A series of experiences from everyday people showing the importance of telling our stories and sharing our experiences to normalize all things mental health, bringing it out of the shadows and into the light. The more we share, the more we understand, and the more we understand, the more we can help each other come out of the shadows and into the light.
” Everything to Everyone
I remember listening on cd on repeat the 90s hit from Everclear – Everything to Everyone. Apart from being a wicked tune, it just resonated with me, some of the lyrics like “I think you are blind to the fact, that the hand that you hold is the hand that holds you down”. Another phrase being “You know all the right people, you play all the right games. You always try to be everything to everyone”. At the age of 21, having graduated from university, just moved out of home and living with my girlfriend I felt this song more than ever. I still felt as lost as I always had, as lonely as I always had and still unsure of who I actually was or who i really should be.
I was in my mind considering just honestly exiting the world permanently, most who know me would be like what the? He has everything, he has a job, a degree, a girlfriend and loving parents. Why would he want to end it? He has done everything according to the plan and is the living the dream. I only confided in my girlfriend at the time, and took at least a decade before i even shared this experience with my parents. I just kept thinking in my head, I feel like an alien and where to now? I wasn’t depressed. I was confident to most, just clouded by self doubt and pressured by the world’s expectations. That of my parents, society, work, university and those around me.
Even now as a father of two fantastic kids married to a wonderful woman I have splashes of these ‘demons’ sneaking into my thoughts. Though the thing that really kept me kicking on was the final realization that I just needed to stop giving a shit about what others thought and just find out who i was. Forget the religious doctrine, ignore the all boy school bias, challenge my parents wishes for me and just be me. It was the hardest thing that I’ve ever done in my life, saying no to those i love and being a person who is different to most around him.
It took me at least 8 years, before I was comfortable with myself and accepting of myself before i could share that with anyone else. Loads of failed relationships, two engagements and numerous jobs in different industries. I met my now wife of 9 years when I was 29. I was living alone, no debt, owned a car and rented close to CBD. My life was awesome, drank, ate and partied too much but I thought I was truly happy. I was happy but still something was missing. Someone to share it with. I always tell everyone that I was happy then my wife came and stuffed it up. She did, but for all the better. Two weeks she had keys to my unit, 2 months I asked her to marry me and 3 months she was pregnant with our son.
Since then I have battled in my mind and the workplace to be a better man. To continue to find myself. We have two kids, both at school and I can say that I’m actually at the happiest now. I have recently had six months playing stay at home dad and have no real interest to reenter the workforce currently. I don’t miss trying to be something I’m not and even with my two degrees, I don’t feel like they were a waste of time. I still have to convince people I’m not unemployed that stigma just seems to linger. I choose to do what i do and that’s spend time looking after my family. Two of my greatest achievements, two of my greatest joys and frustrations sometimes too.
My advice, some of the best decisions are the ones i made quickly and against most of my peers. I continue to battle prejudice as i am a stay at home dad, remembering that i spent two years at home previous with my kids a few years back and here i am in a mothers group. A dad showing that it’s not just a woman’s job and bucking the trends. I always have challenged the norms, personally I love making people stop gender classifying things or roles. I just say be happy with who you are, do what you love and be what you feel you should deep down, screw what others think. Admit that we all have demons, just some deal with them better than others and some fail to admit at all. We all need to speak up more, share and don’t worry about judgment. Hope my story helps others realise that you aren’t alone”
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