311 days ago I was formally, and finally, diagnosed with severe, major depression. Some of you will know what happened to finally tip me over the edge, some of you won’t. But as I now feel ready, I wanted to explain – as much as I can – what has been going in with me for the last year, and before.
A lot of what I’m going to write here has come very much with the benefit of insights I’ve gained after spending months working with an amazing therapist. I don’t set out to upset anyone, or to make excuses for things that I have done wrong. I don’t expect people that I have hurt in the past to forgive me. I write this in the hope that people will understand a little more about me, and why I am who I am right now.
Some of the people who are reading this, who have known me the longest, will know that I found school to be a very difficult place. They will know that I was bullied at school, indeed I expect that some of the people who did that very bullying will be reading this now. They may not know that I tried – on two separate occasions – to end my own life as a result of the way that I felt. Or that for days on end I was too terrified to even set foot outside my front door. I don’t blame anyone for what they did, I of all people know that kids will be kids, but this background is important for what followed. All in all it wasn’t an easy time for me.
Coming to terms, at the age of 15/16 with being gay; not an easy time either. And yes, I recognise now that I made a total pigs ear of ‘coming out’. But that’s fine. Teenagers are curious beasts, and something like that will always create some unique reactions.
So how does this relate to me and to now? Well you see, all of those experiences as a young teenager, led to me being quite – in fact, very – socially isolated. Essentially spending far too much time at home playing computer games and reading rather than socialising with friends. That does a funny thing to a person, and actually means that when I was put into a new social situation at university, I didn’t really know what to do. I didn’t really make any friends. And I recognise now that this time was when I began to become cut off and isolated from the world around me. This is when I stopped trying because, well, I think I probably genuinely believed that nobody liked me and that I was, somehow, different in some way.
The impact of all of this was to lead to me getting depressed. That meant that I wasn’t getting out in the world and actually doing things and enjoying life. Yes, I was still going to work and doing Scouting. I loved both of those things. In fact I lived for both of those things, which is why I’m sad now that I can’t do either of the any longer. But you see, I don’t believe that anyone who knew me in either of those places could possibly know how dark and how lonely I was inside. How much I hated having to talk to people. People my own age scared me – they still do in fact – which is probably a consequence of the bullying. I don’t know.
So, long story short. Last summer something happened that simply I should not have done. I lost control of myself and did something incredibly stupid. I’ve paid a massively high price for that: losing my job, my hobby and the few friends that I actually had – all through a moment of complete stupidity.
For a while, I thought that was it. I couldn’t see a way out of the situation that I was in and I wanted – and it’s difficult to understand this if you’ve never felt it but I mean genuinely wanted – to end my own life. I remember at one point sitting in a room on my own, banging my head on a concrete wall to see if I could do it hard enough to hurt myself.
Fortunately I managed to get help. With the support of my amazing GP, Greater Manchester Police and a wonderful therapist – as well as no small amount of support in the early days from the mental health crisis team – I’m on my way to getting better.
That doesn’t mean I am better – not even almost. There’s an awfully long way to go and I’ll live with the things that have happened, the things that I’ve done, for the rest of my days. But I’m beginning to see that I can now pick myself up and get on with the rest of my life.
At the start of this I made the point that I don’t want your pity, I certainly don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. But I hope that some of the people reading this will be able to find it in their hearts to try to understand the dark places where I have been, and maybe offer some small amount of friendship as I continue taking these very small, slow steps on my road to rebuilding myself and my life.
PS: This is one post that I’ve spent forever writing, and re-writing. It’s not perfect. Please understand that it’s been incredibly difficult for me to write it at all. Thank you.