This is my final offering of 2018 – not a bumper year for blogs (in fact I’ve probably written more netball reports), but I shall endeavour to go out on a high…
After nearly five years of undertaking challenges to try and raise mental health awareness, I decided to take a break soon after the publication (in April) of my book about the challenges and my own mental health experiences.
Over the subsequent months, I have struggled to come to terms with the scale of revelation. And even though the hope remains that the story of a life with a chronic, albeit thankfully mild, form of depression can have a positive impact on readers, the process of evoking long-hidden memories and committing them to paper has taken its toll.
The latter half of 2018 has been a time of increasing introspection and retrospection. I’ve found it impossible to fully understand how deliberately and deeply-suppressed dark thoughts can be recalled (admittedly with difficulty), whilst countless memories of happier times remain lost in the recesses of my mind.
I can remember fleeting moments, not dissimilar to a series of mental photographs, but even though I know the person in the image is me; I cannot associate the memories of that boy or younger man, with the person I have become.
That makes me feel so sad … and sadness is an emotion I have fought so hard (and for so long) to keep hidden. I feel like I am somehow failing mentally. There’s no element of self-pity; it’s simply a reality that for most of the time stays behind the mask I present to all but my closest family and friends (for whose love and support I am constantly grateful).
That said I have become increasingly aware that this period of self-analysis, soul-searching – call it what you will – flies in the face of the message I’ve tried so hard to highlight … and (recently less successfully) live by: it is fine to talk about mental health, to talk about how you’re feeling, and to ask for help if you are struggling.
A line needs to be drawn; and the start of a new year provides the perfect opportunity to regroup and regain some much-needed physical and emotional strength. That strength can then be used to try and support others … and for me in 2019, that will involve using the themes of netball, rugby league, and music as my focus:
Even writing this blog has made me feel more positive. Whatever happens over the next few months (and never fear, there will be updates), all I want to try and do is show that it is fine to talk about mental health and, even though the prospect can seem daunting, it is possible to find the strength to ask for help. You are not alone.
Here’s to 2019 x