April 14, 2014

neilI am a teacher, and have been for over a decade. When not in the classroom I produce techno and ambient music and have had tracks released on a wide range of labels. I also dj around London.

I ignored the physical symptoms of anxiety and depression

I did try and let things out with the names I gave my tracks. Frustration, Belonging, Simplicity, Good Old Days. Inside I knew something was wrong, and had done for a while, but outside I carried on as usual, teaching by day, producing and dj'ing by night. I ignored the physical symptoms of anxiety and depression, the dark mood, insomnia, crying by myself, irritability, et cetera and carried on until one Tuesday evening I melted down, laid down in the foetal position and just cried, and shook, and cried, and shook. My brain pressed the reset button and depression had me.

It was telling my French mother in law that brought me the most comfort

My wife knew and protected me, telling her family I wasn't myself, that I was taking things slowly. My parents knew a bit also, but usually the edited lowlights until I melted down. But it was telling my French mother in law, in French, what was going on in my head, that brought me the most comfort.

My wife was in hospital for an operation and my mother in law and I would have to spend the day together waiting for her to come out of surgery. My mood was black that day, so dark and gloomy, I could barely spit a word out in English, let alone French. My wife was taken into theatre and my mother in law and I were decanted to the hospital cafe. I couldn't take my eyes off of the floor.

It felt good to think through what I wanted to say, translate it, then let it out

We spoke, slowly, in broken French and English, I told her how I felt, my fears, frustrations, internal arguments, about people I'd let down, people I'd pushed away, promises I'd broken. She listened, she cried, I cried, but we talked. And every day after that, as well as looking after my wife and her daughter, we talked. It felt good to think through what I wanted to say, translate it, then let it out. She was a good listener, yes everyone's a good listener, but she was a GOOD listener, non judgemental despite her vested interest in me. Every negative I came out with, she made it a positive. If I'd pushed people away I could reconnect, and besides, it wasn't the real me doing that, it was my illness.

Knowing I could speak to her just felt like a weight was being lifted

She told me how she saw me, a strong, funny man (the complete opposite of how I felt). Knowing I could speak to her just felt like a weight was being lifted off of my shoulders. I knew it wasn't the only solution, but it was part of the solution, away from the medication and the therapy, it was a familiar face who had seen me grow over the past 12 years.

Slowly I find myself on the way to recovery, with a good support network around me, and my mother in law on the phone to me every day. It's good to talk.

What do you think about the issues raised in this blog?

Share your views with us on Twitter >>

Or sign our pledge wall to show your support and find out how talking tackles mental health discrimination.


Share your story

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.