I had battled with depression since the inception of my teenage years but it became a consistent figure in my life roughly 6-7 years ago. My struggle could be summed up in three categories.
One – Insecurity
From the moment, I was aware of my surroundings, I struggled heavily with my appearance, navigating ridicule wasn’t even the hardest part, it was finding the courage to love myself without the assistance of others. I had always depended on the love and validation of others rather than finding that security within myself.
Two – Death
One thing I learned about death is that you can never truly prepare for it. Losing a loved one damaged me more than I ever could have imagine and knowing I would never have the chance to have a relationship with someone I cherished so dearly, haunts me till this very day.
Three – Hopelessness
Hope can be a strange commodity. One moment you will gladly cling to the concept of hope and believe with all your heart that you can make it through and overcome, while in the same breath come to the stark reality that no matter what you do or say, nothing can ever really change your situation.
Last year in particular was filled with so many dark days, I lost count. From going through my quarter-life crisis, to being diagnosed with depression, to battling suicidal thoughts, all within a 12-month period. I had come to the end of my tether, I had looked in the mirror and seen what my life had become and I just wasn’t pleased with what I saw. Prior to this, for many years, keeping quiet about what I faced was my default mechanism. Due to the culture and environment I had grown up in, I never felt comfortable speaking about sadness, I had just assumed when I go through these things, it’s far better to keep these internal issues a secret, because being emotionally vulnerable was a sign of great weakness rather than great strength. I loved isolation, it made me the man I am today, which can either be perceived as a good or bad thing depending on the situation. However, this was the main reason I spiralled out of control, mentally.
“An unstable mental health can easily exacerbate in an environment of isolation. Loneliness fuels the fire of recluse and fans the flame of an unhealthy seclusion.”
Last year, I came to the stark revelation that the death of my father contributed heavily to this heartache I’ve never been able to recover from. My dad had suffered from bowel cancer, several strokes, and ultimately dementia, before passing away peacefully in the comfort of his own home. His death had literally ripped me apart, and there was not one human being on the planet who had the ability to put me back together again. The pain I felt and still do, wasn’t just based on his death, in fact the majority of the hurt I harboured was primarily due to the fact that I would never have a chance to see him again.
To know that no matter what I did, I would never be able to make my dad proud, broke me into pieces. My natural reaction was to secretly cling to isolation, but to those on the outside, I was able to portray a figure that looked strong, because I despised showing weakness. On the surface, I would smile and project this character of joy but deep down, my sadness was eating me alive and my mental state was taking a turn for the worse. 2017 became the breaking point. I had eventually come to the conclusion I couldn’t live like this anymore.
There came this point in my life where I became overwhelmed with putting on a facade. I came to a crossroads, where I had to decide between sheltering this pain in the dark or choosing to bring the issue to light. I felt as if I was at the end of the road and I began to think even more about the thought of suicide, because the thought of ending it all felt much more appealing than continuing to live with such agony. During two vital conversations with my brother, wife and sister about the things I was going through, I broke down in tears, as I eventually came to terms with my unstable mental health. I was lost, hurt and carrying an unbearable pain, but I finally came to the point where I was able to admit it.
Eventually, I summoned the courage to visit my doctor and thankfully through a period of therapy and opening up about what I was struggling with, I finally got on the road to recovery. While many would see being diagnosed with depression as a negative point, it was in fact the best thing that could happen to me because I finally came to terms with who I was as well as what I was facing.
2017 was my turning point, it broke me to the point I thought I would never recover. I saw myself at the very lowest but that was the birth of my recovery. When you finally come to terms with what you face, you realise the depths of how far you’ve gone, but within that realisation, you see the need to change.
The reason I am telling my story is to show others that there is another option, but you have to be willing to open up to someone, anyone, about the things you are going through. The mind can certainly be a dangerous place and time alone with dark thoughts can be rather detrimental without an outlet.
Instead of isolation, seek help, whether it be a friend, family member, your GP or a therapist, take comfort from the fact that you don’t have to walk this road alone.
Words by, Daniel (db Captures)