Men Tell Their Stories

Side By Side

I didn't want to prepare much of what to say because can we really prepare depression? Who can prepare to know one day you'll feel so low you won't want to live anymore. Right now, I could be fine, but the next moment I'll feel so numb to the point I won't be able to move. Who can prepare for that feeling of worthlessness, emptiness? No-one, but we can be ready, and by 'ready' I mean 'aware'. Aware of what we have and knowing we can work towards getting better.

As controversial and contradictory as it may sound, I feel like when I used to get down, I used to feel sorry for myself. Feeling that was actually a good feeling. It felt good. So much so that I became addicted to it. I feel like that is what got me even more down. Nope, it wasn't right. It wasn't bloody right at all, but it did start to feel 'normal'. I felt like there was nothing wrong with me, but deep down I knew there was.

I didn't know what depression was. I am not saying everyone feels sorry for themselves. I am saying I just felt like feeling sorry for myself, as much as it is a negative thing of what I'm saying, it kind of felt good. It felt really good to feel sorry for myself and the more I was feeling that, the more down I was getting. I started to feel comfortable being down. I felt comfortable not being able to be happy. It wasn't right. I wasn't right at all.

Let's not be afraid of the term 'depression' or the term 'suicide'. Let's not be afraid to discuss this subject. Yes we all make mistakes when we say the wrong thing, but we must learn from that and not let it take away the fact of what we are all doing here; making a change for the better.

I read something that really got to me the other week. Suicide is the biggest killer in the UK for men under the age of 55. Not cancer. Now by saying this I am not undermining cancer, as 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with a certain aspect of cancer in their lifetime. I am simply asking for this society to treat depression the same as we treat diseases like cancer. Why do we have to visibly 'see' pain to know someone is suffering? I normally hate stating facts that segregate another gender, but this fact has to be heard and I don’t want women to feel they can’t come forward and feel that ONLY men suffer from depression. That’s not true. In our society there’s always a time when we find it hard to show our emotions. We have all been brought up to keep our emotions to ourselves, as a man myself, we have been taught by society to deal with them on our own. There will always come a point where you will blow. I think it is so important to feel what you are feeling at that moment in time. It’s like having paperwork, if you don’t do it as soon as you get it, it will just build and build and build until its bloody hard to sort out. We must deal with things as we go along in life.

My hope is that every school in the UK will, one day, hold a discussion in class and bring awareness about suicide and depression. It is SO vital. Also, every single teacher in a school must be trained when it comes to mental health. That way, they could potentially spot something early and prevent someone taking their life. When I was in school it was never discussed, and I believe if it was, I would have been aware of my experience and worked towards seeking help so much quicker. That feeling of numbness know you COULD move, but physically can't.

It is upsetting to know the day we heard the news Robin Williams lost his life to suicide, people were still questioning; "how could he be down?", "he seemed to be always happy?". That tragic event brought so much awareness. It's unfortunate that we had to wait till something so tragic, so upsetting, to happen to realise what is happening here right now. Yes, the media published some diabolical stories of how suicide took him. That wasn’t needed. What was needed was to know what illness he had, which was depression and the onset of dementia with Lewy Bodies.

I use Robin as an example as he was known worldwide and was seen to be the man to always make people laugh. We must seek to look deeper within the people around us in our lives. A friend calls me telling me he or she is suffering from depression and doesn’t want to live anymore. I try to seek help for them to only be told they will be put on the waiting list. This has to change. This must be a priority.

Government backing or not, let's work towards making a change, being aware, being there for one another and fighting together.  To anyone that is suffering right now, treat it like a flu. You must accept your ill and work towards getting better. As alone as it can feel. You aren’t. Don’t be afraid to admit what you're feeling. Let's all stand together and demolish status, demolish pride, demolish the thought of expressing emotions as a weakness. It’s okay not to be okay. Let's stand side by side.