“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Feels a little like the cliché alcoholics anonymous meeting, “My names Rob and I’m an alcoholic”. Obviously I’m not an alcoholic but the subject of mental illness feels equally taboo even in the modern age. In recent months the topic has become more prominent following the tragic passing of Robin Williams which was believed to have been brought about by an ongoing battle with depression.
Many a suicide has been linked over the years to an ongoing battle with depression and the debilitating effects that it has on a person which vary from being bed-ridden through to those with Walking Depression. The extent to which it affects a persons life are varied from one sufferer to another but the common theme seems to be a deep lack of happiness with their life.
“It creeps up on you”
In my case, for many years I wondered why I felt the way I did sometimes. It wasn’t any one thing that you could put your finger on but just a feeling that what I “felt” wasn’t quite right. From that first observation I found that I was starting, over a period of time, to struggle to think clearly….it was like there was a fog in my head that just wouldn’t clear. This then changed to me becoming forgetful, varying from just forgetting the odd thing right through to opening a program on my computer and then forgetting why I had done it. Next came mild and eventually chronic procrastination, I think this was probably the hardest one to deal with. I had come from a background of working hard since I got a job at 15 and now I just didn’t seem able to set to and finish a relatively simple job. I started to think I was lazy and would never be able to achieve anything which was really hard to deal with. Up to this point I still had no idea that this could be an illness much less anything like a mental illness such as Depression. The thing that made me think I needed to see a doctor was when a couple of major events happened in my life that had a massive impact on me, shortly after I started to think about hurting myself sometimes up to 20 times a day, I never felt like I would do it but the thoughts were there.
Behind all of these “changes” in me I had gone through a divorce, which had presented a number of challenges and stressful situations. When my current partner was expecting our son, Dan, there were complications with him that meant he had a lot of operations and was an hospital in-patient for almost the first 3 years of his life. I had started a business, gone into a partnership, exited a partnership, started the business again, gone into another partnership, clashed badly with a co-director. My eldest son had also caused a great deal of conflict at home which mean I had to send him back to live at his mums and then convinced to bring him back. We have regular battles with the nhs and surrounding parties just trying to get the support for Dan that he continues to need. Just thinking about all of this stuff now is tiring, but life had to go on…..I had to go on.
“Like the boiled frog”
All of this was like the story of the boiled frog, I’m sure many have heard it before but if not then check the link. The story while simple tells us to watch for small changes in and around us, not just the big ones. That’s what got me, the small changes. With each small change in me it became who I was so it was indistinguishable from who I *really* was.
Once I went and got checked out at the doctors and found something that worked for me then things started to get better. Two years on and I am in a far better place than I was back then. That said, I’m not “cured” as that takes a lot of time and patience but everything heals with time so patience if the order of the day. Looking back I think that I was one of those suffering with Walking Depression but I do wonder what would have happened had I not realised that I needed help when I did……
I guess the question is why come out with this now? If I’m honest, I really don’t know why now. I think that it just feels like the right time to speak out in the hope others will feel that it’s not so taboo and maybe talk to someone and get help. Does it worry me coming out and stating this in the wide open now? Too right it does, I worry what people will think about me; worry that they will think I just can’t cope with life; think I’m just weak; think that I’m less of a person than they thought. The reality is that I am the same person I was yesterday and the same person that I will be tomorrow but I have just shared something very personal in the hope that it will help someone else who is struggling right now.
So maybe if you see someone who looks like they’re having a s**t day, then ask if they’re ok and say it like you mean it. It might just mean the world.