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Ben Tune on his depression and suicide attempt

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  • fitzy73
    Having dealt with, and continue to deal with, depression within my family, I can't commend you enough for your post Buceph.

    Without seeming callow, I would also add that it is sometimes as hard trying to be the rock and the one people turn to.

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  • Buceph

    This sums it up so well for me. I've been suicidal at points in my life. I had a big bout of depression recently. It was short and intense, and I'm over it. The thing was it wasn't the "chemical imbalance in your brain" type of depression. I'm taking anti-depressants and have for years. I've managed a clear few years of everything going really well, of sorting out my life and being generally quite happy. So this wasn't chemical imbalance in your brain depression, this was "your life is **** and there's a strong chance your life will continue to be ****" depression. I think it's called situational depression rather than clinical depression.

    The thing is the mental health people have done a great job on getting across that depression can happen to anyone, at any time and for any reason. There are many people who feel depressed despite everything else. And I think it's getting to the point where most recognise that's a reality of the world, and they try and help them. It's easy to see that someone is depressed when they have no reason to be depressed.

    For me I was feeling like complete and utter **** because I didn't have a job and I wasn't having any luck with job prospects. As every week went by with no new look at a job I was getting worse and worse. I spoke to people about it and their answers was that, "half the country is without a job, you just have to keep trying." The implication of that was that while I was justified in feeling pissed off and a bit sad, I wasn't justified in feeling absolute misery and that'd I'd be better off if I just ceased to exist (Ireland's lack of access to guns is a great thing for most of us, unfortunately it doesn't hold true for many farmers.)

    With the mental health campaigners banging on about how depression and mental health issues can happen to people who have seemingly perfect lives it seems that people who don't have perfect lives are getting ignored. Some people have reasons to be upset and miserable. What a lot of people need to understand is that no individual can control how deep that feeling of upset goes. For some it will be anger, for others it will involve moping, for some it will involve extreme depression and for others it ends in them taking their own life.

    The warnings about depression are somewhat true: people can't control how and when it happens to them. People have no control over whether a relative dying will see them upset for a week or two or whether they'll fall into a deep despair for months or even years on end. Looking at someone and thinking, "Would he ever get over that? It's happened to everyone" is a completely ****ty thing to think. Just because you, some or most are able to respond positively is immaterial. For some it could be a real cause in them abandoning any dedication to life.

    I got a job. I'm doing well again. A lot of people are still unemployed for longer than I had been. There are many who have even worse job prospects than I will ever have. I was still utterly depressed for about a month, and it was a horrific time.
    Last edited by Buceph; 13-May-2013, 11:31.

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  • James Lynch
    I recommend this article/blogpost as a way to better understand depression. This girl is witty, intelligent & beyond all else very honest about her experiences.

    I recommend people read it and share it with others. Depression is something that needs to be discussed in a more open forum these days.

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  • the plastic paddy
    Comes into the concussion debate as well. Many experts are linking mental illness to brain injury.

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  • The Last Stand
    The more people talk about this the better.

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  • Ben Tune on his depression and suicide attempt

    Former Wallaby star Ben Tune opens up on battle with depression and attempt to end his own life

    • By former Wallaby Ben Tune
    • News Limited newspapers
    • May 12, 2013 9:23AM

    Ben Tune ... the former Wallabies flyer opens up on his battle with depression. Source: Russell Shakespeare / News Limited

    Four years ago, almost to the day, I sat alone in my Paddington apartment and decided to end my life. It was a decision that ultimately made me a better man.

    I knew this moment was approaching. I'd been unbearably depressed for over a year, enduring a personal nightmare I thought I would never wake from.
    My dark passenger had possessed me. I was as lost as any soul deserved to be. I had read somewhere it is only death if you accept it, but more and more I felt like I didn't have a choice.
    This wasn't a rash, spur-of-the-moment decision made in a moment of madness. This was the culmination of many factors and events that built momentum over a decade.
    This fire of self-pity was fuelled by the absence of next to any serotonin in my brain, fanned by memories of childhood abuse and an on-going drug addiction, and ignited by the realisation I had no self-esteem off the back of a football career which had convinced me that what you achieved was more important than the type of person you were.
    And worst of all I felt totally and utterly alone, even though I was far from it. That's the thing about depression. It is a chronic illness that distorts how you see, think and feel.
    I had convinced myself that my friends and family had no idea what I was going through and even if help was available, the trek out of the darkness seemed insurmountable.

    I was devoid of feelings which led me to hurt the people I cared about the most. Depression causes so much pain while leaving you numb to any actual feelings. I would often take to myself with a knife or pre-heated cigarette lighter just so I could actually feel human again.
    Over the first few months of 2009, I started stockpiling what I needed to kill myself.
    I prepared my final instructions to my parents and my brothers; and I wrote three separate letters to my three boys to read when their mum deemed them old enough, and finally compiled an iTunes "farewell" song list consisting mostly of Pearl Jam.
    On what I thought was the last night of my life, I took the three pictures of my beautiful boys out of their frames and sat resolutely on the couch.
    Hugging my kids' pictures, I ingested a potentially lethal dose of pills and chased it down with a bottle of bourbon.
    I estimated I only had 20 minutes until I lost consciousness so I sent a text message to my amazingly supportive and caring girlfriend at the time and apologised for turning her life upside down.
    I sent another to my boss letting him know I wouldn't be coming into work tomorrow.
    To this day my doctors don't know how or why I survived, and I'd be lying if I said I was always grateful.
    Immediately following my suicide attempt, I spent a month in a psychiatric hospital on an intensive treatment order. This means I couldn't leave the hospital and could be legally forced to take medication.
    I was on suicide watch which meant every 10 minutes for 24 hours of the day, seven days a week, I was checked on by hospital staff. It made going to the toilet and taking a shower an exercise in timing.
    The first week in hospital was hell on earth and I genuinely wished I had died in that Paddington loungeroom.
    I was embarrassed, ashamed and felt pathetic. I had done the unthinkable and quit on my family, my friends, and most of all myself.
    I let down every person I ever cared for, but at the time I had no will to live. Why should I continue suffering just so I don't let people down?
    Finally, after a week or two, my head started to clear and the newly prescribed medication began to kick in. I started seeing things clearly and was thinking rationally for the first time in a long time. It was the start of a gruelling, thankless road to self-discovery that involved hundreds of hours of cognitive behaviour therapy and thousands of dollars spent on doctors, tests and medication.
    I can honestly say only the last year has been one filled with anything coming close to happiness. I had several other hospital stays along the way and changed medication several times.
    Today, I am a different man. A better man. I am living proof that depression can be overcome.
    In my insanity, I managed to destroy my marriage, lose every cent I ever earned, tarnish my reputation, push away many friendships and, worst of all, I had totally eroded any self-respect I had ever garnered.
    But I can honestly say I am now a relatively content man, who can actually get excited about a future I never thought I'd have.
    I never say I'm cured of my depression, because there is no cure for mental illness. I am just in remission.
    Self-awareness is the key to managing my dark passenger.
    Knowing my triggers and managing issues early is the key. I don't drink, haven't touched a painkiller in over three years, religiously take my medication, and regularly see my doctor.
    All these things, along with a fantastic father (my mother passed away in 2009), two amazing big brothers and a small group of very loyal mates have meant that although the journey back to reality has been arduous, I haven't done it alone.
    My advice to anyone dealing with a person suffering a chronic depressive illness is although you are sick and tired of their constant self-wallowing, keep remembering they are very ill.
    Although they know what they are doing and saying, their ability to know how wrong or stupid it is can be distorted.
    You can't heal them, you can't make them feel better, all you can do is be there for them.
    I promise they will thank you for saving their life when they become a better man.

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