Gather the strength
As I reached my early thirties I had ticked a lot of the boxes that indicated success. I was happily married, a father of an intelligent lovely little boy, my wife was expecting our second son and we were financially comfortable.
After the birth of our first child I had a crisis of confidence as I came to terms with the reality of parenthood. This was just a wobble but I soon found myself back on track. I certainly had no reason to expect what was coming down the track.
I had spent the past 4 or 5 years building a career in a blue chip organisation and was moving rapidly through management roles and taking on additional responsibilities My bosses were continually showering praise on me and thanking me for the great contribution I made. I was known for my pragmatic, logical and uncompromising approach to any difficult professional situation.
Our 2nd son was born so I naturally took a couple of weeks off work. Shortly after my return, it hit me. I was consumed with fear and self-loathing so harsh that it manifested itself in physical pain. The weight of my responsibilities to maintain my career and support my family became all encompassing. All reason left me.
It has taken a long time to come to terms with the shame of the following month. I pushed my wife to hate me as I at first I didn’t have the guts to leave. Time and time again she reacted with support and love. Finally, driven by a selfish determination to distance my family from my impending self-destruction I left.
Over the following two months my wife continually tried to keep in contact, to keep talking. She persuaded me to get help and accept support.
I know that the internet is full of scare stories about the impact of taking anti-depressants, I know that I was scared to start medicating but I had reached a point where there was only one outcome if I didn’t change my path.
After a lot of support from our family GP and a number of attempts to get the right medication, i returned home to my family. My recovery over the next two years was a roller coaster ride. There were times when I felt myself slipping, times when I hated how the meds made me feel, and times when I questioned if I’d done the right thing in returning. All the way through, my wife and family stuck by me.
I was wracked with guilt but so fortunate to have the support of a strong family to help me through and to make me understand that this wasn’t a choice. I made a pact with my wife, just a single rule. I agreed that if she said she saw a change I had to listen to her and change course. Six years later I’m far more aware of my condition, I’m still med free but often have a ‘wobble’. In times of constant pressure I can feel it in my chest and on my shoulders as I start to buckle. Those are the times when I force myself to pull back, take in the bigger picture and consider the help I need
If any of this seems familiar please reach out for help. Whether it’s friends, family doctors, charities or churches please do it. Too many of us still feel that mental illness carries a stigma and you’ll be labelled or outcast. You won’t be. The support you reach out for will carry you and help you to see a way through.
Please check out my resources page for links to support.