Wayne’s wife Tyler Langford says watching her husband struggle was borderline unbearable.
“At first I noticed little things. Wayne was always someone who took joy in everyday things — that vanished. He shut himself off from his friends and his boys. He struggled to make decisions that in the past he had made with ease. He also lost interest in the farm which was something he had always loved. Wayne and I met at 18 and married at 22. We were always best friends and communication came naturally for us, but he stopped talking to me and that was horrendous.
“I felt like I had completely lost the person I married and I didn’t know what to do. Should I push him? Should I walk away? Should I let him deal with it in his own way? He’s such a typical ‘don’t talk about your feelings’ kiwi bloke.”
The couple battled on for almost a year before that conversation which brought things to a head.
“The YOLO project started on the morning of my birthday,” says Wayne. My wife and I decided that for one year we would do one thing each day to remind us why we were glad to be alive. To keep ourselves accountable we would post each day on social media.
“I clearly remember in the beginning I was like ‘oh I’m going to climb mountains, go bungy jumping’, all those sort of big statement things, but I quickly realised that’s not me — I’m not a mountain climbing type of guy. What really gives me joy is being with my family and friends, connecting and sharing with people in the community. So while we did go skydiving for YOLO day 400, my favourite YOLO to date was actually day six when we had a bonfire on the beach and cooked pancakes with the kids.”
At first the couple told family and friends he was celebrating life, but as time went on the couple revealed the mental health reason behind their project, and despite Wayne’s concerns they received nothing but support.
“The reaction was incredible. I started getting messages from people I had never met before, telling me their own stories and struggles and that was really humbling. That was when I realised that real strength is actually about being able to admit when things aren’t great.”
Before they knew it, the blog had reached the one-year mark, but buoyed by its effect Wayne and his family decided to keep the project going.
But while the concept may sound easy Wayne says it wasn’t always plain sailing.
“Some days it was really tough and doing a YOLO was the last thing we wanted to do. Some days it was just too busy and I settled for a positive thought or reflection. However, some of the best YOLO’s took place on the days we really didn’t want to do them.”
Tyler agrees that there have been moments along the way that have made her question the project but she’s forever grateful that it brought her back the man she loves.
“Sure, there’s times it’s 7.00pm at night when Wayne is dragging us up a creek in the middle of nowhere and I think really? But I know how important it is to him and I admire his determination. He still has hard days but the difference now is he can go to bed at night and start fresh the next day.”