Sunday, March 31, 2013

A week to live. (Confession of Depression)

I have lived with depression since I was a teenager, although I didn't know that until I was 40. I thought it was just my mix of being an extrovert/introvert. That and the blanket of silence that stifled any talk of depression among men, the heavy grey lives that edged closer and closer to the solution of a shotgun or fatal 'single car' accident.

I'm writing this now in my own home, with my wife and daughter close by, Spring is just starting and my diary has things to do in it for the next few weeks. But not long ago I none of these things. I was homeless, had lost my family and gave myself one week to live. My story is not uncommon.

Loss is a major component of depression, and it starts with losing the truth. Your brain lies to you, telling you black is white, and white is black. I believed that no-one loved me, no matter what they said, as there was absolutely nothing about me that was at all lovable. My sense of self worth had been sucked into the black hole that also took my humor, my smile,  and worst of all, my hope. When I lost all sense of hope, that was when the inevitability of suicide was most in my thoughts.
The lies that were in my head drove me down a road that had no turn-offs. It was a lie that my wife didn't love me, but I believed it to be true. It was a lie that I was worthless, that there was no glimmer of value or good in me, but that's what I believed. It was a lie that I had no choices left in my future, that killing myself was just a matter of time, but I was heading there without slowing down or seeing a way out.

My world was shrinking without mercy. I no longer felt welcome or comfortable in my home, the only place I felt I was tolerated was in the middle of the couch, any other place made me feel I was an unwelcome intruder and in the way. All these feelings were lies that depression was telling me, but to me it was truth.

Being so badly depressed affected all areas of my life, I ran my own business, and that went down the drain, as I had no energy or inclination to keep it working. I felt I was a failure there as well. My friends were hurt by my 'attitude' and to this day I have lost some through those times. I don't give any the blame, as I know how low I got, but it was just another example of how I had no glimmer of light or happiness in my life. Everything was broken.

And now comes the hardest part to write about. With darkness all around, I was awakened one day by some light and warmth, given to me by a lady. Over months we tried to answer each others needs, and try to find some happiness with each other. When I look at other men who desert their wives and families and have an affair, I have had no sympathy for them, but now I was doing the same thing. I can blame depression, I can make excuses, but I can't change wrong into right. All I can do is accept what I did and grow from there. Some of my friends couldn't, and some reading this won't be able to either. We all have to go through our own journey, and no reader owes me loyalty anyway. I've had to come to terms with judgement, not the least because I judge myself harshly.

All that came crashing down, as it was bound to being built on damage and desperation, and I was worse off than ever. By that time I was living week by week in a caravan park, my income was so low I had to choose between rent and food. I believed that I had a week left before I would kill myself. To me that was just a fact in my mind, something that I would do next week. There was only one thing that would stop that from happening.

I called my wife, who I hadn't spoken with for six months. I had no idea what reception I would get, I didn't know if she would even want to talk to me.

I believed i had been without love for years, and I had tried to find hope where I could, but with hope gone, the desire to live was also stolen. I had just that once chance left, would my wife want me? If not, I had no reason to live.

And here's where I found the difference between hope and despair, love and disdain, life and death.

My hope was answered in ways that met and matched the darkness I had lived through. I was shown grace which was given as a gift of love to me. Healing began, and it had to take it's time. It was six months before I could smile. A year before I felt like being sociable with others. I made mistakes still. I should have changed doctors. Mine would not contemplate any medication for me. I went for years up and down though depression toughing it out without any help. It shouldn't be like that. Through it all my wife gave me room and time, no demands or recriminations. That was my rock, the love and non-judgemental acceptance I was given. I had enough judgement from myself, learning to accept and forgive myself has taken some years.

I am still alive. I am stronger now. I have an understanding and empathy for others that came the hard way. And I know that grace and love can defeat depression.


  1. Greg, I am moved in many ways. I am also sympathetic and understanding as I myself had to deal with a partner who has been depressed for over 35 years. Having to watch one go through the numerous lows and dark days while holding the critical pieces together is not for the weak willed. I am glad you are here today. I am glad your wife has opened the door again to your rightful home. Your Family!

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