By Kate Lambe
As a successful lawyer, Ben Bullock was too embarrassed to tell anyone he was battling depression for more than two years.
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“It is something we are always told particularly as men to keep quiet about. ‘Be a man, just walk it off’,” he said.
“But that is such a damaging way to approach things.”
The 28-year-old now hopes to raise money for Beyond Blue, and awareness of the black dog, by crossing 30,000 kilometres and 30 countries — all on a motorbike — from Perth Australia to Perth, Scotland.
Over nine months Ben Bullock will ride through South East Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Southern Europe and the United Kingdom before his final destination.
A support vehicle will follow to Darwin, but once in Indonesia Mr Bullock said he will ride solo.
“I will fly from Darwin to Denpasar and that will be the only flight because it is a major water crossing,” he said.
‘I can control this, I’m in charge of my emotions’
For the Perth lawyer, the issue of suicide — which is the leading cause of death for Australians between the ages of 15 and 54 — hits close to home.
Despite a positive start to life, he started to feel alienated and a creeping sense of hopelessness, but struggled to let anyone know, or ask for help.
The high levels of psychological distress and risk of depression in the law profession contributed to the Law Society of WA establishing a Mental Health and Wellbeing Committee to help increase awareness of mental health in the workplace.
“It is a high-pressure job with a lot of commitments, deadlines and requirements,” Mr Bullock said.
One of the regrets Ben had was not making use of programs on offer.
“As a man I thought ‘No, I can control this, I am in charge of my own emotions’,” he said.
“But No. No Ben you are not.
“I should have been [making] use of those support networks that were available.”
Mr Bullock hopes the trip will help spark an open conversation about suicide, and let people know despite the challenges, you can still accomplish great things.
Mr Bullock said the challenge that lies ahead is not only going to be physical, but emotional too.
“There are going to be some tough times,” he said.
“Just last week another young guy named Ben who is a motorbike enthusiast, he took his own life.
“So that was pretty brutal to hear just a couple days out and I will need to keep check of my mental health as well.”