The scariest and most rewarding moment
Gary submitted his story to the SeeChange Make a Ripple campaign where a number of people have posted their stories about getting through tough times to help break down the stigma associated with mental health problems.
Depression to me was something that was alien, a condition I presumed I would never have to deal with. I was the quintessential positive guy, a beautiful wife and children, living in a nice neighborhood and doing well at my career, I had completed a marathon and had been approached by a company to come and work for them, so my confidence was at its highest ever level.
Something was up
In March 2009 I moved to what promised to be the job of a lifetime. My family life was going well and physically I was in great shape, however in the back of my mind I knew that there was something up, the new job was very demanding and I was working long hours and hitting a lot of stressful situations during my working day.
I stopped running, which was something I had enjoyed and an activity that gave my head time to clear out, I started to drink more often, using the “odd glass” of wine as a way to forget the day, my hours of sleep became less and less. I battled through and told no one of how I was feeling, within three months of this lifestyle and work load, I was starting to have anxiety and depressing thoughts, suicidal thoughts were always nagging me and convincing me that they were the solution.
Built up courage
In September of 2009 I crashed, I was now only sleeping for a few hours at a time, I was drinking most nights and doing zero physical activity. I had become withdrawn from absolutely everything apart from work, my family life was suffering and I was a crap friend. During September 2009, I built up the courage to explain how I was feeling to my wife, my employers, my family and my friends, this was both the scariest and most rewarding thing I have ever done.
Out in the open
I was so afraid of where I was in my head and also of how people would react to what I was telling them, I was lucky and everyone close to me gathered around, lots didn’t really understand what I was telling them, but they reacted brilliantly. Having gotten my thoughts out in the open it was was time for me to start getting better, I had two attempts at suicide at this point, now when I say attempts, I was not caught in the act, but I had it planned and my head, had me ready to go.
My plan of action to get myself better, was to attack this illness on a number of fronts, I visited my GP and got prescribed anti-depressants, I ensured that some member of my family was with me at all times, this ensured I was not alone with my depression and could take my mind off it until the anti-depressant’s kicked in. After two weeks they started to work and I was ready to start going outside and look for a group to attend to discuss my illness. Through family friends I started to attend meetings by Recovery International, I found this to be invaluable, Dr Low developed his method in the early 20th century in Chicago and it is still as relevant today, I owe a lot to him and to the people that I met at these meetings.
I knew that my job was a big obstacle for me, so I handed in my notice, this was not a very easy thing to do, as this cut of our main source of income, we don’t have a lot of money but this was the right thing to do to get my mental health back on track. I had a long fight back from depression, I could go on for a bit more here, however to end with some positive messages. I completed the Dublin City Marathon in 2010, I started a new job in Jan 2010 and we had our third child in March 2011, so we have well and truly beaten depression! I am now more aware of keeping my mental health, healthy! It is just like your physical health, it has to be maintained.