I have written this in the hope that anyone considering escaping by means of suicide or disappearance can find the strength to persevere. Although going missing is a better alternative to suicide, it is not a good alternative. If you feel that you need some time away, please just let your family know that you are okay. I would also like to make it clear that my family do not believe that Daniel has completed suicide, but that he is alive (likely unwell), somewhere in Australia.
My brother Daniel seemed to have it all. He was 24, handsome, modest, strong, gentle, caring, thoughtful, and admired by everyone for his all-round beautiful nature. He had a gorgeous, supportive girlfriend, a loving family and had just opened his own business.
Dan grew up surrounded by love and respect. Our parents encouraged us to pursue whatever it was that gave us joy, never pressured us, and always supported our decisions. Dan tried his hand at a number of sports and hobbies over the years, and naturally excelled at all of them.
Even as a teenager, Dan’s innate moral grounding and quiet self-belief kept him from exploring the hype of booze, cigarettes and drugs - he’d happily opt for a chocolate fix over anything that might put his health at risk. Dan travelled the world first at 18, then again at 21, each time meeting amazing people along the way and embracing new experiences. He was worldly, sensible, and seemed ready to tackle the responsibilities that come with adulthood.
Being diagnosed with depression and anxiety in January 2011 floored him as much as it did the rest of us, but it did explain the silent battle he had been fighting within himself.
Dan spoke with me openly and honestly about his depression. His anxiety hampered his sleep, and due his naturalist ideals, Dan didn’t initially accept that medication was the answer. Those few months after his diagnoses were tough. He did everything that he was supposed to - he went to see a psychologist, maintained his healthy lifestyle, read books about how to overcome inexplicable sadness, called Lifeline, and after some much-needed encouragement he started taking medication.
On a few really dark days, Dan alluded to suicide. He never said the word, and each time immediately followed it with ‘...but I would never do that, because I know how much it would hurt you’. I can only imagine how difficult it must be when you try everything and nothing seems to work. I told Dan that no matter what, I would always be there to help him and that he just needed to be patient - with persistence and support, people can beat depression.
Dan went missing on the morning of 15 July 2011. He walked away from Mum and Dad’s place with no money, no ID, and no material possessions. Dan didn’t want to burden the family or his girlfriend with his illness - I honestly think he believed he was doing the right thing by leaving us, but he wasn’t. I hope he realises this soon. Dan loves us, and would hate to know how much grief his disappearance is causing.
No matter how low depression can make you feel, you must remember that people do care about you, and will - willingly - help you through it. Friends that Dan made in primary school, people he shared experiences with overseas years ago, and even strangers he’s never met care enough about him to help us search. We are so appreciative of (and reliant upon) everyone’s help in spreading the awareness on our journey to find Dan, and hope to destigmatise mental illness along the way.
Yesterday I found something that applies to helping me cope, living each day with the overwhelming distress of not knowing where Dan is, if he’s safe, warm, fed, but that also pertains to people like Dan, living with the Black Dog.
‘Your mind may say that the dark time will pass, but it still feels like it will last forever. And that’s where a lot of the pain comes from during challenging times: you look ahead down the road and wonder how you will ever make it. You gaze all the way to the horizon and the path ahead looks so long, so daunting, you feel like collapsing under the weight of that huge burden.
How do you cope during those times?
Take a page from Alcoholics Anonymous. Staying sober is no easy task–if alcoholics thought about not ever having another drink for the next 50 years, they’d easily get overwhelmed and feel like it wasn’t even worth trying. So they take it "one day at a time". Staying sober for decades seems impossible; staying sober for 24 hours seems very doable.'
Society is becoming aware of the fact that depression does not discriminate, and subsequently there are hundreds of avenues available to those in times of need. Dan knew this, but if I could, I would remind him to reach out, hang on and remember that there is always hope - a very realistic hope - that things will be better tomorrow. We’ve just got to get through today.
More information at: www.dancomehome.com
[Quoted prose taken from: http://artofmanliness.com/2011/10/09/this-too-shall-pass/]