Although I’d never wish depression, or any form of mental health problem, on someone there is something about it that makes the person stronger – that makes you think that you’ve had to battle with your own mind on a daily basis, everything else should be a walk in the park!
It’s no secret, I’ve had a complicated life due to one thing or another but I always seem to find my way through the darkness and emerge a better person for it; you’ve got to live through life’s lows before you can embrace its highs. That said, going through hell in your own mind with no release is just that; hell. I remember the first time I went through depression, I had just come out. I started listening to Happy Endings by Mika on repeat, whilst sitting on the stairs, wondering if I could change to be what was expected of me – I was so concerned with trying to please others that I failed to notice that even though I only had a couple of boxes of possessions, I had everything I needed. I had a roof over my head, good friends and support.
I kept my emotions and depression bottled up, big boys don’t cry – it’s how I was brought up; showing emotion is a form of weakness. I kept doing this for months, until the bottle finally cracked and its content exploded. At my lowest I remember writing a note basically begging for help in my local connexions office; all my tears had been shed and I was ready, ready to accept help. I was a broken man. It took a couple of years and countless frustrations, walkouts and falling outs but I finally got to a place where I was happy with my life, where I was and had started coming to peace with things from my past. I knew things were far from perfect but I also knew things would get better and go from strength to strength.
I am so thankful to the people that, basically, saved me; without them I wouldn’t be here today. They are the reason I became a Time to Change champion, challenging the stigma associated with mental health conditions. Telling others it’s okay not to be okay.
However, I obviously haven’t learnt. I’ve had a lot of problems in one area of my life recently and it honestly feels like the Dementors are dragging me to Azkaban; the bottle is starting to crack. I think this is why I’ve started cycling more, Mika hasn’t got the same healing powers he once had and my tears have already streamed. Cycling gives me exclusion, time to think and the ability to concentrate on the road ahead rather than the problem; it’s a brilliant distraction.