This is the story of the Herman’s Hands Second Line…
I’m Brendan McDonnell and Herman’s Hands is my brand.
I made the brand in my dad’s name. He took his own life in 2007 and I was the first person to discover his body. I was 15 at the time. Herman was his nickname.
My brand acts as his hands from wherever he is now.
Herman’s Hands is my way of giving my dad’s suicide meaning.
You can read all about me, my story and my brand here on this blog.
Since 2015 I have been doing all I can to help prevent the doom and gloom of mental illness that took my dad and continues to haunt my family from reaching others.
The Herman’s Hands second line that you can see online now was a long time in the making. And this article is a long time coming.
I started designing the line way back in October of 2016 in a hostel room just after arriving in Bondi. After a year or so of feeding Herman’s Hands with the dregs of myself while trying to establish myself in my new home and fight the battle inside my head, I completed the design process.
I put a shit load of work into it. Too much.
At the start of 2018 I launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund it’s creation. This was it:
Over 200 people believed in me enough to give me their money and I successfully raised 20 grand.
In the process I got to know stress well and the stress changed me.
I’m now working to undo the damage it’s done to my body and mind.
This article is more or less a little paraphrased summary of the last few years of my life. I’m doing my best to let go of getting into every minor detail. It’s a hard story to tell because I’ve never actually told it before. I’m just piecing things together now and finding clarity as I write. So bear with me.
In short, I’ve been a very anxious person for a long time. The roots of trauma run deep and extend into all areas of your life… Your whole way of being.
I’ve gotta tell you a second little story about myself here:
In around 2013, when I was in second or third year of uni, I got a hold of my old man’s Harley that my brother and I inherited. I used to ride it to uni and store it in my laundry. Anyway, although it looks pretty shiny and shmick on the outside it shakes like f*ck on the inside and it requires a lot of maintenance. It’s a bit of a mongrel, it’s made up of parts that were found on the floor of the bike shop my dad worked at and it’s about the same age as I am. I had no idea how to maintain it so I didn’t do any maintenance on it. Sure enough after a few months of riding it one of the main engine cases cracked and I was left with no idea what to do or how to fix it.
I am just like that old Harley. I look pretty shmick on the outside but I rattle and shake on the inside. I have to do a shit load of maintenance on myself or I crack.
This is what happened to me last year just after I launched my line. I cracked. And because my life orbited around an external entity rather than that entity orbiting around me, I was left spinning around in space.
Unfortunately I let Herman’s Hands become me. I let the brand live at the centre of my world. My life, my relationships, my well-being and almost everything else revolved around it.
This is pretty dark, but in short, I let this beautiful thing that I created to help myself and others ruin my life. I let it.
I’ve said this out loud a couple of times now and this is where people start saying “yeah but what about the people you’ve helped?” etc. I am not taking anything away from the light parts of this story. I can never. Through this line and the lengthy process of bringing it into reality I have raised a shit load of awareness and connected with and supported a shit load of people. It has done it’s job. Mate, over 200 people believed in it enough to fund it’s creation. All of those people and so many more are now legitimate advocates for change.
The amount of people it’s reached and continues to reach is innumerable. I know that I have legitimately helped people through it and I can never take anything away from this.
Nonetheless, I let it hurt me. I let it feed the negative parts of me. Parts of myself that I’m afraid of. Parts of myself that I still occasionally see glimpses of now – they induce fear in me and perpetuate the anxiety that I’ve continued to experience.
The hardest bit to comprehend here (for me included) is that my life is great. I live the dream. But still, there are times when I suffer – like many of you. Never underestimate the power and potential toxicity of the mind. The roots of trauma run deep.
The past 5 years my life have been dedicated to trying to make the best out of my situation but at the same time offer something to others.
Spending years of your life attempting to create something meaningful out of your father’s suicide is positive, but it has a cost. Although I don’t regret the direction I’ve led my life in or the way I’ve spent my time and energy, I have paid the price for it. And I continue to pay now.
Shortly after soft launching the Second Line last year I became incapacitated. As I said, I cracked. I cooked myself mate. I had 20 grand worth of merchandise, some beautiful campaign photos and at least 200 people behind me but I had nothing left to give.
Huge amounts of stress and suppressed emotion began manifesting themselves in my life and body. All the components of my life that I had allowed to rotate around Herman’s Hands broke down.
Anyway, that was a little while ago now. I now have a new knee and around 25 weeks of psychotherapy in the bank. New knee, new me.
I did it for myself. To give myself some closure. To do justice to this thing I spent so long creating and present it properly once and for all.
I’m happy I did it. But more so I’m happy that I was ABLE to do it.
Thank you to those close to me, I wouldn’t be here without you.
THIS CAMPAIGN MARKS THE END OF THE HERMAN’S HANDS SECOND LINE.
Along with the end of the stressed out, anxious, possessive, skinny, injured, unhappy version of me.
It’s time to let it go, along with the negative parts of myself that have fed on it for too long.
I fucked it up and it’s time to move on :)
I’ve ranted on enough about it.
Let’s face it, 17 products is far too many for one pleb to handle anyway. Shit.
This Thursday, May 2nd, 2019 the Herman’s Hands Second Line will go on sale at 50% off and once it’s gone it will not be reprinted again.
I’m not writing this with any anger, frustration or animosity by the way. In fact when I first wrote this I was sitting in a cafe by the beach in North Bondi awkwardly smiling to myself haha.
So for the last time, get around it people. This line means a lot to me and the 200 people who backed me and believed in me and funded it’s creation.
Honestly, more than I can explain.
It looks pretty shmick too if you ask me.
I’m looking forward to getting back to full strength, hopefully making some money for once in my life, enjoying this fookin’ privileged life I lead and doing some damn talks like I told you all I would!
Keep an eye out for upcoming event details.
The next stage of Herman’s Hands is only achievable if I put myself at the centre of my life – as I should be! And have Herman’s Hands and all the other components of my life rotate around me. Rather than having HH at the centre like in the past and when it fucks up allowing myself spin wayward through space.
I have determined what I am and what I do and I’ve set a routine to anchor myself. You can catch me outside doing pull-ups on Bondi Beach, in Bondi Boxing Gym teaching people how to fight/ get fit/ better themselves or connecting with and supporting fellow human beings – most likely whilst drinking coffee.
Stay tuned for the next stage of my journey and please do your best to look out for your mates. You never know who could be suffering in silence.
The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency of all.
Thank you to Debbie McDonnell, Madeline Ryan, Denys Bondi, Ed Copestick, Josh Wood, Tom Mitchell, Michael Bain, Gen and the team at the Royal Albert, Stephanie Peel, Matthew McDonnell, Sascha Gray, Jesinta Franklin, Buddy Franklin, Spenser Davis, Alex Groome, Dylan Harding, Mike Tomkinson, Ryan Kenny, Mathias Alexandrou, Hamish Humphreys, Jimi George, Troy Bettineschi, Tom Derickx, Pallasi Kailis, Dexter Van Koeverden, Chris Elia, Tara Kaplan, Paul Leaning, The Hive Films, Joakim Kullengren, Leo Santangelo, Maydad Ronen, Casey Hurrell, Denis Giakoulmelos, Zoran Taleski, Hector Lantos, Alex Gilmour, Luke Hiscox, Tara Lal, Robert Maciver and so many others. Sorry if I missed you.
And thank YOU for being here.
Love Brenny x
Create Dialogue – Inspire Change.