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MY MENTAL HEALTH STORY

Time:2017-05-25 07:17Shoes websites Click:

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I tried several times this morning to move on from the Manchester attack, and write something light-hearted, but I'm not there yet. What happened at the Ariana Grande concert knocked me sideways. I can always feel the despair at terrorist attacks, but this one hit me differently.

Given the target, and as a father of slightly-too-many daughters, this one was far too close to home. It's just too overwhelmingly sad.

So, sorry... but I'm just going to start writing and see where it takes me - and I doubt, once again, that it's going to be about video games. It'll pass though. It always does. Normal service will be resumed.

These days, if I ever get down I don't get down for very long. I'm fortunate in that I don't think I'm genetically predisposed towards depression. A bit of shitty work-related news, or money worries, and I can be fed up for a day or so, but it feels like a normal human response. I'm lucky, I guess. I've too many friends who suffer from mental health issues, and I feel powerless to help them.

There has been no real history of depression in my family, aside from some distant great-uncle who threw himself under a train. When I have been depressed, or when everything in my life has felt helpless or off-kilter, I can - with the benefit of hindsight - see that it's not without some root cause. Whenever I've been low in my life - even really low - I can see that it hasn't come from nowhere. 

For a family that has managed to weather a number of real tragedies over the years, I think we have a noble capacity for picking ourselves up and moving forwards. At least, until the point that we can't.

I wanted to write about this subject during the recent Mental Health Awareness Week, but when it came to it... I just felt too exposed. I sort of resented myself for that - that there were so many people bravely discussing their own mental health history, including good friends of mine, and here I was... far too embarrassed or ashamed to do so. 

It's that classic "Boys don't cry" thing that has been drummed into too many of us. Speaking as someone who was bullied as a kid, not making myself appear vulnerable is a coping strategy.

Well... I do cry, and yesterday - seeing the reports from Manchester - I fought those tears quite a bit. So, y'know... let's give this a go. Let's see if I can talk about this without bottling it.

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TALKING POINTS
I've suffered from depression at points in my life, but it took a long time for it to manifest in any way that might be considered "classic" depression. It wasn't in me the day I was born; it needed to be built, layer upon layer, until the weight of it caused my foundation to crumble in upon itself.
 
I think that this is kind of what I wanted to talk about a few weeks ago - that depression, being clinically fed-up, whatever you want to call it, doesn't always take a (for want of a better term) "classic" form. I rarely allowed myself the luxury of wallowing and indulging the depression. I was always taught that picking yourself up, and forcing yourself to move forward, was the way to tackle it. Unfortunately, upon reflection, I think that might've been, like, really bad advice. 

Despite being pretty severely bullied from a young age, to more or less the time I left school, and amid that having had to go through the death of a 9 month-old niece (and the suicide of my grandfather a week later), parents with a fairly volatile marriage, and feeling replaced by my mother's noble (I now realise) decision to foster, I'm amazed that I reached adulthood with little more than a bunch of insecurities.

I didn't ever feel there was a black cloud inside me, that was part of me. I became a parent at 18, and though it was a shock, and - unplanned as it was - alienated a lot of my friends, it gave me the stability I had needed. I did, and still do, adore being a father. 

It was many years later, when that stability was rocked by a couple of major relationship bombshells, that the cracks in this stability first appeared. It allowed a lot of stuff from my childhood to bubble up - like throwing a big rock in a river, and watching all the crap that had settled on the bottom, out of view, to float to the surface. 

I'd held onto the same mantra that my parents had lived by - you stay together for the kids no matter what - but it pulled against the reality of where I found myself. For a year I had what might be called "classic" depression. Through it, I continued to work; there was a mortgage still to pay. Some days were harder than others - I remember one occasion still typing at my keyboard, while being slumped on the floor under my desk.

However, believing there no way out of the situation without disappointing my family - who made it abundantly clear that they wouldn't support my decision to walk away - I succeeded in pulling a functional version of myself back together and soldiered on... "for the sake of the kids, matter what". It was a timebomb, frankly.

My family had always done this; we'd been taught to put ourselves last, and everyone else first - particularly our children. Marriage was sacrosanct, however unhappy it might be.

What I now realise is that for the next few years I was probably still depressed. I never realised, because my symptoms - such as they were - manifested as the opposite of what I thought depression was. Rather than spend all day in bed, I became manically driven, and my work ethic went through the roof. 

And then I went really mad.

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