Day 372: I’ve mentioned this in a previous post that I think of my depression as a black hole. I’ve no doubt got the physics of a black hole all wrong but in my head it works. I’m travelling each day in my little space ship around space. My space ship is my head. Space is life.
It’s all pretty normal and sometimes it is nice. Occasionally a storm shakes my Space ship but it’s been engineered to cope with bumps and a bit of turbulence. It can even cope with collisions with other travellers.
Every now and again there are warning signs that I’m approaching the vicinity of a black hole. I should be vigilant about this as I know from experience that the black hole isn’t somewhere you want to get too close to, even worse would be a trip into the black hole!
Too many of us wait until we are in the black hole before attempting to do something about it, or worse still ignore the issues and sink deeper and deeper. I have been a Mental Health First Aider for three years now and I’d still say that 70-80% of people I have spoken to are female. It is no secret that male suicide is at an alarmingly high rate especially in that 24-40 age group. Men start to forge careers, relationships, start families and try to keep up their social standing – Women do too, but traditionally women have been good at using support networks and identiying when they are struggle, men don’t.
Of course, I say all of this very broadly and with a hint of sterotyping but it isn’t as straight cut as that. Women struggle with mental health disorders, conditions, issues, etc as do men – but all of the statistics lead us to the evidence that women seek help and are diagnosed. The male figures don’t add up when comparing rate of men reaching out vs men who end up beyond the edge of the treatment cliff… suicide figures, breakdowns, erratic behaviour and incidents resulting in a criminal conviction. So many times it is retrospectively realised that the man was struggling, hiding and becoming more and more vulnerable to the outcome that they eventually faced.
I only know too well the dangers of suppressing depression and anxiety. I self-medicated with alcohol in secret whilst still ‘functioning’ as a parent, husband and employee. Not everybody will self-medicate but either way, depression has a nasty way of wrapping itself around your inner being and suffocating you slowly. I was trapped within my own head and the depression was feeding off my inability to fight it and I guess it enjoyed the taste of whisky too.
I kidded myself that this depression I was in was just me and I should accept it. Give up on trying to be ‘perfect’ and just survive. Looking back that is such a sad way of looking at life but you don’t live your life with the drive and desire to better it anymore. You just want a painless day as possible.
It isn’t until you break free from the suffocation and shout out;
“HELP ME! I NEED HELP!”
That in itself gives you the oxygen you need to think a little clearer. And then you start to plot your way out of the Black hole and back to the serenity (well, the calmer but not always serene) path through life.
Personally I felt like a weight has been lifted off my chest and my vision had become clearer. I felt at ease knowing there was hope and the prospect of seeing the beauty of life again – my children, the outdoors, music, feeling in love once more. It would all return in time but I had to allow myself that moment to be able to believe in it again.
Don’t ever think there is no way out of the black hole. I can promise you, there is always a way back out if you allow yourself to find it.