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Making the Call

I thought about how to do it, over and over in my mind I perfected it. I had undergone years of therapy; I saw many different psychologists and psychiatrists. I was prescribed so many different medications I can’t remember them all – I hated it.

I forked out thousands of dollars to be told what I didn’t want to hear and take tablets I didn’t want to swallow. I drank my problems away, that’s what I learnt and believed worked and told myself I could bluff it all and get by. But it didn’t, the same demons were always there the next day. It made getting through each day harder and harder. I was trying to mask my issues doing this in the evening but at work, I would sober up and my demons were waiting.

In 2016 I was on a flight to Onslow when I found myself staring out the window when we had reached cruising altitude. I had been really low for some time and I thought to myself I just wish the plane would fall out of the sky and crash. I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t afraid to die like that. I had just hit the lowest point (or close to) that I could ever recall of how depressed I could get. When I arrived, I went about my business as usual, checking into my room and meeting up with colleagues to discuss a plan for tomorrow – all the while there was a raging inferno inside me.

That afternoon I did something that terrified me, I was so nervous. I picked up the phone and called Beyond Blue.

My heart was racing, my chest was pounding. What will happen if I tell them how I am really feeling? Will they send the police because I may be a danger to myself or others? I’m not! I promise! What if they haul me off in a van and lock me up in a padded cell and I never get out? What if I go crazy over time when I am in an institution and they won’t release me? I was scared. A voice answered on the other end of the phone, ‘hello?’

The voice on the other end of the phone reassured me that I wouldn’t get locked up in a cell, I fought back tears as I felt I had crossed a significant bridge in making this phone call. When I returned to Perth I spoke to my partner about it and the first step was booking into my GP. My GP was a nice guy, an older man with a lot of experience especially with mental health. I told him exactly what I had been feeling and how it made me feel as I fought back tears. I told him how scared I was to tell a health professional about the thoughts I was having. One of the things they have to ask is; do you think you are a risk to yourself or anyone else? To which I responded ‘no’ because I didn’t, because I was there to get help as I wanted to get better.

‘To myself, I am nothing, nobody. But to them, I am everything, that makes me someone, somebody and that is worth fighting for’

This mantra I wrote myself at the time saved my life. At the time I didn’t do it for me, I did it for them. I didn’t want to give up on them and I didn’t want them to give up on me. I could not put them through the pain of that.

This is how having that honest conversation saved my life. Getting the help I needed was like leaping over a chasm. The fear I felt about the severity of my depression was immense and deep. Speaking about it with my GP felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I cried so much in that room, I felt so relieved. When I left the GP I felt like this was the beginning of getting better.

I had been sad and angry for a long time and pushed my family away with alcohol, I wanted to be a good husband, father, son and mate – I thought I was doing a good job but I felt I was failing terribly.

There were times where I believed suicide would end my pain but it would only just start for my loved ones.

The last 4 years have certainly not been the smoothest, but I am so grateful to be here to tell this story. At the time I did it for them but now I do things for me too. The power of sharing stories like this is to create awareness to let people know who are feeling like this that they are not alone and help is available.

 

Billy Good © 2021 

ROCKY ROADS

Life has been a bumpy road of many twists and turns

It’s one step forward and two steps back

up and down I go

I get knocked down I get knocked back

On this long and winding road

to bounce back from adversity

at each and every turn

there is a lesson to be learnt

Something that’s called resilience as I drive along this road

 

Jenny Smith © 2019 

SILENCE

Silence

Fills the thick air between us

There’s something no one wants to say

But it’s on the tips of everyone’s tongues

That desire to escape, plagues us one by one

 

My grandmother felt it, lying in wait for years

In excruciating pain

Hating God for his lack of empathy

She wanted a way out

Because she believed there was nothing left for her here

 

My brother felt it, he tied it up into a neat package

Full of smoke, and alcohol, and psychedelia

The patterns on his walls spoke to him

And asked him to ponder the question

Of whether he was worth this world

 

My mother felt it, her life broken apart suddenly

By death, by divorce, by loneliness

The urges crept into her bedroom

As she lay awake during twilight hours

Asking herself if there was another way to get rid of the aches in her heart

 

I felt it, because I never believed I was worthy

Through trauma, through silent neglect

The thought pierced my mind as a child, as a teenager, as an adult

And I shouldn’t even be here

But somehow, I survived that visit to the whitewashed hospital walls

I woke up and walked out alone onto a horizon that I had to build myself

And now, a global pandemic made me realise that there is something to live for

Yet that is still hard to cling to

Because what is the truth may not be a part of my narrative

Until I re-write the whole darn thing

From page 1 to now

 

Yet, no one speaks in my family

Stillness settles like dust on bookshelves full of old classics

And space and time separate us

I lie awake in the future, wanting to be able to articulate

The things I’ve learned that keep me safe

Yet, they too, feel like heavy weights keeping me down

And I try to knock, but the doors are empty

The hollow sound of my fist echoes back

I’m ready to speak, but no one is there to receive my news

 

So we stay alone, connected by a thread of past, current, and future anxieties

We have stories to tell and serious things to say

Yet shame and stigma pervade every crevice of conversation

And I fear for those who don’t even have a name for this

How can they speak? When I am only just learning how to open my mouth

 

The only thing I can say

Is that the shame of suicide may feel real

But until you shatter the glass that keeps you locked inside

You’ll always believe that you’re the only one feeling ashamed

When in fact it could be anyone around you

Also living that daily battle to put one foot out of bed, then the other

 

Be brave and speak up

Be brave and listen

And if it’s too difficult to be brave at the moment

That’s ok too

Be patient with yourself instead, and let the words come when they are ready

 

They will arrive eventually

And you will find that being open to what you may learn and what you may give

Is just enough for today

And the next day