Humans of TradeMutt is a celebration of our community, shining a light on the incredible and relatable individuals who are leading by example and paving the way for others like them to feel supported to talk about the tough stuff.
This is James Hobbs.
G'day legends! I go by Hobbzie. When I was 16, I moved out of my Mum’s into a shed that I made into a bedroom out the back of my Dad’s house. I lost contact with my little brother and didn’t know how much that affected him. With no one to talk to my little brother tried to end his life, I wasn’t told until 3 days after. Jack didn’t want me to know what he tried to do because he thought of me as a strong big brother that wouldn’t understand. When I went around to see how he was he burst into tears and bear hugged me. We do not have any secrets anymore, we are open books, if we feel or think a certain way we say it.
My story with TradeMutt and the Mutt Hutt begins with losing my big cousin Ben to a brain tumour at 25 years old. Ben was my only older male cousin, he taught me to play Pokémon on GameBoy and scared the shit out of Jack and I with Doom 3. We celebrated his wedding weeks before he passed. Ben was my idol and before losing him I had never dealt with grief or mental health.
A few years later, I was bashed by a gang of 25+ blokes when I was out with some mates and these ‘things’ harassed the women we were with. I ended up in intensive care with over 10 staples as well as stitches after being king hit and kicked by the gang. I have since been diagnosed with PTSD, have bleeding on my brain and an aneurysm was found.
Then we lost Zak, our younger cousin that we grew up with. Zak was born with a very rare skin condition that caused him to lose layers of skin every day and made him prone to infection. Every single day was a struggle for Zak but he loved every minute and everyone around him, he was the most amazing most inspirational kid out. When he was 18 he passed away from a dirt bike crash. This shook us to the core.
I’ve always had a “shit happens” look on life but losing Ben and Zak made me think…Why am I here and they are not?
For now, I’ve found my reason why, to start conversations everyday on site by wearing these beaut shirts and to give everyone a laugh on site and to wait for the question... what’s that shirt about fool?
Just recently, I lost a great mate to suicide, another tradie that didn’t reach out in his time of need. It has rocked me hard. I always ask my mates if they are okay and how they are doing. I wear these bright shirts to start conversations and my mate knew that he could talk to me. He knew he needed to start a conversation but he didn’t. I don’t understand and I don’t think I ever will. I don’t understand why we hide our true feelings. I wish we could all feel comfortable enough to get everything off our chests because we don’t need to loose anymore legends to suicide.
We can’t change the past but we can shape the future, a colourful future where people can be open about our mental health struggles.
I love all you legends and wish you the best in these weird times. It’s about starting a conversation, what’s your story?
Getting to know Hobbzie through TradeMutt over the last few years has been an absolute pleasure, not just because he’s a great bloke but because his story is such an important one.
Reading Hobbzie’s story and everything he has gone through really got me thinking about resilience and the way we talk about it. We have a tendency to talk about resilience as the ability to get over things quickly, which has created a toxic culture where we isolate ourselves when we are going through something tough. In reality, resilience is something a skill that we need to build by practicing good mental health care and relying on the strong support networks around us.
Grief and trauma are experiences that every single one of us is going to have and we need to get better at talking to each other and normalising these experiences. We need to make sure that when we see our mates going through something that they know that they are not alone. Talking to a friend when the times get tough is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign that you are taking care of your mental health and that you are building resilience.
So, next time you feel like you are struggling, remember that you probably aren’t the only one and that we are not meant to navigate this stuff on our own.
If you've got a 'Humans of TradeMutt' story along with a cracking photo that you'd like to share, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by James Hobbs and put together by the TradeMutt team.