“I followed the river, I got to the sea” *

When mental ill-health takes over, one of the casualties is one’s personal sense of cause and effect. Usually, when we’re sad, and we try to pull ourselves out of it, we can. When ill, our usual tactics fail us. These are signs of our losing control. When we’ve used all the tricks in our bag, we feel helpless.

When we judge ourselves about this, we feel worthless. When it goes on for too long, we feel hopeless.

“Don’t even hear a murmur of a prayer…” *

And that’s terrifying, because we can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.


One key here is what we tell ourselves in those early stages. We’re not happy, but we’re getting by.

“Shadows are falling, and I been here all day.” *

Languishing. We don’t want to complain, we increase the effort or just tell ourselves to wait it out. All things pass?

Except with mental ill-health, effort alone runs itself out, and it may not pass.

“Sometimes my burden is more than I can bear…” *


Early intervention means responding before you know ‘for sure’ something is wrong – when you suspect – before you’re ready. When you know for sure, waiting may have complicated your ill-health.


“Its not dark yet, but its getting there…” *

If you are saying this to yourself, get up and go see your GP, or call EAP in your company, or seek me out at Men’s Mental Health


* taken from ‘Not Dark Yet’ Bob Dylan – the saddest song I’ve ever heard.

He’s a miner in the Hunter Valley, who wishes he had crossed paths with Beyond Blue sooner. A year ago he had attempted suicide, and having spent one hour on the subject in a Beyond Blue session, he can now see what was going wrong for him. “I wish I’d heard this a year ago, it would have prevented my suicide attempt”.

He was an owner builder, and every night he went to bed with his plans, but those plans never worked out the next day. This was so distressing, that it led to his attempted suicide, in that house.

How did it come to this? We can speculate…

  • Lack of sleep? Long days working, then owner building, and planning into the night. Poor sleeping routines damage ability to concentrate. They isolate from other members of the family. There is no downtime – chronic stress.
  • His head on the pillow – how long does he lie awake? What specifically was he thinking about – his successes, his mistakes, problems going through his mind. Endless analytical planning, and perhaps perfectionism – the remote possibility inevitable, the smallest error a catastrophe.
  • What deep-seated beliefs were being challenged? I’m not the builder son my dad expected; I’m not the husband/provider I should be; my mates make too many (light-hearted) jokes about it and no-one helps; I’m a failure at something.
  • Lack of self-awareness about mental health – he did not frame his unhappiness in terms of mental health, he did not see his suicide attempt coming (or felt helpless to prevent it), and even after his non-fatal suicide attempt, he still had not, a year later, properly debriefed his experience.

…until Beyond Blue came along. We’re still at awareness stage for many people and companies.

If you would like mental health support, or would like to organise some for your company, go to:

Company workshops and individual counselling are available.