WHEN Jim Skivalidas’ brother called him in 2014 what happened next sent his life into an unexpected spiral.
ON NOVEMBER 24, 2014, Jim Skivalidas received a phone call that changed his life.
His brother called to tell him the roof of his chiropractic clinic in Port Melbourne was on fire.
“I arrived on the scene 15 minutes later, following the cloud trail that made its way across the city, to see five fire brigades, people, news reporters and cameras everywhere,” recalls Dr Skivalidas.
“It was as if it was a blaze out of hell.”
The fire — caused by an electrical fault — made national news.
It was an absolutely devastating outcome for Dr Skivalidas.
“Simply put, it challenged at the core who I was, and the meaning of why I was alive. I had spent the last three years creating my dream clinic and restoring the building to its former glory,” he says.
“That night I stayed at my mother’s home. I thought it was a nightmare. I woke up at 5am and walked to the clinic which was 500 metres up the road.
“When I stood across the road and looked at the wreckage I had this overwhelming shame as if I was exposed to the community, and I thought, ‘I can’t earn money at the moment, I can’t see my clients, I can’t look after my mum (as I am her caretaker), and I can’t have a baby (as my wife and I were three years into an IVF journey and there was no money).”
It was then that he considered jumping to his death.
To this day it shocks him how quickly he became suicidal.
But the “hidden blessings” of his family and the support of loyal patients kept him alive.
Skivalidas, now 45, describes the road back to a healthy mental state as a “long journey”.
“I have done so much personal development and really acknowledged the power of being honest and vulnerable,” Dr Skivalidas says.
“I also turned to singing, and had this drive to sing live/record for the first time in my life about male artists that had suicided and overdosed after experiencing mental health issues.
“I travelled to the USA where I performed with Paul Stanley from KISS and Judas Priest as a final act at rock camps, of which I was allowed to change the lyrics to a folk song and made it about Michael Hutchence’s spirit visiting Kirk Pengilly on the 20th anniversary since his passing.”
“Because music had become my saving grace, when (Soundgarden singer) Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington suicided I decided to launch a men’s mental health gala last year called I’m Just A Man (named after one of the final songs that Michael Hutchence wrote with INXS).
He encourages anyone else who has similar thoughts and dark periods of anxiety and depression to “reach out — open up and say how you feel.”
It’s part of the reason he is giving his time to support the upcoming Movember campaign, which raises money for mental health and suicide prevention programsso they can continue their work to reduce depression, anxiety and suicide in men.
“Men are not immune. We need to be open, vulnerable and discover a new meaning to masculinity,” he says.
• To sign up now to grow a Mo and raise funds for men’s health at Movember.com
• If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.