Mental Health Awareness Week
This week is the one week of the year we are all encouraged to open up. In truth it should be EVERY DAY we are prompted to open up. A lot easier said than done though. Being that I’m an intermittent sufferer of heavy periods of destructive depression I thought it suitable for me to let some stuff out of my head today. If only one person can relate to this piece and take some encouragement from it then I’ve achieved something. Anyone shocked, affronted, ashamed or uncomfortable with me opening up? Go fuck yourself. Twice.
I’m slap bang in the middle of my 30s now and the past 3 years have been a war zone inside my head. Superior natural highs followed by soul destroying lows. Genuine thoughts of suicide have entered my mind at some stages. That’s not drama. That’s the whole truth. It should never be that way.
I can’t quite put my finger on when or why the malaise set in, but it came onto me like a volcano spill. Slowly chasing me until I was consumed by it, engulfed, with no escape route. Waking up feeling like I was inside a coffin is the best way I can describe it. Try getting someone to listen to that and take you seriously.
The amount of jobs I’ve lost or put in jeopardy through it is mind boggling. I could always blame the drink though and so could employers. I’d rather have been known as a heavy drinker, unreliable and irresponsible than tell the full truth. Yes, I used drink and sometimes drugs as a crutch when overwhelmed by my darkness. It’s called self medicating. The warm glow of a darkened pub sometimes the only mild escape for the wired mind.
Anti depressants came into my life and there was an immediate change. I no longer fretted as much as I used to but this soon wore thin. Taking these tablets each day made me feel like scum. Like a lost cause. Nobody wants a dependency. That’s where I was. Relying on some tablet I couldn’t even pronounce the name of.
Every single area of my life was raging out of control. Debt, irresponsible drinking, ruination of relationships. Give me something to fuck up and I’ll show you how to do it Hollywood style.
Then came the lowest of periods. The cold and and dark winter months that follow New Years. I couldn’t leave the spare room I was now camped up in. I made a conscious decision to get off the tablets I had been prescribed and went into Mental Cold Turkey. This was hugely irresponsible but something far deep inside me knew it was the only way to beat my darkness. I had felt for a long time as if I was less of man than I was before. I had lost my fire and just accepted it. Whimpering through life with excuse after excuse and masking it with more drink than anyone would ever believe I had ever consumed. I had decided this was last chance saloon for me.
One midweek night in November I had taken my unsteady feet a walk to the Clydeside with every intention of throwing myself into the ice cold darkness of the River Clyde. My thought process being that I’d no longer burden the people who I thought had loved me at some point. I’d burned so many relationships and friendships due to my closed off behaviour that I thought this way best. I was now virtually unemployable in Glasgow so had very little hope in the way of recovering from my troubles. Standing there I thought of my Dad, my sister and my ex. How could I do that to them? How could I lay that horror on them?
I walked away. Further shamed.
I was to repeat this journey 4 times in total with each end result the same. This was a sign surely.
Hours previous to each of the visits to the Clyde I’d have been in a pub with friends/workmates/acquaintances laughing it up. Sometimes the life and soul. Can you imagine their surprise if I’d have gone through with my plans? They could never have read that off me. Never in a million years.
I just wouldn’t open up. I couldn’t tell anyone my troubles. It’s very hard to do so. I’m no scholar, I’m of very limited intelligence but somehow there must be work done to find out a way of getting people to open up. Nobody should be trapped as I was for those years.
I don’t have the answer either as I believe it to be individual specific. The only advice I’d give is to go with the instinct you feel. I felt a need to become myself again. To get that fire back inside me. I stopped the tablets, dealt with the withdrawals and use fitness and reading to balance me out. I’d never encourage anyone to stop prescribed medication. Always consult a GP. It only worked for me because I wanted it to so much.
All I can say is I opened up to some people close to me and they will never know how much it meant to me just to have someone to listen to what I had to say. Even if large parts of it was incoherent rambling.
Release tears, feelings, emotions and anything else that’s holding you back.
There is a way out and there is a personal formula for you.