Day 56: I was out walking this morning after the school run and was wondering what came first with me – Depression or Anxiety. The mental health proverbial of the chicken and the egg. I remember displaying symptoms of anxiety when I was in Junior school. I was bullied when I was around 9 years old and I started trying to get out of going to school. I would tell my Mam that I had a bad tummy. That wasn’t an untruth in the scheme of things. I didn’t have a sickness bug but I was experiencing my first anxiousness. This would manifest and I would go day after day including weekends worrying about school. Not just the bullying but the fear of social interaction, mixing with others and my worries of not being able to answer all of the academical questions in class. I was a smart kid. From a young age I enjoyed reading, writing and drawing. I’d spend hours in my bedroom designing my own comics, writing stories and oddly creating my own football league tables with made up team names I’d create using local place names. I remember a couple to this day – Picktree Rovers and Low Fell United.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the outdoors too and would play football in the street every day. We lived close to woodlands and farmland so I’d go exploring and build ‘dens’ with my brother and best mate Jonny. I was happiest in the company of myself though. I still am. The anxiety is less crippling when I am in the safe knowledge of my own company. Not a hindrance to anybody. Not responsible for anybody.
Depression is a tricky one to think back to. With anxiety the physiology was a big part of it and I have remembered that from my days in junior school. Depression certainly wasn’t talked about when I was growing up in the 1990s and even after a classmate completed suicide in secondary school aged about 13 we never got any real support or ever discussed it with the teachers. My parents never mentioned it to me.
When I was a teenager it was seen as normal to be moody, to isolate and to feel like the World was against you. Parents would ignore it and we would feel less and less confident to approach them. I say that in the plural sense because I remember many conversations in later years with friends who experienced the same. My parents were loving and they would give me the security of a stable home but did I ever have the confidence to approach them and say I felt down? That I had thoughts of running away from everything? Wanting to escape my life.
Maybe that’s why I joined the army at 20. Not to serve my Country as such or because I’d always wanted a career in the military. It was the easiest way to get away from everything and everyone in my home life. Maybe I thought I’d leave my anxiety and depression behind too. Based at the other end of the Country. My bed and breakfast taken care of. My day to day dictated by corporals. No freedom to think or do anything spontaneous. I dunno. I didn’t last. I was medically discharged following an assessment by a psychiatrist and army doctor. My short stint in the Army did nothing for my head. It just added more regret and failure to my already fragile mind.
I feel like today’s post is a bit scattered. For you reading this there will be a lot of gaps and I apologise for that. I will fill in the gaps the more I write and share. My depression and anxiety has been a bit more intense the last few days so I’m riding this little storm. I’m still sober. I’m still back at work and I’m still getting out for daily exercise. Storms don’t last forever.