They used to talk about being gay as a mental illness, or you know, it was a disease.
When I was 13, I was experiencing depression and anxiety. And that was very much driven by me coming to the realisation, or starting to grapple with my own sexuality, that is being gay.
I came from a Greek background, so it's not something we talk about. It's something we never discussed. We didn't have the internet back then. So I used to go to the library and find these books, and they used to talk about being gay as a mental illness or you know, it was a disease, and all the therapies that they would all talk about.
So I really, it just felt like I was on my own and I didn't belong. And so, suicide ideation was very, very big for me, thinking about I'd rather be dead than alive. And because I felt like I had this disability, and it's not a disability.
But I felt like I just didn't belong in this world. And I didn't deserve to be here. And I was constantly in conflict with myself, and who I was, and my identity.
And just pushing down that gayness, if there's such a word, that that's like holding your breath under water for a very big part of your life, and never coming up for air.
It really just, and I used to just be caught in my own thoughts a lot, and could not know how to get out of my head and just having those suicidal ideation that you know, I wish
when I go to the doctors he would tell me I've got a terminal illness.
And I just yeah, I think I just pushed it right down, and try to ignore it, but it really,
it really influenced who I was. And I became this person that maybe I didn't want to be,
only because I was hiding this secret as I saw it. My thoughts of suicide were very loud,
and they started to scare me.
So I was having, I knew how I was going to end my life. I just didn't know when and you know, laying awake at night, knowing how I was going to end my life, and only knowing it was gonna be a matter of time.
And that really scared the hell outta me. It was frightening, that I was thinking about ending my own life and being in such a hole that the only thing I could see, the only way I could see out, was to take my own life.
Somewhere, down there, there was the truth of the part that wants to live. The part that's always wanted to live, the part that says, "We're hardwired to live."
And that was the part that every now and then would come into my head and say, "You know, George, there is hope, there is something out there." And I think that's probably
what kept me going for a while. And it was at that point, I thought I've got to do something because a part of me still wanted to live.
So that part took me to the doctor, and I saw the psychiatrist and I told him, I was having thoughts of suicide. And I told him what I was planning to do. And that was something that he took into consideration, and recommended that it was necessary for me, or that I should spend some time in a mental health facility to help me through this period.
I was ashamed. I was embarrassed. And basically I walked out of his office thinking, this is the end of me. This is the end of my life. I'm just gonna be, you know just being mentally unwell for the rest of my life.
I was in there for five weeks. And towards the end, I'm like, I wouldn't say I was feeling hopeful. I knew something had changed.
I didn't come out till 31. I had no intention to come out. I had planned to live the life I was living for a very long, to the day I died, but I don't know, it just happened. It just happened. And I was at home and one of my cousins saw me feeling not myself. And she started to ask me all these questions, and I just said it. And I remember saying
to her, I feel so free. And I felt like something had been lifted off my shoulders.
And you know, it actually was very empowering for me. It was the greatest, one of the
greatest moments of my life.
I am under the care of a psychiatrist, I'm on medication, but I've also found meaning
and purpose in my own journey.
So, I'm a speaker with Beyond Blue. I'm a Lived Experience Advisor with the Black Dog Institute, and also with Lifeline Australia, I volunteer as a crisis supporter, and also as a supervisor. So, for me doing that and giving back, and purpose is probably the most important thing for my own wellbeing.
I always used to be afraid of using the word suicide or are you having thoughts of suicide? It's something that, you know I never really wanted to talk to anyone about, but I find that now asking that question is very, very powerful. And I've asked it with family friends. I've asked it with work friends and work colleagues. And it's a very, very, very powerful question to ask.
Thoughts of suicide, suicide's quite impulsive. Those thoughts will come and go. So, if you can connect with someone by asking him that question, then potentially you may save their life.