It’s like being scared and tired at the same time.

It’s the fear of failure, but no urge to be productive.

It’s wanting friends, but hating socialising.

It’s wanting to be alone, but not wanting to be lonely.

It’s caring about everything then caring about nothing.

It’s feeling everything at once, then feeling paralysingly numb.

You might have seen this. It’s one of those Facebook memes that your friend has shared. And you’ve probably skipped past and ignored it. But depression is all this, and more.

The tiredness is overwhelming. I guess that’s the major thing that sticks out. I’m constantly exhausted. Thankfully, I sleep well these days. Where previously I may have struggled to fall asleep for the thoughts racing through my head, nowadays it’s easier. I’m finding peace – slowly, but finding it nonetheless.

I just want to be alone

Ham – sorted, turkey – sorted, trimmings – sorted, treats – sorted, booze – sorted.

He was totally ready. Christmas Day dinner here we come! But then he let it slip. He’d managed to fob the family off with vague promises of “I’m sorted for Christmas dinner yeah”. He really wanted to cook Christmas Day dinner for himself. Alone. It was better that way anyway. He’d only get more depressed spending time with siblings and their happy-ever-after lives with spouses and children. Better to stay home, cook for himself – everyone would prefer it that way. Except he’d let it slip that this was the plan. And now he’d have to live the other side of the nightmare. In company.

For me, my battle with depression is best summed up in this paragraph. To think; when I was single, lonely, depressed, battling my inner demons and the desire to find my happy ever after; that I would lie to my family. The fact that I would invent a fake reality for Christmas Day – that most family-centred time of year – highlights how deeply depression can change the person you used to know.

Have you noticed a friend or family member doing any of the following?

  • 1 Cancelling or not showing up at the last minute (more difficult to spot under COVID-19 restrictions).
  • 2 Being increasingly angry over mundane things.
  • 3 Distant and/or vacant in conversation.
  • 4 Ignoring or not answering phone calls on a regular basis.
  • I’m guilty of all of the above.

    1 The no show

    I was the absolute king of this. Make all the plans in the world and just not rock up.

    If I’m honest here, I still am struggling with this one. I’m trying to get better. I’m trying to engage more. Or I was before lockdown at least.

    2 Angry over nothing

    I’m walking along the footpath at the retail park. We’re due at my sister’s house later that day. I ask my wife if the sausages we were meant to bring are in the car. “I left them on the counter at home.” Instant rage. It builds so uncontrollably that I cannot stop myself from verbally lashing out in public. Again, my mind races to my upbringing, screaming at me that this is not appropriate. That something else is wrong. But, no. My depression can only see one thing wrong, and that’s the stupidly minor thing that my wife, and I, forgot the sausages.

    3 I’m not rude, I just can’t

    “He’s right there Brian. He’s talking to you. Will you just say something back for goodness sake?” Nothing. I can’t engage. My mind is screaming at me to be polite and to reply. But I can’t. And I can’t explain to you even now why this happened.

    4 Can’t talk, won’t talk

    I see the call coming in and instantly there’s a dread inside that I can’t explain. It shouts to me that to answer this call will mean having to talk to someone for several minutes. It’s galling. I was brought up with manners and respect. I hate myself for not sliding to answer. But I just cannot do it. I’ll ring them back. Later. Maybe. Except, no, I won’t.

    You know someone who needs your help

    What I really want is for you, the reader, to reach out to someone. Every person reading this article knows of someone who has shown one or all of the signs mentioned here. That’s not to say they are the only signs of depression and anxiety, but I can only speak from experience.

    Somebody you know and care for and love needs your help immediately. I certainly did. For 20 years I needed it. I didn’t realise it. And my friends and family didn’t either, which is why I ask you to reach out today.

    Getting help

    About four years ago, after the afore-mentioned retail park incident, I went to my GP and, through tears, explained that story, and others, to him. And asked for help. He gave it to me by recommending counselling. He also prescribed medication that I decided against, hoping that talking would be the better solution for me. And it was.

    Am I cured? No. Anyone who suffers from anxiety and depression will admit that there is no cure. There is management of your condition. And that’s OK too. For the first time in a long time, I’m now in control of my condition. A condition I didn’t even know until my GP uttered those words – “you’ve presented here today with clinical signs of depression”.

    I know of friends and family who do not – or certainly did not – believe that depression and anxiety were real everyday conditions. I’ve had to convince them otherwise. I always thought that finding my one true love, getting married and having a family of my own would relieve me of this condition. Now, of course, I realise that I must learn to live with this condition as it’s an ever-present and isn’t actually linked to one aspect of my life.

    I thank my wife Sam for her patience and understanding through all of this. And I promise my friends and family that I will always fight harder to overcome it.

  • Live in the now. Stop over-thinking things from the past that you cannot change. Stop trying to think about what may or may not happen in the future, as so much of that is out of your control.
  • Admit that you suffer from anxiety and/or depression. It will help. Knowing that something else is trying to control your life.
  • Get help. When I did four years ago, it was a huge relief to finally hear those words.
  • Reach out. Now. Immediately. To someone you think needs help.
  • Last year, I wrote a social media post highlighting my positives. For years, I had focused only on the negatives. On what I didn’t have; or hadn’t achieved; or couldn’t achieve. It took a lot of self-encouragement I must admit. And at the end of it, I realised I have so much more to give as a survivor of depression than someone who has submitted to its desires to take those we love most.

    Love yourself. Love each other. And reach out.

    Read more

    Talking about mental health

    Anxiety: the modern day epidemic

    Are you in a fit state to farm?