As Movember comes to a close, it is not however a time to close the door on mental health development.
Before I proceed with this post, I wish to let you know that I will be discussing the topic of suicide and mental health.
Suicide is something that has touched my life from an early age. In my early years, a neighbour of ours attempted to take his life. A vibrant, caring soul, who grew up under the tutelage of a staunch father role-model, he underwent a marriage break-up that cut him to the core. Struggling to deal with his grief, he chose an option that he saw was his only choice at the time. Luckily he survived, and after getting support, now lives to tell the story.
During the horrifically high interest rates of the 1980’s, I experienced a time when my own father would not go out on the farm. He would lie on the sofa all day; there when we went off to school, and there when we returned. Mum would try to keep things moving as much as possible. We would go out on the farm when we returned from school, shifting the stock, and doing the jobs Dad wasn’t able to raise himself to do. We didn’t speak about it. It was ignored, until after a couple of weeks, he eventually arose and got back into it.
In my wider community we also collectively experienced suicide. Over a couple of years, we had grown men in their fourties, and teenagers taking their own lives, leaving behind utterly distressed families and communities.
After a relationship break-up, my beautiful, kind-hearted cousin also took his own life.
There was also a time, when after losing everything we owned, I would go to work wondering whether I would have a partner to return to. My kids kept me going. It was a very hard time for us all.
This is just a glimpse into my story. Mine is one of millions of us in Aotearoa New Zealand who have experienced this silent soul-stealer.
My plea is that as Movember comes to a close, please, let’s not close the door on our conversations, our strive to support each other, and our collective force to help each other find our voice and rise.
Let’s also prioritise Wellbeing in the Workplace. Let’s create a Culture of Care that fosters personal and collective agency.
Let’s also ask the question “How are you doing?”, and actually stop to hear the response.