This story is re-printed from the Gippsland Jersey Calendar.
JOE is a dairy farmer from Warragul South and has a story of absolute strength.
Joe admits he has wandered over his farm, looking for places to end his life.
He would disappear up the paddock after milking and sob into his hands.
Farming life had become so lonely.
Joe always believed he needed to maintain the image of a strong, macho male and was too ashamed to share with his mates what he was going through.
He thought he was being weak.
“My wife was ready to leave me at one stage,” Joe said.
“She had been asking me to get help for a while.
“So I went to seek help and within the first few sentences I was sobbing.
“There’s nothing to be ashamed of, you just gotta take the first step.”
Joe’s wife became so concerned for Joe at one stage, and needed someone else’s help, that she invited Joe’s best man from their wedding over one night after milking.
Joe says they hugged and chatted, for the first time in Joe’s life, about his mental struggle.
Suddenly, Joe knew that his mates were proud of him for talking up.
“I am like a different person,” he said.
“Now, I look through the problem to find the solution.
“Problems aren’t always negative.”
Joe read a poem by Murray Hartin, ‘Rain From Nowhere’, in which a few poignant lines about a man’s children really resonated with him and helped him press on through the toughest times of his life.
Joe knew he had to find the solution to his challenge for his kids’ sake.
Joe now stands with his shoulders high, an advocate for mental health awareness and realises that admitting you need support through a mental illness is actually a great strength.
“Go and see your GP, get out of the macho mindset and seek help,” Joe said.
“People love you and care about you.”