Blokes looking after blokes

Zoe KeenanSouth Western Times
Fred Brondsema welcomed David Collins into the Men's Shed a year ago and made him promise to come back, a promise Mr Collins kept and saved his life.
Camera IconFred Brondsema welcomed David Collins into the Men's Shed a year ago and made him promise to come back, a promise Mr Collins kept and saved his life. Credit: Zoe Keenan

If it were not for the Bunbury Men’s Shed, David Collins said he would not be alive today.

The 67-year-old Bunbury resident retired from a successful career in mining and has been happily married, with six children.

But Mr Collins almost lost it all when he planned to end his 30-year-long suffering with depression and bipolar.

“I was convinced my family didn’t want me … I had decided to take the matter into my own hands and carefully planned how I would end the grief,” he said.

For 10 of those years Mr Collins has also been fighting prostate cancer, with the disease recently rearing its ugly head again.

Last year Mr Collins made a promise to his psychologist and his son that he would go to the men’s shed in his last effort to improve his mental health.

He stood in the doorway of the shed and met Fred Brondsema who showed him around and made him promise to return to the shed two days later.

He did and he has been keeping that promise for 12 months.

“I would not be alive now if it weren’t for the Men’s Shed that’s not a boast, I would not be alive now,” he said.

“It has allowed me a space to come and feel that I can just try and be me. There’s a sense of understanding, quite a few have health issues of their own.

“(Depression) is hard to explain but I don’t have to try and explain it down here.”

Mr Brondsema said the men at the shed might talk nonsense during their weekly visits but he said the main thing was that every man left having enjoyed their time.

“That in a nutshell is what we’re trying to achieve, you just have a good time away from other worries,” he said.”

Mr Collins said he wanted to share his story to reach out to others feeling like they were alone, as he once had, and urged them to show up.

If you or someone you know needs support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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