Seven stories of hope - Mark's story
Published on 18 October 2019
Please be aware the story below may contain reference to suicide. Should you feel this might cause any discomfort, please do not read further.
As a part of Mental Health Week, the Launceston Suicide Prevention Trial presents the personal stories of seven people and their experience, in a series titled Seven Stories of Hope.
Mental health issues and suicide are a concern across all Australian communities, but are often subjects which aren't openly discussed. Seven brave people from the Northern Tasmanian community are sharing their unique stories to break the silence and offer what they value the most: hope.
By sharing their stories, they hope to help someone who is going through a tough time, or help someone who may have lost a loved one. They hope that others can feel empowered to talk about life's difficulties without fear. They hope that people realize all is not lost and support is available -- sometimes in the most unexpected places.
By sharing their story, we hope that you can take something away that will bring a new and unique perspective on an issue that requires all of us to play a role.
This story is by Mark.
I’m writing today as an example of hope, to show what can happen and to give encouragement to those who -- for whatever reason -- find life overwhelming.
I so very nearly became one of those eight people each day who take their lives. However I did not. Now I lead a happy and fulfilling life, giving and receiving love, engaged in worthwhile and demanding work, and feel satisfaction and accomplishment.
There is nothing special about me, and no miraculous ‘cure’. I am who I am today though competent medical treatment and the personal support of those around me.
I was a policeman and, over the years, this had an adverse effect on my mental health. I ended up unable to do my job, unable to take part in family life and unable to think at all clearly. My illness made me view a world in which there was only self-blame, guilt and hopelessness.
Thinking I had no choice I tried to continue on. I became suicidal and eventually was invalided out of the force and later hospitalised.
The turning point for me was when I sought help. I only took a small step; I simply told my partner exactly how I was feeling. Up until then, thanks to my condition, I had increasingly isolated myself.
My partner already knew things were very wrong, and tried her hardest for me. However she was hampered firstly by feelings that she had in some way contributed to my condition -- completely wrong of cours., I was ill and my behaviour was the result. Secondly, a belief widely held back then that mentioning suicide to a person might make matters worse. Nowadays we know this is simply untrue. The opposite is the way to go. I personally felt such relief at being able to talk to another person about how I was and the thoughts I was dealing with.
My recovery was partly due the treatment of a psychiatrist on an ongoing basis with therapy and medication, partly due to the isolation and rest from the pressures of life when in hospital, and partly due to the support of my partner, who dealt with work, the household, offspring -- and me. A huge burden.
Thankfully she did have support herself. Her mum was close and lent her both practical help and loving care.
As I improved, I was able, on my partner’s insistence, to take up a course of study where a sense of identity, purpose and interaction with others all started to rebuild.
After my course I was invited to teach at that institution, at first in a small way but -- as years went by -- in positions of increasing responsibility and complexity.
Now, after reaching retirement age I have been making a positive out of my experiences and assist others with mental health conditions or who are affected by suicide.
For support please contact,
Lifeline 13 11 14 lifeline.org.au
Suicide Call-Back Service 1300 659 467 suicidecallbackservice.org.au
For emergency or immediate risk, please call emergency services on 000.