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Lessons From The Edge Of Darkness – Jim

It’s hard to imagine…. someone parked in a dark public place trying to take their own life. However that is what happened to Jim last year. A random police patrol found Jim and, in a surreal case of coincidence, two other officers arrived at the scene who only two days earlier had served Jim with the Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) that started his suicidal spiral.

Rewind a few days earlier…. Jim had not worked for three months. He was a bit grumpy but thought he was handling it OK. Jim and his wife hadn’t been getting along for some time and ended up having a violent argument. “Yeah, I was angry and upset, but that was no excuse and I regretted it straight away” he said. Jim’s wife went to police and got an AVO, subsequently forcing Jim to leave their home. His wife also closed their bank accounts, leaving him with no access to money, which caused him to implode. Jim adds “My son offered help but I said no. I was sick of the world. I bought a blade. Wrote a note. I went to the park and started cutting, getting a bit deeper each time.”

Jim was found by police and ambulance officers took him to Robina hospital, where his wrists were operated on, and where he completed his first mental health assessment. He was then transferred to the Gold Coast University Hospital mental health unit, and completed a second assessment. Knowing how to ‘get around’ the questions, Jim was released. Unfortunately, only a day later, Jim and his family realised he was totally on his own to navigate the folder of paperwork and brochures he’d been left with. Jim’s only accommodation option was to stay with his first wife, which wasn’t ideal as they didn’t get along too well.

After two weeks, Jim was at the lowest point of his life, and was again preparing to suicide. Thankfully his ex-wife was concerned and took Jim to the Emergency Ward at Tweed Hospital. Here he was diagnosed with personal and behavioral disorders and transferred to the Robina Mental Health Unit. At this point, Jim was referred to Partners In Recovery (PIR) and met his PIR facilitator Adam, who started working with Jim to put his recovery plan together. Adam visited Jim at his first wife’s house a day or two later.

“We got on websites together and filtered names and specialties until we got a psychologist who Jim thought might suit,” Adam said. Jim adds, “I have a great counsellor! He’s given me lots of tools so I can recognise signs of distress early, start rhythmic breathing and relax … take the wrinkles out! I am making decisions and am keen for more counselling sessions.”

Adam connected Jim to a Common Ground (men’s wellbeing program) information night. While Jim was hesitant to attend, Adam went also to support him. He’s now done five sessions and admits while it’s a challenge telling his story, he no longer feels alone. Adam says, “I noticed changes almost straight away. Jim is taking good steps to creating a new life and an awareness and appreciation of self.” Adam also encouraged Jim to re-connect with the things that naturally make him feel better. Jim got an entry pass to Palm Beach Pool Complex as he loves swimming and it is good therapy for his wrist flexibility.

“I am going through a period of rediscovery,” Jim beams. “When in a lost frame of mind and there’s a lot of sh*t happening, you can’t make simple decisions. I don’t know where I’d be without access to PIR and Adam and the counselling. I have learned more about myself in past 10 weeks than I have at any other time in my life.”

Ian McDougall

For other Gold Coast events and activities visit the Gold Coast Primary Health Network’s website: HealthyGC.com.au

PIR is a Federally funded program. Other consortia members include Gold Coast Health and Mental Health Association QLD