What’s Happening in Your World?

Dave Burt isn’t just a Kiwi electrician with over 36 years of experience. He’s also got an MBA under his belt and he’s the author of the book Lengthening the Shadow which talks about something we should all have more front of mind – mental health.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that the electrical industry lends itself to being a predominantly male workforce that spends less time talking about feelings and more time getting the work done. So where does that leave the topic of mental health?

We’re not here to tell you to share your feelings with your workmates every second of every day, however, it IS time we all start the conversation. Dave’s here with his new book to tell us how to do just that, minus the awkwardness.

The unspeakable ‘D’ word, what is it?

Nowadays depression is a word that comes with a lot of different stereotypes, stigmas, and pre-conceived ideas. So, what’s Dave’s take on it?

If you think you don’t know anyone who’s had depression, chances are you probably do; they’ve just never said anything about it. People often fear telling those around them because they believe they’ll be judged and defined by it.

He’s been there himself and battled to come out the other side. In his own words, depression is something that strips all of the colour out of your life, leaving everything grey. It’s not that the colours don’t exist anymore, it’s that someone who’s facing depression just isn’t able to see them. For Dave, depression made him question how he could feel so alone even when in a room surrounded by people he knows and loves.

So, how can you help?

Let’s start by dissolving the judgment and stigma around mental illness. As Dave puts it, “You don’t break a leg, get up and pretend nothing happened, and expect your leg will heal all by itself. So why do we treat mental illness with such a different mindset, with the expectation it’ll fix itself? They’re both things that need the help of others to heal.”

Next, let’s start the conversation. Blokes can be awkward and clunky when it comes to talking about mental health – Dave knows that firsthand! So instead of not knowing what to say or how to say it, why not just ask your mates “What’s happening in your world?”. It’s only 5 words, but if you ask those 5 words at the right time in the right situation, maybe your mate will open up about what’s been on their mind. You’re not asking the question to judge them, fix them, or even give your opinion; you’re just there to listen.

Then, if it feels right, gently encourage your mate to seek help from a professional. When Dave’s wife booked him an appointment to see their family GP and he began to face his demons, the grey started to disappear and very slowly the colour started creeping back into his life.

Lengthening the Shadow

Dave’s book started out as a personal daily journal, logging his thoughts, goals, and experiences while on a 10-week gym challenge. His journaling quickly turned into a way for him to express more than just feelings about his physical battles (like having to run 3km everyday) and also became an outlet for his mental battles too.

Lengthening the Shadow is an easy read, that aims to help normalise depression by following Dave, a classic Kiwi bloke, through both his lighthearted moments and the tough times too.

So let’s ditch the judgment, avoid the awkwardness and simply ask, what’s happening in your world? Maybe that small question can be the starting point to help a mate and stop them from making a drastic decision to end their agony.

We have 100 copies of Dave Burt’s book “Lengthening the Shadow” to give away for free.

What’s happening in your world? Need to talk?
Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
Healthline: 0800 611 116
Lifeline Aotearoa: 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
General mental health inquiries: 0800 44 33 66
The Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757
Buy Dave’s book at www.lengtheningtheshadow.co.nz
Check out Dave’s Youtube Channel for quick and helpful videos