do to make all the pain and anxiety go away. I tried to reach out to a few people but it didn’t seem to help. I had known two young men who I thought were very strong who had suicided, my thoughts were that I could do the same and let everyone move on with their lives without me.
I knew my friend Lisa Cartledge had lost her husband to suicide. I had attended Sean’s funeral, which was so very sad, and I remembered thinking that I didn’t understand the why of it all. As I stood in the shed one night, moments away from following through with my plan, I made the decision to call Lisa and seek her help - I knew she would understand like no one I had spoken to. I remember crying when Lisa asked me if I was okay. I told her no, I was not okay.
We didn’t talk for hours, but what Lisa said to me was that it was okay to not be okay, and to seek support for what was going on. I don’t think Lisa to this day knows that her kindness and understanding saved my life that night, or how close I was to the edge. I followed Lisa’s advice, spoke to my doctor and I was referred to a wonderful person who helped me so much. I felt again that my life started to slowly get back on track.
I do talk a lot, alright, I never shut up, and if you ever meet me you will go "Okay, I see that!" but I would not talk to many people about having the elephant in the room with me - being suicide. I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of the Beechworth to Bridge committee and this has allowed me to have the courage to put my lived experience out via this story.
You may think you have nowhere to turn or that it is all hopeless. But you have to believe that things will get better. I sought help from all sources – friends, family and doctors. While at times it felt like all the help and advice only made things improve slowly, I knew that having people around to talk to did in the end bring me around and help me deal with my mental health issues.
Do I have great days everyday? No, I don’t, but I have learnt that it is okay to not be okay, to use exercise and to maintain healthy relationships with people who love me unconditionally. I am so blessed to have so many wonderful loving people to support me and I cannot wait to talk to people on our journey to Sydney - but more importantly for me, I will listen like I have never before, just as Lisa did for me.