the day my dad lost his soulmate + a reflection on male depression and mental illness

Few people know this story, or rather the horrific chain of events that occured in the month of May, but I’m finally ready to write about it, decompress a little, and share some, in hope that others can relate, and well, maybe just, I don’t even know – so here goes .. stay with me, this post is incredibly disjointed, as it was incredibly hard to write.

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On Sunday the 28th of May, I had called my Nanny in hope to say goodbye to my (now late) great grandmother. She wasn’t well enough to speak, and I was kindly rejected. Instead I spoke to my Nanny for a few minutes, as she told me we were closer than before to losing her, that these would be her final days earthside. I got off the phone, brokedown on my veranda, and I was consumed in my own moment of fear, sadness and anger.

I needed to talk to my Dad. The one person who I knew could make me feel better.

I call him, it rings for a while. Then he picks up. Sobbing. Hard. For a second I thought we were crying for the same reason, until I realise that he’s not. I ask whats wrong. More tears. I ask again. ‘Dad, whats wrong? whats going on?”.  He then tells me, through muffled voices and fierce tears, that Adam, was dead. I was deeply confused. “WHAT?! What do you mean?”. My Dad, then strings just enough words together to tell me that Adam took his own life, the day before, and that his brother had called my Dad to let him know.

I could tell my Dad was frightened, sad, grief-stricken and sorrowful. He was already, not in a great place and this just created more fractures in a man, who although seems so together, was already so broken. We cried together for a moment, then I left him. I fought back tears as I called my younger brother Scott. I was in absolutely no state to drive, and he was the closest to him. I ordered him over there as fast as he could, told him why and we were both in panic mode. My sister Alice was at a friends place, and I am thankful for her friends that did not allow her to leave and keep her in lockdown mode, as they all had been enjoying drinks on what was, a beautiful afternoon. I ordered my brother to give me hourly updates on the condition of my Dad throughout the night and to not leave him alone, under any circumstances.

In the morning, all three eldest children, myself, Alice and Scott, all cancelled work and plans to go over to my Dads house. The house was cold and empty of emotion; whereas usually it would be filled with ridiculous laughter. He sat on the front porch, sunglasses on and didn’t really make eye-contact with anyone, he didn’t speak, he didn’t eat; he just sat, as tears rolled down his face, and whilst his children made awkward conversation around him. Sometimes he would whimper, and Alice and I would hug his arm, as he sat still like a stone statue.. not ready to move. He knew why we were there, at one point he did ask us to leave because he want to be babysat, but we felt better staying. So we did. Later that afternoon, I left to go home and pick Parker up from school. Later that afternoon my great-grandmother died. Once again, I just needed my Dad. So I called him to tell him that she had passed, and I asked him if we could come over because I just needed to be around some family. He said that it was fine, and we came over for dinner. I felt like an absolute dick for crying in front of my Dad, for he never got to say goodbye.. and I had many chances, but he assured me it was fine, and that sadness and grief is, well, saddness and grief, regardless of how they were lost.

Adam and my nephew, Nash – The Jubilee Hotel

 

Jessica, Adam and Dad – The Jubilee Hotel

 

My Dad lost his soulmate. His bestfriend. His work-husband. His other half. Adam and my Dad were two peas in a pod. They finished each others jokes, they worked together, ate lunch together, drank Southerns together, went to the Jube together. Adam was the only person to bring my dad out of his hermit shell that he had been living in for the last 25years. Then just like that, he was gone, and so was part of my Dad. I lost part of my Dad that day when Adam died, a part that I don’t think will ever come back. A piece of him will always be missing, like that jigsaw that goes unfinished. Adam lit up my Dads life like a beacon, full of laughs, inappropriate jokes and good fun. He helped my Dad through incredibly hard times and opened him up like a book. Before Adam, Dad never went out, never socialised, he never really spoke about his feelings, or his emotions. This terrible event came as a shock to my Dad, and everyone involved, and I wished Adam would have allowed my Dad the same courtesy to help him through his darktime and darkness the same way Adam did to him. Adam was a stellar human being, and I’m grateful for his existance, not only in my own life, my brothers and sister’s life but in my Dads life too, he will forever be missed.

One of the things that I have learnt over this experience, is that men, who are experiencing mental illness, depression, or anxiety, are trying to do it alone. They carry this stigma and compounding shame that because they aren’t coping, that in turn makes them weak. I recently read this brilliant article from Dr. Terrence Real and he broke it down like this – “Depression and mental illness goes against the traditional male code – the code of invulnerability. What it means to be a man is to be invulnerable. The more invulnerable you are, the more manly you are. The more vulnerable you are – and particularly emotionally vulnerable – the less manly you are; you’re weak, a sissy.” This thought process, in my mind, is incredibly harmful, detrimental and frightening, and it needs to be broken. ASAP. The statistics surrounding male suicide are frightening .. According to BeyondBlue, ‘six out of every eight suicides every single day in Australia are men. The number of men who die by suicide in Australia every year is nearly double the national road toll.’

Groups like BeyondBlue, Lifeline, The Black Dog Institute, Mensline, Young Diggers,  or Livin’ all have information, focus groups and meet-ups for men where they are able to freely, safely and confidently share with others about their own concerns or concerns for the safety and wellbeing of a loved one. All these groups and communities are working hard to smash the ‘weakness’ stigma associated with male depression and mental illness.  I urge you to take some time, check out some of the websites I’ve mentioned above, browse thru, read, or donate, share some information on your Facebook page, your socials, or open your home or ears to someone in need. You could save someones life.


Lolly.
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