I have always suffered mental health issues and substance abuse problems from a very young age. This progressed into absolute self-destruction, heroin overdoses became the norm. The paramedics, doctors and nurses at The Alfred Hospital became to know me as the man that is hard to kill after a dozen near death overdoses.
Towards the end of 2017 I tried to sober up on my own and after self-medicating for so long and numbing my feelings with drugs, suddenly being overwhelmed with emotions was confronting, scary and made me want to use even more. I then became to realise that I would rather be dead than live a miserable sober life.
I attempted to take my own life and was hospitalised for a week. It’s a bit humiliating being in hospital with the nurses and doctors knowing why you’re in there, even though they aren’t it’s hard not to feel foolish or judged.
After a few days in hospital and feeling sheepish and a little ashamed, I was approached by the Hope Team. A fairly new initiative at the time that spent time with people hospitalised for attempted suicide and worked with them over three months after being discharged to help transition back into living life. I agreed eagerly to this program because the team that approached me seemed caring, non-judgmental, genuine and I knew I needed help.
Over the next three months I was assigned a case worker who came to visit me once a week for coffee or a chat at my place and she helped me make little achievable goals. Not to think too far ahead because that can be overwhelming and to just focus on taking little steps to move forward. We also discussed many things to do with my life, feelings, frustrations – I felt like I could be completely honest with her.
This approach was very helpful to me because there was no stigmatisation, just complete understanding and honesty. Honesty I wasn’t even able to provide close friends.
The greatest outcome from my involvement with The Hope Team is that I started to want to live again. Previously when I thought of my future, I saw black – nothing. Now I could see possibilities and I started to believe in myself and also started remembering all the things I was passionate about and had abandoned. Time to get back into the activities that I enjoyed.
I have come along way with my substance abuse issues. Things have been bumpy, but these issues are a constant battle. I am now studying, focusing on my physical and mental health and interpersonal relationships, something I had neglected for some time.
I cannot express my words of gratitude towards The Hope Team for giving me a second chance at life, for helping me believe in myself and that there is still plenty more for me to achieve in this life. This is so valuable. Can’t put a price on it.
I am happy to know there is The Hope Team out there helping people like me especially with the suicide rates in this country. According to beyondblue “Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44, about 200 Australians attempt suicide every day and of those, on average, eight will die. Beyond Blue is working on reducing the tragic suicide toll by informing people at risk of suicide or who have attempted to take their life with support options and providing practical advice for people worried about someone they think might be suicidal on how to help.”
The suicide rate in this country is worrisome because stigmatisation is still the number one reason men in particular don’t speak up even though women suffer more depression and anxiety than men, the suicide rate amongst men is greater. This highlights a social construct that shapes how men feel about masculinity and that opening up is a side of weakness. In fact, it’s a sign of bravery. With programs like The Hope Team, I believe they can help these otherwise hesitant people to seek help in a complete anonymous and truly effective way hopefully leading to reduced stigmatisation. The Hope Team does what it’s titled. It gives hope. It gave me hope and no doubt countless others. I don’t know where I’d be without them.
The Hope Team was trialed at The Alfred hospital and has been so successful it is branching out to other hospitals.
All images used are not copyright and permission by The Hope Team was provided.