The mental health thread

Don’t really know what to say, … except really sorry to hear that, & try not to think in what if’s? There is no way you could have known.

It’s a shocking thing to have happen to someone close.

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That’s very sad @Humble_NSW_Fan.

Take care of yourself and hope your amazing lady gets all the support she will need.

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Yes that lady would be absolutely devastated, and the children :disappointed_relieved:

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Ver sad. Couldn’t imagine what the wife and kids are going through.

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Jesus.

Sorry Humble.

Sorry for all of them.

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That is absolutely terrible. Take care of yourself mate, and a word of advice try your best to not think “if only I had done this or that”. I did the same when a friend committed suicide last year, and it just cripples you.

Depression is just the absolute worst

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yep sometimes sadly there’s just nothing you can do or say once a person has gotten to the point and made their mind up. and also again sadly, the ones who generally hurt with it the most are the best at hiding it the most.

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Take care @Humble_NSW_Fan.

Condolences to his family.

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Keep talking about it, guys and girls.
It’s the best thing we can do.

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Robyn Bailey on Triple M’s Brisbane breakfast show was talking about this the other day. Her husband committed suicide 5 years ago and left her with 3 teenage boys.
She got very emotional (understandably) on air when talking about how news outlets say someone “lost their battle with mental health…”. She is quite adamant that people need to call it for what it is and use the term suicide. She quoted studies that show mentioning the word does not actually increase the likelihood of someone else taking that path. She also mentioned that children of suicide victims are 10 times more likely to commit suicide themselves.
Damn scary stat.
Remember, keep talking to others whether it’s your need or potentially theirs.
I love that this forum unashamedly supports each other regardless of the banter/disagreements in other threads.

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I do get where she is coming from, there is a taboo that needs to be broken. It is slowly dissolving, but it is still there.

But, equally, the hesitancy to use the term suicide often comes from a place of sincere compassion–both for those who have passed, and those impacted by the passing. I think it’s an acknowledgement that suicide isn’t an abrupt action, it is the result of mental health battles which are legitimate medical conditions.

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Not sure on that. I think there is value in “killed by cancer” and “killed by depression” being comparable statements.

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On the male side of my family. My dad’s father committed suicide by hanging, my dad attempted to shoot himself but the gun didn’t fire, suffered with depression all his life, my brother put a hose up the exhaust pipe into the window of the car. He was resuscitated but sadly had to be taken into care for the rest of his life. My brother’s son, sat in a chair for two years and did not move. His wife took time off work to be with him she says being there with him probably saved his life. He is now on medication and living a normal life. Both his sons suffer with depression. All the male children in this lineage suffer from depression.

My uncles took his life with hose in car

His daughter also attempted suicide a few years back.

Its definitely hereditary

Both Port Adelaide’s Matthew Broadbent and Western Bulldogs’ Lin Jong have stepped down from playing due to ongoing mental health issues.

I was talking to a Richmond supporter the other day regarding how supporting teams takes a lot of resilience and told him I was pretty sure Essendon was doing my head in and he started to nod. I said mate you wouldn’t understand, you guys have been going well etc.

He just raised a slow, incredulous eyebrow at me

Then we went back to watching India roll us.

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Lawrence Mooney (also on MMM Bris) has also had a couple of cracks
And very much a believer in talking about it as much as possible, in as many ways as possible

Wow, thats a lot to deal with, and “My brother’s son, sat in a chair for two years and did not move” did he choose not to move. I am just finding that scenario hard to comprehend, did he just shut down mentally, I am not doubting it, really shows the extreme of mental breakdown.

Sorry for your losses too :cry:

Thank you.

He reached a very low point, where his world crashed in on him. He had bought a business was working 7 days a week, it went to the wall financially, they lost their house. He felt so ashamed and felt as though he had failed everyone. He stopped talking and completely shut down. He became incapable of doing anything. His wife had to feed him. He just started wasting away. I believe her when she said if she hadn’t stopped work, stayed home with him, he would have killed himself. He is on medication now and had no idea of his lineage history. Their relationship now is stronger than it ever was.

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An audible wall of roaring cheers flooded from the stands and across the hallowed ground of the MCG, smashing into Wayne Schwass as he stood on a podium, a premiership medal draped around his neck.

As 94,000 spectators watched on, on that AFL Grand Final day in 1996, the 26-year-old North Melbourne star thrust his hands into the air, flashing a grin from ear-to-ear.

Resembling a gladiator returning victorious from battle, Schwass occupied a spot that millions of Australian kids dream of as they kick around the Sherrin in their backyards.

It was the biggest day of his playing career. It was one that many strive for but only a select, privileged few ever reach. But Schwass was an utter mess.

When you look at a photograph of that moment, there is no hint of the turmoil raging inside his head — except perhaps for the faintest glint of panic behind his dark eyes, which were furiously darting around the stadium.

“I was trying to find my wife in the crowd,” Schwass explained to news.com.au of that afternoon.

“I was scanning thousands of faces looking for hers. Because I was standing there thinking, ‘I can’t do this anymore and I want to die’.

“I flipped back and forth between, ‘How good is this? We’ve won a Grand Final’ and, ‘You’re a fraud. What are you doing here? You should just end your life’.”

LIVING TWO LIVES

Three years before that momentous day, Schwass was driving home from training when he pulled up at a set of traffic lights.

It was a seemingly ordinary moment that catapulted his life — on the outside, an envied existence of fame and success — onto an unexpected path.

“It was July 26, 1993,” Schwass said, remembering it now as vividly as it played out then.

“I was driving home from training and pulled up at a set of traffic lights and just broke down. It was essentially a nervous breakdown, a total collapse of myself. I had no control over my emotions, which was very confusing. I couldn’t understand what was happening.

“All I knew was it wasn’t how a man was meant to behave or feel — particularly a 23-year-old AFL football player,” he said.

“I was overcome with shame and embarrassment. I grew up thinking foolishly that that’s not how men are meant to behave and feel. For days and days, I struggled in a fog. I was a mess.

“After two weeks, at the insistence of my wife, I went to see someone and I was diagnosed with depression. It was the beginning of a very long journey with lots of bumps and challenges along the way.”

The confirmation of what was going on inside his head offered no comfort or relief, Schwass said. In reality, it probably made things worse for a while.

Mental illness? Him? No chance. Schwass refused to accept the diagnosis.

“I foolishly believed that people who had mental illness issues were from low socio-economic backgrounds, they had done bad things, they had character flaws or weaknesses — that’s who had mental health conditions. Not a 23-year-old AFL player.

“It was so ignorant — that was my thinking back then. So, the diagnosis didn’t help in any way.”

For years, Schwass lived a double life in total secrecy.

There was his professional existence, filled with on-field glory and a kind of heroic regard among the many who follow the religion that is football in Victoria.

But privately, he was “in hell” and fighting an increasingly losing battle to fulfil his sporting obligations without falling apart.

The two lives bled into each other.

When he was diagnosed, it was the day after Schwass notched up his 97th game of football. For the almost 200 more that followed, he was more often than not disconnected from the experience.

“I was there physically but emotionally I was absent,” he said.

“There were definitely times I was engaged and loved what I did, because it gave me joy. There were more days and more games where I wasn’t engaged, I wasn’t enjoying it, I didn’t want to play, I hated the attention that came with it, and it was a battle.”

CLOSE TO THE EDGE

On three occasions, Schwass said he found himself in “potentially dangerous situations” when it came to his life.

They’re scenarios all but a very small group of people would not be aware of. They’re ones that still haunt him to an extent.

“I’m not proud of those moments,” he said. “But what I’m confident in saying is that I don’t genuinely believe I wanted to die. It was a desperate call for help.”

The aftermath was often the same. Having ascended just a little from rock bottom, Schwass would be hit again with a new wave of emotion.

A different feeling to the one he felt immediately before those attempts to take his own life — not necessarily worse, just different.

“It’s not terrifying. There’s just a lot of shame and guilt. It’s an overwhelming sense of feeling pathetic. Is this what I’ve become? Is this what my life is about?”

Two people kept him going. Those two stopped him far enough away from the edge. One was his wife, Rachel, and the other was Harry Unglik, the doctor at North Melbourne.

“I’ve never told this story, but there was a day I wound up in hospital. I can vividly recall Harry coming in. I was laying in a hospital bed. He gave me a big hug and whispered in my ear. I’ll never forget it,” Schwass said.

“He said: ‘You can’t do this to the people who care about you the most’. I realised that it wasn’t only about me, it was about them. It made me realise that I meant something to people. This battle was much bigger than me.”

It was Dr Unglik who diagnosed him in the first place on that August day in 1993. The next afternoon at training, Schwass broke down.

He was near hysterics, convinced he could not go on like this, begging the team doctor to let him go home.

“He pulled me aside and asked if I trusted him. Of course I did. But what did that have to do with the moment. I told him I couldn’t do this anymore and wanted to go home. Then he said: ‘Do you trust me? Then trust me I know what I’m doing when it comes to your health and we’ll get through this’.

“I think that kept me going. I was in such a desperate place where I didn’t care what happened to me, but I cared about Harry and I cared about my wife Rachel. I didn’t want to let them down.”

LIVING A SECRET

Between the day of his diagnosis in mid-1993 and a moment of truth in October 2005, just four people knew what Schwass was going through.

He kept his secret “shame” — that’s what it felt like — confined to a small circle of four who knew out of necessity.

“It was my wife, thankfully, my doctor who diagnosed me when I was playing with North Melbourne, the doctor at the Sydney Swans and a psychiatrist in Sydney.

“They knew out of necessity. No one else knew.

“It took me 12 years to talk to my family about my experiences. Six months after that, I told my closest male friends. Then, on March 1, 2006, I did an article for the Herald Sun and that was it, my story was out.”

The irony seems almost extraordinary now, Schwass said. Here was someone who never once compromised his physical health while playing football.

Dropping the ball, so to speak, when it came to protecting his athletic ability to continue playing would have been madness.

“It was so important to my professional career. Yet, through that same playing career, I did everything I could to compromise my mental health because of fear.

“It makes no sense. But it’s what I thought I needed to do.”

But it was a different time — for mental health, for a high-profile figure to be vulnerable, for a man to appear weak.

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