Is He OK? A post for 2011 R U OK? Day.
I want to tell you a story. Picture this:
It was dinner time at home and exhaustion had well and truly set in. We had just endured 2 full on days of children’s birthday parties. For some reason (puppy dog eyes and cheeky smiles), I had let the twins convince me that having separate parties on separate days was a fantastic idea. The parties were awesome and the grin on their little faces was worth every last bit of stress and chaos the parties had brought on.
But we were tired. And the kids were tired. Tired and jacked up on half a tonne of sugar.
As we sat down for yet another a delightful dinner of reheated party pies and sausage rolls, we began to discuss the day’s events in a seemingly normal manner.
Then of course we were confronted with the usual ‘I’m not eating that’ argument that any one of the kids will put up each and every meal time.
Back and forth went the usual banter between me and the child.
“just eat it”,
“You’ll go hungry”,
“I don’t like it” … and so on.
Then it happened.
Without a word of warning ‘BANG’ my husband Brian slammed is fist down on the table so hard and fast that it caught the attention of every one of us in the room over the whinging tantrum of the non-eater.
There was an eerie silence as meat pies flew into the air reaching new heights; altering 12 foot high ceiling paint and landing back down on top of us.
He screamed louder than I had ever heard him scream. He picked up our child and stormed her; kicking and screaming to the bedroom, slammed the door with such force that the house shook and announced he was leaving.
I felt numb. I did not know what to do. I did not know what to say.
The kids were confused and scared and rightly so. I consoled them, reassured them it wasn’t their fault and began the night time routine. The shock of the situation had me calmly pick up the mess, calm the children and get them through the bath and into bed in the most ‘normal’ manner I could muster.
I just let him walk away down the street as I had never seen him behave in that way. Ever. I knew deep in my heart that this was different; this wasn’t your run of the mill hissy-fit when the going gets tough. This was real life, real problems, and real emotion at its rawest.
I could hear the message tone going off on my mobile phone and I knew it was him. I was too scared to read them at first. Since this behavior was totally out of the ordinary, I just didn’t know what to expect to see on that phone screen.
I tucked the 5 kids up in their beds all snug and warm and told them to sleep well. I would go and call daddy to come back home. It was then I sat down and began to read the messages that had clocked up on the screen.
With tears streaming down my face, for the first time in 8 years, I realised that it wasn’t just me that had things on my mind, that was stressed out, that was in fact depressed.
I read messages about how he felt he was a failure as a husband. That he worried about the income he provided, that he was never ‘emotionally’ there for me. That he wasn’t able to do some of the jobs around the house that we had talked about, and so on.
I read messages that explained his fears on being a failure as a father. How he just wanted to be able to show more love and affection and patience with his children. His worries about how he may have frightened the children that night.
I read messages about how he was being bullied at work, the stress that it was having on him and his fear of being fired or labelled as a trouble-maker if he spoke out against the bully, and so on.
Things he had never mentioned before, things that he portrayed as ‘just fine’ on a daily basis, that had hit him all at once that night at the dinner table.
He sent a message asking if he was allowed to come back home.
That very moment set off big flashing sirens in my mind and was an indicator for me that things had to change. We spoke for hours that night about so many different things that Brian had been bottling up in his mind, not only in the time we have been together, but from his childhood too.
Years of “Just get on with it” & “be a man” had finally taken their toll.
With a very small friendship group and a family that shows little or no support in his well being, Brian made the decision to go to his doctor the next morning.
He knew he wasn’t OK, and I am so proud of him for making those decisions to get himself the help he has needed for a long time.
His doctor has been nothing short of brilliant with him. She has given him the time he has needed in appointments to thoroughly examine the extent of his depression. She has altered medications time and time again to find the right one for him. She has made him feel so totally normal about having depression that he is now seeing a counselor/psychologist and not ashamed about it at all.
A big step in the ‘Man World’ and our life is so much better for it.
Our life is a busy one. Between us we have 6 young children. Our main support network has fallen apart with the passing of my father (Cancer) and the heightened symptoms of my mother’s previous stroke. We’ve also had our fair share of money worries, unemployment and small town gossip.
Life took over for us. Life never gave us an opportunity to sit back, relax and be at peace with each other in our own family unit. I often wonder what may have happened if those pies didn’t hit the ceiling that night. It scares me. It really does.
I now ask my husband “Are You OK?” every day. Because sometimes, you never just know. The conversation we had that night via text messages and verbally, more than likely saved his life.
Now we have a priority. Getting our life, our relationship and our family back into pole position.
Everything has pretty much returned to ‘normal’ at Chaos HQ.
The stress levels are slowly dropping. We’re doing more things as a couple and more things as a family.
Brian is spending less time being detached from life playing computer games and has started writing his own blog. He dreams of building it into a place where fathers can go and just be themselves. I really admire him for that.
(I will link you all up once he is ready to share it )
He has a better outlook on life and it’s sending positive vibes through our home.
We can now have a little giggle at THE GREAT PIE INCIDENT OF 2011. The kids will often rib Brian about the mess he made, or he’ll joke about throwing more food on the roof when they don’t want to eat. It’s all done with ample humour and has been one great big learning curve for all us all.
We women tend to have a greater support network around us than men do and by golly we need it. On September 15th 2011 it is ‘R U OK? Day’, and I am asking you to not only ask your lady friends if they are OK, but I want you to ask you husbands, boyfriends, brothers, sons and fathers if they are OK too.
Let’s not let these ‘MEN’ slip through the R U OK radar. Sometimes, just that simple question, a brief conversation, can really quite literally save a life.
Thanks for reading my post. Its hard work relaying your personal and family situations out there into cyber space, but I truly believe this is one very worthy cause.
If you need to reach out to someone here are some numbers and places that can help:
National help lines and centres
|Lifeline||24/7 telephone counselling service||13 11 14||www.lifeline.org.au|
|24/7 telephone counselling for people at risk of suicide, carers and bereaved||1300 659 467||http://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au|
|MensLine National||24/7 support for men dealing with relationship and family issues||1300 78 99 78||www.menslineaus.org.au|
|Kids Help Line||24/7 telephone and online counselling for young people 5–25 years||1800 55 1800||www.kidshelp.com.au|
|Reach Out!||Online crisis and mental health information for young people||au.reachout.com|
|SuicideLine Victoria||24/7 telephone counselling for people at risk of suicide, carers and bereaved||1300 651 251||www.crisissupport.org.au/SuicideLine.aspx|
|Telephone Interpreter Service||If English is not your first language please call the Telephone Interpreter Service for assistance contacting a helpline||131 450|
Helplines and Information
|SANE Australia Helpline||Mental health information, weekdays 9am–5pm||1800 187 263||www.sane.org|
|headspace||Mental health services and support for young people 12–25 years||www.headspace.org.au|
|beyondblue Info Line||Information about depression, anxiety and related disorders||1300 224 636||www.beyondblue.org.au|
|Black Dog Institute||Information about depression and bipolar disorder||www.blackdoginstitute.org.au|
This blog post was written with full permission from my hubby Brian, and is not a paid advertisement.
R U OK?