Long road to stop stigma

Wanneroo Weekender - - News - Tyler Brown

CY­CLING 300km in three days may seem like a chal­lenge but it is noth­ing com­pared to the chal­lenges faced by those bat­tling with de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety.

David Graden (36) admits he knows first-hand about “suf­fer­ing in si­lence”, re­al­is­ing in his early 20s he needed to seek help.

“Back then it def­i­nitely wasn’t the manly thing to show your vul­ner­a­ble side and ad­mit to your fam­ily and friends you’re strug­gling men­tally and emo­tion­ally, and cer­tainly where I lived it would have been seen as a weak­ness,” he said.

“There has al­ways been a stigma at­tached to men and men­tal heath.

“I fi­nally built up the courage to ask for some help, which was short­lived.”

The Con­nolly res­i­dent said 11 to 12 years later he found him­self “in the same mind frame”.

“I had so­cial anx­i­ety, iso­lated my­self from peo­ple and I couldn’t fo­cus on any one thing,” he said.

“One year later, I found my­self in the doc­tor’s in tears, which was the turn­ing point in my life.”

Now, a few years later, Mr Graden is an am­bas­sador for men’s men­tal health char­ity A Change For Change, in­spired not only by his own strug­gles but also those of his brother-in-law Paul Strange, who died by sui­cide two years ago at the age of 30.

Mr Strange’s mother Irene said he had suf­fered with de­pres­sion for about six years.

“He al­ways pushed him­self to achieve high re­sults and put pres­sure on him­self whilst study­ing; he just passed his sports sci­ence de­gree be­fore he passed,” the Ocean Reef res­i­dent said.

“About three years be­fore, he was in hospi­tal and af­ter com­ing home he seemed to grad­u­ally get bet­ter.

“But de­pres­sion does not re­ally go away; it is al­ways there un­der the sur­face.”

Watch­ing his part­ner Nikki and her fam­ily lose a loved one to sui­cide prompted Mr Graden to cre­ate Pedal 2 Perth 4 Paul to “help raise men­tal health aware­ness, stop the suf­fer­ing in si­lence and sui­cide preven­tion in men in Aus­tralia”.

He will ride from Mar­garet River to Mul­laloo Beach, where Mr Strange’s ashes were scat­tered, from De­cem­ber 14 to 16, stop­ping overnight in Bun­bury and Man­durah.

“Back then I needed some­one or any­thing to show me it was OK to be go­ing through what I was go­ing through and that I was not alone, there was noth­ing and no one,” he said.

Pic­ture: Mar­tin Ken­nealey d489350

David Graden, Mul­laloo Surf Life Sav­ing Club di­rec­tor Craig Bull and Irene Strange. Be­low: Paul Strange passed away two years ago.

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