Friday, 2 May 2014

The 'D' word

I was going to open this with a definition of the word depression, however I couldn’t find one that I felt worked for me.

I couldn’t find the right phrase to describe what I feel defines something that has defined me as a person over the last decade.

I’ve touched on the subject in my post from last December, but it is going to back to 2005 when I took an overdose in the early hours of a Monday morning - I was that terrified about facing another week at school.

In the months that followed I saw a stream of people from an adolescent mental health team to the school counsellor. The latter being quite a challenge - I completed my GCSEs studying at home, only venturing to the school to see an American counsellor who visited once every two weeks.

From what I remember, I was quite quickly prescribed anti-depressants. On reflection I don’t remember a great deal about the early stages of taking the medication. I just know they worked.

During all of this I was of course still keeping the secret of being gay. Quite a big topic to have avoided discussing - but I was also scared at it becoming ‘the focus’ and dealing with my own feelings, blaming it for causing this ‘mess’ I was in.

It’s taken a very long time, but I’ve come to terms with the fact this is a life-long situation for me.
I’ve struggled - my poor parents can vouch for that - with taking medication regularly and trying to live without it. What was I thinking?! I got a few good weeks out of those experiences before needing some interventions...

Of course, medication doesn’t make everything perfect. Moving to London was always my ambition, but I had to convince myself I could cope with it. Almost three years in, I won’t lie, it’s not always easy.

There’s been long periods of struggling through and navigating my way through dark, confusing and scary thoughts. But that’s where I find myself being a different person. Different to the teenager who gave up almost a decade ago; having a family who I love and adore, a best friend I can turn too no matter what, a job I bloody love and other people in my life who I feel care if I’m at my desk in the morning has made ‘growing up’ and dealing with who I am a much easier experience. My best friend would probably describe me as a “stubborn bastard”. That’s the best compliment I could ask for. That stubbornness has got me where I am today.

I found it funny when a celebrity, who I had interviewed several times, called me the ‘smiliest person he’d ever met’. Don’t get me wrong, I am a happy person! The downside being that people can’t quite comprehend this side to you when you’re in a bad patch. It makes it more difficult. Mental health of course still carries that stigma. The clear lack of understanding I see on a daily basis when I read through Twitter can be quite astounding and heartbreaking. Then I remember that I don’t do anything about that. As little as I could do, I've always stayed quiet about my personal experiences.

Am I embarrassed? Yes, sometimes. Wrong answer perhaps, but the honest one.
It’s not the easiest topic to discuss, it’s not easy to describe to people and even reading lines of this blog back have made me cringe - just thinking how some people might read it and possibly judge me.

But this is me. I live with this. I know what I’ve been through and know how depression has, and will continue to be a big part of my life. So I’m dealing with it and where better to start with that than by getting over my own struggle to speak about my experiences. I’ve read some amazing pieces from people who have been to darker places than I can’t even begin to imagine. I’ve been so inspired by those stories.

I want to do something useful, no matter how small, to help continue the battle to raise awareness, spread understanding and provide a greater focus on mental health issues in the UK.

I finally found the #timetotalk :)

Mental Health Awareness Week: May 18th - May 24th -
Stonewall -