We always say check on your mate.
You would always check on your mates coming back from an Op so why does that have to change?
I do check on mine, fairly often as well.
Something I have learnt is It’s easy to put on the fake smile and pretend to be happy.
Even when you check on your mates as well by sending them a message or even giving them a call it’s easy to just give the stock standard answer of “Yeah I’m good mate”
Last year when I found out a brother tried to take his own life I was shocked as we catch up really often and chat, we are completely open with one another about our struggles and I feel we really help each other out when we do talk. However I had no idea he was suicidal and that he would attempt to take his own life. Thankfully he failed and he is doing a lot better now but this just goes to show how easy it is to hide the fact you are struggling, especially those you are close with.
I have had countless lads reach out to me over time as I have always been someone they can reach out to and chat without the fear of someone judging them or running my mouth about them, for this I am extremely grateful they see me like this.
There have been so many lads I have served with over the years that have openly admitted to me they are.
• Hurting both physically and mentally.
• Struggling with life.
• Struggling with Defence.
• Struggling with their relationships.
• Struggling with their Families.
The list goes on and on, But one of the most common words that follow these conversations are “Please Don’t Tell Anyone”
It is as if they are ashamed of it, my question is Why?
Why do we have to hide the fact we are struggling?
Why do we as a society have to care about what people think?
Why do we have to feel the need to always try and justify ourselves to others?
Why do humans feel the need to bully others and have opinions?
I know there are those out there that will have an opinion of myself and hey that’s ok, if you would ever like to sit down and have an adult conversation I am happy to do so. I am not going to change or hide the fact I struggled in the past and even have times now where I feel like I still struggle, something I find the more I open up and share my journey and the journeys of others the more people reach out to me and tell me they are going through the same issues.
One thing I would like to say to all those that know me personally I can tell you all right now you will know some of these lads that are hurting, you will know each other, you have served together both on Ops and In Australia, you have spent weeks and months on end sleeping right next to some of these lads, you are probably right now talking with these lads face to face or on messenger or even on the phone.
Just take a moment to sit back and think about that for a second.
Some of the strongest dudes I know have openly admitted to struggling, these are current and ex serving men ranging from your regular ADF to Special forces Soldiers, local and federal Police, Correctional Officers, Fire Fighters, Private Security operators, People working in the Immigration networks, Paramedics, Nurses and so on.
The simple thing is we all go through our own battles daily, you never know what someone is going through. Yeah they might look like they have it all together on the outside but you don’t know how their mind is ticking over, what they are thinking, what is going on in their home life, what is going on in their workplace.
So it is all well and good to say check on your mates and I will continue to say that however I feel the real big thing we need to change is the fact that IT’S OK TO NOT BE OK!
Lad’s you need to start being open about you struggles and know that you are not alone in this. Your mates wont judge you and your family will support you. If they don’t cut them away as you do not need that negativity in your life.
I know this is all easier said than done however this is coming from someone that continues to go through this on a daily basis and I am learning more and more as I go.
We need to get this message out there that IT’S OK TO NOT BE OK.