From Danny

Dear You,

This is the first time I've ever written about this. I've been on anti-depressants for 3 years, it took a lot longer than that to accept that I needed help, possibly as long as 30+ years - I've had anxiety and panic attacks since my early 20's, I'm 53 now - I've had times where it was a struggle to leave the house. It was 3 years ago that I started having thoughts of ending my life - that was a scary time and what prompted me to seek help. Taking a while to seek help is not unusual I guess, most people take a while to accept they need help - my mistake was to try and cover up what I was going through, don't ask me why, because I don't really have an answer for that.

There are a few things that have helped me reach the point where I am slowly (and with the guidance of my GP) coming off the medication. First and foremost - be kind to yourself - we all make mistakes, that's what humans do, we are not infallible. If you can learn from your mistakes and try not repeat them that is as much as anyone (or society) can and should (even if they don't) reasonably expect.

For me one of the defining moments of my life so far is the loss of my dad when when I was 4 years old. It's taken until now (49 years later) to fully realise the impact of that on my life. I did make use of a bereavement counsellor many years ago - they helped me to say goodbye to him - I am eternally grateful for that because it was an important and powerful step forward. THE most defining moment has to be finding someone who is worthy of filling my dad's boots - in my situation my father-in-law. I have been married for almost 26 years, I've been close to him for almost all of that time. It is only recently that I have realised how much he means to me and how much of the gap left by the death of my father he has filled. It was only recently that I asked him him if he was ok with me calling him dad - which he was; the first time I called him dad was like finding the missing piece of a jigsaw, though that doesn't do justice to the emotions it created. I am truely content now, for the first time in a very long time.

My message to you is simply look at what and who is around you. Even in the depths of depression when all seems so dark, there will be a small treasure you will find if you look and it can have the most amazing impact you could possibly experience. It may be scary to take a leap of faith sometimes (and ask that all important question), but if you don't do it you will never know the answer to something that could change your life, or find out how much someone else cares for you.

Finally, maybe it's a 'bloke thing' but don't bottle up your feelings; they are a part of each one of us; be kind and gentle with yourself, you've earned it and deserve it. You have so much to offer the world we live in and the people around you - and they have an awful to to offer you..........dive in and enjoy.