Bundarra’s Bruce McLean knows all too well how it feels to hit rock bottom.
“When you stay disconnected from the wider community, you just seem to lock yourself away. That’s what happened to me, probably seven years ago,” he said.
Dedicated to breaking the cycle of his own depression and reaching out to other men facing similar struggles, Bruce is passionate about establishing a Men’s Shed in his town.
Several residents have thrown their support behind the proposal following a public meeting at the Bundarra Sport and Recreation Club on Saturday.
A creative outlet designed to help improve men’s health through meaningful activity, the sheds invite members to make the most of their retirement and leisure time by handcrafting various community projects.
“I was probably a bit blown away on Saturday. I was reasonably skeptical about the support that we’d get,” Bruce said.
“I think they thought about it and thought there probably is a need for something like this in the community.”
During his own fight with depression, Bruce struggled to find the words to describe his pain to his doctor.
“At the moment I have a fairly bad back. Well I could go to the doctor and say ‘I have back pain across here and it’s worse after I’ve been in bed for a couple of hours,’” he explained.
“With mental things it’s very, very hard to get the words out”.
At his lowest, he could barely stand to be around people for the length of time it took his wife to finish the grocery shopping.
But there was something that made life more bearable – volunteering for BlazeAid.
“The more I went there, the better I felt and more motivated I was,” he said. Doing meaningful work alongside other people felt like the light at the end of the tunnel for Bruce.
“The days weren’t long enough for me and there wasn’t enough days in the week. I could go out and work seven days a week and I’d wish there was 14 or 15 days in the week. I just continued to work day in, day out and I loved every bit of it.”
It’s an attitude Bruce has more often these days, thanks to effective treatment at a Tamworth intensive mental health unit, which he says made him into a different person.
Keen to keep that feeling going and help other local men find their own motivation, Bruce is sure that a Men’s Shed will have a positive impact on the town. The sheds focus on building a comfortable atmosphere for mateship.
Inverell’s Men’s Shed has been going strong for 11 years, and the men are often asked to create handcrafted projects for individuals and community organisations. Past projects include display cases, dog houses, circular seating for Ashford’s Sunhaven Hostel and vegetable garden beds at Little Sprouts Learning Centre.
Those who attended Saturday’s meeting have nominated an interim committee, and will meet again at the Bundarra Sports and Recreation Centre at 2pm on Saturday, August 11. Community members are welcome.
The group will discuss possible locations for the Men’s Shed site and begin considering fundraising opportunities. To learn more about the Bundarra Men’s Shed or express your interest in joining the committee, call Dick Goodall on 6723 7473 or Bruce McLean on 6723 7178.