May Day – Mayday – M’aider


Andrew ‘Gigs’ Gigacz posted this piece on his blog and asked us to add it to the Almanac site.


May Day – Mayday – M’aider


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About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?


  1. Brave and thoughtful piece Gigs. I too spent long periods 15 years ago thinking life not worth living and doomed to disappointment. I remember 2 thoughts sustaining me – “I want to know how the story ends” (so to end it prematurely robbed all hope) and knowing that releasing myself from pain would pile inestimably more on those I had already recklessly hurt.
    The recent suicide of former Docker Shane Yarran and the travails of James Hird and Mark Thompson provide footy relevance to Bill’s story. Living and working in the mental health/addiction/recovery field in recent years I have come to see how much shame and pain people is felt by people who have “messed it up” or who judge themselves to impossibly high standards (eg sporting high achievers). “Failure” challenges their core sense of self and makes it much harder to reach out and admit they are suffering and need help. It seems easier to end it if you can’t defeat it on your own terms. Shame and pain masked by bravado.
    A terrible, if understandable, mistake.
    Working with hundreds of people in recent years has convinced me that while doctors, medication, therapy etc are important – they are essential to survival – all true recovery to a life worth living starts and ends with community and connection. I try to get every client to move beyond the echo chamber of their own skulls and room into something that engages them with open and positive people. Mens Sheds, sporting clubs, church communities, 12 Step groups, art classes – basically anything that involves honest human connection.
    Its absence among great material wealth is the emotional and spiritual poverty epidemic of our age. Thanks Gigs and the Almanac community for enriching us.

  2. Thank you for writing this very personal story. Everyones life journey is always different to what others see. To be honest & open about its struggles is vital for every reader to allow them to expand their knowledge on life. I know this piece will have done this.

  3. Good on ya Gigs. I’ve spent most of my working life in the health field, including working in mental health; for a few years i was an accredited Mental Health First Aid instructor.

    Like PB spoke about, the importance of connection and community is pivotal. Isolation is bad for your health, being absorbed in your own predicament you sink further into the morass. With the oldies we work with in my current health job, we stress the importance of them being involved in their community ; community kitchens, vegetable gardens, etc as a way of building the links. Reclink is also an organisation i can’t speak highly enough of, their work bringing the most marginalised into purposeful and healthy activities is marvellous.

    Mental Health problems impact upon 1in5 of us at any time. One area we tend to understate as a factor is the workplace, so this article might be of interest.

    Keep up the good work Gigs. It’d be good for your Bullies to salute this weekend.


  4. Thanks for sharing, Gigs.
    You are one tough cookie.

  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Wonderfully evocative, thoughtful and insightful writing Gigs. Footy can be a great historical marker for our lives. I can remember exactly how I felt during every Collingwood game in my clear memories. In early August 2015 I nearly pulled the plug on what was my then miserable life. It was around the time of the disgraceful Goodes booing saga. I also remember we lost to Melbourne and thus ended our season.

    Part of what helped save me was reading my old footy books, your ‘Sacked’ story and being involved in the Tom Wills Grave Restoration. Giving up the booze completely, getting counselling, moving house to a place with space, trees, air and taking the right amount of meds also helped.

    Apparently there is a suicide in Australia every 8 minutes. In 2018 that is startling. Bill would be proud of this piece, mate. Hope he is in a good place and following his Hawks as he did on earth.

  6. Thanks for your kind words and thoughts, Peter B, Mrs R, Glen, Smokie and Phil. It’s been another cathartic piece for me to write and I’m glad others seem to be getting something out of taking the time to read it.

    Some excellent advice from PB and Glen. Glen, I will read that link piece tomorrow, thank you.

    Phil, thank you for sharing your experience. Not an easy thing to do. I’m so glad footy books, the Tom Wills project, and even I were able to help save you. I always treasure our time together when we catch up.

    Thanks to JTH and the Almanac for sharing the story, and especially to JTH for his phone call to me yesterday.

  7. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Read and deeply respected Gigs.
    Sometimes I wonder if the simple accumulation of life makes it more ‘normal’ for us to wonder what might be beyond the veil. Some of us just find that we have much more to carry though, or can’t carry what we simply have and are more susceptible to finding out I guess. My uncle took his own life when I was 20. He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia for at least 25 years. That was the first time that I really balked at the lazy saying that suicide is selfish. It is so much.
    I think Bill would be enjoying 2018’s Hawks.

  8. E.regnans says

    Thank you, Gigs.
    Mighty writing. Mighty sharing.
    Thank you, too, writers of comments (above).

    We all carry something.
    And we can all put it down from time to time.
    On we go.
    Go well.

  9. Peter Fuller says

    Thanks Gigs for this piece which reflects your personal qualities as well as providing insights for people look me who have barely been touched by this scourge. There’s so much wisdom in your observations and you’ve drawn some considered reflections in the comments also.
    I loved your 2nd last paragraph about not liking the Hawks, but feeling some consolation that Bill would be pleased by their successes. I seem to remember you recounting how your mother would offer you an unwelcome opinion about the Bulldogs’ opponents. If the scraggers lost, you referred to her saying wtte “that’s good for the other team’s supporters”, or if the Bullies won, her thinking of the sadness of the vanquished team’s fans. As I recall, you told her not to feel sorry for the Carltons of the world of your youth, but evidently you have honoured her memory by your own version of empathy for supporters of other teams.

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