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YOUR VOICE: Depression – My Experience

Your voice

We’ve all seen those films – you know the ones: someone is stuck under water, desperately struggling to reach the surface.  You can feel their desperate efforts, almost losing breath with them. Well, for me, that was what it was like every single day. I felt as if my head was barely staying above water. I was drowning. I was helpless. I couldn’t escape and no one could help me. Every day I was suffocating. The more people talked to me, the more I suffered. The more people tried to help, the less I could breathe. If someone touched me, my throat would close. But nobody knew. I was a good actor; a good liar. After all, that’s what my life had become. One big lie. I lied so much, to so many people, that I became trapped in my own web of lies. I didn’t know what was real anymore. I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted.

I went to see a counsellor. I lied to her too. A week before I tried to take my own life, she discharged me. In her eyes, I was healed and healthy. I was no longer a danger to myself or anyone else.  Job done. Yet, as I drove home, I had to battle with myself not to turn the car into oncoming traffic.

I wasn’t better. I was just a better liar than I ever thought I could be. You see, for me, lying was my only choice. I couldn’t admit how I felt, what I was going through, what my life had become. I didn’t even know who I was anymore.  So many people had become embroiled in my lies that it meant I had to continue to go along with them. I stopped caring about anyone else. I had become a horrible person. I hurt the people I loved most in the world. I became selfish. I didn’t recognise myself. I couldn’t even look in the mirror. If I did, my reflection was curled up in a ball on the floor or hidden behind a door. Even my reflection was ashamed of me.

I didn’t know how to process thoughts anymore. There were so many going around my head but I couldn’t channel them. They all just got stuck. They became noise, swirling around.

I was a failure. I was of no use to anyone. I couldn’t offer anything to the world. I had no purpose what so ever. I was a waste of space. I couldn’t compete. Who was I? Just some feeble attempt at a man. Who would honestly miss me if I wasn’t here? I felt more of a burden than anything else. I would be doing everyone a favour if I just ended it.  Really. It would be the best thing for them and me. In my mind, it was the only option.

So I did it. Well, I tried to at least. I drove my car to a favourite spot and attempted to cut my wrists.  I wanted to write a note. I wanted everyone to know that they’d now be free of the biggest burden in their lives – me. I wanted to let people know that I was doing this for them. I wanted them to know that I loved them and that I’d now safe and free of worries and pain.

Then a child no older than five ran past my car. I stopped what I was doing. I saw him run to his dad and brother, saw them laughing and playing as they walked past. Suddenly the realisation of what I was doing hit me like a ton of bricks. At that same moment I was found and taken home.

I felt like I had been woken up, slapped in the face and made to see what I was doing. My family joined me. For the first time I was aware of what I was doing to them and what I was about to put them through. I looked at my blood stained shirt as the police knocked at my door. Suddenly everything stopped being blurred. Everything I had suffered, the lies I had been living, were now out in the open, known to everyone and I realised just how oblivious I was to the outside world.  Everything suddenly became clear for the first time.

I realised how wrong I was. How much I had missed of life. I was convinced that I was alone, that there was no hope or help. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I started to speak honestly and openly about how I felt for the first time and people understood. People empathised. People had also felt the way I had felt. I was normal.

I went to the doctors. I was given tablets – something I had dreaded for a long time for no particular reason. The more I talked about my situation, the better I felt. It felt liberating to know how many people understood what I was going through. I was not alone and I certainly was not useless.

I decided to escape all the lies by publicly announcing my battle with suicidal depression on Twitter. I was hugely underprepared for the response I received. Within a day, 29 different people – all men – came to me and told me they had felt the same at some point but had remained quiet because they didn’t know what to do. They thought they were alone too.

Then, because of my public announcement, I was contacted by CALM and if there were any doubts before, they vanished. I had a purpose. I was able to use my experiences for the good.

I had hit rock bottom but I managed to get myself up again. My aim now is to do what I can to prevent others from getting that low, that utterly hopeless. I want to talk about it, to promote and to work with CALM to build on the incredible work that they are already doing.

I have learnt a lot through this experience but there has been no bigger lesson than this: Things are not as bad as they seem. There is always a way. Talk. Speak to someone you trust. Just talk and you’ll see.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article or in the comments below, are not those held by CALM or its Trustees unless stated, and liability cannot be accepted for such comments. We encourage friendly and constructive debate, but please don't share personal contact details when commenting and exercise caution when considering any advice offered by others. We don’t allow abusive, offensive or inappropriate comments or comments that could be interpreted as libellous, defamatory or commercial and we will remove these without warning as and when we find them.

17 Responses to this article

  1. Thankyou for sharing this Jake. why is it so hard for people to get the support they need. Is it just luck – the right type of help at the right time.

    jackie 7th March 2014 at 7:02 pm
  2. Know all those feelings but don’t know where to start. Marriage is falling apart because I can’t talk , can’t stop crying for no reason and really feel like I’m a total f ck up !
    I’m 50 years of age and suddenly my life and my existence makes no sense at all. Well done for escaping from it but I hope my inspirational moment comes soon because each day gets harder .

    Les 7th March 2014 at 11:02 pm
  3. Les, you have been my rock for the past 13 years. I’m so proud to call you my husband and best friend. You don’t realise what a wonderful human being you really are. I have never met such a selfless man in my whole life. You have cared for, taken care of, hugged, been a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on for so many people over the years. I have loved the fact that when people meet you, the don’t realise just how special you are, but I do. I have watched so many people take advantage of you, lie to you and treat you like sh*t. That has been very difficult to observe. You have always shunned help, from every direction that its been offered to you. I’m here, I’ve always been here for you, and when you open the door, I will run through it, take you in my arms and tell you, we are in this together. I am here, for as long as you want me to be!!

    Kal 8th March 2014 at 6:21 pm
  4. Wow. I needn’t say much after that response from Kal. But I will say this, Les, it gets harder before it gets better. But it will get better. Believe me. You can contact me anytime you want. My info is on my website Jakemillscomedy.com. I’ll talk to you anytime as will CALM.

    Jake 9th March 2014 at 11:49 am
  5. I have suffered from depression since I was 16 and

    Gayle 15th March 2014 at 2:08 pm
  6. sorry pressed enter too soon lol

    Anyway… I am now 31 and will soon receive therapy. I feel so sad, I can’t ever remember being happy, despite the fact that I am an optimist. It’s hard to feel hopeful when you are tormented by painful thoughts and feelings that envelope you and take a hold of your life.
    I had a particularly bad year in 2013 and am atill recovering from a nervous breakdown, anxiety and depression. I have always had the though in the back of my mind that I will one day die, and that is my only comfort, to be honest.
    I have attempted suicide numerous times, but seeing as it doesn’t seem to work, I jst stay in my room all day with the comfort that one day I will be set free, as death is inevitable.
    I feel trapped in this world as all I want is to die, but I do not want to put my family through the heartache of me committing suicide.
    My life seems hopeless, I simply have no hope and am tremendously sad and it is all tred inwards as I find it hard to express myself.
    I used to think of myself as intelligent and funny, but seem to have lost myself, and I don’t even know if I want or care to find myself again.
    I have horrible dreams and they plague my days.
    I am following some sort of plan in terms of going to therapy, maybe starting a course of study, but it just feels like I am pretending to live a life I don’t care for, that I don’t want.

    Gayle 15th March 2014 at 2:18 pm
  7. Yes, when I phoned calm one time I was greeted with “We’re only taking calls from new people on Fridays”. I was at rock bottom and feeling low. They certainly didn’t calm me! It’s a damn good job it wasn’t somebody suicidal. That could have tipped them over the edge. I have felt suicidal many times, and been in hospital several times with over doses. All I can say is thanks calm for making me deprerssed. From now on I use samaritains. They never turn anyone away. This linne is a disgrace.

    Neal 15th March 2014 at 6:16 pm
  8. Hi Neal

    On behalf of CALM, we’d like to say that we are sorry that your experience of our helpline wasn’t a positive experience for you. Having responded to your concerns, we hope that you will use the service again.

    All the best
    Team CALM.

    rachelclare 17th March 2014 at 10:11 am
  9. rachelclare. Calm is a good idea but as a tempory salution. There are some of us that want continued support.

    The problem is that now everything is a fast and throw away society. Get a smart TV, and throw it out next week because there’s a newer better version. Sadley this attitude seems to extend to human beings aslo. No wonder there are so many relationship break-ups. Get married today, and divorce tmrw. They were just a comodity that served at that time. I’ve never been that sort of person, and not interested in short quick fixes. With me I like to get used to things,and then once I do stay with what I feel comfortable with. I was informed you don’t want people to get dependant but I look at it another way. It’s good if people build up trust over time, and not of a throw away mentality. Everything is fast paced and disposable now. It’s not the type of person I am.

    Neal 17th March 2014 at 11:13 pm
  10. Now and then I’ve come across some really sincere caring people in my life. Not just for me. One thing I will always remember is when I was in a well known store waiting at a till and the cashier was having a converstaion with a lady in front of my but still working. But she was really kind and caring. When I got to the check out she appologised to me and said I’m sorry but she comes in every day for a chat as she’s lonley and no-one to talk to. I said no problem,and nice to come across caring people,and it was a pity not more people the same. It always stuck in my mind. It restores my faith in humanity when I recall that. People haven’t got the time anymore, can’t be bothered, or everything is a quick fix.

    Neal 17th March 2014 at 11:22 pm
  11. Gayle, it’s very easy to see from your writing that you are intelligent – no doubt about that. Talk to me.

    Same for Neal.

    Jake Mills 18th March 2014 at 11:55 am
  12. This is a most important post, Jake, from which I took some comfort as I read it during my latest deep period of depression – today. Anyone who experiences this most terrible and stigmatising illness must read it.

    Almost everything you wrote resonates with my own experiences, having been diagnosed with depression three years ago. Less than a handful of people know, such is the highly individualised and embarrassing nature of the illness, but we rarely talk. One minute I feel fine, next minute I hate myself. I don’t speak to anyone. I lie at home feeling vacant. A fraud. A burden. A pathetic, failing and worthless mid-30s guy shut away from the world as punishment for feelings and thoughts of which only I know. Locked into my latest downward spiral waiting for it to pass, before anticipating the next one without ever really feeling much better. Not that is be missed. If only I was convinced others would understand and believe me. That I’m hurting inside and just need to rid myself of these dark thoughts.

    Even if I don’t feel better, your post has reminded me that I’m not the only one. Others should think the same – however bad they feel.

    Andy 18th April 2014 at 7:49 pm
  13. Andy – you certainly are not alone. Believe me when I say, before I wrote this piece I had no idea just how many others feel the same as us – all assuming they’re alone. All embarrassed to confess. That isn’t right and that is what I want to change. You’re not alone, we’re not alone. Once you talk you will see. You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed off. Even leaving a comment here is progress. Keep it up. keep your chin up and keep on moving forward – one day at a time.

    Jake Mills 22nd April 2014 at 2:29 pm
  14. I’ am a crap person. All these sites help people for a very short time. I will probably kill myself one day because I dobt want to live in this shit hole world. I have a responsible job which I’m sure I’ll lose once they know what a fuck up I am.

    Mad 18th June 2014 at 8:47 pm
  15. Hi, we’re sorry you’re going through a tough time. There are a lot of people who feel this way so you are not alone. Please call our helpline on 0800 585858 open 5pm to midnight every day of the year, free from landlines, payphones and most mobile networks. Our trained helpline staff can talk through anything you like and help you get through this. Please call.

    Team CALM

    rachelclare 19th June 2014 at 11:42 am
  16. The world can seem like a shit hole at times. But it doesn’t have to feel like that all the time. A change in perspective is all it can take. No matter how shit things are, they can be turned around. You’re not mad. You’re not a fuck up. You’re human. We make mistakes. We feel shit. We feel like giving up. But don’t. Don’t give up. Speak to calm. Speak to a doctor. Speak to someone. It’ll all work out.

    Jake Mills 17th July 2014 at 11:43 pm
  17. I knew for a teenager that things weren’t as they should be and I made a kind of deal with myself that I knew when things were good they were going to be very good, and when they were bad I was going to get through it. I hid my depression for years. I became very good at it. It would break in panic attacks and at home or on my own in bouts of crying. I was two people. When I was up I couldn’t recognise the way I felt when I was down. Sometimes it would leave me alone and then out of nowhere, usually when I was feeling pretty good about things I’d
    feel as if there was a hole in front of me that I could choose to go down or step around but I knew that as soon as the hole appeared sooner or later I was going down whether I wanted to or not. My work was successful but I knew I never deserved it. I felt worthless, I couldn’t see any point to what I was doing. Some days I felt paralysed by the prospect of a fatal collapse. I had all number of different physical symptoms.
    But in between I was on a perpetual high, bags of energy, bags of optimism, but then when that ran out it would be weeks or months of hiding my depression. I had two occasions when I knew that although I was never going to take my own life I was only just hanging on.
    I never asked for help. I was too afraid to in case I was put on tablets and that might take away the parts of me that let me do the work I did. Or someone would say I was mad.
    A year ago with a trip to New Orleans coming up I knew I had to do something. I love the city but on previous visits I would spend days rushing to the toilet, hiding my feelings of panic, and I couldn’t face that again. I needed help. I had to get rid of all the stuff that went round and round in my head. I’m worthless. There’s no point in anything I do. I’m frightened of everything.
    I went to my doctor, a wonderful man, and I felt better as soon as I’d opened up to him. He found me someone to talk to. At the first session I heard myself saying that I felt like fraud because there was nothing wrong.
    I don’t know how it happened but over the sessions I gradually unloaded stuff I didn’t even know was there. It was hard forcing myself to look back and relive, try to discover why I felt the way I did, what made me that way, why I had chosen different paths of behaviour. But it worked. I’m not a different person. I haven’t been cured. I’m still a work in progress. I have had two small episodes in the last year. Dealable with. I don’t believe that I’m to blame for everything any longer.
    I don’t know if anyone will see this and I don’t say that therapy is a cure all but please if you recognise anything I’ve experienced ask for help. I wish I had years ago.

    Nick Wood 20th January 2015 at 11:15 am

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