How did I get here?
Walking behind the casket of my younger brother Matthew was brutal. Absolutely brutal. I got outside the church and they loaded Matthew into the hearse, and I turned to a good friend and cried on his shoulders saying “I already did this! I already did this!” You see Matthew wasn’t the first Gillan boy to die of suicide. Eleven years earlier, I walked behind the casket of my older brother Mark, who also died by suicide. Fuck me, right?
Losing brother number two threw me into a dark abyss and it scared me. I was the last Gillan boy left. Sure, I had two sisters but if the Gillan name was to carry on, it was now up to me. A burden I placed on myself, but Matthew’s death came at a time when my ex-wife and I were struggling with infertility and like many problems in life, they all started to stack up and it was wearing me out.
I still had a couple of good brain cells working through this darkness and I decided to give them a break by taking a break from drinking alcohol. I got hammered the night before we buried Matthew, so this was a welcome break and I happy to report that I am still on that break 24 years later! So, there is your tip # 1 for getting through some shit—do it sober. Sure, this can be hard, but you are going to have to trust me on this one. Go through your battles with a sober mind.
For years, I kept both brothers close to my heart, but far from my lips. I never spoke of them and when people would ask me how many kids were in my family, I would say three. Me and my two sisters. Three. And then after years of therapy I started to get an itch to help the cause and I scratched it by volunteering for the Suicide Prevention Hotline. And I started to talk about my brothers again…. slowly. Oh, so slowly. First real gig I cried the entire time. Second gig I cried half the time and because they validated my parking this made me a professional speaker. Third time right before I went on they prayed for me. That was exactly what I needed to hear and I took the stage to a packed house and haven’t looked back since. Tip #2—talk about your problems. You will be amazed how your true friends and total strangers will react.
Now I speak about my brothers all the time. I still cry, but not as much. Funny how life works!
#mentalhealth #suicideprevention #youmatter