… and I can do so much. I can focus, I can feel normal, I can build things, I can smile and mean it and I can be happy.
What I’m about to write is hard for me to write and may be hard for others to read. I must be open about my struggles and hope that it helps, even if it’s just one person.
But when I’m down… I withdraw, I hide, I isolate myself from friends and family, I stop texting & Facebooking, I drill down into my work or other stuff that keeps me busy but has no real importance. But if i’m honest, that’s just the surface. That’s just the outward display of me being down. The inward is much more chaotic.
When I’m low my brain seems to work 24/7 and rarely do I feel any relief. I spend all of my time asking questions, answering them and thinking of new questions. I imagine the worse case scenarios, then I visualise them. I feel haunted by them.
At my lowest the question I asked myself over and over was, what if I wasn’t here? What if I went away and never came back? Will everybody be better off without me? I never acted upon these feelings but I repeated these questions over and over again. I was thinking about suicide.
Day in and day out for a long time. It took months before I shared these feelings with anyone. Until I broke down and told my wife how I had carried these thoughts with me for months. I’ve felt deep guilt and shame for ever feeling like this. However, this was the turning point.
The day I spoke to my wife about the thoughts I’d been having was the day when things changed. After talking through tears about how I felt, I felt her support. I then spoke to a close friend who was able to support me. I have not felt that low ever since.
I still struggle with anxiety and occasional panic attacks. I still have highs and lows, though not as low as the above. I’m currently seeking out professional support and systems to help me to manage. I think that just acknowledging that I have a mental health that rises and falls is helpful to me. But I know I need professional help.
To help me with my day to day mental health I have a few things that I do to stay well.
I have 2 people in my phone that if I am struggling I can call 24/7. These aren’t 2 people I talk to all the time. But they are 2 people that know and understand me. People I trust.
I live not just for my wife and kids. I live for me. I live knowing the joy that is my wife and kids and seeing them grow and experience their own lives. I live knowing that each day spent with them whether fun or hard is a day worth living.
And finally, I have Dadsapp. I started this because I was struggling and I know the importance of talking to others. It forces me to talk more with others and gives me the chance to be more open and honest about how I’m doing.