From Alan (2)

Dear You,

I’m just sitting for a while, thinking of you struggling under that cloud called depression. I remember a time 18 months ago when it physically hurt to think, I forgot everyone and everything that mattered; I couldn’t get dressed or eat much at all; and the dark, scarring days my wife wasn’t sure I would come home when she saw me wander away.

I became a shell of a person, barely able to make an imprint on the world. Every dimension of my life ground to a halt as mind’s eye slowly went blind. My worldview shrunk until it contained only my pain. Time seemed to slow, blur, then disappear as I became like a ghost. The pain inside expanded, becoming constant and crippling as emotions and thoughts attacked me within my private torture chamber, keeping me on an awful mental search for the only relief I thought was possible. Thoughts of death were paradoxically comforting and terrifying. I researched suicide and often dreamt of dying; waking exhausted each morning – if I slept much at all.

I am thankful suicide isn’t easy as I would not be writing this now or getting to see my children grow up. My first Grandchild was born this year and my eldest Son got married. The thought that I could have missed all that brings tears as it enters my head. I am so thankful just to be alive.

I now know that the destructive, life-sucking feelings and thoughts that burdened me were not real or true. My thoughts and feelings were not ME.

Just like stepping back from a large object helps us see it better, so I found learning to find that place within me where I can step back and ‘watch’ the goings on in my heart, mind and body gradually brought a clearer picture of reality. Time, family, friends and many other factors too helped this clarity appear. I have also made large changes to my life and I am excited to have much still to learn.

I felt strange initially – caring for myself, watching thoughts come (with feelings onboard) and just observing them with interest. This felt like being on the platform of a train station and watching a train come in – a train of thought if you like – and choosing to watch it, instead of jumping on board and going round and round on a train that goes nowhere useful.

I learnt too that the pain within depression wanted to grow into some sort of wisdom. Sensing that wisdom faintly stirring within and enjoying what the future REALLY holds (instead of what I imagined) grows to outweigh any pain I have been through – as extreme as it was.

Many things help a little and together they can help a lot. The thing is to keep putting one foot in front of the other and to keep breathing. Focus what energy you have on choices in front of you that represent positive or active ways to cope. Do your best to take little steps away from coping mechanisms that are negative or passive. Remember that this point, or any point in time, is not where you will be forever – even though it may feel that way. Try not to be alone or idle.

Stay in the game friend - for your future self and the others in your life – and to enjoy the view that is coming around the corner.

Best Regards,

Alan-husband and Father