I can feel the darkness returning once more.
It’s an overwhelming sensation, everyone and everything I love slowly seeping away while this heavy cloak of pending doom takes over. Its weight is pinning me down, stripping me bare of any control I once had.
“I doubt they’ll miss you. You’re such a burden” it whispers over and over again in my mind.
All I can do now is sit and stare into the empty void of hopelessness and let my dark passenger continue its plight, wondering is this going to be the time I finally give in to its power and let it win.
“Time to go” it says.
That’s the horrendous reality of depression, a silent killer, slowly eating away at you from the inside out, while you keep projecting happiness to everyone around you. It’s perhaps one of the most frustrating things about mental health, having the ability to act like everything is going well and there’s no cause for concern. I sometimes relate it to the swan analogy, calm above the water but underneath paddling like crazy. Except its so much more than that, the paddling is an invisible fight to stay alive.
Having dealt with some form of depression for around 25 years, I became a professional at hiding things to those closest to me. The truth is I don’t really remember life before depression, so became acclimatised to managing my dark companion on a day to day basis.
Over the years it’s taken its toll on my personal life, my health and my job, to a point where in 2019 I crashed mentally and became depressed with being depressed.
For the first time in my life, the stars aligned and things appeared to move in a different direction. Through several lucky events I ended up seeing medical professionals highly skilled in mental health issues where I received the diagnosis of “Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”. Some people don’t like to be categorised, but for me this began a life changing 12 months of treatment, through medication and a great deal of EMDR therapy.
I will never forget meeting my psychologist for the first time. I was a complete mess, but she said very confidently, “we won’t finish the treatment until I know you’re ready to go it alone”. You know once in a while we come across people in our lives who impact it in such a way that words will never express the gratitude we have towards them, and this amazing woman is one of those people.
I struggle to really put in to words to friends and colleagues how my life has changed in 2020. It’s been horrendous for so many due to Covid-19 and my heart truly goes out to them. But on a personal level I can only perhaps compare it to waking up from a prison sentence of the mind where I’m finally able to not only see my true potential but feel happiness on a daily basis.
I’m sure there will be colleagues reading this thinking “I had no idea”, especially as I continued to work throughout all my treatment. I almost have a sense of guilt, but that’s my point with mental health, those suffering become experts at keeping it a secret. For some who lose their battle, they leave behind so many questions “Why didn’t they say something? Could I have helped them?”.
I’m writing this partly because it’s good therapy, but more importantly for anyone out there who’s suffering or know someone who’s suffering that there really can be light at the end of the tunnel. Even if you’re not sure, reach out to that friend or colleague who doesn’t seem quite themselves and ask at least twice “are you ok??? I’m here if you want to talk”. Trust me, it means more than you know.
Lastly, thank you for reading this. It’s taken months to build up the courage to put just a tiny part in to writing, I guess because it’s still so raw. Thank you to my friends who know and have been there for me, but most of all thank you to my wife Erica who’s stood by me the whole time and seen me at my lowest, you are my rock.