The Changing Your Tune event at the Fremantle Esplanade Youth Plaza skatepark was a lot of fun but also a stark reminder that so many people in Australia suffer from mental health issues and commit suicide.
There was live music, burlesque and skating coaching clinics, but also hundreds of shoes on display to remind us that suicide is the leading cause of death in Australia for 15-44 year olds.
In 2016 3,027 people took their own life, with the Aboriginal rate of suicide twice as high as that of non Aboriginal people.
Western Australia has the highest rate of Aboriginal suicide in Australia, and a very disturbing trend of very young people seeing no other way out of their despair than killing themselves.
It is R U OK? Day today, a day where we are reminded off the very high rate of suicide and mental health problems in Australia. We even have a very high rate of youth suicide that is very disturbing.
Of suicides in Australia 75% are committed by men who in our macho society still find it hard to seek help and that needs to change, as there is no shame in admitting that one is battling the black dog.
When someone tells you they are not o.k don’t say that there are many people worse off, because it is totally irrelevant for those who are in the deepest, darkest and loneliest space in the universe in the jaws of the black dog.
Depression and anxiety is not some selfish self-indulgence and feeling sorry for oneself, so being told to stop whingeing because other people are worse off is like being told that one is a loser who should stop the poor me attitude.
Depression is a very frightening emotion where one sees no future and no way out of that huge black hole, and one believes that no one can help because no one understands. It is a deeply lonely battle where one feels absolutely abandoned by the world and all one wants is peace and to not wake up the next morning.
Committing suicide is not a selfish and coward act but one of utter desperation because one sees no other way out. It is the most awful soul-destroying feeling of aloneness that is impossible for me to put in words. It makes me shudder to even think off it.
The black dog keeps coming back in the most unexpected moments and when one believes one has won the fight. That awful pressure of anxiety in one’s chest is only made a little more bearable by hoping that it might be the start of a heart attack and that life will soon end, so that one hopefully does not have to commit suicide.
It is easy to smile and show a stiffer upper lip and to answer I am okay when people ask, but deep inside one knows one is just a little bit okay for a short while, maybe a whole day, but many evenings we go to bed and ask the universe to not let us wake up tomorrow because we are so exhausted fighting depression.
So thank you, I am okay today and will have great fun talking to many international visitors at the Roundhouse, and I sincerely wish and hope that YOU are okay as well!
Anxiety Disorders Australia donated $5,000 of their remaining funds to Bluebird Mental Health at Ferns House in Fremantle’s High Street today.
Previously known as GenWHY?, Bluebird is an up and coming mental health charity with a big vision: To be Australia’s leading provider of psychologist led, peer supported services championing adult mental health and wellbeing.
Bluebird has achieved a great deal with very little funding, and has been able to provide support groups to over 390 individuals in 2015 from CBD locations in both Fremantle and Perth.
Founded in 2009 Bluebird is the only organisation in WA dedicated to offering support groups facilitated by registered psychologists for over 25’s. In addition, Bluebird offers this services for free to all members, relying solely on private and grant based funding.
Suicide remains the leading cause of death for all Australians between 15 and 44 years of age. Bluebird’s integrated program of support builds confidence and skills of members allowing them to manage their own anxiety and/or depression, reaching people in need before they become another statistic!
It’s MENTAL HEALTH WEEK and I have just watched a really good Q&A on ABC TV and decided to let it all out and make my own small contribution. I realise it is risky and that some people will judge me, but so be it. I have little to lose. I hope that maybe it will help some people to speak up and ask for help. My story started here in Fremantle in 1994:
And you come back to Freo after stumbling 58,000 kilometres through Australia to find a place to die, and you start again, all over again not realising how much of your self-esteem has been sucked from you. You want to throw yourself back into the work you love doing, but have lost the confidence to go out and promote yourself, so you unconsciously create and artificial reality and build a cocoon around your depression.
You become a social advocate then an activist, supporting minority groups, you get deeply involved with your community and local politics, you become a volunteer.
Financially you start to struggle when the money from the sale of your house is drying up and not enough assignments are coming in, but after many years you even fall in love again. She is perfect of course until you find her in the arms of a friend. Your heart is broken and hatred destroys you, because she has taken what you valued most; trusting people.
Life goes on, it has to, but the cocoon you have created around your depression is not strong and it bursts, and another suicide attempt is gone. You have to admit that you are not brave enough to pull it through. Whoever said that people who commit suicide are selfish cowards have no idea about the intense darkness and aloneness, where death seems to be the only solution. The despair is so deep that it physically hurts, it’s a pain-and the fear off it- that never leaves you.
A few more failed love affairs and broken hearts, and little money left. Your lifestyle is getting worse and pulls you further down. What great relief and gratitude to have caring and generous friends and loans and food parcels, but it is equally devastating and demeaning. This is not the life you want to live.
The noose comes back and with it the fear for eternal darkness. You want to be dead but don’t want to die. You just don’t want to wake up tomorrow. And the worst thing is to know that you will never feel the relief you crave for and that you will hurt the people you love.
The GP tells you that you should just go to ”dancing halls” where a rich woman will pick you up and look after you. He also tells you not to worry about having no money for rent because you can sleep in your car, and not having food is also no issue ”because you have plenty of fat to burn.”
You feel like a total loser after that, someone who does not even get empathy from a medical professional.
But friends push you through and the psychologist is more understanding. What even he does not understand though is that the fear to deal with the almighty government department is too overwhelming and that you can’t make that call, you just can’t. They all think it is so easy and no doubt it would fast-forward to some sort of outcome, but the overwhelming anxiety is debilitating.
The amazing thing is that you are still very active and that you like who you are. You also realise that many people like you and even admire what you do, so you continue being the giver, he who does not charge for his services to help others, while being broke himself. You dream about helping others while being unable to help yourself. There does not seem to be a solution, but death, and that is hard to accept for someone who loves life and people.
There is no end-yet-to this long journey that started in 1994. I am still here but it is getting harder each and every day. Who knows, maybe I’ll be lucky one day soon and I won’t wake up with a chest full of anxiety, and there won’t be a tomorrow.