“I was at work and had a million things going on. I was in my own little bubble of stress. Money that was meant to be in my account wasn’t there; I had bills and direct debits lined up. It was inconvenient and I didn’t have time for it. I was annoyed when I called the real estate who was managing my property. I was frustrated about the inconvenience.
The tenant had moved in three years before. He was a quiet man who kept himself to himself. His marriage had broken down and he was looking for somewhere to rent as soon as possible. His ex was not handling the break up pleasantly; he was copping too much abuse to stay in the family home and needed out quickly.
He paid upfront, he paid on time, and there were no loud parties or no complaints. He told the real estate agent that he had a daughter who was two years old. His ex wasn’t allowing him access. He was stuck in the Family Court.
Of course, I didn’t know all of this until a few weeks ago.
I’d asked the real estate agent to chase him up. When she called back she sounded shaken. The tenant was in hospital. He had tried to take his own life. I won’t go into details, it’s all very raw and hard to think about let alone talk about to be honest.
Neighbours called police, an ambulance arrived and he is now in hospital with various physical injuries. None of those injuries will come close to the mental anguish he was suffering in silence.
We all do it. I was ticking along in my own little world, with my own to-do list, deadlines, juggling money and running out of patience.
I had no idea this man was in such inner turmoil. He was a tenant, not a human being I had invested energy into.
I’ve been aware of these kinds of issues before but this is all so horribly close to home it’s left me feeling sick. I didn’t sleep that night and it’s rattling around in my head. It’s hit me really hard.
Hearing how he’d tried to tidy up all lose ends, organised boxes and written a note is such a wake-up call.
He is now recovering in hospital but I can’t stop thinking; his problems haven’t been resolved. Nothing has changed. Nothing will change. He still doesn’t have access to his daughter. He’s still stuck in Family Court and losing more money than he can earn.
I’m so sick and tired of men saying they need to talk about their feelings. Why? If he had, what difference would it have even made?
I think back to how my dad held our family together when I was young. I can see now the incredible stress he was under. He supported us financially and emotionally. My mother, my siblings … I wonder what was left for himself. No one saw how much he was battling.
I have a whole new appreciation for the focus, determination and strength he showed.
I look forward to the day I become a father. Yet, at the same time it’s terrifying. I’m not sure everyone understands what a huge deal it is. I want to provide, I want to be the strong role model that my father was to me. But, from that very moment a child is born our world’s shift as men. That responsibility is so huge.
I can’t even begin to imagine what was going through my tenant’s mind but I can’t stop thinking about him as a human being in pain.
He left the family home. He was in rented accommodation. He had lost everything.
When you take away a man’s child, you strip away masculinity at its core. He lost his hope. He ran out of strength to fight.
When a rent payment becomes a human being’s very real battle, the entire world looks different.”
* Not his real name
October 10 is World Mental Health Day.
If you or anyone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.