Since I have started this blog I have tried numerous times to write a post about who I am, what my condition is and how it affects both me and those around me. I have struggled to convey this into words in a way that is readable and also would make sense to others – but also one that does not come across as a attention seeking endeavour. With this post I hope to finally convey part of my condition – my depression so please be aware this post may contain upsetting information or phrases that might cause upset – it’s never my intention to do so but some things just cannot be explained in another way.
Depression has been part of my life since my teens if I think about it properly, but never in a way that really affected me in a big way for any prolonged period of time, I would have bad periods that came and went quite quickly, but If I do drill down into this I could honestly say it was probably because I used to bury my head in the sand and try to convince myself that all was well and bury myself into projects such as work or hobbies. Given that I have lived on my own since I was 16 there was never time to sit around and keep still – working several jobs at a time was a regular occurance so if I am honest there was very few hours in a day to actually sit back and think why I was feeling the way I was and when I did It would have been brushed off as being tired, or usually put to one side with a dose of male bravado, I mean how could a cocksure, strapping lad like myself be suffering with depression? I was so bullish about everything back then that even having the thought about being depressed would have probably lead to me doing another couple of shots of vodka and picked a fight with someone and made myself feel all “more like a man” again.
Like most men I suppose been seen as weak or not in control was a big thing for me, I was never your “matcho” or “lairy” kind of bloke, but neither was I the quiet shy type either – by this I mean I hid my dark feelings behind a bravado of being a tough man I suppose, and the reputation that came with that meant for a long time my depression went untreated. I read an article recently on CALM that said something along the lines of you will always find an expert in their field down the local pub, the best football managers, the best site forman’s and the best doctors all hang out at the local pub, and all offer advice like “man up” or something along them lines – and this was the environment that allowed this to continue for me.
This all changed for me about 4 years ago when things all came to a head and I suffered a catastrophic mental breakdown. By catastrophic I mean that things got so bad for me, they had built up and built up to the point that I was living in darkness, I could not see a way out of the hell I was living in my own mind, and right there in that moment suicide seemed to be the only option for me. Sat at my dinning room table having reached a point where I feared no return I was calling my doctors with tears flowing down my cheeks, stammering and unable to string sentences together I feared that the darkness and the fear I was feeling was going to become all consuming and I would not be able to prevent the actions my mind was telling me was the best option, 3 times I called the doctors and hung up, unable to speak paralyzed with fear. I even remember calling the Samaritans and being the same – unable to string a sentence together between the bouts of crying and anger welling up inside me. Luckily for me at this point my doctors for whatever reason had picked up on the situation and had rang my wife who was at work at the time, arranged an appointment for me to see them that day, asking my wife to bring me in. The next few hours are a bit of a blur if I am honest, but by the end of that day I know that I had been to the doctors, been prescribed some medication and therapy and had an idea of what the diagnosis was. I was given an idea by my GP that I was probably suffering with a deep depression and also OCD, this would later be confirmed after a meeting with a psychologist and therapy sessions were booked in for both.
I would love to say to you that things got better from that day – like some magical light got turned on and things just instantly got better, but they didn’t for a while things stayed the same, but I clung to the hope that the help was coming and all I had to do was hang on in there for it and then the road to recovery could being, I had made the first steps and all I had to do is carry on walking the right path. Therapy stirred a lot of things up for me, but I knew from the start that this would not be easy, after all you need to sometimes break things down to be able to rebuild them, and things were intense to say the least before each session, I would try make up a million excuses not to go, as I feared things were getting worse not better, but after a few weeks I began to see things a little more clearer, this is not to say I was “cured” but I was able to discuss things and start to see why I was feeling the way I was.
I would love to say by the end of my therapy sessions that I was skipping down the streets, and everything was sunshine and roses, this was not the case but at least I had talked some things through with a professional and even talked about things that I had not discussed with anyone – ever, this made me realise why I had been feeling the way I had – and more importantly that it was OK to feel this way, that I was not a bad person for feeling the way I had, and that recovery was possible. There was lots of trial and error with my medication – some of the side effects of some of the pills were not pleasant at all, but perseverance got me there in the end.
I will discuss how the next steps went and my life post diagnosis in a new post as the diagnosis was just the start of things to come, and is one of many steps needed to both come to terms with the condition and begin to recover, I am not one for dishing out advice or telling anyone how to live their life, but if you are reading this post today and you are hiding your depression behind anything such as a persona or bravado I cannot urge you enough to seek help before things get too much. So many times I look back and see missed opportunities to prevent what happened to me or chances that could have changed the direction in which I was heading, I also often hear stories of men who get to the stage I did and for whatever reason they don’t have that glimmer of hope to cling to and they take their own lives, and official figures say that 84 men a week on average get to that point, which is both shocking and also upsetting, I would urge anyone in this situation to seek help from any local or national charity or their GP/hospital, there is not a magic wand that can make things instantly better but there is help there and in my experience always a listening ear to be had. I am thankful everyday that I did not succumb to the dark thoughts in my head, and that I had enough strength to hold on for help, it was not easy, in fact it was a living hell for most of it and things got worse before they got better, but I am glad I held on.
You can read more of my journey battling mental health and my mission by clicking here! One Velo is sponsored by Cool Hammocks – Suppliers of the UK’s best quality hammocks and hanging chairs.