My name is Hayleigh.
I am a dental nurse, a netball goal shooter, a movie buff and one hell of an Aunty.
I am the oldest of 4 siblings, 1 boy and two other girls.We grew up on a flower farm in Somerville on 20 acres. Being part of a big family, was in my experience was unforgettable in all the right ways.
Growing up with my siblings, that became my very best mates, and still are to this day.
Don’t get me wrong there were sibling fights, and teenager attitudes and sisters pinching each other’s clothing, we were no Brady Bunch, but it was pretty smooth sailing.
Memories of helping Mum and Dad in the flower igloos, building cubbies, swimming in mud puddles bigger than ourselves and my personal favourite waiting until Dad had left for work in the mornings and letting the cows out of their paddock before school, so we could round them back up, you know just for fun. As we reached our 20s us siblings dispersed; my brother moved in with his partner and one of my sisters moved in with myself and some friends and the youngest stayed with the parentals. We all stayed very close, going on holidays all together and catching up several times a week. My brother and his partner became parents and our family were in awe of the beautiful little girl they had produced, and I fully activated Aunty mode.
The thing with special, irreplaceable memories like these is, you don’t appreciate how important or how tightly you will hold onto them until something horrible happens.
And then it happened, on Sunday the 15th May 2016 my beautiful brother Ben, shockingly and unexpectedly took his own life.
Ben was 22 years old.
Ben was employed full time.
Ben had a beautiful daughter who was 20 months old.
Ben had a close and loving family.
Ben had enough savings for a house deposit.
Ben only drank occasionally.
Ben wasn’t involved in drugs.
Ben was the life of the party, the loyal brother, the instigator of most of our family get togethers, the boy who had planned a family holiday for everyone with a voucher he had gotten for his 21st birthday.
While our family don’t believe Ben suffered from mental health issues, we do believe he took his own life in a struggle with situational crisis.
Shortly after Bens passing my two sisters and myself put together the organisation It’s okay, not to be okay to try and help fight the stigma and bring awareness to mental health issues, suicide awareness and grief.
Its okay not to be okay means to us –
Its okay to grieve for however long you need to.
Its okay to reach out for help.
Its okay to cry and admit you’re having a bad day.
Its okay to take medication and seek professional help.
Sometimes looking out for your mates means getting them help, even if takes a bit of courage to do so. Help can look so different for everyone.
We’ve all had a shocking cut from a hairdressers a coach you don’t gel with, a tradie that your pretty sure ripped you off and did a shonky job.
So if you book in with a counsellor and you don’t click initially then try a follow up appointment or book in with someone else.
Your mental health is too important to right off all counsellors or mental health professionals after one bad experience.
Thank you for listening.