FINDING the right person to talk to about your problems can be one of the hardest things you will ever do.
That is what Busselton resident Clayton Gordon found when he was struggling with the black dog.
When Mr Gordon first saw Black Dog Ride founder Steve Andrews complete a motorbike ride around Australia he thought he was crazy.
In 2009 Mr Andrews completed his first Black Dog Ride around Australia to raise awareness for mental illness and suicide prevention.
It has now become a national and annual event with one day rides and Rides to the Red Centre.
Mr Gordon realised that Mr Andrews was not crazy and went on his first Ride to the Red Centre last year.
He said the experience was a real eye opener.
“Listening to people’s stories and knowing the high percentage of rural people that commit suicide- it was a huge learning curve,” he said.
The trip was not the first time Mr Gordon had witnessed mental illness and suicide.
When he was in his early 20s, Mr Gordon was in a bad way and attempted self harm.
However, his friend pulled him out of it, but what Mr Gordon did not realise was that his friend was in trouble too.
“I was so self involved that I just did not see it,” he said.
His friend passed away not long after.
“I still blame myself 100 per cent for his death even though I know I shouldn’t,” he said.
Since then the black dog has come in and out of Mr Gordon’s life, playing a part in his first marriage and even now.
But he said the major problem was that people with a mental illness do not talk about it.
"There is still that perception that men aren't allowed to talk about their feelings," he said.
When Mr Gordon was having trouble recently he found the best person to call was Mr Andrews.
As well as raising awareness of the sensitive issue, Black Dog Ride has contributed more than one million dollars to various mental health organisations.
Mr Gordon has made a significant contribution to this through his work as a jewellery maker.
Last year Mr Gordon made two gold rings and a broach for auction.
Mr Gordon said he was stunned by the amount of people wanting to buy his work; they raised more than $5000 for the cause.
There is a one day ride coming up on March 23, with registrations open and another ring by Mr Gordon on offer to an online entrant.
For more information about the Black Dog Ride visit blackdogride.com.au.
If you need someone to talk to, contact Lifeline Crisis Support on 13 11 14.
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