The theme for this International Men's Day is tackling the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK. Together, we need change the way we think and act about suicide, so that men feel able to reach out, and so that they are supported when they do. Today, read Davy's story about his experiences with depression, suicidal thoughts, and talking about his mental health.
I've struggled with depression as long as I can remember in my adult life. It's followed me everywhere I've gone, like a big heavy black gate dragging behind me. Up until 18, I was fine, but that's when I started hiding away from people – it's when my alcoholism started and it's at that point I started to just not feel comfortable around people.
Sixteen and a half years later, I'm still fighting the same fight day in, day out. It's led me to severe alcohol addictions, losing friends and a failed suicide attempt. After all that do I feel better? Well, not yet. I still struggle to explain this, I struggle to let family and friends in. Sometimes my working day feels like it's two days long, I limp through that and I then get to experience the joy of being on my own, fighting my mind, fighting anxiety, fighting alcohol dependencies and just…fighting to simply stay alive.
I hate it. Suicide is a normal thought for me and it's one I suppress, at the very least, weekly. I've never seen myself getting past 35, my 35th birthday is four months away and the nearer it gets the more confident I am that once I get to it I'll be a lot closer to pushing this to the back of my mind, rather than it playing like a never ending horror story that I've got to live every day.
In part I’ve accepted that this is going to be a life-long battle. As painful as it is to admit, I have to accept that this is going to be a part of me. I’ve never been in a serious relationship, partly because I don’t have any confidence in me, but mainly because I just don’t know how I would explain this to a significant other. I go days, sometimes weeks without talking to anyone. It’s not personal, it’s just that’s what I’ve got to do when this is at its worst. At its absolute worst, it takes every bit of strength within me to look after myself, to shower, brush my teeth etc. Despite all I experience, I still CANNOT talk to anyone about this without breaking down in tears. I want to be surrounded by my friends and family, but at the same time I don’t want to be anywhere near anyone. I hate it, I hate just how much it takes me away from being me. It’s the hardest thing to explain to people.
When I'm feeling suicidal this is when I find it the hardest to engage anyone, friends, family, management. It's hard enough talking to people when my depression hits its peak but when suicidal thoughts start to swirl I close off. I just can't bring myself to say it. I called 'The Samaritans' when I was near my worst and I instantly broke down.
Thankfully, I have the most magnificent support network. I have always emphasised this to them through social media, verbal and non-verbal communication. I pride myself on the strength I have to defeat this at regular intervals – sure it's hard but they all trust when to leave me alone and when I want to talk. It's just hard sitting across from someone you love and telling them you're contemplating suicide.
I've always found it hard to speak to people – I just don't want them worrying. At my lowest I write and write and write, as I find this is the most therapeutic way for me to deal with everything that I have to deal with. I don't feel awkward, or as if I'm burdening people, which is something I feel as if I'm doing when I ask people if I can talk.
However, ultimately, I know that I'm not burdening people and what I'm going through is real, it's not always easy but I wish we could all have more confidence to just…tell people exactly how we're feeling. If we could just talk about what goes on, hopefully this would make people struggling more comfortable with just...telling people what is wrong so that they can get the support that they need.
I guess the advice I would give to others going through it is no matter how dark it gets, there’s always a light at the end of that dank, dark, spider infested tunnel that you walk through. By talking about what's happening we move closer to the end of that tunnel. We need to create an society where talking about this is normal, so that people feel able to reach out towards that light.