Owning your own business can be challenging. And no one knows this better than this year’s Victorian contestants, Jason, 46, and Sarah, 45, who were forced to liquidate their plumbing business back in 2010.
It was a stressful few years for the couple, who admit they never quite recovered financially from the collapse. Add to that a serious back injury for Jason two and a bit years ago - which saw him laid up in bed for six months - and you could say they’ve been on their bare bones. No wonder ten years after they first began they’re still yet to finish their family home renovations.
“Where do we start? It’s been a hard,” says Jason, opening up to Insider Style.
“We were halfway through our renovation, when the business was liquidated, so we were thrown into this half-renovated, not-finished home.”
At the time, Jason had to make a decision to borrow more money from the bank to save his business, or walk away, to a future of uncertainty.
I kept on saying to Jason, ‘I think you’re depressed. I think you need to get some help. He just had this brick wall up. He didn’t want to know about it.”
He chose the second option.
“I said, ‘Nup,’” he explains. “At that stage, I wasn’t spending a lot of time with the kids, or at home, because I was always working. I felt like I was going backwards - and it wasn’t a great feeling.”
Sarah admits she became quite worried about her husband at that time, urging him to seek professional support.
“I kept on saying to Jason, ‘I think you’re depressed. I think you need to get some help,’” she explains. “He just had this brick wall up. He didn’t want to know about it.”
In retrospect, Jason can see Sarah was right. But at the time, his focus was on powering through - and hoping they’d be alright as a family.
“For me, I didn’t want to give in, because I had three young children, and the situation was the situation - it wasn’t going to change,” he rationalises. “It became survival. 'Is the house on the line? Can we pay our mortgage? Can the kids be fed?’ I had to zero-in on those basics.”
To compound their stress, Sarah’s father had recently passed away, and she was still processing the grief she felt from that - all the while trying to be there for their three small children.
“My dad was fighting his battle with cancer during Jason’s liquidation, and then he died,” Sarah explains. “I don’t think I even had the time to grieve. I was so busy. We had three preschool aged children, and there was no time to even think about it. That was 2010.”
“It wasn’t fun - I just put my blinkers on,” Jason explains.
Sarah admits she went to see someone for a few sessions, to help her process everything.
“But I’m male - so I am bulletproof,” Jason says, admitting he tried it too, but it wasn’t for him.
“I think I got angry - with myself,” he says. “And then with the people around me. Because I couldn’t work out the best way [to get through things.]”
But somehow, the couple held strong, and were able to help each other through the difficult year, Jason reminding himself daily that he just couldn’t give up - he had to much at stake.
“I always had the image of the three kids I couldn’t let go,” he says of his darker moments. Thankfully, both say the experience brought them closer together as a couple - even though it could just as easily have torn them apart. And now they say they’ll draw on these experiences to help get them through the tough times The Block might throw their way, all the while reminding themselves of what they have to gain by taking part.
“I sort of think, ‘We have already been through so much already, so how hard could it be?’”Jason says. “And with the personality we have, of not giving up and giving in, our children will know that even though there may be times in life where they think they can’t do something - you CAN get through it."
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636, www.beyondblue.org.au