A 24-year-old lad, with a good career, loving family, and a great group of friends, depression isn’t something I’ve ever got to worry about…. Is it?
Well unfortunately, yes it is. I was diagnosed with severe depression in December 2015, which turned my whole world upside down. I haven’t told any of my friends: only my family and my psychiatrist know. One of the honest reasons being that if I did tell them, they probably wouldn’t believe me. If you were to observe my friends and me in day-to-day life or whilst out on a night out, I’d be the last person you’d think to get depression. I was always the one having a joke, first on the dance floor, chatting away to people, the boisterous and extrovert one.
I still worry about being judged
Another main reason for me not wanting to tell people is the fear of being judged, the fear of people talking about it, branding me as ‘mental’ or having ‘lost the plot’. In my close group of friends we have supported each other through many a tough time, but mental health seems to carry such a stigma that it has seen me hiding away from telling them. I had a friend text me the other day asking if I could play 5-aside football. as they were one short. It’s hard to reply ‘Sorry mate, I’ve got depression’ just seems wrong to me, but it shouldn’t be.
Depression has stripped me of my attributes, and my social life has been ripped away from me, which for any person - let alone a young person - is just horrendous. I’m scared to answer the phone some days, or reply to my friend’s text messages in the fear that they would try and arrange to meet up and I’d have to lie to them or make up some story that I can’t make it. I’ve beaten myself up about it, constantly comparing myself to the way I was before I had depression. ‘You can’t even walk out of the front door, you’re pathetic’.
With most days spent indoors, I’ve often found myself researching the web reading about other peoples battles with depression, seeing how long they had it for, what their journey through it was like and then thinking my experience would be the same. The internet can be your best friend and your worst enemy: in a vulnerable state you could easily convince yourself that you will have depression forever, but that’s not the case and I’ve needed my family to keep reassuring me of that.
Talking about it shows I'm not alone
I’ve now come to terms with the fact that I have depression, which really was hard to accept, and as a man in particular there is a lot of pride to swallow and demons, telling you that you have failed, to stand up to. Today my mum had a friend round for a cup of tea (incidentally, on #Timetotalk day) who is also experiencing depression, and it felt good to just talk with her, knowing that I wasn’t alone.
People must understand that depression manifests itself in many different ways; no two people will go through the same journey. No matter who you are, what you do or where you’re from, depression does not discriminate. Premier league footballers, to the local shopkeeper, the statistics don’t lie that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year and it can be any of us. It is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
Follow Aaron on Twitter @AaronRoby_