I'm Brian. I can make positive decisions about my life which help me to be the best I can.
In November, 2009, I was going home from work and standing on the Collingwood railway station. And one of the newer trains with the sloped ends stopped with the middle right in front of me and the thought crossed my mind, “What if I really wanted to get rid of myself it would be good to jump there because a least the driver wouldn't have to look.” And I thought, “What the hell am I thinking?”
Looking back, it was definitely quite major mood swings, so if something was going well I'd be real excited and positive, but if things were down, I'd really get down as well. I know now, I was more and more negative instead of seeking positive ways to do things.
One of the problems for older men is that they can get set in their ways and they can really be heading towards rusting away without realising it.
Well, it's sort of a bit like a car, really. If you just hop in the car and drive it and don't maintain it and get it serviced every routine period, it will probably start dying and things will go wrong and it gets worse, and it's the same with us and our bodies and our minds. What you say is I want a total tune up and repair, and listen to the advice that comes out of that. Now if that's going to be effective, though, you really need to have a doctor that you know. So that a doctor can start to observe things and spot problems when they're starting to arise, even if you don't spot them.
The good news is that help is at hand.
My counsellor was terrific and from the very first session he helped me to start to positives that I'd had, in my life. So I progressively realised I had to keep working. I needed to get back into the swing of that. And so I did.
But of course it's not only physical health and fitness. We always hear about, you know "You need to keep yourself physically fit because it helps your mental health." And that came in two phases. The first was that a mate put me on to mindfulness, and mindfulness, feel like is a combination of relaxation and breathing and it grades up to gentle exercise. I try and do it every morning because I find it focuses me for the day.
I now do some brain training online, but I also know that things like travelling is really good because I'm out of my safe, secure environment.
One of the strongest bits of advice that I would have is to be active, and that doesn't mean you have to be out doing things all the time, there are different ways to be active.
If I do things that I enjoy like going for a bike ride in the sunshine particularly that's good.
I use my bike for fun, fitness and adventure. I love exploring history, old rail trails, and I've always liked doing that.
I've done things that force me to be physically happy. They're my choice to do that. I don't own a car now and I live a bit over a kilometre from the railway station and the shops so I've actually gotta walk there and back and I really enjoy my walks there.
I think an anonymous call to the Beyond Blue helpline could be a really great step. And if you're watching this and you're a partner of a man who won't take action, then you ring the helpline too because there's advice for carers and spouses and partners about how you might be able to handle it and encourage the man to take some action to help himself.
If there's one thing that sums up for me, it gets back to the motivation and taking responsibility and that is I know I can only be the best I can. That's what in my older age I'm striving to be. At 68, I'm striving to be the best I can physically, emotionally, and to make sure my brain is as good as it can be for as long as it can be again, until it is ready to stop supporting me and I fall of the perch as the saying goes. And that means again, you need to be active find things you like to do, love them, and get into them. That's a really great thing.