Before I begin, this is not going to be an argument for opening up about mental health. But not in the way that you may angrily think. Just remember that I’m only talking about my experience of mental unhealth, as I now call it.
When asked, I admit that I have suffered with depression since the age of 14, 10 years. A fact that exhausts me. Given my circumstances, I’m quite proud I held it out so long. However, it was only in 2017 that I broke down to my now wife about how I felt in my head. It was the biggest weight off my shoulders and I’m so glad I waited until I had a true support before sharing it.
As a child I suffered bad with what I now know to be OCD, then depression as I hit my teens. At school, what with being the first openly gay kid I had enough to think about. So my thoughts of depression and occasionally suicide would stay locked away at the back of my mind. I guess I was too scared to admit it even to myself, and embarrassed to talk to anyone else. Every now and then it would spring up again just to remind me that it was there, and at the age of 14 I don’t think anyone would understand what those thoughts are or what they mean. There were definitely warning signs for those around me of course, like the fact that I acted like a miserable prick most of the time, and severely self harmed for 3 years, leaving over 100 scars that are still visible today. Truth be told, I thought that what I was thinking and feeling was normal just because I couldn’t remember a time without such negativity pissing on my parade. It was a shit time that I’m glad I got through. Sometimes I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but with the self hatred, self harm, bullying, coming out and bad relationships… man that sounds awful how the fuck did I come out of that alive??
Fast forward to 2019 and I finally, for the first time ever have a positive outlook. Of the many motivational pep talks my wife has given me over the last 4 years, I finally took on board what she was saying and it has changed my life overnight. It sounds like bullshit, I know. But I can’t say it any way other than that. She said some words = life changed. My mental unhealth is now my healthy mentality. After over a year of switching between anti-depressants and upping my dosage monthly, I am drug and fancy free! Yes, that even called for an exclamation point. I know, I know. I’m calm now.
The thing is, this followed the worst 2 years to date. After admitting to my struggles with depression, everything actually got worse. I did it all by the book, you know, got a counsellor, saw the doctor regularly, started meds, meditation, Pilates, eating well blah blah. But my mind became a black hole and it was rapidly consuming my entire being. I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t look after myself let alone my family. I had to quit my job, I couldn’t socialise. Nothing was easy and it was terrifying. Suddenly I was being graced with new diagnoses… anxiety, social anxiety, OCD, SAD syndrome. It was genuinely the scariest time of my life. To have zero control over my thoughts, as though there were two active sides of my brain constantly at war with each other and all I could do was watch. Then, I really hit rock bottom. Just before Christmas, the lowest I have ever been. That’s when my wife sat me down and spoke to me, and I listened. I hope that I can maintain control over my positive thoughts. No, I will.
But now I have a slightly futile question lingering in my mind that I will never have the full answer to; was I better off before opening up about my depression, or after?
Personally, weighing up the pros and cons, I would say before. Being unaware of the meaning of your thoughts sounds bliss to 2019 me. Nativity is my New Years resolution. To have the option to push aside my negative thoughts would be fab. Talking it out was great at first, but now it’s all, ‘why am I in this mood?’, ‘is there an underlying cause for this reaction?’, ‘how stressed is this making me feel, and how will I overcome it?’ It’s fucking exhausting. All I pissing think about is my brain and how shit it is. Frankly, I’m bored of it. I’ve had enough of talking about thinking and thinking about talking and emotions and blah blah blah. Of course, now I’ve opened this can of worms it can’t be closed. So I will forevermore be evaluating the emotional cause and effect of every bloody thing. And you have to admit that there’s something to be said for creating a problem that you assume may happen, right? Like for example, if Im worried about going food shopping in case it’s too busy, well I’m going to become stressed as soon as there’s a crowd around the bargain bucket, aren’t I?
Just for goodness sake know that I’m only speaking for my own experience and no one else’s…