I have come to understand that when it comes to discussing mental illness most people would rather discuss bowel movements or the nasty rash they picked up in unmentionable places than how they really feel. I know this because I have probably been suffering from the illness of the mind since my teenage years and I’m now in my forties and apart from a couple of late night (drink induced) phone calls to the Samaritans I have never spoken or really sought any form of help.
Thinking back I was always a lonely child, happy to spend time on my own and I did have friends but I was mostly to be found on my own. I can not blame my parents for a brutal or neglectful upbringing because it wasn’t, I was not molested or any other form of abuse and aside from spending most of my time on a local farm ( I aspired to become a farmer) I should have grown into a well-adjusted individual. I cannot say when the problem started, maybe after some therapy I will get to the root of the problem but I did grow up with a habit of either being totally involved or not interested. My latter teens and twenties saw me move from job to job, always with a new plan, always aspiring to something better, a few weeks on a job would see me acting like I had been doing it for years. This kind of attitude did not make me popular so I would compensate by becoming a chameleon. I would mimic others, accents, humour and any other mannerisms that would enable me to fit in. basically I created a new me for every situation but this could only last for a while and before I knew it I would become despondent, tell myself that I was useless, drink, get fired, wallow in my self inflicted misery.
In my 20s I was diagnosed with photosensitive epilepsy, this along with my already developing neurosis it just gave me more justification for self-destruction, I would drink until I blacked out, take drugs like speed, ecstasy and LSD and stand in night clubs staring at the strobe lighting daring the epilepsy to happen again, it never did but I was reinforcing my destructive tendencies. I would get new jobs and/ or girlfriends and everything would be great but soon the voice of depression would start, the job would become boring, I’d cheat on my girlfriend, I would party harder and everyone would think I was on top of the world, one of the lads, jack the lad but inside I was crashing, forcing myself down until the eventual break.
Not counting my latest problems which I will discuss in another post, I have made three “cry for help” suicide attempts, twice with drink and pills once by strangulation. Aside from the strangulation which was brought on by getting caught stealing money to fund a gambling habit (I now no longer gamble) the other two were pure depression. The second of which was the closest I came, even after spending hours on the phone to the Samaritans I took plenty of pills and drank but I guess I passed out before I had enough, I do remember the next day feeling so ill, beyond any hangover, I guess I was actually poisoned and probably lucky to be alive.
For the past 12 years I have been in a loving relationship and have a nine-year old child, they have been instrumental in keeping me going, even thought the mood swings, anxiety and depression, anger (self-directed) and cyclic destructive tendencies have continued. Until six weeks ago I tried not to think of my past, my problems and hoped that I was okay, as you will find out and have probably guessed I was and still am far from okay. But I have discovered that the greatest problem with mental health is no one wants to talk about it, well I do. I don’t care what people think I just want one person to read my story and think “I want to talk as well” and soon mental health will not be treated by cheap medication but by heart-felt conversation between like-minded individuals.