Malcolm , July 19, 2018

Malcolm's story

Through all of my life I have wanted to help people, whether that be in a physical way or a psychological one. It has been my goal since recovering from depression, and will always be my goal for as long as I am alive, to help people understand mental health, and to remove the terrible stigma which still surrounds mental illness.

For some people is like a black cloud which sits over them and they are always being rained on. For others it could seem like they are worthless and do not fit into society, either because they choose a different lifestyle to which their family and friends have adopted or maybe it is just because they are unable to express themselves.

When I was going through depression, my work would suffer: I would feint an illness so I could have a day off just because I was unable to face that day, the problem was when I was due to return to work the next day my anxiety would make me panic. I never felt able to talk about my mental health: I would find another excuse not to go or get someone to call for me to say I was still unwell. The problem of course got even worse and I would end up either losing or leaving my job.

Because I was genuinely unwell, my doctors would always write the sick note, but until I actually got that note in my hand I would panic in fear that they would say I was ok to return to work. I would find a job, I lasted 3 months or so and then it would all start again.

In 2008 after a long period off sick with serious mental health problems and numerous visits and stays in mental health units my life I believed was over. I went and stayed with friends for a few months and then decided to try again. I got a job moved back to my house and started to rebuild my life.

Unfortunately, within a few weeks I badly injured my back, so I was off work again but this time it was a physical injury and all the people from before who didn't understand seemed to be more sympathetic as they could see what was wrong.

I awoke one day looked out of the window and thought to myself, why are you doing this to yourself? Was I to blame for your father dying, no. Was I to blame for my wife passing away? No. Was it my fault that most of my family had gone? No. Then why was I punishing myself?

I found a cleaning job in a cricket club. Then I started working the bar, then doing maintenance work. One day someone asked if I could paint their fence, which I did, and more people asked if I could do some work within 3 months I had started HandyMacs gardening and small job business, it ran for 6 years and I ended up with regular customers and 4 contracts.

I had survived, I had another chance and I was not going to waste it. Although my small business came to an end because I just couldn't physically do it anymore, I found full time work with a cleaning company, now I am still working, my bills are paid on time and I can honestly say I take no medication and I’ve been depression free for 8 whole years.

The reason I am telling you this is because there is still a stigma surrounding depression. It has to stop! We have to learn to understand what it is like for someone who feels they are worthless and mean nothing.

Remember disability is not always a loss of a limb or a terrible incurable disease.  Depression can be a disability. It is unseen: there is no bandage, there is no plaster cast, but it is a serious illness. People who have depression are sometimes unable to function in daily life.

If you know someone who is suffering and maybe you have shied away, go to them, listen to them, talk to them. Yes, it’s hard to do, but it doesn’t take much. The person who is suffering just wants you to listen, they do not want sympathy, nor expect you to understand.

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Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.