The number of people who are affected by mental ill-health is rising. Current figures show that an estimated one in four adults in Britain will experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem each year. Today, I'm going to talk about my experience with depression...
Please be aware that the following content might be difficult for some to read but I hope that by sharing my experience I can help others come forward and seek help.
Having to deal with Mental Health issues is an incredibly hard thing to do. I know as I have had to do it myself. Being a typical man, I ignored the signs. I was getting tired, but not able to sleep, I would just lie in bed thinking about everything and nothing, just wanting to go to sleep but couldn’t. Everything, whether it was simple or not started to overwhelm me, I started to disconnect with people around me and withdrew myself.
I knew I was feeling down but did nothing... I’m not a talker when it comes to emotional, personal stuff, I have always been a good problem solver and thought that I could deal with this myself (typical man I know).
Luckily for me, my wife noticed changes in me. She saw that I was not sleeping, not having the energy or motivation to do the normal day-to-day things we all do. She also told me I was getting short with her and my sons for the smallest things, I was shouting, asking to be left alone. That wasn’t me; I’m not like that and I just thought I’m feeling blue and a bit of time and getting stuck into work would do it (so wrong).
I ended up slowly getting worse, things I love started to fall away, I stopped gardening, I stopped football coaching, I stopped fishing. I even stopped reading. Socialising just disappeared and I did not want to leave my home.
My wife kept telling me I need to see the doctor. I told her “I don’t need to, I’m not ill”. She told me it was affecting everything, not just me but all of my family. It’s at this stage, probably a year and a half down the line, I went to the doctors, not for me but for them. The Doctors were great, I sat in the doctor's office for 10 minutes before I could get the courage to say that I thought I had depression, he was very patient and understanding, and said I have just taken the biggest step to getting better.
You would have thought that I would know more about Mental Health and dealing with it more effectively, as I had a friend who committed suicide due to depression. I spent a whole day with him, I thought he was a bit quiet but nothing apart from that. I said goodbye at the end of the day, he said bye and that he will see me the following weekend. I did not know, but the following day I got a telephone call from his wife, she told me he had woken up, got ready for work, left at about 8am seeming perfectly normal. He then drove to a railway bridge, got out of his car and jumped in front of a train all before 10am. I had no idea, his wife and children had no idea that he had mental health problems and that this is what he was going to do, he suffered in silence, just like me.
Looking back the signs were there to see, if you know what to look for. I didn’t and I’m sure I could have helped, I’m sure I could have if only I understood, I would have just talked to him. I understand more now, through my own personal experience, and just basic kindness, taking the time out of my day to give someone a friend to sit with, talk to, shout at even, may have helped.
We live with these things for so long because we do not understand how to deal with them! I suffered in silence, trying to deal with it myself, not realising that my chemical balance was out of shift and that I was slowly slipping down and my body was not repairing itself. If it were not for my wife talking to me, telling me what I am doing unconsciously, I would have continued to head towards oblivion.
Some people have suicidal thoughts and I truly believed my family would be better without me and I pushed them away because of that. My wife literally saved me; she did not give up. I had to go through doctors, psychiatrists, cognitive learning and antidepressants to get better but I had a caring family who saw me through it. What is scary is that if not for them, I would probably be with my friend.
If you think you have a Mental Health issue, please take my advice - don’t delay. The improvement starts quickly with the right medical advice and support. If you think someone else may be suffering, just give them your time, talk to them if you can. I promise it will help.
Since this time in my life, I have been happier, more successful in both work and relationships and now realise that sometimes we just need a bit of help.