Finding My Way Through Depression
There’s been a lot about mental illnesses over the last few years which has created a much larger understanding that they do in fact exist, and more, that we are not alone in our battles with them.
1 in 6 New Zealand adults (16%, or an estimated 582,000 adults) have been diagnosed with a common mental disorder at some time in their lives including depression, bipolar disorder and/or anxiety disorder.
Having lived with one or more of these illnesses myself, I’ve been asked how has the EM network and the wonderful work they do helped me find my way through to the other side.
Depression for me was an overwhelming feeling of sadness and helplessness! In the really tough times I couldn’t leave my room for several days, let alone go out in public. Mostly for me, my ‘illness’ was triggered by events in my life that would affect my heart – a break up, losing someone close, or sometimes for no apparent reason a desperate feeling of being completely alone.
I lived with these symptoms for all of my teenage years and they followed me into my late 30’s.
I am happy to say that having just reached 40 years old I am now confident in knowing I have put the ‘black dog’ behind me where he belongs. My only regret is that I wish I had started finding my way through it sooner!
The big turning point in my life was about 5 years ago when I found myself on a beach full of alcohol and pouring a bottle of sleeping pills down my throat. Enough I thought to finally put me out of my misery! It turns out that it wasn’t (enough), luckily for me!
When I woke, I was in hospital, and spent the next two days there. From hospital, I spent a further 2 weeks in a safe house. It was the point in my life that sent me on a journey to find out just what was happening to me and why?
Depression for me was simple… I was ‘Not Ok’ about ‘Not being Ok’!… which in turn made me ‘Less Ok!’ If something big happened then ‘Not being Ok’ turned into flat out train wreck!
The reason for this mostly boiled down to the fact that, in my troubled childhood and adolescent years, I had been taught that it was not Ok or safe to have the simplest of human emotions.
Anger came from my Father and, to be honest, it was terrifying! Sadness surrounded me as a result and wasn’t much fun at all! I saw many more undesirable emotions show their faces and how the resulting actions brought on by those emotions tore through people’s lives! My own included! During my early years those actions were that of violence resulting in heartache!
I carried the thought for most of my life that to be safe and Ok in this world I had to be ’happy all the time’! I think that is a misconception for a large number of us in this day and age – that we’re not “Ok” unless we are Happy! Ask anyone what they want most in this world. I bet the majority say that 5 letter world! I’m not taking away from Happiness, of course, but what I’ve found on my journey is that, actually, I am “Ok” even when I am not happy!
EM played a large part in letting me explore this! The techniques they use allowed me to find and explore the places I was terrified of and sit in them safely! I will never forget trying to hide my tears, terrified at the thought that in a space full of men I would have to explore anger! Once you have been on a Foundation Men’s Weekend Workshop you will know what I am talking about. After finally plucking up all my courage and allowing myself to be angry I realised that I could go to that space, be safe in it and that if I practiced it I might even be able to express it safely!?
EM was and is a place you can explore who you are. Not the front you show out there in the big bad world, but the true ‘You’ that lives inside. For me it was the angry, sad, broken young boy who grew up knowing nothing more of himself. The same boy who went on a journey to discover himself, and understand why he was the way he was, finally embracing the fullness of the man he had become.
I was helped on this journey by men who supported me, and understood that in life everything can’t always be peachy. When it’s not, it’s ok to be sad, angry and everything in between. For me, it was the final piece of the puzzle!
I’m Ok now when I’m sad or angry, because I know it’s ok to be all of those things! It’s how I understand and show them that has now made the difference. EM helped me do that and my life has never been better, even when it’s not!
* A Big Thank You to Matthew Mold for help better understand depression by courageously sharing with us his own experience of it.