I would like to start out by saying that I was inspired by a poem/post written by my friend, Giles, from You The Daddy, to write this post and raise awareness around men and depression. With the brilliant hashtag #thereforhim, which is an unofficial campaign for a paternal mental health week to raise awareness of fathers/mens mental health issues. Check out The Psychology Mum on instagram to learn more. So here is my journey of depression of being a father, a man and beyond.
Throughout my life my coping mechanism, which I believe probably started at about aged 10 years old, was anything that was happening in my life, that I didn’t want to deal with, was locked away in a compartment in my mind. It was a bit like a massive filing cabinet in my brain. The place to keep bad memories and unhappy moments. It saved me from dealing with any problems or issues in my life. Really easy solution you would think, but sadly what I didn’t know was that it was going to come back to haunt me one day.
This, as I have said started when I was about 10 years old. My parents separated and divorced around that time, even though it was the right thing to do, because their marriage was toxic, the effect it had on me was very difficult to deal with. My father, for whatever reason, decided to have no contact from that moment onwards, and my mother took to her bed for sometimes weeks at a time, totally depressed and drugged up to the eyeballs on all sorts of medications, leaving me to fend for myself. Although I know I shouldn’t have felt it was my fault, I did feel It was and I did blame myself. Having friends back to my home was a non-starter, because the shame I felt that my parents weren’t together was just too hard to bear. So I started the process of shutting away situations or issues I couldn’t deal with. This was to carry on well into my adulthood.
Throughout my twenties I was looking for the happiness that seemed to always bypass me, and more issues would be shut away in a compartment in my mind. I would often lurch from one disaster to another. Never finding contentment.
Eventually this was to come out in a way that would leave me in a mess. I had been saving up all these bad things that were happening to me including a marriage that should never have happened, but it did, before I built up the courage to finish it.
Finally I built up the courage to go the doctors and what was a five minute appointment ended up with me being diagnosed with depression, given some magic pills, and sent on my way. Looking back this actually made the problem worse not better. Medication is not the only answer. Talking is vital to solving the issue. Depression cannot, and will not be solved by medication alone. Looking back now I realise my depression came to a head when my older children, who are now 22, 20 and 19 years old were just little, and the pressure of a broken marriage, and three small children spiralled me deep into depression. The pressure of life and being a dad and being knackered physically and mentally began to take its toll. PND, I’m not actually sure it was diagnosed back then.
Over the years there were some very dark times in my life, and I can vividly remember lying in bed in the dead of night, wide awake in total darkness and all of a sudden every door in my mind would open at the same time, leaving me feeling that my mind was going to explode. The bad memories and issues that I had experienced would come flooding back, propelling my mood into a very dark place.
Times have changed a bit, and there is now more people to talk to nowadays, but still men simply don’t open up enough and talk about their problems, and of course it can be too late and many men commit suicide, as they see no other way out. This is a feeling I know far too much about, having in my darkest days tried committing suicide.
Thank goodness I didn’t succeed, but it could have been all so different. Dark times in your life can sometimes lead you to extreme measures to solve it, however misplaced that might be.
In life I believe some things happen for a reason and change you for the better. Meeting my wife was one of those life defining moments. My wife, who I was looking and waiting for all my life. I just knew the minute I saw her for the first time. Happiness was there for me and I needed to grab this happiness with both of my hands. Which I did!
Even though I found happiness finally. I still had all these bad memories and issues flying around my mind, but that was all to change three and half years ago, and the reason is because I started blogging.
Blogging gave me something that was far more important and something that not even money could buy. It allowed me to open each compartment in my mind, process it and finally lay it to rest. My mind is not completely clear, but it’s not as full to the brim of bad memories and situations I would rather not remember. Blogging has been the therapy I have needed for years. Writing it down was my therapy.
Growing up I was conditioned to believe that men do not show any weakness, do not cry, and are always strong. This of course is so far from the truth. You can’t just man-up when everything in your mind is falling apart. I know because I have been there. In my youth, depression in men was simply unacceptable, actually it didn’t exist as far as society was concerned. Men didn’t get depressed, the truth is they did and I am testament to the fact they did.
A staggering statistic is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 is suicide. That is shocking and tells us that men need to talk and seek out help. We as men need to open up.
Depression in men is a killer and we need to as a society raise awareness and help men in need, not expect them to deal with it alone, and believe me I know how that feels. Dealing with it and feeling very alone. That feeling of loneliness is at times too hard to bear.
If you are suffering from depression and don’t know where to turn, seek out help. There are many fantastic organisations such as MIND who are there to help, or simply just talk to your loved ones or friends, or whoever
Whatever you do, don’t suffer alone!
This week is Mental Health Awareness week 14th-20th May which is hosted by the Mental health Foundation.