GARY'S STORY: You Are Not Alone
So let me set the background: I had it all - A soon to be wife, a son of 2 years old and growing up fast, a house and a job that I loved. Depression had been a constant in my life and I am 30 now. Some would call it the childhood from hell, but I’ll leave that story for another time. Panic attacks plagued me along with the depression. In 12 months I went from having it all to having nothing. I was sentenced for a crime (I won’t discuss it here, but there were circumstances behind it) and paid dearly for it mentally every day. My wife left me, taking my son. I lost my job and with that, my house was repossessed. My family turned on me, along with friends. I wasn’t eating or sleeping. Even when I did sleep, there was no respite as the depression brought the nightmares and overthinking. I wanted to forget about everything.
I was alone, isolated and sinking deeper into that dark place where that voice in your head suggests various ways out. We have all heard it. It tries to entice you to listen by working on your worst fear, making you think about ‘it’ and then forcing you to consider the after affects. Each time you fight it off, but it comes back louder.
My biggest fear was my son and losing him. Seeing him only a few hours a week was torture for me. I had previously been with him every day, but now I was seeing him under supervision. I’d give him a cuddle they wonder why. "It’s just process" they’d say. I was trying to play by their rules but the rules kept changing. It was during this ‘process’ that my ex-wife dropped the biggest bombshell. "He may not even be yours", she told me out of the blue. Thoughts bombarded my exhausted mind. When had she cheated on me, and who with? All those days I was cycling 26 miles to and from work just to keep the money coming in and she’d done that to me.
Coming home to a dark house, tired and exhausted, I laid in a bed in a place I didn’t want to be. I just wanted to be at home with my son. Dark thoughts returned and that night I tried to take my own life. Held in a room, the British Transport Police had stopped me seconds before it was too late. I was taken to a place of safety. I broke and hit the ground.
"It's not how far you fall son. It is how far you bounce back up that matters".
That saying became my mantra along with the picture of my son growing up without a father. I had managed to get to 14 months of 'supervised visits' before the above break down happened.
Laid back in bed at home, the voice returned. I focused on my son and what I wanted with my life, and this time I spoke out loud to myself: "No, you will not take me this night, or on any other.” Thoughts of my son playing with a new dad and me, a depressed lonely old man who let it happen drove me on and gave me the energy to fight.
The fire inside was intense. Yes, I was going to annoy people and yes I was probably going to lose some of them, but my ultimate weakness was also my ultimate strength. When you have nothing to lose you have everything to gain. Soon, I found myself going through everything with a fine-toothed comb: Housing, benefits, solicitors through legal aid, reading law books in the library. I was fighting for not just for my life but for my son's future too.
Guys, inside you is the fire to fight, even when all the lights go out. Ignite that fire and change your life. You just have to hold onto that flame, once it is there. It is hard, i'm not going to lie about that, and like I said, you won't win every fight. I am in a hostel now, but I refuse to stay down. I speak to CALM and Samaritans and they help by listening and I can’t stress how important that is. It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor or you’re homeless, a CEO or a janitor. Young or old, we all need help at times. Life is tough, it can be shitty, but there is always an option, however hidden it may seem at the time.
I have my bad days as well as my good ones, and I will share them with you on this website to illustrate how things can and will change. But ultimately, if you take away anything from my story, it’s this:
You are not alone. You need to keep fighting.