September 10, 2020
For most people who know me, know that I'm a pretty open book. But sometimes we all come to something that we don't feel we can talk about. I'm even creating this video, and I don't know whether it'll ever be seen. But I'm creating this video because I know R U OK Day is coming up, and for me it's important to share my story so other people do actually understand that there's struggles that no one will ever see.
What a lot of people don't know is that I had a son on the 6th of June, 2019. It was the most incredible day of my life. To have this beautiful human being who was created from such love between my husband and I, and it was the most exhilarating, amazing time. Every time someone walked into the hospital, they'd go "Dan, you look amazing. You look like you haven't even had a baby." And I was smiling and grinning from ear to ear.
What I didn't realize was going to kick in on day three was what they called the "baby blues." And, boy, did that bitch bite. Problem was I thought it was going to leave. It didn't. It didn't leave after a week after that, it didn't leave a month down the track, it didn't leave three weeks, three months down the track. It was there lingering, and I was struggling. Not only was I launching a range of women's bamboo undies, I had family commitments, I had all the normal things I'd do, plus I was a new mom.
Again, everyone was going, "You look amazing. You're glowing. You're, this... You're that..." But they didn't realize inside, I didn't want to get out of bed each day. I was struggling to connect with my son. I found feeding really hard. Even just giving him his bottle was like a mission to me. I didn't know if he liked me, I didn't know if my husband thought I was a good mother, all these stupid questions going through my head. But the problem wasn't with all of them, it was actually with me.
It took me almost four and a half months after the birth of my son to actually admit that I had an issue going on. I was driving to work with my husband one day, and I remember opening my mouth and these words I'll never forget came out. And that was, "You would be much better off if I was gone. You and he would survive, you would thrive, and you wouldn't have someone like me weighing you down." He didn't realize for the last six weeks I've been trying to decide how, or if, or when I would end my own life. I thought I was overreacting. I thought I was being silly and stupid. I have such an amazing life. I have a husband who adores me, family who've supported my dreams, a new business. And most of all I have this beautiful creation, my son. But yet nothing could get me out of this funk.
I didn't know what made me happy anymore. I didn't know if I'd ever be happy again. I'm such a positive, lively person. I love cracking jokes, I love making jokes about myself, I love making people laugh. I love talking about how the glass is half full. I didn't realize the shortness of breath I was feeling, the anxiety that was there, I didn't even realize that it was anxiety. I was just trying to push it down, push it down. "I'll get through this at work. I'll get through this at home." The problem wasn't home. My poor husband was sitting there trying to support me the best way he knew how, and that was by loving me. I couldn't even see it.
The guy would stop postnatal depression ads on the TV and rewind them back for when I walked in the room. I didn't see it. He would ask me if I was okay, and I didn't hear him. I just pretended like nothing was wrong and kept going. The problem with that is it only amplifies in your mind and someone else's. And for me, my biggest concern out of it all, is as much as I was talking about, or thinking about ending my own life, I was worried someone would take my son.
What I've since learned is that that's not the case. That you actually need to talk about it. You need to tell someone if you're not okay. Don't wait 'til it bubbles up and you're thinking of doing something that's going to change everyone's life around you.
Your family love you. There's plenty of people who care and respect you. Your workmates would miss you. Everyone has moments in their life where they're unsure. For me this was the biggest hurdle I've ever had to climb. But with support and talking about it, and getting the help I needed, it's made such a huge difference in my life. To come and see my son each day, to have the love of my husband, and to have my family around me.
Up until today recording this video, five people have known about this in my life, and one of those is my counsellor. Even talking to family I was sacred, I thought they'd think I was being stupid and weak, and just tell me to get over it. Again, that was in my head, that wasn't the case at all.
My family supported me and asked where they could help. And those nights of being anxious to put my son to bed, they've since diminished. I know I'm going to keep fighting for a little while to work this through because it's mind over matter, and I have to keep working on myself. But I want to work on myself to be a better human being, but one of the biggest lessons I've learned out of this, is actually asking someone if they're okay. It's so important.
So on this R U OK Day if this video has seen the light of day, ask that person. Think about it not just today, think about it all the days. That new mom, ask her, does she need you to make her a cup of tea? Does she need to cry for a minute? Has day three baby blues kicked in? Is it that person down the street that you see sometimes, give them a smile and say, "Good morning." That might be all they need.
Suicide prevention is real. I know way too many people in my life who have taken their own life. I hear stories all the time through other people wondering, could they have done something different? You can start today by just asking someone, are they okay, because you could make the biggest difference by doing that.
If you yourself are suffering something, you're not alone. You need to pick up the phone, there's plenty of hotlines around, and we will actually include them on the website so you can actually get the help you need. But know this, you will be okay. Just reach out, someone will reach back.
If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or depression, please reach out to one of the help lines below:
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Suicide Prevention Melbourne: 1300 651 251
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
Panda (Support for new or expecting parents): 1300 726 306
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