You're slogging through thick mud, and you look around and you see that people are just casually walking by, it feels like you're at an intense disadvantage that nobody else seems to be.
So it's important for me to share this, I personally have a long history with mental health issues. I have struggled with suicidal thoughts for considerable periods of my life, and I have attempted to take my own life as well.
My parents separated at six, and then five years after that, my father was killed in
a workplace accident. I did grow up quite a scared child, acting out in anger because anger was the best way of feeling like I could take control of a situation that was rapidly becoming out of my control. My first reaction was that it was my fault, I was taking responsibility for something that was completely outside of my control.
I grew up through my teen years, my adolescence and into my early adulthood with that foundation of an intense resentment of my own existence, a real strong capacity for self-loathing and a really low level of self-respect.
I would have a lot of conversations with Mum about it, she believed that I romanticized the relationship that I could've had with Dad, as opposed to the relationship that I probably would have had.
He was a very absent father, I had to call him to come see me on my 11th birthday 'cause he just didn't really have much of a regard for us unfortunately, but I had developed a surrogate father figure in my mind. My idea of a father was quite corrupted and not exactly healthy.
So everything that I did had to be perfect, it translates to my work today as furniture maker, everything has to be perfect. If you fail, it's because you didn't try hard enough
or you didn't work hard enough, everything that you do, it has a pointlessness to it.
Shortly after I turned 18, when I did make an attempt to take my own life...If this was all that there was to look forward to for the next 50, 60 years, I just wanted to check out.
When you're in that headspace, it's just sort of, just feels like normal behavior. Again, everybody's normal's different, and when you're in that kind of headspace, trying to take your own life doesn't really seem like that much of an issue. It was a combination of not feeling like I had anyone to talk to and not feeling like my issues were worth talking about.
I've been asked the question, "What would you say to yourself at that age that you feel like you needed the most help?" All I can say is that I wish I had someone there who made it more acceptable for me to talk about these kinds of issues that I was having.
Emotions are a key aspect of the human experience and we're so undereducated about them. The hardest thing to do was to ask for help because it acknowledges two things.
One, that things aren't the way that you want them to be. And two, that they can be better. Everybody struggles, and the best way to deal with it is to talk about it.
I started finding how much of an impact it was having on my mom. I told her, "I can't do this on my own, "I do need help."
Therapy, for me, I wouldn't be here without it. Things are going to happen to you
and things are going to happen around you, you have absolutely no control over whatsoever. The only thing that you have control over is how you respond to that situation. Self-forgiveness, for starters, was one that, I have to practice it daily, so if I make a mistake at work or if I make a mistake in a relationship, I have sit for a couple of seconds and say, "Look, this is not a reflection on you as a person, "this does not mean that you're a complete "and total failure, it means you're human, "it means that you make
mistakes and that's okay."
If I had checked out when I was 18, I would've missed winning an undefeated premiership, even if it is the Division Three Reserves, it's still undefeated as far as I'm concerned. I would've missed my nephew and my niece being born. I would've missed the process of trying to become a firefighter, unsuccessfully, for seven years, and all the things that I learned during that process.
There's so much to hope for, take it day by day, just small things, that mindset might just change to, "Maybe it is worth it, maybe there is a reason to keep going."