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!
My name is Brendan McDonnell. I’m 24 years old (UPDATE: I’m 28 now) 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!
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.”
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
Through the journey so far, I’ve found is 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.
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.