The Thought Box.

Is He OK? A post for 2011 R U OK? Day.

Thursday, 15th September 2011

Is He OK? A post for 2011 R U OK? Day.

 

 

I want to tell you a story. Picture this:

Aria at her 7th birthday partyPhoto of jai at his 7th birthday party

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”,

“no”,

“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.

Pie Splatter on the ceiling

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.

Brian and the kids

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.

Family photo

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.

Brian building our new computer desk

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
Suicide Call
Back Service
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?



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    11 comments
    1. Deanna

      Thanks so much for sharing your story with us,... sometimes as busy Mums we do forget that Dads stress about things as well,.. must make time to ask mine.. R U OK more often... thanks for making me stop and think :)

    2. Kara

      Thanks Jac, that was really heartfelt...and very true for many Dads xxx

    3. women are so much better at supporting one another than men, I can only begin to imagine how challenging and overwhelming it can get.

    4. Thank you for sharing. I am so so happy that he was able to find the help he needed. Happy for you all. And please thank him for allowing you to share his story with us.

    5. Nikoly

      I have sent a link to this page to my husband asking him to read your story. I'm hoping it will start him talking - I saw many similarities with my husband. Thank you for sharing and giving me the opportunity to start a "girlie" conversation with my husband.

    6. Oh honey, I applaud you and Brian for your bravery and honesty in sharing this experience. It's so true that men feel that they have to be 'Manly' and bottle up their emotions so tightly that one day they just explode. You are so lucky to have the love and support that you give one another. The way you handled the children during this experience was applaudable too. The fact that Brian's started his own blog is wonderful. It's such a great way to express what is inside you, even if you're the only one reading it. Big luv & hugs to you and your beautiful Chaotic bunch! xxxx

    7. Rosie Cragg

      Wow!! To begin with, I had a little giggle, because my hubby quite regularly "thumps" the table and gets everyone's attention. And I read on expecting light humour, and slowly but surely my smile faded, and I realised just how serious this was. I completely admire you and your hubby for sharing. My hubby and I do talk, but I do wonder just how "ok" he really is as he is a bottler! Once again, thank you for sharing.

    8. It's a testament to how far you've come together that you can joke about the pie incident. Your post has such a positive outcome - wonderful. I hope Brian finds his blog to be therapeutic for himself and others who are bottling it all up.

    9. I am so proud of you Jac, for having the sense to realise that there was something wrong with Brian, and dealing with him with so much love and compassion, you are both doing a wonderful job with your family, (no easy job with 6 kids). Please tell Brian I am also very proud of him too. sometimes all it takes is just a little thing for someone to break down, when it happened to me all it took was for me to smash a bottle of milk and then my whole world collapsed but luckily I was able to take time off work and take some antideppressants and like Brian I also had a good partner to help me through it all. I am so glad you are both trying to make time for just the two of you even if you just go for a walk and chat whilst walking at least you are doing it together. Take care and loads of love to you all Joan xx

    10. Thank you for this post.

    11. Brilliant Post and Brilliant Husband, Brilliant Wife, Brilliant family. Good job guys <3

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