I’m a great advocate of its ‘Ok to be Ok’. As long as you actually are OK. Not just pretending to be OK to the outside world. I’ve spent months ‘being OK’ but in actual fact I haven’t been. It’s OK to be OK and we should all embrace that. We also should step back and recognise when we’re not OK…and that’s OK too.
I’m an expert at bottling things up. I like to think of my shit in a bottle of fine champagne. Turned twice a year it’s OK. But left to its own devises it going to get corked. That’s where I was and some days still am. As soon as that cork is loosened there’s no controlling what will come out. There no replacing the cork once it’s been released. That shit needs to be dealt with.
I like to think I’m a great Father and excellent Husband, in fact I’m fucking pretty good at both…but I didn’t feel like I was. I lost my way. I didn’t know what was wrong but my head was scrambled.
I’ve always been quite conscious of my mental health and I’m generally in a good place. Don’t get me wrong, like everyone else I have good days and bad days, I’d never describe myself as being unwell or that my mental health needs addressing.
I found myself in a situation where I was lost. I was numb to my surroundings. I can’t quite put into words how it felt. It wasn’t just a bad day or a bad week. Or that it was a few months. It crept up, over a long period of time and I ignored it. I bottled it up because mental health issues don’t effect me…..obviously (dickhead).
I can’t put my finger on when I started feeling different. There have been a number of warning signs, but they all got ignored…..nicely placed in that bottle of champers. The last 12 months have been challenging, life is though isn’t it. Work has been tough at times, having a newborn has been tough at times, having a four year old has been tough at times….but this is just life. Come the evening work is finished, the kids are in bed and I can chill with Mummy Hew. Life is stressful, there is no doubt in that. I don’t mind a bit of stress, I work much better if I know a deadline is looming.
For me, I knew things weren’t quite right when I started thinking irrationally. I would be driving the car and think ‘I’d rather crash the car than get to my destination’. I’d be standing on the platform at the train station and think ‘it would be much simpler if I jumped in front of the next train’. I’d cross the road and think ‘if that car hit me, I wouldn’t have to think about anything anymore’. I’d plan my funeral in my head, thinking there was no way out of this black hole. It just didn’t make sense. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want to leave my wife, my family, my friends. I quite enjoy my job and the mundane day to day tasks. I don’t understand the irrational thoughts that were going through my head.
I’m a pretty confident person but confidence can be a dangerous thing. It’s a great barrier to hide behind. Put on your pearly white smile, crack a few jokes and no one will know there’s anything wrong….and I did this for months.
I started to forget the detail of things, or walk into a room and not know why I’m there, which is quite normal but not when it starts to take over. I would pick up the phone and wouldn’t be able to talk. I developed a stutter…. that’s exactly what I needed on top of everything else. A stuttering psoriasis sufferer who doesn’t know where their head is at. I’d arrive at the supermarket and be confused why I was there. It wasn’t normal. My mind was taking over and I didn’t like it.
I reached out to a counsellor. My first session was weird. I explained how I was feeling. That I didn’t know the problem and that was the hardest thing to deal with. I explained that I couldn’t pinpoint when I started feeling this way and that I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t find the first session that useful. I was more confused than when I started.
I didn’t want to see the doctor….more so, I convinced my self everything was OK every time I picked up the phone to book an appointment. But I got there. I didn’t know what to say ‘Oh hi, I’m Daddy Hew and my heads fucked up’ didn’t quite have the ring to it I wanted. Anyway, I got there, laid my cards out. It felt better temporarily. It didn’t feel as alien as I thought. I was in the Dr surgery for about 10 mins…it felt like a lifetime. I left with a prescription for anti depressants. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I knew things weren’t right but didn’t want to be the cliche depressive. Pop a few pills and life will be better. For someone who talks a lot, I don’t like taking. I’m much better at dealing with other people’s problems than my own. I’d burry my head in other people issues, ignoring my own. I recognise, now I’m in a good place, that you have to deal with the demons in your head and they won’t just go away.
I started talking to Mummy Hew… I really didn’t want to. I didn’t want home, my safe place, to become a place of misery and depression. I was in a position were I couldn’t find that safe place anymore. As much as Mummy Hew wanted to help, I didn’t want to burden her with my problems…which sounds stupid, but I wanted our conversations to be happy, just normal.
I decided, with the help of my GP, that I needed to take some time out of work. I couldn’t keep juggling the balls of daily life and keeping up with my job, something had to give. I instantly felt guilty, we had been away for the weekend and managed to put my emotions aside….until the Sunday evening. I emailed my boss and opened up. I didn’t feel better, I felt like I had dropped my colleagues in it. Right in the lead up to Christmas….how did that look? But the time away from the office has done me good and I’m now in a position were I will be ready to return.
I took a couple of days to get my head together, but then there was Christmas. I know I needed to keep my shit together. My two beautiful children deserved a good Christmas without the burden of Daddy’s issues. We had family to stay, they didn’t know I wasn’t well and I didn’t want to tell them. I took the role of cooking dinner. I shut myself in the kitchen, I made that my safe place. I almost became OCD about preparing dinner, making sure it was perfect. That balanced with spending time with the kids and family.
Come Boxing Day evening. When everyone left. I felt quite overwhelmed. Those demons were back. I closed the door and just sat crying. I couldn’t control it. I thought I had managed to get over my bad self but having time to sit and relax made me realise I hadn’t gotten over my bad self…. This wasn’t just a phase and I needed to get help. I still don’t understand the overwhelming feeling, I didn’t want to let people down. I wanted to feel like Daddy Hew again. Back to the fucking funny guy that I am. I did enjoy Christmas. It was good to have the break from my head, but it soon crept back in. I loved seeing the kids reactions and making memories, but I still didn’t feel right. I was glad when it was all over.
I made the decision to start taking the anti depressants after New Years Day. New Year, New start and all that crap. The first few days I felt horrendous. I couldn’t leave the bathroom. Each time I took a pill I was restricted to 6 foot away from the bathroom for a good few hours….too much information I know! After a week the upset stomach settled and (fingers crossed) has been fine since. I developed a headache, on one side on my head pretty soon after taking the medication. This still hasn’t gone away. It’s been pretty constant since taking the tablets. I also had some discomfort in my chest…both my headache and chest are being monitored closely by the hospital. At the moment they are putting it down to a side effect of the medication. I have another review in a few weeks and if it there is not change they will change the medication I am taking.
I am a month into taking anti depressants. I actually feel pretty good right now. I feel more like me! I’ve been able to catch up with friends and not have to worry about how I’m feeling or that I need to put on a front. The good days are more frequent and I can see things are getting better. I feel tired ALL the time. This is another side effect of the medication. I get to the point where I just can’t keep my eyes open anymore…it could be 10am or 2pm as soon as the wave of tiredness comes over me I literally can’t do anything but go to sleep, no matter how hard I try to fight it. When I spoke to the Dr they have assured me that this will pass but could take 6/8 weeks for my body to adjust to the medication.
I am currently taking 20mg Citalopram, which is a reasonably standard dosage for someone who has never taken anti depressants before. The Dr wants to increase my dosage to 40mg but because of the side effects has told me to wait. Hopefully in time the side effects will pass and I will be fully back to myself! It all just takes time doesn’t it!
I am in a really fortunate position where my Employer will pay for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for me. I have 10 sessions approved and if I need additional I can get another 10. I started CBT last week and have weekly session booked in. My first session was really quite strange….I was sat with a stranger telling the the full details of my life. It was really quite odd. Once I have had a few more sessions I will write about my experience….at the moment I’m not sure the CBT is for me, but we will see.
I feel like I am in a much better place and can’t believe I let things go on for so long before reaching out to get help. If you are struggling, or recognise that someone else may be struggling, don’t just ignore it. It will not go away! There are loads of charities out there who are able to help. If you don’t feel you can reach out to a charity or speak with your friends or family…feel free to reach out to me. I don’t know how helpful I will be but I genuinely believe it is better to speak to someone that no-one!
If you want to reach out the below charities may be useful to you:
Phone number: 116 123
CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
Phone number: 0800 58 58 58