Introduction to my lived experience


So many paths are walked, money, success and assets are accumulated in our lives, when a complete collapse happens out of our control, something changes - I can't explain it.

My exposure to Mental Health issues started very early, let's say - before I was even born. I won't go into everything just yet but I can say that environmental situations create major suppression in someones life and it becomes a time bomb.

In my younger years I was environmentally exposed to drugs, gambling, domestic violence, sexual abuse, crime syndicates and old school sp bookies as being a way of life, I learn't the art of emotional suppression and became a chameleon for my own and my families protection.

There were turning points along the way and luckily for me I was taken out of that environment early enough to not travel those paths myself. But the residual effects are more than destructive when they're not dealt with correctly.

As years went by, I worked hard, I had a great family and things seemed quite good for the future, although mood swings, rage and clouded judgement's always plagued me. Unknowingly (to me)

I eventually had a complete breakdown !

After a nerve injury was incorrectly diagnosed I lost most of the use in my left hand, a couple of years consumed with tests, doctors visits, flights to hospitals and finally an operation. By itself it was taking it's toll, I couldn't work in my trade or chosen field, I couldn't function and who was going to employ someone on 26 (prescribed) pills a day for pain management and expose themselves to risk.

Seems simple enough, although I had no idea and never expected what was to follow

Through all of this and for months after surgery I became a different person, I was a mix of chemicals, rage, emotions and self-pity. It ripped my family apart, I lost my company, a business, my income, nearly all of my assets and generally spent the rest of the time trapped in severe depression.

I was being overcome by a fear of Life, embarassment at the losses, anger at my wife for things she did, and just couldn't face another moment. I just couldn't see a way forward, I blocked everything, hid it as best as I could because I was ashamed, I eventually became a toxic person to be around.

Once the Black Dog really took hold, everything fell apart. There's no doubt I was on the end of some pretty crappy treatment from people around me, but this is their fear and self-preservation due to the stigma of depression I guess. Looking back, I can't blame them, I did at the time though.

One day without thought or fear, I tried to take my life. I ended up in ICU with a fractured neck and a damaged airway, after the physical things were sorted, I admitted myself into Mental Health for a couple of weeks to get the help I needed.

It was time to fight back, I still had my daughters and they needed their Dad.

With support from the friends and family (that stayed in my life), counselling agencies and especially my gorgeous daughters, I found my way back and have started rebuilding a future for myself and them, It has changed my life and the lives of those around me forever, I don't look at people with Mental Illness as weak, afraid or selfish like I once may have, I have an understanding and acceptance of what it feels like, I guess from a survivors perspective. I blamed everyone around me, I felt attacked, ridiculed and stripped of everything I was, and I blamed them all, yet now I see it differently, If I couldn't understand what was happening, how could they ? Why should I blame them for their rage, when I was full of rage myself ? If the awareness of what we were facing and the understanding of what may happen was there, maybe the outcome would of been much different.

This is why awareness is so important to me and drives me to get the understanding out there, it leads to the right support, it gives hope to not only the sufferer but everyone around them before relationships and lives are destroyed, or worse still - lost forever.

My experience has given me an understanding of the loss of direction and hope depression brings and ultimately it can and does take lives.

I stand tall and proud in my acceptance, in my continued recovery and trying to push embarrassment aside and replace it with the hope my experience can help others to speak out, to get the help they need and lift the dark cloud of negative attitudes towards this illness and the social destruction of sufferers that still exists.

Depression is not a choice, it is an illness and it can be treated.

After years of riding Dirtbikes and my last big ride was 5,000 kays in 5 days taking in the tip of Australia, I was well and truly determined nothing would take away those experiences again, not from me and if I can help it, not from anyone else.

We all have a story, this is a very small part of mine, as this site develops I'll keep adding bits and pieces that occured along the way and some that are just new ideas and thoughts on how we can make things better.

I hope you can join me and share your Lived Experiences and help raise awareness about depression and suicide prevention.

I live with depression everyday, at different levels, sometimes it's gentle, other times it's quite severe. My 'active self awareness period' is now 6 yrs, But everyday I practice and learn new ways of coping and new ways to distance myself from it. By creating this website I hope to make a difference by sharing just what depression really is like and how we can all break down some barriers and start connecting stories, conversations and actions that work towards reducing suicide.

"The future is bright, sometimes we just need a little help to walk outside again"

Thankyou Darren Cook


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