Seven stories of hope - Rob's story
Published on 11 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.
The first story is by Rob.
My journey towards the point of suicidal crisis was one that was over a twenty-five-year period.
The main theme that wound through that period of time was my struggle with my sexuality, knowing from a young age that I was gay but due to environments around me which included a domestic violence home, bullying all through my school life, moving into adulthood having a faith and being constantly told from the pulpit that the faith I had would not be valid if I did not adhere to the norms written down.
Along with that, when I was in my early twenties, I fell ill with what was to be eventually diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome. I was told from the pulpit that all my issues, both physical and mental health, was as result of all the decisions that I had made, and this was my punishment.
Life became very dark, compounded by the messages that I had received about my situation being all my fault and no matter of outside help was going to 'cure me'.
What did not help was 'conversion therapy' which for the layperson, means that you have secret sins and evil entities living inside you and the only way to live a proper life was to have those entities driven out of your person.
For many years I would search online for help, for anything, someone to talk to who would not think that I was evil. I had more failures than successes.
I would find organizations online, but when I tried to contact them, their emails would bounce back or I would not hear from them.
Over time with these black images always at my back, I finally thought I found some help. A counsellor that I connected with. However, the phone counsellor resigned, and I was told I would be given another counsellor. This never eventuated so continuity was not there. Stops and starts made things more oppressive.
One thing that would be spoken about at our church pulpit was love and that the only love you can find is the love that a church environment can supply. For me that was not the case. The love that I did find was a LGBTQI community group that is called Connect4Life. I thought, 'Here is a group who will listen and treat me as a human being'.
Even with that it took another two years or so to even become comfortable to be able to share my most inner fears and suicidality. One weekend at a group camp I turned to a dear friend and said, 'I do not want to be here anymore'.
My friend said she understood, and I finally felt the lifetime of anguish and pain might finally have a chance of being sorted out.
That conversation, those few words spoken to me by my friend, started a three-year journey of being able to start to look at the pain and the hurt, and step-by-step -- or even three steps forward one step back -- move ahead.
I was able to get long term counselling with an organization. My counsellor helped me over three years to realize that what had been spoken into my life was not truth or love, but fear.
I went through stages of anger that I had been lied to, grief that my belief system was twisted to set a certain set of rules.
Slowly I felt a sense of freedom, ever so slight, that I might be able to live a life that was true to who I was and what I believed.
I ventured back into singing which had been taken away from me by the powers that be.
I was able to rekindle my passion for singing that had kept me going through my darkest times.
I started a Facebook page to share information about relevant topics and social events so that maybe I could help one person not to have to go through as dark an experience as I had.
To be told that you can never find love and acceptance outside any one religious organization is wrong. The most loving, caring people can be the starting point of a person’s healing journey.
They are the ones who show unconditional love and compassion.
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.