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Depression. Did It Break or Make Me?

I can’t really give an exact date as to when I started noticing that I was suffering from depression, anxiety and ADHD but I can tell you that the years leading up to when I did notice, I was working for Aviva as a telesales agent. Selling car and home insurance on a regular basis.
When I started at Aviva, it was 2011 and I had just once child, a son, and a partner I had been with for around 5/6 years.
I loved my time at Aviva however I had noticed by the end of my career there, I had become distant from my family, which now included a second son with the same partner who I had now in fact married. My mood was unpredictable, I was either as high as a kite or downright miserable. I, being the typical manly man, didn’t really believe in being depressed or feeling lonely. I just thought I was sicked and tired of Aviva and all of the boring, day to day activities that came with working as a telesales agent.
I left Aviva in 2014 to start a career in scaffolding with a company that will remain unknown due to some of the events that later happened. I seemed to enjoy my new challenge and for the first 6 months or so, I felt refreshed and renewed; however my mood swings and self doubts soon started to turn their ugly head again. I was still too manly to submit to the fact that I could be suffering from a mental condition.
Instead, I turned to alcohol.
I began to drink on a regular basis to try and calm my yo-yo of a mind.
When the alcohol wasn’t enough, I started taking various class A drugs to try and overpower my unstable mind and emotions which at this point were becoming out of control. It was during this period of being unstable that I remember one distinct day at work.
We had finished for the day and we were back at the yard unloading our truck when myself and two colleagues heard an outcry that literally put shivers through myself.
We went running over to the adjacent yard to see that a man was being crushed to death underneath a tailgate of a lorry designed to transport JCB diggers and other large plant machinery. My two workmates lifted the tailgate and without concern for my own well being, I scrambled underneath the lorry to pull out the man below. I got him out by wrapping my arms around his waist and around his front and pulling him out. He was pronounced dead at the scene and I was left in a bitter shock that I had never felt before.
At this point, because of distancing myself from loved ones and friends I didn’t really have anyone to talk to and my marriage was suffering immensely. I added prescription sedatives to an already dangerous cocktail of self medicating substances and moved out of my family home. I moved in with someone I had only known for a matter of weeks and shut myself out from the world.
It was during this period which haunted me for following months where I continued to block out the pain with alcohol, drugs and sedatives.
August 1st 2015 – early hours
I had managed to climb to the top of Anglia Square car park despite the level of intoxication I had succumbed too. I had sliced my left wrist open whilst falling over at some point and losing my bottle of Jack Daniels, However my vodka was comforting me still on this journey. I remember I had phoned my then ex-wife whilst standing at the highest point possible, teetering on the edge of certain death, when I noticed a police officer below trying to communicate with me. I threw my mobile and my vodka at him in a fit of rage in an attempt to not be talked down.
After some time, some more officers had arrived as well as the fire brigade and paramedics. I was carted off to hospital and had to undergo the various actions as a consequence to my actions. It was here I first encountered the crisis team, which for if you don’t know is a team of psychologists who were there to assess me and decide whether or not I was to be taken to a mental institute for my own safe keeping.
This wasn’t the path for me however and I was sent home.
I had never felt so embarrassed and so angry at myself. I had wasted so much valuable time of the emergency services that I made a promise to myself that I would never allow myself to get so low that I take resources from someone that is in an immediate threat of danger or something of this level.
I started reading up on mental health issues and asked my mum to book me into see my GP. I was signed off of work and given a mood stabiliser and told to come back 4 weeks later. I went back, and back, and back, and back. I also had a few more encounters with the crisis team who decided to put me onto some medication to help settle me, it was predominantly given to people who suffer from bipolar disorder and personality disorders.
Although things were slowly getting better, I still didn’t have an official or expert diagnosis as to what was wrong or what they thought the problem may be. I have had numerous appointments with teams at Hellesdon Hospital with no fruitful outcomes. being passed back and forth between hospitals, doctors and my favourite occupational health therapists who in my experience, just made things worse by screwing things up.
I’ve made complaints and I’ve made appointments. I’ve made mistakes and I’ve made excuses.
However it was when I assaulted a women and faced going to jail as a result of my reactions that I finally decided enough was enough. I became obsessed with trying to get better.
The first step I had to take was apologising, to everyone I had hurt. I asked my ex-wife if she would allow me to come back and try and make things work and I’m so grateful that she agreed to. I began exercising, I started eating better foods. I started learning things that interested me because being honest, school never did. I started reading books and the most important bit is, I started being honest about how I was feeling.
It’s now 2018, and I still take medication on a daily basis. I’ve started the year clean and I plan on continuing through the whole of the year clean as well. I had many slip ups in 2017 but looking forward to the year ahead of me, I have many new skills.
I can read and write code, I can develop websites and I am also learning the Russian language and about its culture. I am optimistic for the future but I am nowhere as naive as I was to think the problem has gone. I will continue living each day as a new day, looking to improve on the previous day.
The last thing I want to say is this:  Thank you to my wife.
If it was not for her, I would not be here today, I would also like to thank the emergency services of Norwich and Norfolk. I am hopeful for the future because of the support my wife has given and continues to give me.
Apart from my medication, I would be happy to never have anything to do with the NHS again and it is about time that mental health gets the attention it deserves.
Being told you don’t qualify for something because of your age is not an answer, it’s a catalyst for something terrible waiting to happen.
Damien.
By | 2018-01-17T15:24:56+00:00 January 15th, 2018|Post of the Month, Your Voice|3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Richard Crisp 16th January 2018 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    OMG Damien…in answer to your question…Depression most certainly made you!!!

    Thank you so much for your amazingly honest contribution. No one should have to go through your journey to find answers about self and yet statistics show that an increasing number of males are going down similar routes without finding the the answers they need to effect change…and thereby are getting completely and utterly emotionally lost…sometime with devastating consequences.

    Your story demonstrates that with much will power and tenacity the human animal is capable of anything and I sincerely take my hat off to you for what you have ultimately achieved. Your story is exactly why we will continue to invest in developing this extremely important platform.

    I wish you and your family much success and happiness as you venture into the future.

    Once again thank you so much for sharing your amazing story.

  2. Stuart Walton 17th January 2018 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    I can only echo what Richard said! Your article has made Post of the Month and a £25 M and S gift card is being dispatched to you. Thank you again, Damien!

  3. Damien 18th January 2018 at 3:40 am - Reply

    Thank you, both of you. For your kind words. Hopefully it will he nudge that person that just may need it at the right time in their life.

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