It’s okay not to be okay, even if you’re a man.

If I told you that I hated the person I am, how I look, the way I speak. If I wrote that I genuinely believed that my life is worthless, then you might take that more seriously than if I said I was depressed. The truth is that the depths of depression encapsulates all of these stomach turning emotions, but it still feels as though we have a way to go as a society to fully accept a man telling us that he is depressed and to be taken seriously.

Depression is an illness just like drug addiction, alcoholism, excessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, anorexia, bulimia and all other mental health issues you can think of. It is not just an adjective to use when you feel sad because your phone screen has broken, or because you have ran out of semi-skimmed milk. The problem I had when I initially realised that I was depressed was that I felt I had to “admit” it. As if it needed a crime number and a home address to go with it. There should be no “admission”, there should be no shame.  Just the fear of people knowing I had a problem was a heavier weight than I was ever prepared to carry, but I had no choice but to carry it if I wanted to get better. Finding the heart to go and tell somebody whilst having to deal with feelings of embarrassment and shame was terrifying and an experience that nobody should ever have to go through, but the stigma really does exist and that is what it does. Admitting that I am depressed is like admitting that I am weak, that I am not the macho alpha male I am supposed to be (and subconsciously trying to be). The embarrassment is something that I could not shake, but after speaking to people, openly expressing that I am “having a bad week” or “not feeling up to it today”, people have opened their arms and hearts to me to show that they care. And whilst not everybody can understand what you are feeling, everybody can definitely care.

Fast forward to 2116, men and woman live in harmonious equality and the gender pay gap is extinct. Racism is nothing but a stain on our history; but history nonetheless. Children are playing safely in the street on their… jetpacks and are free to be young without fear.  Homelessness is a concept that children ask their parents to explain. The LGBT community is celebrated as a victorious movement that painted the hands of oppression red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. The stigma of mental health issues surrounding men exists no longer. You are free to talk to whoever wants to listen and macho-ism is dead. Depression is no more a word that is spoken through teeth or under breath, but an issue we all accept and desire to change. We are all liberated.

Whilst there are many other ideals I would love to include there, the point I wish to make is that we have so many concepts in society that are seen as dirty words, and we can’t let depression be one of them. There is nothing wrong with suffering from an illness, but today it still feels like you have to keep quiet, like you are not a man, like the societal constructs that were ironically built predominantly by men throughout history are placing you on a pedestal to make you tell the world that everything is fine, poking you with a stick and goading you into letting your mental health subside whilst keeping face.

We all have a responsibility not to accept this. We all share a responsibility to care.

The world is moving and changing quickly, and I would love more than anything for my aforementioned abyss in 2116 to be the reality of today. People do care and people are increasingly open to the fact that men with mental health issues is normal but we are not there yet. I wish mental health issues were a thing of the past completely, but whilst they exist, lets’ not make the lives of millions of suffering men across the world harder by accepting a society that treats depression in men like a dirty word.

It’s okay not to be okay, even if you’re a man.

“A helping hand is at the end of your own arm” – Seven simple self-help steps to start controlling your life with Depression

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When Depression hits, it is difficult to find out how to escape. There are thousands of well-known metaphors for what depression really feels like, and it is true to suggest that none of them can ever fully encapsulate its reality. As a relatively confident and outspoken male, it wasn’t unthinkable that writing a public blog and creating some of these metaphors myself could be a coping mechanism for me. However, I think there is an issue out there for people who don’t necessarily wish to broadcast their issues in the kind of way I have done. I have written in the past about how this stigma is stifling people into their own darkness; but whilst this stigma still needs to fought; we also need help people whilst the stigma exists.

My aim, since the very first blog I wrote was to maybe give someone out there a chance to see that they are not alone, and that they can beat their depression. My recent film documented my wholehearted belief that self-help is the way forwards in doing this, and that your Depression can be contained, managed and beaten by the power you hold within you no-matter how weak and demotivated you may feel. However, I’d like to give some more practical steps that may help those who feel they need it.

These steps are optional, and some may work better than others. But with thanks to a few people who suffer from various mental health issues, I have compiled some genuine ideas that could help thousands of people around the world that are suffering everyday without any idea what they can do about it other than take medication and speak to a counselor. More importantly, they could help you.

1. Write stuff down

Obviously I would suggest this first, as it is one of my main forms of coping. You don’t need to write things down in a serious way and tell the world, but just take a few notes down of what you’re doing each day, and then try to see where the positive emotions come from each day and also where the negatives one may fester that can trigger your depression. Take note of the things that you really enjoyed, equally the things you really didn’t enjoy. Writing down allows you to visualise what you’ve been doing more accurately; depression can make your deals roll into one, so this is a handy way of keeping on top of what you’re doing and where you can eradicate negativity. Use your notes to do more of the positive things that are making you feel good, and gradually phase out the negatives where you have the ability to do so.

(Don’t put school, uni or work into the negatives to phase out as they are quite handy in the long run for things like knowledge and money. If your job is really that bad then look for a new one but don’t just slowly phase out attending as I’m sure your manager will ask questions when you’ve done 15 minutes less each day for the last four weeks and you’re leaving before lunchtime)

2. Cut out the junk, the drink and the drugs

Of course, we all love a pint and a packet of crisps every now and again. But it’s important to remember that each of them out of moderation can cause you much more hassle than breaking into the twenty note you used to buy them did. If you’re depression stems from being unhappy about your figure, then use your will-power to remember that a positive state of mind and the feeling of happiness is a greater reward than a short-term thrill that cannot possibly fix a long-term issue. Alcohol is a depressant, so to drink excess amounts of a depressant when you’re depressed is well.. daft. Even the sentence sounds stupid, so don’t look stupid and think about your well-being. If you can’t handle the drink, don’t drink it. And if you can’t stop drinking it, then you need to get yourself down to Asda because they’re doing three boxes of bud for £20. Joking, of course I’m joking. Well, Asda are doing that deal, but it isn’t a solution to making your life better in any case.
Cutting out these negative things is a crucial way for you to learn how to be happy in the real world, with the actual you, with your own personality instead of taking something that takes you to a world that you can never sustainably live in. Achieve real happiness that lasts and learn to be high on life.

3. Eat well and be active

A healthy diet and a decent exercise programme together are difficult for most people to follow; but those with mental health issues can see it as almost impossible. After all, how are you supposed to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly when you can barely muster up the energy to move out of bed? The answer is in your head. You need to. Eating well and being active is a great way of releasing positive hormones into your body to help boost your energy levels. As soon as you get the ball rolling then it’s not so difficult and you’ll be able to gradually increase how involved you get with the healthy eating and the activities you part-take in. It can help combat any negative self-esteem issues you may carry and it also gives you an opportunity to think about something new that is outside of the bubble that depression can lock you in. There are endless benefit to a healthier lifestyle and they can be broken down into simpler steps than you may assume. For instance, many people skip breakfast, so starting to eat breakfast is a good way to feel like you’ve achieved something at the very start of your day. A little glance at what foods are bad for you and good for you is dead simple thanks to the branding of what is in foods sold in the UK with the traffic light system of green for good for you, amber for not that good for you, and red for really bad for you. So do as your mother told you and eat your greens!

4. A good sleeping pattern and a day-to-day routine

One of the enemies of depression. My personal experience of depression deprived me of a lot of sleep and it was only when I began to create a routine around myself that I could really get to grips with going to bed at healthy times. If you get up early one day, have a bit of breakfast and then go about the things you need to do in the day, by the time you get home, you’ll be knackered and ready for bed. If you don’t get up, then it will be too late to do anything you need to do by the time you eventually awaken, so you’ll feel even worse that you’ve procrastinated your life away by sleeping. Then the times you lie awake, you’ll have only negatives to ponder on as you’re not giving yourself a chance at doing anything positive. It is a fact that day light is good for you, and it is also a fact that you can only bring your life back to normality and snatch yourself from the hands of depression by having a good routine that fits in with the people around you. You’ll find that even a light social activity or event will be helpful, and if you start to feel a little reclusive, you have tried and you can be happy that you got out of bed. You just need to keep trying again to eventually be able to say to your depression “No, I’m getting up and I’m not making you put me back to bed”.

Over 60% of those who have issues with OCD will have also experience a major depressive mental health issue too, and as one of those people, I’d give a little pointer that making your bed when you get out of it makes it look far less inviting than when it does when you can see where it’s asking you to lie. If my bed is made and my room is tidy, I’m less inclined to mess it up in the middle of the day again. Where as if it is messed already and the covers are back, it’s so much easier to get back into. May well be just me that, in which case I am happy to accept I am a little bit of a weirdo, but I’m sure there is someone who will benefit from the idea.

5. Make big things smaller

Many males will find themselves trying to do the complete opposite of this title, especially when they’re in public changing rooms because nobody wants anyone else to know that they’ve got a ridiculously average sized set of biceps. But in this case, making big things smaller is the focus.
As I mentioned about eating breakfast being a simple way to improve your diet and your routine, that serves as a perfect example of making an overall aim smaller. Valuing your small achievements in a day may not mean anything at all to someone else, but if you achieve just one small task towards your overall goal; then you’ve achieved. This is the best way to stop that feeling of “standing still”. A problem that many sufferers mention is the lack of self-worth that derives from feeling like they’re metaphorically standing still. The notion that you’re making progress in life should be a constant, and we all want to make our lives’ as exciting and enjoyable as possible in the short time we have; so start by doing small things to make the real big changes in the long-term.

6. Enjoy and immerse yourself in relaxation

Read, listen to music, clean, watch TV, catch up on the news, educate yourself about something new – do whatever you enjoy to your hearts’ content. Make time for these things and embrace how they make you feel. It may be that you love having a sing-song into the mirror when nobodies in, it may be that you’re into just sitting in the garden with your dog. Find what you love and embrace it. Learning new things is always a particular strength for me  personally when I am feeling down, as I find that as soon as I can’t sleep, I can go onto YouTube and watch videos about this new thing that I am interested in. I’ve learned so much because of my depression about subjects that have nothing to do with anything else in my life. So my endeavour to learn something new has merged into the times when I am sad and actually helped to take my mind of the things that worry me.

7. SPEAK

The ultimate way of coping is through speaking. Speak about your depression all the time. Tell your family, tell your work, tell your friends, because then you completely remove the elephant in the room and you help in removing the stigma. 1 in 4 people have a mental health issue, and whilst that is a terrible statistic, that means that mental health issues are sadly a part of normality. So let it be normal for you to say that you’re not having a good day today. Let it be normal for you to tell people when you’re not very happy. Equally, let it be normal for people to know that you might be feeling good today. An elephant in the room might feel massive for you, but from experience of talking to others, outsiders sometimes don’t feel the elephant at all. So removing it all together benefits you so much more than you can imagine, and just allows you to break down those barriers to let people help you in every situation you are in. Of course, if you don’t like talking about it as openly, then speak to a few important people. But keep it regular and make sure that you’re expressing yourself because sometimes, a low feeling and a bad day can get so much better after a small conversation and a little cry to someone. And yes, it is okay to cry if you’re a man.

 

As I say, not all of these may suit you. But I hope that some of them do and I hope that you find other ways that you can help yourself too. You certainly can do anything with the power of your own self, and all it takes is determination and a little bit of thought to make a start.

 

The best way to find a helping hand is to look at the end of your own arm.

 

Cheers,

Adam

xx

 

 

 

Please take a few minutes to look at my film here:

 

 

From Luxury to Loneliness: How My Broken Home Left Me Searching for My Soul, and How Depression Made Me Find It

I remember the day my parents told me they were splitting up as if it was only yesterday.

They called my sister and I into the front room and sat us down.
I knew what was coming; the arguments had been going on for years.
The tense mornings, sat around eating breakfast, watching my Dad licking his fingers before turning the pages of the newspaper, watching my Mum watching my Dad and getting annoyed.
So it came as no surprise to me, back then aged 13 that they were splitting up.
“Things aren’t working out; we’re going our separate ways,” explained dad as mum nodded in unison.
Somehow I thought life would go on as normal – but it didn’t.
Soon my ideal family life spent growing up in a beautiful village called Whateley in Staffordshire began to unravel.
The summer holidays to Turkey and Florida soon stopped and I reflected on all the times we’d been together as a family.
‘Had they really been enjoying it, or was it all a show?’ were thoughts that regularly circulated in my head.
Beyond the fish pond and the long drive leading up to the hidden away house lay an outhouse where I used to spend time smashing the drums and being loud and boisterous but I began spending more and more time there, alone with my thoughts.
At the age of thirteen, I thought I was emotionally untouchable. I could have never foreseen that things could change so quickly, and that those changes could subsequently edit me so much either.
It was a fairy-tale life in many ways; the family enclosure that I lived within provided me with more than a fair share of luxury.

I had some of the best opportunities available to a person of that age; it is fair to say that life was unbelievably good, perhaps too good to be true, some may say.
But the life of luxury was to crumble away and spiral out of control.
The split was made final when my mother and my sister, aged just eight, moved away while I stayed with my Dad in the family home.
Almost without me even noticing it, my confidence started to disappear.
I’d wanted to be a professional footballer and had been training and playing for Coventry City Football Club, but one day I decided to throw the towel in.
Eventually, the untouchable Adam Dow was starting to falter.
I started to lose the confidence that oozed from me before.
I started to question myself. I realised that even though I had friends, perhaps people didn’t see me as the person I thought I was.
Perhaps the untouchable Adam Dow was a figure of my imagination.
My emotions were malleable and my personality was decaying.
It was frightening.

These feelings stayed with me until I headed off to University in Glasgow.
While everyone was going out to clubs and pubs, I made excuses to stay home, because I found it difficult to cope with such little conversation.
I felt like this made me sound like a boring and reclusive guy, but that’s far from the truth.
I was diagnosed as depressed, and it all made sense. But what could I do?

Unfortunately, there is an air of embarrassment that surrounds depression. As a young proud male, this was something I couldn’t shake at first.
But I decided to take the bull by the horns by making a video with Fixers, the charity which gives young people a voice, laying my heart bare.

I chose to see my depression as a time to find optimism and an opportunity to have a fresh start.
I try to see the world with more optimistic eyes in order to give myself a chance to move forwards.
Whilst my motivation wasn’t always at its highest, I found that if I believed in myself enough, I could do something about it.
Although depression is a heavy and unrelenting weight there are moments in which it lets you live.
Therein lies the moments of opportunity which you have to take.
I surrounded myself with people who brought moments of positivity to my life.
It’s a matter of looking at what is good and keeping it; and a matter of looking at what is bad and getting rid of it. That included the ghosts of my past that had haunted me so much.
Weather the storm; work in the calm.

The sadness in losing my family at a young was very difficult, it changed my life and for years I have resented that. However, I cannot say how my life would have turned out if it had not had happened. So I take solace in this idea. Without me losing these things, perhaps I wouldn’t have the value for finding who I am as a person, perhaps I wouldn’t be so determined to find happiness. Who knows? But what I do know is that despite this loss, despite the depression, an idea we all need to ensure we keep is that we have to look after who we are as individuals in the here and now.

It is okay to let our past shape us, but it should not dictate to us. It is okay to let our fears give us caution, but it should not prevent us. We are ourselves today, not a person held back by yesterday. Life is to be lived, it begins now.

Rest in Pieces.

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I’d like to dedicate the following post to a handful of people that have essentially saved my life. The last year of my life has seen me crash land at the bottom of human self-tolerance, and although I understand that a full recovery from Depression is probably never going to happen, in comparison to the lows in which I have felt; I am glad to say that I am in a better place five months on.

From when I first disclosed that I was ill back in April, a lot of things have changed. Whether I have chosen to make these changed or life has naturally taken shape that way is a different matter, but things have changed none the less.

The University course which I could not complete and then grew to despise; gone. I left the University of Glasgow on medical grounds and I have to admit that I am so glad to get away from there. I have enrolled at different University in Glasgow, and against the wishes of a lot of people; chosen to stay in Scotland. I am going to be doing something that I can see a future in, something that engages me and this time I hope that I can find the motivation that seeped away last year.

My return from Glasgow in June saw a lot of disappointments that in all honesty; upsets me to think and write about. The blunt truth is, I lost a friend. A few choices were made that saw the end of what was an important part of my life. I fully understand that sometimes people cannot always help you, but the appreciation comes from the effort; I reached out for help from the person who I thought would try, and I was left with no reply. The feeling of abandonment is not necessarily new to me, but the feeling of worthlessness and rejection from someone who supposedly would always be there; you can’t prepare for that.

However, whilst being unable to prepare; the absence of this relationship was something I did foresee. I knew full well that when I got back from Scotland, I was still going to spend a lot of my time alone. This terrified me, the safe haven of home needed to save me because if home couldn’t then what chance did I stand?

I had spent a year essentially alone inside my own head, with only memories for friends. I struggled to accept that just like my friends,the memories were going too, but as the summer began, it was all I had. I had to change something. I needed to find a way of escaping or at least coping. I spent a lot of time looking towards the sky, both in the daylight and at night, I never really saw anything interesting, but I just hoped that something could see me. I put my hands together and closed my eyes and prayed that maybe one of those saving graces might come along, or perhaps a gentle Guardian angel would turn up. It doesn’t work like that though, because God isn’t a bloke in the sky, at least I don’t think so. I am not arrogant enough as human being to say that God isn’t there. But I never saw him or spoke to him, there was no miracle. But I did realise something. I’m still alive, and whilst I’m alive I am able to look up and see that the earth is still turning, that the stars still shine. The world is a place where everything can thrive if only you take enough time to watch it and let it be. The change I needed to make was not in the way my whole psychological make-up was formed, it was not the dosage of anti-depressants. It was just my eyes. When things go wrong, everybody knows that it’s easy to fall into spiral of pessimism. And when thing’s go really, really wrong; there is a small chance you’re going to get out of it, as I had already experienced. But actually, I needed to make small changes to small things, and try to manage myself again. A longer story circumvented basically tells, that I found some people who gave a shit and did more stuff with them. Simple eh?

So after my magical epiphany with the sky, I spoke to a few more people and essentially found myself with the pals that I had always been pals with, just hadn’t been that pally with in recent times because we all had different pals but basically, we were all pals again come the start of the summer.

The story of my summer is something that this blog doesn’t really need, but the important thing is that without those people; this blog probably wouldn’t be written. My life had fallen apart, and I was just looking for some people to patch it up for me, but what I actually got was way more than a few patches. Half of me was found and put back to where it should have been, somewhere between my lungs and behind my sternum. My change is to find the other half; and I have a really good feeling that someone really close to me has been looking after it for me.

Cheers,
Adam.

xx

Insomnia Sailing

I cannot give what I have not earned.
I have burned my bridges and I did not learn,
What about me that attracts this curse; that I’d rather quit than let it get much worse.
Too many nights I can suffer in pain, I have nothing to show, nothing to my name.
I live a 24/7 mindfuck game with eleven years broken with no heart to tame.
What does it take to get some help over here,
It’s easy to feel like death is the all clear.

Sailing aboard this one man ship,
Watching waves break trying to get some kip,
No sign of letting up, not a person in sight,
I would give anything just to sleep at night.

The strings that hold my heart, are unravelling this ark.
I drag myself through hell, and I’ve tried to forgive myself.
When will it let me go?
What is this gonna take, I’ve got nothing left to give,
this life was built to break.

I can hit rock bottom and the floor will still give way,
I try to tell myself that it’s just one of those days but you,
Tell me why it’s happening to me.
I could swim the ocean deep,
And find every reason to try to keep
Living a life without a heart,
Living a life of false starts.

My legs are strong but I can only stretch so long until I’m pulled into two.
I guess it’s wrong to let this win but what else can I do?
My feet are made of concrete and my heart; a cold stone,
That’s why my heart feels heavy and I crave being alone,
Tell me what does it take to get some help over here?
It is easy to feel that death gives the all clear.

I push myself to a limit I know that can’t take,
Like i’m swimming in the biggest sea when I thought it was little lake,
They say not to worry; it’s not a flaw in me, there’s a slight imbalance –
it’s a flaw in my chemistry.
I’m not a scientist so why won’t it let me be?
Somebody tell me please,
When will this just leave?

Although I normally write blogs, I thought It’d make a change to mix things up. Here’s a poem inspired by being unable to sleep.

Cheers.
Adam

xx

Dreamers Disease.

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Firstly, as always, thank you for reading this post. Somehow I have managed to write five posts since April each receiving amazing responses so thank you for being a part of that also.

Prologue.
This post is an expression of emotion that I have hidden for a while now. A story of disappointment, misunderstanding and emptiness. This is the story of why I suffer with Depression.
I have never fully expressed my emotions towards my experiences with anybody else, however I now believe that in order to move forwards; I have to and am happy to let things go. I have been a slave to my past, I have let others down because of how my past has effected me and I have suffered at the hands of situations that I had no control over. I am not going to detail events, names and places, because that would take far too long for me to project onto this screen. However, I’d like to share my emotions with you.

Monologue
I see myself as a Dreamer, overly ambitious with standards that I struggle to meet. I choose to ignore the things I don’t like until they catch up with me themselves. I believe that God exists in the mind in which ever way you want it to yet struggle to tolerate deluded Religious followers or Atheists alike. I believe that I have the answers to my own issues but I cannot always see them. I believe in altruism and I believe that love is the key to life however I feel let down when people do not see this in me. I am strong minded and full blooded and I do not like to be alone however, I create safe places for myself where I can be alone when I feel like other people are negative. I avoid negative people, places and sources and become reclusive in situations that I cannot control. I am a perfectionist, I cannot tolerate a lot of people, and I spend more time feeling nothing then I do happiness or sadness. The episode in my life which you are about the read, is one of the five main factors to all of the things I have just stated. These statements are negative to me, because I cannot change them, yet they are the issues which my head loves to think about. These beliefs are a rigid back to my thoughts, and actually cause a lot of harm to me. A lot of people who are experiencing or have experienced a mental illness will relate to those statements and completely understand the paradox in which they find themselves to be. So sure of what you think and believe, yet so lost in where to go, who to be or what to do. We are suffering from a Dreamer’s Disease.

At the age of Thirteen, I felt that I was untouchable. It was a fairy-tale life in many ways, the family enclosure that I lived within provided me with more than a fair share of luxury. Alongside the fact that I had some of the best opportunities available to a person of that age, it is fair to say that life was unbelievably good. The reason I say unbelievably good, is because it inevitably had to change. The empire in which my family became was to fall quicker than anybody could have ever imagined. The life of luxury was to crumble away, and spiral out of control.
I lived with my Mum, Dad and sister in an impressive home. I was always attached to the house from the day we moved in. I fondly remember the sun shone down on a happy family, about embrace on a new beginning in life together. The birds sang and a light breeze blew around softly. We unpacked our belongings and for a while, we lived the highest life possible. Of course, like every normal family, we did experience issues. Nothing that was ever too alarming, although that may have been because I was too busy soaking up the life of a young teen to notice if it was alarming or not. On a personal note, this atmosphere of course contributed to me feeling as untouchable as I felt, I always knew to keep my feet on the ground, however, could you really blame me for making the most of the life I had around me?

Things eventually started to rapidly decline, my parents made the decision to divorce, and essentially my mother left with my sister. I still lacked the self awareness to realise that this could and obviously would effect me, I believed I was so untouchable that even one of the worst nightmares for most kids, was not going to effect me; so I chose to ignore it.

Me and my Dad lived alone in our house for a few years more, he met somebody new, who then moved in. There was a certain degree of animosity that was ever present between me and her, also between my mother and my father still, and also me and my mother. I chose to ignore it.

Eventually, the untouchable Adam Dow was starting to falter. I started to lose the confidence that oozed from me before. I quit football and started to question myself. I realised that even though I had friends, perhaps people didn’t like me as much as I thought. Perhaps the untouchable Adam Dow was a figure of my imagination. Either way, I made a conscious decision to change who I was, for better or for worse.

Living with my Dad alone, meant a lot of time alone. He had to work to keep the house that I cherished so much. Which he did admirably. The time alone was something I quite enjoyed for the most part; I learnt how to look after myself domestically, the sense of independence at a young age was something that I thrived upon, and although it may not have been the most ideal situation, the fact I had my bedroom, in my home, was enough to keep my content and happy. It was far from the sunny scenes of the day I moved in, but I was still happy.

The personal issues that lay between my Mum and Dad became sour, and to circumvent a longer story, my home was sold beyond our wishes by Mum. The only thing I truly loved, the only place I felt safe, was gone. The day we moved out, the sky was dull and the rain poured down. A feeling I can never evoke from somebody is the feeling of looking back at your own heart and soul as something that is inaccessible to you. Walking down the drive in the pouring rain, to turn and see everything you ever loved, the foundation of every happy memory you can well recall, the safety and security, the pride and joy, the heart and the soul, the home. Gone.
I found out the in the hardest fashion that selfishness overcomes people, spite overcomes people, and hatred becomes vengeance.

I was not the only one to suffer from the demise of my family because naturally it took its toll on all of us. I can accept that my parents had differences which were clearly irreconcilable. I can accept that my Dad wanted to move on, I can accept that my Mum wanted a new life. But I cannot and will not accept that any of these reasons justify the selfishness that was showed. I will not let anybody tell me that this is “just what happens”. I was left physically and metaphorically taking down the walls of my life in tears, praying to a God that one day I could get it all back.

I never knew it was possible to miss a place, but it is true that home is where the heart is. I lost my home, and I lost my heart. At the same time as choosing to change my personality, change my friends and letting go of my opportunities.

Through all of those years, I chose to ignore what it could do to me. Only when I got away from everyone who surrounded me, could I no longer ignore it. There are many other reasons that contribute to my mental deficiency, but how can I ignore the fact that my heart and soul is not within me completely.

I have tried to replace this loss through music, money, God, and girls. But I cannot replace it, I have to let it be. There is a lot of my past which I like to embrace as the events which have shaped the strands in my personality which I enjoy, however this particular episode is one which I can finally close the book on, as the worst chapter I could have ever read. I can wish it was different every single day, and I can drive by it as much as I like, but I think that it’s best to choose to ignore it.

If we are the faithful living, then we are the grateful dead.

Cursed, lonely, exhausted and suffocated. Four adjectives that still struggle to fully encapsulate how I have been feeling lately. To tell the full truth, I feel lower than I have before; overcome by circumstance and separated through consequence. I have found myself at breaking point on several occasions, with no reason to feel that I should try to climb back. 

I have accepted and understood what is wrong with me. It is an illness, a disease, a horrible, dark, inescapable curse. Again however, these words do not and cannot fully encapsulate the true extent to the torture and suffering that I have no choice but to endure. With accepting and understanding what is wrong with me, you could well expect that I would be more positive, as the diagnosis is clear, and therefore the correct solutions can now take place? Unfortunately, the story is very different. It is well and good understanding what is wrong with you, but when it feels that you cannot help yourself at all, you pray that perhaps there are other ways in which people can provide the help in which you can find from within you. Sadly, it isn’t like that. When a person is diagnosed with Cancer, it is of course absolutely devastating for their friends and family and obviously that person too. However, the confidence and hope that can be found in such an awful circumstance is that people understand what Cancer is, furthermore, they understand what the impact of cancer is on a human. They understand the methods in which cancer can be treated, they understand what systems are in place to help those in that terrible position, they understand that speaking to that person will help, they understand that supporting that family is highly important and, although it is no consolation, it certainly helps that people can open their arms to help you. I do fully condone and support this however, this is not the case with Mental Illness. As I mentioned in my previous posts, the stigma around mental illness needs to be tackled, but there is nothing in place to help this happen. People seriously underestimate the effect of Depression on people, and clearly do not realise that we are living through an increasing epidemic. The sad truth is that nobody understands, and nobody tries to understand. I do not believe that you have to experience Depression to understand it completely; all it takes a commitment to help someone, and a commitment to empathise constructively.
      Once you are diagnosed, you simply know what the problem is, help is not immediate. In fact, I only received immediate help three days ago, when I told doctors that I was genuinely questioning how far I needed to go before somebody would show me that they cared about me. Why should it take these extremes before somebody takes you seriously? It should not.

I am utterly stifled by this illness. It is like there are two people that live within me, there is the normal Adam, the one who writes these blogs and the one who thinks normally, the one who wants to fight, achieve, live and love. However, there is another person that strangles hold of the real me. I cannot speak, I cannot think, I cannot do. I can only see what he wants me to see, and the only thing he wants me to see is that a job is no longer worth the money, exercise is no longer worth the physical health, that life itself is not worth living. I have accepted it, and I understand it, but it doesn’t get any easier when people do not try to understand or help you. People shy away, and brush it under the carpet, and that is a great shame within itself, because I feel that too. 

I do not want you to feel sorry for me, I do not want sympathy. I do want help, but not sympathy. I want you to feel something, anything, because if you feel something then it means you’re understanding something. I understand that I’m not going to change the world with this blog at the moment, but all I want to do is to try and do is break the societal paradigm that has risen about treating Depression as a small issue, that people will just simply “get over”. The illness will not permit that. Consumerism and the media continuously send messages of buying this a product for the feeling of “completeness”, to bring joyfulness and enlightenment in every single day. It is not possible in real life. It is easy to belittle, undermine or evade me, or somebody suffering with Depression. The weakness lies with those who do that, because the lack of understanding is the weakness, weaker than the illness itself. Depression is not something that can just change, it lies deeper within me, and of course within others for more than people realise. It destroys lives and it is destroying mine. I am not just a bit mad for a while, I am sick and I want to get better. It is not just in my head, it is real and it is inside me.

I am searching for something greater to help me, is it Science? Is it Psychology? Is it friends? Is it family? Is it God? At the moment, I do not know what is going to help me, however I have faith in myself to overcome. I just hope people start realising what is happening. I believe that there are no martyrs in resolution. However, I’m not so sure that the thing inside me believes the same things as me, as far as I know it believes the complete opposite. But as I say, I have faith.

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There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Prologue.

Unfortunately, I have been battling hard with Depression lately and to circumvent a much longer story with too many details, I want admit that it has been getting the better of me. I have found it harder and harder to speak to people, and I have been reaching a point where natural self analysis has become self criticism, self loathing, and self hatred. The harsh realities of depression are scratching my surface. It is a constant shadow that can create a dark sky in itself and still be a clear sombre silhouette that consumes and overwhelms. Lying as close to you as a middays high sun shadow bearing right on to your head, it is unrelenting. It is hard for me to completely elaborate the depths of sadness I am relating too because, as I wrote in the initial blog, it takes a lot of detail and shocking imagery for someone to actually realise the truth within Depression, and the analogy to a shadow is hopefully adequate enough to briefly exclaim that Depression creates a relapse very, very easily. Because until the last the few days, I was doing reasonably well.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
In my struggle to achieve relative contentment, or at least acceptance with myself. I cannot help but to analyse myself, sometimes to my detriment, but essentially and consequentially in the long term for the greater good of myself(hopefully) and those who care about me.
The idea of self analysis is something that is embedded in all of us, and although some people are less analytical than others, I am certain of the importance of analysing ourselves.
However, my question is, are we defined by our own analysis of ourselves? In other words, why should we believe every one of our thoughts to the extent where they dictate our lives? Our thoughts are powerful and control of our lives, of course for good, but also for bad, or somewhere in between. Sometimes our thoughts are meaningful and are worth paying attention to, but sometimes thoughts are just noise that are renting too much space in our brains. We do not decipher between the two enough.

The aforementioned idea remains, I believe in self analysis or self evaluation or whatever you wish to call it. However, it was only when speaking with somebody that I had one of those exciting, self-revolutionary, almost completely implausible (yet hopeful) ideas that we all get here and there.  “Do we need to believe all of thoughts in our head?”. It makes perfect to sense to think that if we didn’t believe everything inside of our heads, then we wouldn’t be dictated by our emotions and the thoughts we process; which can then become more accessible and controllable because well, we are actually thinking about our thoughts, instead of just accepting them. And because our personalities are ultimately decided by our thoughts and emotions (which act as the initial source to everything we do), we then don’t need to worry about over analysing ourselves. We have more control of ourselves, because we can rationalise things more easily, and in not believing everything you think, you automatically create a freedom that is originally lost when believing everything that you think. So self-evaluating is beneficial, but only as long as you understand that not every thought you have is plain and simply correct. Although it may seem like our secret, private, unshared thoughts must be unequivocally certain, maybe it is naive to let only our personal thoughts dictate who we are. And should sometimes consider more options.

For example, sometimes my brain tells me that I don’t need to live life any more because I am not the person I thought I was going to be by now. Unfortunately for me, thoughts of this calibre have subsequently contributed to me being Depressed. However, that is only because I have believed my own thoughts for too long. Of course, you can completely contradict this and say, “if you only believe your own thoughts, and your thoughts are pointing to suicide, why aren’t you dead?”. Well, the reason is I’m not dead because I have stopped listening to my own thoughts. The reason I am writing this is because it has taken me to the end of a metaphorical cliff to stop being a prisoner to my own thoughts. We can all be our own prisoners, and our thoughts may tell us that the cell door is locked, but I’m starting to realise that my head is full of bullshit sometimes and that I also have the keys to let myself out. It just takes me a little bit of time to realise that I need to do more and more each day to get the keys so I can escape the small part of my brain that is telling me that the rest isn’t there.

So, why am I writing this strange philosophical piece with the tone of a preacher but without any real credibility?

The honest reason is because somebody asked me to write follow up posts after my initial one, to let people know how my progress is going. As I said, there is still the part of my brain that is telling me the wrong things, however I am making enough progress to let the rest of my brain allow me to understand that those are the wrong things. I am not a million miles further down the road from the last time I wrote a post but, my head is above water.Sorry that it might be a little confusing, I have read over it a few times myself to make sure that it isn’t 100% nonsense however, I’m not overly bothered if it makes a great deal of sense or not because selfishly, it’s keeping me going and it is also the only way I can express and question all of the thoughts that are building in my head.

So as I keep saying on each post, thanks for reading if you got this far and I’m sorry Mum and Dad that this is the first you’ve known about how I’ve been feeling for the past few days. But I’m okay at the moment, seriously.

I am planning on writing more posts with updates of what I’m thinking and how I’m doing(for those that are bothered) and hopefully some of the ideas and things I write about might help anyone else out there who’s in a similar boat. The basic idea of this post is just to make you realise that you don’t need to believe everything you think, and that although depression of course can lead to irrationality, use the happy, or at least neutral moments to think positively about how you can cope with the negative and sad moments, in the hope that eventually the imbalance of the bad outweighing the good can be overturned.

Cheers again,
Adam
xx

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The inspiration for this post in particular came from the late and great poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou who died very recently. She famously wrote “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you” in the autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing’s”. I thought it would be fitting to mention her as she is a great example of hope and optimism from being oppressed. This is not in context but certainly in principle to my struggle and many others also. It gives me great motivation in writing about my experiences in the hope that it might help me, and of course others.

Mental Health Issues are affecting me, and you. So what can we do?

Firstly, I’d like to thank you for clicking the link to come and read my second post on my new blog. As I said in my first post, it shows that you care in some way or another in order to click the link in the first instance, so cheers for that. (If you’ve not read the first blog, please do).

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who did read my first post and got in touch. The response was unbelievable and I am really glad that so many people could relate to it, so cheers for that too!

Mental Health Awareness week is next week – How can you help?

When you see campaigns for certain weeks, whether it be “anti-bullying week”, “anti-poverty week” or next weeks “Mental Health Awareness week”. It’s easy to say, “Why a week?”, “Why don’t we just always campaign about these things?”, “What’s the point?”. The reason is so YOU can engage, and realise that you don’t know a lot about the issues that are being highlighted by that specific campaign. I know I certainly didn’t know enough about mental health issues before it affected me in the worst way. It is important that you understand how important Mental health Awareness week is, so you can get in the know, without having to find out the hard way.

Ask yourself the question, what do you know?

Did you know that –
1 in 6 of us in the UK struggle with mental health issues at any one
time, and each year 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health
problem such as anxiety or depression.

1 in 100 of us will have a severe mental health problem, and personal financial
stresses resulting from the current economic climate are a major
cause of anxiety and depression.

At least 30% of GP consultations are for a mental health problem,
and only 25% of common mental illnesses are treated at all.

Around 750,000 people in the UK over 65 have some form of
dementia, which accounts for 25% of all NHS beds.

The economic cost of mental illness to the UK is about £100bn –
greater than the total cost of crime (£60bn) and equivalent to the
entire NHS budget. Despite this, we worryingly only spend £10bn
on mental health services and support.

So mental health issues are affecting every single one of us.

I didn’t know any of this until I actually paid attention to the campaigns about Mental Health Awareness week, which has only become interesting to me since I have suffered from Depression. But it only takes five minute to click, read and learn, and maybe avoid a much longer ordeal of suffering.

Just because Mental Health Awareness week is happening next week, for only a week. It doesn’t mean that it’s too late to get involved, because actually, the campaign isn’t asking you to do a sponsored climb of Everest, or attend anything at all. It is about awareness. If you want to get directly involved with the campaign, then do! However, the important thing is that you become aware. Take time to read up about the issues that 1 in 6 of us face. Instead of looking at Twitter, or having dull conversations with people on Facebook, do something constructive and take time to know about the symptoms, causes, affects and reality of mental health issues. Because you will know somebody who is suffering in some way or another. They may not know it yet, you may not know it yet, but if you are aware, you can help.
You could be the one to notice the change in a friend, family member, or colleague.
You could be the one to help!

Mental Health Awareness week may only last a week, but awareness does not. Once you know, once you read, once you become aware, the week’s worth campaign has succeeded. That is why campaign’s don’t last longer than a week; aside from the cost of marketing such a huge campaign, all it takes a simple decision from you to click a link, a second to click it, and on average around 2.25 seconds for a page to load. It’s not a lot to ask when you think of it. So do your bit, and get aware!

To actually link this all back to the subtitle of “How can you help?” – Other than getting involved in the campaign, which I understand many won’t do. What can you do to help yourself, or someone around you?

From a personal perspective, and as I said in my previous blog, people do not know how to help and don’t always know what to say – this needs to change.

You as a friend, or a relative, need to stand up and be counted for. It isn’t hard to be a good friend, and actually, as somebody who suffers with a mental health issue, good friends sometimes help much more than a drug or a counsellor.
We learn right from our first years in school what it takes to be a good friend, and what we look for in friends. Being a friend takes selflessness, care, kindness, commitment, and trust along with so much more. These important elements of friendship help a lot, and you can offer all of them.

Asking someone how they are, helps. Visiting someone, helps. Talking, helps. Recognising someone’s problems, helps. Advice, helps. Showing that you are trying to understand, helps. Care, love, commitment, selflessness, trust, all help. So you don’t need to do anything extraordinary next week if you don’t want to, but by just doing the ordinary deeds of friendship, you might make an extraordinary difference.

Again, I hope this goes some way to helping people and I also hope that you all realise that you need to step up and be counted.

Cheers.
Adam.

xx

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My confession about depression. – Mental Health awareness.

I am writing this as a confession, not only to myself but to those around me and to those that decide to take the time to read this.

If you decide to read this, that ultimately means that you care in some way or another in order to click the link in the first place, so thank you for that.

I have always been fond of writing, whether or not I have been very good at it or not is a different story, but nonetheless it is something that is incredibly important to me. As you are reading this you are surely wondering what this is all about and why you have read utter nothingness up to this point, so I will get on with what I want to write.

For those of you who know me, you will probably have met me at school, through sport or just through social media. Chances are you will know me as a relatively energetic person with what I’d like to think is a decent sense of humour with a passion for a football and music. However, those of you closer to me will know that I am a very sensitive person with a lot of pride. We may be close friends, you may be my mother, my younger sister, my best friend. Alternatively you might not know me, or may know of me, or we just know each other through some other means. Essentially what I want to admit and confess to you is that I am, and have been for some time now, suffering with clinical depression.
This is something I never thought I would say to people, neither is it something I have ever wanted to say to people. With a person filled up with as much masculine pride as you can fit into a males’ 5″7 frame, It embarrasses me to admit it. I also understand that what I have just said doesn’t bother many of you very much, and might actually make you say, “yeah so what, we all have problems” and will not hit you emotionally in anyway whatsoever. But I want to change that.

Why am I admitting this in a blog for anyone to read?

Within my experience of depression up to now, I understand that that there is stigma attached to it that doesn’t alert people like other illnesses would. If I wrote that I thought about suicide at least once a day. If I told you that I hated the person I am, how I look, the way I speak. If I wrote that I genuinely believe at times that my life is worthless, then you might take that more seriously. Depression involves all of these things and more, Depression is an illness just like Drug addiction, alcoholism, excessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, anorexia, bulimia and all other mental health issues you can think of. It is not just an adjective to use when you feel sad because your phone screen has broken, or because you have ran out of green top milk.
That is just part of the stigma which I have found so far. Telling people is one thing, but them understanding what you have told them is completely another thing.
The other part of the stigma is after considering that perhaps you have a mental health issue, accepting it, is actually finding the heart to go and tell somebody, and is trying to get over the embarrassment and shame that comes with admitting that you are being affected by a mental health issue.
The stigma really does exist; admitting that I am depressed is like admitting that I am weak, that I am not the macho alpha male I am supposed to be(And subconsciously trying to be). The embarrassment is something that I can’t shake, however what I can do is to try and raise awareness so actually it might help others feel that they can speak up, and to also give people who have friends in need the insight and courage to not shy away from the situations they are faced with, to stand up and be counted for, like friends and family should do.

The reason I am writing this is because, despite the embarrassment, it is necessary for me to admit and confess this. So people know they are not responsible for my misfortune, but also so I can try and begin to make a difference for others and for myself again, and look forwards and up instead of backwards and down.

I am fed up of sleeping in the day, and lying awake all night. I can’t tolerate feeling like I am constantly alone even when I am surrounded by people. I don’t want to feel that my life is worthless, and I do not want to tell people that sometimes I wish I did not exist. But this is the harsh reality.

The truth of my experience is that since I have moved to university, I have become almost a recluse.  Within a month of me arriving here, the only thing I looked forward to was going to Celtic games and playing FIFA. I slept all day, and lay awake all night thinking in sadness. I generally found it hard to mix with other students, I lost all motivation to do anything with my time and I was mostly working at  minus zero productivity a day. I then would spend around two or three days at a time in my room, in the dark without eating much, or washing at all. When I would eat it would be junk food. I spent more and more time in my bed, so much so it then actually became physically draining to leave my room for any real period of time. There have been times where daylight has hurt my eyes too much to be outside. Of course, going to the Celtic games, or spending prolonged periods of time in positive environments was not an issue as long it did not require any major effort on my part. This includes my relationships with my girlfriend, friends and family where I found putting my side of the effort in very difficult, even answering the phone, replying to texts or having to travel alone on trains or driving. This then led to me finding friendships difficult to keep up, as I could not spend too long with someone before I became difficult company, and actually craved being alone in darkness. Being out filled me with a guilt for being happy. In amongst all this, the hours upon hours spent glued to my bed have been filled with emotions and thoughts of regret, sadness, guilt, hatred, and remorse that are overwhelming and unbearable. I became so trapped in this cycle, that I did not attend or sit one single University exam, I stopped attending university completely because I could not motivate myself mentally or physically to do so. I am not proud of this, but this is the truth I have to face. This carried on and on and on until I eventually decided that I could not take it any more. I felt that I needed to do something, but I didn’t know what to do at all. So as we all do, we go to everyone’s trusted confident, Google. He(she for the feminists) obviously came up with all of the worst case scenarios for me to mull over, which actually scared me more which lead to me continuing to rot for another month or so. As time went by, I thought over what I had read on the internet about how much my poor excuse of “lifestyle” was similar to those with mental health issues. At first, I denied that I could be mentally ill because that isn’t possible as I have everything anyone could ever want, a loving family, a loving girlfriend that understands me and cares for me, a reliable car, FIFA, food in the fridge, a warm quilt and of course, a season ticket at Celtic Park, the most prestigious asset to any man on earth. How on earth could I be unhappy?
The reason became clearer, I am unhappy because I had become stale, and stopped moving forwards, I had stopped achieving things. Overall, I had finally been alone for long enough for all of my problems and ghosts in life to catch up with me. The emotions I felt when my parents split up five or six years ago that I expertly threw to the side whilst being a teenager, the regret I felt from quitting a promising potential career in professional football, the hatred I felt towards my family for letting my fall from those heights. The sadness and regret I felt for losing relationships and friends around me, the disappointment in myself for letting people down, the disappointment of knowing that I had so many opportunities that I gave up to go to university. The hatred of mistakes. The hatred of the careless. The hatred of anything that is not perfect. The fear of being less than what I felt I was. The regret of not standing up when I needed to be counted. The unrelenting loss of a home of which I have never recovered.
These ghosts all teamed up and grabbed my the bollocks and pinned my down to my bed, I am still not free of them at all. The material aspects are all relative, they are achievements or what I have, they do not necessarily decide my future and certainly don’t stand as anything credible to build upon for the future. They hold no plans.

It was all of this that made me realise that I needed help, but who do I tell? My girlfriend will feel that she isn’t good enough or capable of providing me with enough happiness. My parents will panic and drag me home away from the problem. My friends? Oh shit, I have one friend, of whom I haven’t been able to speak to enough because I’ve been trapped in my room the whole time, how is he going to understand?
So I was left with the inevitable last resort of going to see the doctor. Which I did, we spoke and the conclusion was that I was depressed, and that perhaps I had been for years but never letting myself be alone for long enough had allowed me to hide it and just blame others instead of realising it was me all along. (So I apologise if I ever told you it was you that was the problem, because it was me too) So sixty pills, seven weeks, and two appointments later, I am here. I haven’t recovered, I have a counselling appointment in June. I still have days where I am at the bottom of it all, I have days where I am climbing slightly and then I have days where I am at the top, but mostly I just want to jump back down. The obviously solution people might say is “just move home”. To me, that is running away from the problem, and running away from problems is what has led to me ending up like this anyway. Going home is going backwards, that doesn’t mean I will never go home. But I will not go home because I am “too depressed to cope in Scotland”. That is not solving the issue;  I need to and needed to be progressive and proactive in the here and now. I got a job, and told people around me what was going on. This helped a lot, however at this point I realised the huge difficulty that came from that point onwards.
I have been and am experiencing these things every single day, and whilst all of these emotions and thoughts are taking place, I have to try and wake up each day, go to work, speak to friends, speak to family and find the courage to admit to them that ‘I hate my life and myself and that their contribution isn’t enough for me, and that they can’t do anything to help me, because I am too far gone and I have nothing left to give. Regardless of the materialistic things I own, and the achievements I have behind me, my life up to this point is not what I wanted, and I will never be the person I want to be’. (which I cover up with, “yeah I’m fine, I’m sound, nae bor big man”.)
I don’t want to tell that to people, like most other people when they are not happy, admitting it is a sign of weakness that we just cannot show, especially I feel as a bloke. I have realised that admitting this to people is necessary to make them understand why I am not as energetic as I once was, and in admitting this to people I have realised that people mostly have no idea what to say or what to do. So like in some cases around me, friends have decided to back away from me, give me space and let me be. Whilst others have decided to try and speak to me more, to check on me, so they know I’m doing okay.

It is nobodies fault that I feel this way, and I don’t believe that it can just be fixed, but what I have learned to believe is that by confessing to yourself and to those around you, you are making the first step forward. My aim is to reach out to people who have been effected first hand to encourage them to break the stigma, and to move forwards. And my aim to those who haven’t been affected by mental health issues is to make you/them realise that it doesn’t matter which side of the fence you are on, you need to try to stand up and be counted for, as happiness doesn’t always come from inside a person, it might take your help to spark the motivation within someone else to allow them to run independently again.

The point of this blog is for me to confess and briefly express what I have been going through, to try and raise awareness that depression is not a “mood” that you can just switch off. I want to try and detach the stigma away from depression, because feeling embarrassed about being depressed is something which makes it worse.

I would be really grateful if you could please share this to raise some awareness about the importance of friendship and confession in mental health issues, not just in young people but in everybody. Because I have been unfortunate enough to be effected on both sides of the fence, I didn’t know enough about mental health issues until I got into this battle with them personally and although I am still not finished with them, I don’t want others to have to feel like I have done in order to keep moving forwards, whether it be for themselves or for their friends. It matters.

I thank you very much for reading if you made it this far, and I hope I have struck a few chords with you. (Hopefully into a nice tune of You’ll Never Walk Alone).

Cheers.
Adam.

xx