Many moons ago I suffered from deep, deep depression. Imagine the kind of depression that walks into your life out of nowhere and slowly kills a part of you. When that part is gone then it jumps inside of you, replacing what once was a part of you and now exists as a deep dark void in a pit of bile and nastiness. Slowly, it envelopes your soul and all that you once were. You become a mere shadow of your former self. This is what I had. I’ll tell you my story.
Life was good. I was 20 going on 21 and I had just landed a suit and tie job in admin. It’s all I ever wanted really. I existed in catering previously; I was no stranger to hard work and enjoyed the laugh that came with the highly pressurised environment but I knew it wasn’t me. All this wanting to be a chef and becoming really good at my job, it was a farce. A lie that I told myself because I had a job and I was able to afford my creature comforts. The wekends were the best.
The weekends existed of hanging with my two best mates, Ben and Steve. We used to call ourselves The Three Musketeers like I expect a lot of lad trio’s did and still do. They had higher earning jobs than I did; I was the baby of the group too. They were at least two or more years older than me. I guess I liked being the youngest; I saw it as opportunity to learn from them. The weekends were piled high with drink, partying and more importantly women. I wasn’t nearly as successful as those two were, but you know. You can’t have everything in life.
So when the Job vacancy at the Local Job Shop came available I jumped at the chance; eager to help others and wanting to get out of long hours for hardly any pay with little respect I sent in my application form. Bam! I had an interview and on that day I was accepted for the position. My Manager told me that I was the least experienced of all that she had interviewed but I displayed the most enthusiasm. A strong point of mine. I can create enthusiasm over a bucket of peas. Seriously!
This meant I had more money available and I was able to afford my own place. Wages were good, houses weren’t like they are now. Life was good. To cut a very long story short (but you can find the full story here) I ended up becoming very, very unwell. I had to move back in with my Mum 300 miles away back in Scotland. The move was almost immediate. My Dad didn’t have the temperament to look after me. His idea of care wasn’t mine. So I paid my bills, quit my job and moved.
Now can you imagine how I felt? I was ripped away from my friend circle, my network, a job that I loved, a house that I had and anything that I held dear. I moved back up to Scotland where I was raised but like me, absolutely everyone had moved on. I was alone in the world. I had my Mum and my Aunties, but it felt as if I had no-one as a peer that I could sit down with and just chill. I missed Ben and Steve, like mad. I was alone. Isolated. No-one.
And that’s when the depression started to sink in. I started to think, “Well, perhaps this situation serves me right” and then I started to believe it. Then those old thoughts of inadequacy started to rush back in, unfiltered unchecked, uncared. I was useless. No-one wanted to be friends with me. Shit, the friends that I had couldn’t give a crap. Why would anyone else? And from there it was a spiral down to questioning if it was even worth being on this earth.
I did make friends eventually, but because that negative thinking was so hard-coded into my mindset anything nice that was said to me I believed it as a bunch of crap. You see I was depressed. Depression was lying to me. It was telling me I was useless, I was scum, I was worthless. I wasn’t for this world.
My parents couldn’t understand it. My Mums partner couldn’t understand it. No-one could. I sort of respect that though, it isn’t an easy thing to understand. Even now with all the awareness. Not easy. And there was me, clawing at nothing and everything, trying to make sense of it all. Why can this once happy and fun individual feel so happy and worthless. That was another frustration. I wanted to be back to normal but I couldn’t. I often spent hours in front of the TV. Crying. Alone.
But like all good things, bad things must come to an end too. A very beautiful thing happened to me in the Winter of 2004. My friend Ben offered to help me get housed back in the town that I used to live; I’d be back with my old friends and my own circle, and yes. Life would be grand again. It wasn’t. Because I still had that negativity, but I met the most wonderful and great people that following year. Managed to get myself a job, and over the space of say six years managed to slowly crawl out of that pit of despair. It wasn’t easy. Depression is easy to get, but hard to shake off.
So if you’re like me and are going through a hard time. Just remember, there IS light at the end of the tunnel. The key contributing factors for me were: Keeping busy, keeping active, and socialising with great people. I would also like to say that stopping drinking helped a great deal – but hey, I’m no advocate. You do what you must.