James Maxwell of Green Hornet Landscaping has had a turbulent time in lockdown but can see the otherside of it now. Photo: Supplied

Journey back from the brink in bubble


James Maxwell was running on empty even before lockdown began. Here he shares his mental health experience from inside his bubble in the hope it might help others that are feeling overwhelmed with life.

To say that I shed a tear or two during the first week of lockdown would be a bit of an understatement. I cried daily.

I’ve been grieving and often small things would bring me to tears. I was already facing some big challenges and overwhelmed by a burning desire to change.

But how could someone feeling so lonely and unsettled already in life find themselves in isolation for at least a month with a severely autistic daughter, a cat, and a brand-new puppy?

It’s usually hard enough managing my daughter’s needs on any given day but now I’ve got to do everything, and do it alone.

As men we are learning to talk more and share our feelings but being left alone with nothing more than feelings to consider was beyond overwhelming.

My business, my relationships, my own health and wellbeing and parenting had become overwhelming for me and I reached a point where I just couldn’t cope with coping anymore.

But I had so much responsibility to look after my daughter’s needs and had a business full of great people from staff and suppliers to clients and my always supportive business partner. How could I let them all down?

I was shattered and angry with myself that I’d let it come to this.

Now life in a bubble had to begin, I was afraid. I’d always been aware of how much sadness I had attached to parenting an autistic child. From all the birthdays and Christmases gone in our lives with no requests for presents, or anything else that we commonly define as love, to all the opportunities I had missed out on due to the total lack of flexibility in our lives.

I had no idea at the time that these feeling were called grief and that it was OK to feel them. I had no idea that I needed to reach out and ask for help.

Things fell apart very quickly for me and I was devastated and found myself at breaking point.

I remember dropping my daughter at school and driving home with tears raining down my face and the feeling that behind my ute’s tinted windows and my dark sunglasses that nobody knew I existed let alone how much I needed their help.

Perspective, though, is an amazing thing and can be hardest to find when we look for it.

It’s been nearly two months now since I started along a healthier path. I watched something interesting last night that talked about blame and that if I was to blame my daughter for everything then I should blame her for the strength I’ve had to endure all this sadness.

I should blame her for the love and friendship that I’ve encountered, I should blame her for giving me the opportunity to experience and develop myself and to come out of the other side as a man on a mission to not only change his own world but to help others that are struggling in theirs.

The time in lockdown to reflect and take care of myself has given me a chance to think about what I would like life to be like now.

I’ve been eating, sleeping, resting, exercising, feeling and sharing and I look forward to enjoying more and worrying less.

I wanted to share a simple message that you are not alone out there. Reach out whenever you want or need and if you’re doing well then try to reach out and find someone that needs you.

*Green Hornet will be getting back to work this week and considers it a privilege, so it will be donating $25 in vouchers bought from local businesses for every day they are working until level 2. It hopes others will do the same.