I had lay in my bed for three days, locked the door, turned off my phone and as I shut out the world behind a thick curtain, my world faded to black. Sporadically I would cry on and off until I had run out of tears. Life, as I knew it was as painful as it was pointless. Loneliness was my only companion, and I had reached my lowest point.
Sat in a room full of friends the feeling of emptiness, sorrow and despair overwhelmed me. As friends grew concerned, the line between sadness and depression blurred. When you cross that line, you are unaware of where it is anymore, it’s like being emotionally weightless, you loose site of where up is as you drop deeper and deeper into oblivion.
I am not sure whom I broke down in front of first, but it was inevitable, as depression to me was a very private thing. I would come out and put on a front, trying to project a different version of myself, but behind that mask was a real fight, a spiraling helter-skelter of self perpetuating fear and loathing, of what I was and where I was going. Hiding it from friends, acquaintances, colleague, clients and bosses was as draining as the apparent loneliness.
It is that trying to a brave face on it that is most costly, the trying to fight the constant negativity, is mentally draining. Trying so hard for so long, the inevitable stick that breaks the camels back will come along, and it may be a major event but is just as likely to be a minor one, you just never know.
Being male, sharing my feelings with my friends has always been hard, it was those friends made me go see my doctor, and start to piece my life back together. Today, I remain a fighter, whilst I am a million miles away from being alone in that darkened room, seeing nothing worth living for, I am still not sure whether I have slain my demons. My depression is linked to suffering from Tinnitus, which will never go away, I have learnt to live with the ringing in my ears as well as my depression.
Occasionally I still have minor dips, but at least now I know I can help myself and get support from my friends and doctors.
If you’re wondering why all of a sudden I am making this confession. Well last night I climbed a route with one of my close friend who choose the route because of an old friend, who 7 years ago yesterday decided to take his own life. He will never realize that his death was a major turning point in my life.
In that I got up from a place where I wasn’t happy, and started to slowly turn my life around, in those seven years I have had highs and lows. In fighting it I have tried to keep myself busy, and in doing so have managed to write a book, complete and MSc, changed my career from working as a receptionist in a climbing wall to becoming what I hope is a great mountaineering instructor and coach. The challenge to remain above that line is one that never seems far away, but one that I can now face head on and win more often than I lose.
During my MSc I looked at the reasons for participation in high-risk sports, and whilst there are several reasons that are being unearthed. One of the underlying reasons is that some participants suffer higher levels than a ‘normal’ population of anxiety, depression and emotional instability. We engage in our risk based sports to escape those feelings. I know that I am never happier than when I am climbing; totally absorbed in the moment the world and my worries fade to grey. It is seen as a self-regulation of your emotions.
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This is possibly the hardest thing I have ever written and posted. My hope is that in reading this you are either helped or at the very least more aware of the problems associated with depression and people suffering from it. If only one person benefits from my admission then it was worth it, as 1 in 10 people in the UK suffer from depression, its worst if you’re female as 1 in 4 women suffer from depression at some point in their life. Men are more likely to commit suicide, partly because they are less likely to seek help. Depression is an illness and not a weakness; there are treatments for it, you just need to go seek them out from your GP.
For more info or help on depression see this NHS page or visit your GP.
RIP my friend, and thank you for all the memories.