This feature will be broken down into the following parts:
– My Story.
– How I have supported Cars For Hope since 2011.
– Where were Cars For Hope when I needed them most?
– Building a better bridge.
I’m 44 years old this year and I’ve just survived my darkest days to date. Last year I smoked an ounce of chronic marijuana a week (wake and bake 4.20AM-Midnight every day). I didn’t sleep in my bed. I pissed in empty soft drink bottles instead of using my toilet. I turned off social media and turned away friends who rang my doorbell. I spent a lot of time gaming and researching ways to kill myself. I attempted suicide towards the end of last year but I bailed out hard on the night I tried to actually go through with it. Call it a mid-life-crisis, but it was a hell of a lot more hardcore than any depression I’d ever felt in my younger years.
I’m a “rehab is for quitters” kinda guy. Seeing a therapist was something I never wanted to do as my preconception of them was rather pessimistic. My mother had to pick me up and make sure I attended the sessions, if anything therapy got me out of the house and closer to my mum, but it wasn’t enough.
Being told to go out and get some sun, or hop back on your bike and start riding, these were extremely logical tips on how to get better, but when you’re down in a hole you just can’t act on logic. Even if you wanted to save yourself you can’t. Absolutely nothing can help you get out.
I was advised by my therapist to see my GP. My GP freaked out when he saw how skinny I was (51kgs down from 60kgs), he then freaked out when I said I’d been having suicidal thoughts and have felt really down for the last 6–12 months. He had no option but to get me on antidepressants as 6–12 months of being down in his opinion was way too long left untreated. I’ve never wanted to be on meds, but I realised that I didn’t have any more power to help myself, and meds were the only way forward.
I’ve spent 6 months in therapy which I found more helpful than the psychologist I was recommended. I’m now only seeing my psychiatrist every 4 weeks or so to hone in my medicine (which is treating me for bipolar more than depression, though I have been diagnosed with having both). I’m not completely sober, but I’ve broken the bong and I’m now more sober than I’ve ever been in my entire adult life. Being straight is way more hardcore than being stoned, but I’m loving the clarity and my productivity so I intend to keep it up.
How I have supported Cars For Hope since 2011.
I first heard of Cars For Hope (CFH) in 2011 when I was setting up ZEN Garage Leichhardt. I checked out the CFH web site and felt that all of what I read was a bit vague so I called Berty out on it and the rest is history.
ZEN Garage was the only physical bricks and mortar shop you could buy CFH stickers from. We were also the only online shop selling them. Over the years we’ve proudly displayed banners and advertisements on our sites, forums and cars. We’ve sold tens of thousands of CFH stickers with all profits going to CFH. Some weeks we sold more CFH stickers than our own!
In 2013 Berty took a full time job with Motor Culture who shared an office space with us at ZEN Garage Leichhardt. We had a few years there working side by side in the same office where we didn’t spend any quality time talking CFH. An opportunity wasted in retrospect as I believe CFH could do with a lot more discussion and development.
Where were Cars For Hope when I needed them most?
When I was down in the hole I wondered why CFH hadn’t reached out to me. I wondered why my friend Berty from CFH didn’t reach out to me. My last memory of Berty was being a referee, talking to a recruitment agency on the phone for half an hour waxing lyrical about how amazing Berty was as he was going for a job with the NRMA (he got that job too!).
When I spoke to Berty recently to question him about his absence, he let me know that he got messages from people in the automotive community who were concerned for me. I’m like; “why the fuck didn’t you pass those messages on to me Berty?!”. At one stage I finally did go to the CFH web site looking for help. I saw the “FIND HELP” button and clicked it, it loads a wall of text suggesting CFH aims to provide a bridge, but CFH rinses it’s hands of any legal responsibility, so instead, please call the recommended hotlines below, but keep in mind CFH also clears itself from any responsibility the hotlines may provide.
I just shut the browser window. Calling my mother was impossible when I was down in a hole, let alone calling some random on a hotline.
Building a better bridge.
There’s a story section on the CFH web site and from what I’ve read, it’s great except I’m a bit iffy on stories being written by anonymous people, some of which have hidden their age too. I’ve noticed hardly any comments on any of the stories, that’s a bit worrying considering engagement could be life saving on the topic of depression.
If CFH intends to be a bridge, where was my bridge? Can there be a better bridge?
Nothing worse than wrapping up a feature on the topic of depression with “well that’s a wrap, be safe kids!”. I’ve reached out to Berty to organise a real life meeting with the CFH team. I’m hopeful that will happen soon. More importantly I’m hoping that by publishing this we can generate some legitimate ideas and solutions to form a better bridge. Perhaps a Twitch CFH Channel where there could be a real human being on chat for a few hours/week or month, just to… well, chat! Personally I’d love to contribute my time and energy into chatting in some sort of open discussion/open forum with the CFH community.
On a small/er note; I believe CFH should be careful with corporate language; “Trust us, it’s worth it.”, “limited edition kit” and “We’re going to show the world that carsforhope is louder than self-injury.” reek of corp. talk. We spend so much time and energy navigating words which try to get the better of us, when looking for help it would be nice to land somewhere soft but real.