What was happening in your life in the lead-up to your appearance on Bachelor in Paradise?
Well, I had a bit of a rough trot. My relationship had ended and my partner cheated on me—I was in the other room when it happened. From there, my professional life started to fail [Laurina runs a fashion marketing business and a “big opportunity” fell through] and I ended up in a relationship with someone who was incapable of affection. They told me to give it time ... and, you know, six months into the relationship, I was burying my dad [Jacques, 64] who had passed away after fighting HIV for 29 years, and this person couldn’t put their arms around me and give me a hug. [She sobs] That really hurt. That really broke me. We went to Europe on holidays a week later and I guess I thought maybe, given the circumstances, that he might be able to put his arms around me, but ... I tried to hold him in bed one morning and he just sat up and screamed at me to get away from him, and broke up with me and left me. I think that was my darkest moment in a life that had become really ... [pause] I was really lost, sort of, for meaning. I was really depressed and felt darkness and anxiety. It was definitely my darkest moment.
What did you do?
I asked God for help and in that moment everything changed. I became filled with love and this lightness ... I found a lot of meaning out of that darkness.
Were you still in Europe at that point?
Yes, I got left overseas. So my life just took on this whole new sense of love and purpose and meaning ... Everything changed in that moment. And then while I was floating on love and light and life, finding more purpose and more meaning, my poor brother [Michael, 36] was struggling with anxiety and depression. He made an attempt on his life. I couldn’t wait to get to him to teach him what I had learnt from the darkness I had experienced.
When did you go and see him?
When I got back from overseas, I went home to Melbourne. I sat down with him and I told him everything; that if you ask God for help, you know, it’s not just asking the people around you for help but if you can turn to that higher being and ask for help, you can get it ... But it was too late. He had already made an attempt on his life and he had already made up his mind that he was going to take his life. I even feel guilty for how high on life I was knowing how low my brother was. I just wish I’d gotten to him sooner, you know?
Do you know what was behind his pain?
I think he was so muddled with medication— it made him really numb and groggy. His back was suffering as well as his mental state, so he was struggling to work at the end [Michael was a plumber]. He was just staring through me when I was trying to teach him everything I had learnt. I couldn’t get through to him. He took his life the next day.
How long had he been struggling?
He had suffered anxiety and depression for many, many years. When he’d ask for help, he was given medication. I think one of the hardest things, although it saves people, is the medication—it also numbs them and they may become trapped into this cycle of taking more medication. You know, when I had so much bad anxiety and darkness when I was left [by her partner], I quit smoking and I stopped drinking and I became as clear as I possibly could to feel everything more, and although I had to feel pain, I could feel more love as well.
Was Michael your only sibling?
Yes. He was really gentle and sensitive and very handsome. He was gorgeous, my brother. He was tall, dark and handsome. He really wanted a girlfriend and he struggled with offering a relationship what it needed when he had his own demons and issues. I would have loved getting him to love himself and love life and to get him on The Bachelor!
Did Michael know you were going to be on TV again?
When I told him I was going to do that show, he was excited for me. He was happy. I think that’s why I still went. His funeral, around mid-October, was about a month before I went to Paradise.
Was that a distraction?
Yes, it was, it was a beautiful bit of escapism, to escape to a tropical destination and talk about love all day and be surrounded by love and friends and laughter and people just loving life and enjoying life.
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If you’ve been affected by the issues raised in this story, help is available from Lifeline on 13 11 14 and lifeline.org.au.
This article originally appeared on WHO.