So I was first introduced into depression when I was 9 years old, my older brother was diagnosed with bi-polar I didn’t know it but that was just the beginning of my life and understanding depression.
Over the years I learnt to see it coming with my brother, he would start to distance himself from everyone and stay in his bedroom, in a sense, hiding away in the darkness. I learned to help him either by getting him outside or just hanging out with him. Fast forward a few years to when I started high school, the place where I myself experienced being depressed. It started with being bullied about my weight and how I looked and not being into sport. This went on a few years and I was sent to the Doctor to get some antidepressants. As I hated school, I didn’t want to get out of bed and just felt like down-right crap. I realised that I was acting like my brother did in those past years. Medication worked, but it was quite a horrible experience - a very numb feeling that never went away until after I stopped. I managed to come off my meds once I left school and joined the working world.
Depression affected me differently over the coming years but was manageable by being in touch with family and mates, different hobbies and focusing on my career. The worst case I have had was 4 years ago when I finally got over working in hospitality. Being a chef was challenging enough on its own but I added the extra stress of taking over the ownership of the restaurant and bar. It was a good life, but left little room for much else, the only time I saw my mates was Saturday night while I was working the bar, family time didn’t exist, as I'd just be catching up on sleep. I got depressed again – even worse than when I was a teen! I would drive to work and think of ways of ending it, whether it was driving or just disappearing, this was a pretty heavy part of my life which not many know about.
Had I known then, what I know now, I would’ve spoken out and asked for help but in my head that was a sign of weakness and men didn’t speak about those things. We just got on with it and dealt with it.
One day I got an opportunity to change my career, little did I know that this would be the catalyst I needed to sort out my mental state and have a semi-normal life.
Once I changed jobs and stood back from my business, I had more time on my hands, I started working out at the gym which gave me focus and clarity, as well as the added benefit of a healthier life style. I have taken up soccer again which keeps me social and active outside with mates. I also have an awesome support team who know how I tick now and they keep an eye on me – dragging me out when they feel like something’s up.
One thing I have learned from my “Up & Down” years is that finding the time for a little exercise or time out with mates, does a hell of a lot of good for the mental state of one’s brain.
I have learned that talking about these things and even discussing ideas on how to manage it, are becoming more of the norm and I'm loving the fact that the 'get on with it' attitude is starting to fall and men are starting to speak up about these things. I’m truly grateful to my family and friends who continue to support me. Without them I would've been lost and the fact that we can now talk about these issues, is something good.