About Vol. 2 – June 2016

brendan mcdonnell

Brendanmcdonnell.com has now been running for 1 year. I thought it was about time I updated the ‘About’ page! I’ve shared it here for those of you who’ve been following my journey from the start/ anyone who’s interested:

My dad suffered from depression for many years and on November 17th of 2007 he took his own life.

At around 2:30pm of that day I found his body hanging from the rafters of my family shed.

I was 15.

My dad left behind a suicide letter addressed personally to me that was discovered beneath his bed the following day.


My dad’s suicide had a profound effect on me and my family. It created a lot of suffering that still affects us to this day. Having personally endured many years of intrusive imagery and emotional solitude, I have made the choice to do all I can to prevent the same suffering from finding others too. Sharing part of my story via this website is only the start!

Brendan McDonnell

My name is Brendan McDonnell. I’m 24 years old from Adelaide, South Australia. I teach Muay Thai and I design stuff. I started this website in 2015 while I was living on the Mediterranean Island of Malta.

I initially created the blog to share my life with my family and friends in Australia. After launching, I soon realised that through it I can connect with and inspire many more! I am now ecstatic to say that one year since launching in June of 2015; brendanmcdonnell.com has had over 25,000 users. Of those users, 80% came to my website to read my first article:

Nonetheless they came!

Brendan McDonnellMagazine article from Malta

Following the discovery of my dad’s body in 2007, I remained silent until May 22nd of 2012 when I first recalled the events of that day with a pad and pen. I would not have been able to do this had I not first sought the help of an amazing psychologist. I found a means to express myself through writing and since then I haven’t stopped. Writing and sharing has allowed me to break down, clarify and give meaning to my experiences.

As I mentioned, my dad left behind a suicide letter addressed personally to me. In it he told me that he didn’t want to “expose me to the doom & gloom that had taken over his life” so he ended it.

It took me 7 years to even begin comprehending this, let alone understand it. The journey continues!


For now though, I KNOW that with awareness the doom & gloom can be overcome!

So, my objective is to do all I can to spread the gift of awareness. As I put it from day one:

“I’m going to spread awareness like true-blue Aussies spread their Vegemite (the Aussie version of Marmite): THICK.”

brendan mcdonnellMy favourite picture: dad sketching – early 90’s

After 2 years in Europe, I’ve returned to Australia with my beautiful partner, Stephanie, and with her as my support I’ve continued work to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention.

I’ve converted the family shed where I found my dad’s body into a positive space of growth that I’ve named ‘Brenny’s’. It’s basically a little gym where friends come to learn Muay Thai and drink coffee with me.

I’ve also started a Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention Clothing Brand aptly named ‘Herman’s Hands’ (Herman being my dad’s nickname). Using clothing as a vehicle for awareness spreading, I hope to continue creating dialogue and inspiring change. www.instagram.com/hermanshands

brendan mcdonnellBrenny’s shed conversion

brendan mcdonnellBeautiful Stephanie in the Herman’s Hands ‘Sun Through the Clouds’ Longsleeve Tee

Through the journey so far, I’ve found that sharing yourself in hope of facilitating growth in another is among the only real things you can do for anyone.

The effect you have on people is the most valuable currency of all.

It has taken me over 7 years to get here (8 now that I’m re-writing this spiel), but here I am… Sharing myself.

brendan mcdonnell3 BRANDS – 1 MISSION

Mental illness does not discriminate. It can and will affect anyone! I hope that this website doesn’t discriminate either.

That doesn’t sound right… Anyway,  I’ve made it for you!

So, if you have a spare 15 minutes read some of my ramblings. Hopefully you can take something away from them! If not, it sure as hell beats re-opening your Facebook tab and looking at Game of Thrones memes or watching 6-second Vine videos about goats.

Brendan McDonnellPOW!

9 Comments. Leave a comment


  1. Joanne
    June 20, 2016

    Love what you’ve done and what you’re doing Bren. Please keep going. You’re making a difference!!! Love your work.

  2. Luke
    June 20, 2016

    Good onya young fella

    • Brendan McDonnell
      June 21, 2016

      Thanks unkie Luke!

  3. Lauren
    June 20, 2016

    Hi Brendan I’m Lauren your auntie cecelias best friend. I grew up with your dad and the rest of the McDonnell family until I was 17 then my family moved to Brisbane. I have lots of fond and funny memories of our childhood so when I come to Adelaide again one day I would love to have a coffee with you and share a laugh or 2!! Love your work…..peace be with you mate!! ??

    • Brendan McDonnell
      June 21, 2016

      Sounds great Lauren, thanks!

  4. Heather
    June 20, 2016

    Im 46 years old and have also been affected through losing my partner in 2004 to Suicide, I found him hanging from the Rafters near my front door In Mitchell Park SA, I would like to say Brendan that you are a true Inspiration and the Courage and Strength you have iundeniably shown,Your fantastic and im trying so hard to keep my thought pattern positive and to stay focused and i just find it impossible as i can do it pigfor so long but im not sure what triggers it off but i adventually sink back into depression mode and i fucking hate it but i must say since following your story it makes me know that there are ways around all this and it aint all bad and ive so badly myself wanted to do something to raise money/awareness for Suicide but never get to far as yet due to the adventually relapsing back into my depression, I just wish that i could click my fingers and my life would go back to how it was before that fateful night as im sure you can understand Brendan and by the way Im so Sorry for your loss and the fact that your life changed forever and you didnt get a choice in the matter,thats one thing i often wonder and thats if they realise now all the inner suffering we go through would they still have done it,Your Dad would be watching over you Brendan and the Proudness would be weighing him down and im sure at times you must feel his presence and know how Proud he is of you and the way youve stepped up and faced this life trauma head on,and dealt with it so positively to be able to reach out and help others is absolutely amazing and like i said your a true Inspiration and you deserve nothing but so much happiness and good Karma Forever and Keep up all the great work your doing because it really is needed for yourself and for others like me who need that shining light to let them know there is a way out from the darkness, So Thankyou so much Brendan because everything you are doing and writing about is my shining light and lets me know that i can get out of this dark place and stay out of it longer and longer until one day i dont go back to it and can only move forward from there.Also Brendan are you still teaching Muay Thai and if so could you tell me what days and how much etc because really interested for my Son as he loves all that sort of stuff but he to was affected by that fateful night and his life changed forever as well and instead of being the full of life 15 year old that he was he became withdrawn and isolated himself from everything and everyone and brings him to why hes now nearly 28 with stuff all friends and its quite sad really because he didnt ask for any of this and he wouldnt of meant for life to turn out how it has and an outlet like yours would be fantastic for him and plus he likes all that martial arts stuff plus he likes boxiing as well,Look Forward To Your Reply!

    • Brendan McDonnell
      June 21, 2016

      Hey Heather.
      Thanks for the kind words. Really sorry to hear about your struggle! I hope you’re doing ok and I hope you’re seeking help should you need it.
      Thank you for sharing your story with me. And thanks for reading my blog! – It’s doing it’s job!
      Feel free to get your son to send me an email (hi@brendanmcdonnell.com) or add me on Facebook if he’s interested in coming and doing some training.
      Bren xo

  5. Debbie
    June 20, 2016

    Love what you have achieved, after your many many hours of hard work.
    You have an amazing gift of expressing yourself through your writing and your Design work, thank you for sharing it with us all. So proud of you Ma ?

  6. Ryan Clancy
    June 21, 2016

    Black dog is a bitch that has sat on my lap or next to me for the past 10 years. I know I feel better when I’m fit and healthy but it is a struggle to get out of my own way.
    I am proud of you. Keep up the good work. Would like to get back into training so if you are up for a challenge, let me know!!

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