Saturday 25 June 2016

Three suicides - feeling low and feeling depressed

How many times in your life have you seriously thought about putting a bullet in your own head? I can tell you exactly. For me it's three times. Three times when I really felt I couldn't face another second. You may wonder what caused such feelings. Was it the election of a government that I thought would destroy the country? Was it the decision to quit the EU? Was it the death of my beloved Mum and Dad? No, it was none of these things. It was being bullied at school. Three times I sat in my bedroom and couldn't face the thought of waking up. How did I respond? I became depressed. Clinically depressed. So much so that when I was 13 my parents took me to see a Paediatrician. He asked me a whole range of questions, all of which I gave dishonest answers to. I had stopped eating and was suffering extreme stomach cramps continually. The doctor did not help. He diagnosed that I had a "spastic colon" and that I was depressed. This didn't help because at the time being called a Spastic was one of the more common insults, usually for ineptitude on the football field or an act of clumsiness. To reveal that I had a spastic colon was not something I intended to share. I was prescribed valium. I spent three days walking around like a zombie, before my father decided that being depressed was better than being a zombie and he threw the pills in the bin.

Three times I sat in my bedroom and wondered what possible reason there was for going on. Three times the thought of going into school and facing derision, humiliation and physical violence was just too horrible to consider. There were only two things that saved me. One was that, being raised a Roman Catholic, I believed I'd go to Hell. I've always assumed that Hell isn't full of fires and devils. It's full of bullies who strip you of your dignity, undermine yourself confidence and make every second full of pain. I just assumed that in hell, I wouldn't have my bedroom to hide in and my dog to keep me company. It would be like what I was going through, but with no respite. In truth I avoided the bully like the plague. I'd only see him once or twice a week and most of the time, all he did was intimidate me and threaten me. To this day the thought of it turns me cold.

Whenever I read of a teenager who has killed themeselves, I have deep empathy. Had I carried through my feelings I'd never have had all the fantastic times I've had, but when I was 13 I truly believed I'd never have a girlfriend, a job, a band, a career or a blog anyone would read. They say suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I wholeheartedly concur, but I can 100% empathise with why bullied teenagers feel how they do. In truth, I was simply the victim of what is deemed "low level bullying". The odd insult once or twice a week and the odd slap once or twice a month. The perpetrator was not in my class and was fairly easy to avoid. It only really happened when I was careless or circumstances conspired against me.

There were many things which happened between the age of 13 and 15 that helped me lift myself out of the dark place. Most of the major things, I actually don't feel comfortable sharing publicly just yet. Not for any other reason than, I suspect that for some, my path would have a very tragically different outcome. But letting music into my life, with the advent of Punk Rock in 1976 and suddenly finding a sense of belonging was a big part of the process.

When I think back, perhaps the biggest problem I had was that I felt completely unable to share my feelings and concens with anyone. I pretended I didn't care to my schoolmates. I lied to the doctors about the cause. I lied to my family. Why? I thought they'd alll despise me for my ineptness, my weakness and my inability to deal with difficult situations. I felt that nobody really liked me and that if I told the truth, this would get worse. Of course this was completely wrong, but I 100% believed it.

Now I can deal with things and be honest and coping with periods of feeling low is far easier. I haven't been clinically depressed since. If you are a parent and your child is depressed, don't assume that they are tellinbg you the full story or being honest with you. If they are not, it is because they feel they can't. If you are a suffering depression as a result of bullying (and it isn't just teenagers) please recognise that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is hard to deal with but these situations pass. If it is at school, get it dealt with or change school. If it is at work, get it sorted or get a new job. If it is where you live, see if you can move if there is no way to resolve it. There is also another way, it is just sometimes difficult to see it. Get help and when you do, be honest. I found writing down my feelings really helped. Write yoursef a letter, if you don't  want to write a blog about it.

As someone who has suffered from depression I know how hard it is. The only real solice I can give is that you are not alone and there are people who care and can help you. The hard part is recognising those people and opening up to them.

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