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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!

Me in action:

#mentalhealth #suicideprevention #youmatter