Depression is a hideous illness that, in some way, affects every single Australian.

On the 23rd December 2016 we lost a member of the LinkedIn community. It would have gone unnoticed on LinkedIn, as this member had a limited profile & not many connections. I am sure that we, as a LinkenIn community, lose far too many members without ever realising.

I know for a fact that this person had been suffering with depression & anxiety for many years. The reason why I know this is that he was the lead singer of my rock band, he was a client, & he was also a very dear friend.

Even more tragically, however, is that Jon Cole was a husband, & the father of two very young children (twins). Christmas for this family has changed forever.

Jon & I spent 8 years together in the band & in fact we had rehearsed twice in the week prior to his passing. He informed me that his GP had recently changed his medication & ‘he was amazed at how much clarity he now had with his thinking’.

But now he’s gone & a huge hole has been left in the hearts of the many people whose lives he touched.

The reason why I hate this disease so much is that, even though you know it is there inside the people that we love & care for, we can’t really see or understand what is going on inside their minds. We can see when a bone is broken or when someone has the flu – the symptoms are obvious, but when someone is truly suffering with mental illness, not even their closest family members can comprehend the full extent of their pain & suffering.

Today in Australia:

  • Someone under the age of 25 will commit suicide;
  • 25% of our young people have some type of mental health condition;
  • 20% of all of us, at some stage, have experienced symptoms of a mental disorder; &
  • 6% of all adult Australians are affected by a depressive illness.

It is scary to think that, as I walk along the streets of any given city or town in Australia, a quarter of the young people that pass me by are suffering &, more than likely, behind a very brave façade.

My story is one of many right around the country unfortunately. Most of us expect Christmas to be a joyous celebration with loved ones but, for many, it is the time of year that brings great sorrow.

One of my goals in 2017 is to reach out to those in my world who are going through tough times simply to say “Are you OK?……, are you REALLY OK?

The following is a song that I wrote for my dear friend, Jon Cole:

Black dog in the shadow

Verse 1

I can’t comprehend

Losing a friend

Without even saying goodbye.

Not seeing the signs, or

Reading ‘tween the lines

All I can do now is cry.

Verse 2

My biggest regret

Since the day that we met

Is not telling you how much I care.

I just wish I could say

“Jon are you OK?”

That’s a cross that I’ll just have to bare.

Chorus 1

Your smile was contagious

Your laughter outrageous

I long to be with you again.

Although you were hurting

Your pride kept averting

And your eyes always masked your pain.

Verse 3

Dawn brings a new day

But in a strange way

I feel that my troubles are few.

Although you’re not here

I’ve nothing to fear

My life was enriched knowing you.

Chorus 1 & 2

Your smile was contagious

Your stories outrageous

I long to be with you again.

Although you were hurting

Your pride kept averting

And your eyes always masked your pain.

We all have our demons, &

You had your reasons

For standing alone in the rain.

You battled with your foe –

Black dog in the shadow

And your eyes always masked your pain.

RIP my friend.