When I was going through depression I used drinking and overspending as my coping skills, today I choose other methods.
Since going through depression myself, and finding out I had borderline depression at least since 2004, I have turned a negative part of my life into a positive one. I live in a small mining valley, nothing much there, but there are some amazing people. Since telling everyone, I’ve had nothing but praise. People now come to me to talk, which is what it is all about. The old values of ‘toughening up’ and ‘snap out of it’ are slowly but surely going over the hills.
My group tries to get men, carers, and families of women with postnatal depression to talk, as often they can’t due to the stigma around mental health. If we can get rid of the stigma and educate people that it is an illness, more families will come forward quicker and the recovery will be sooner.
If we can get rid of the stigma and educate people that it is an illness, more families will come forward quicker and the recovery will be sooner.
When I was going through depression I used drinking and overspending as my coping skills, today I choose other methods. Looking back I can’t believe what I put myself through, pretending to go to work, to sleep in the car on some lonely lane waiting until home time, or drinking on my own due to the pressure of targets in work. When I lost my grandfather and discovered that my mother had cancer and this affected my work, I broke down in a car park. Thanks to one phone call to Health Matters Wales, I went to my doctors.
The recovery was steady, and after having talking therapy, I was quickly on the way forward. What I didn’t know was that there wasn’t much help out there for guys dealing with the effects of postnatal depression on families. When you think 10-15 percent who have babies have to deal with it, that’s a lot of families going through hardship. So after a little research and talking to Health Matters Wales, I decided to go for it.
Today I’m a public speaker, and have talked all around the country. I have done filming and radio interviews for Radio 4 and national radio stations, newspaper stories, been awarded the Inspirational Father of the Year award, and am shortlisted for the amazing Mind Media Awards in London with Stephen Fry presenting. I’ve written a book, Mark Williams Reaching Out, and took my first writing role for a national journal last month. I started blogging for sites like Time to Change Wales, and other major charities in mental health. To my surprise I was even awarded Welsh regional Pride of Britain award winner, and attended the major event in London’s Park Lane.
If you had told me, when I was sitting in that car on that cold morning my life could be changed for the better, and to do that it would take a phone call and to talk about my feeling of depression, I would have snatched that phone from you. Why did I wait for so long, overspending and drinking on my own, when my family were in bed? Why did I hide my feeling and put on a brave face and just smile, when inside I was crying?
Remember I am just a guy from Hill Street, Ogmore Vale, who has used his experiences, and have not only helped himself but on the way helped others. You can too.
I have now changed for the better, and now I have helped so many people due to the response through emails and phone calls. That is worth more than any big commission I had in the years as a sales rep and manager. The amount of people coming to me stands out. People all say the same thing - they were afraid of the stigma of mental health. When it is reported at least one in four has mental health problems. That’s incredible.
For now I will enjoy what I have done, and thanks to my Wife Michelle, my son Ethan, and family and friends can now live steadily. If that ‘black dog’ (depression) comes back, I will be ready with my stick, and educated enough now to know when to calm things down. Remember I am just a guy from Hill Street, Ogmore Vale, who has used his experiences, and has not only helped himself but on the way helped others. You can too.
If you would like to write a blog post about your experiences of stigma or related issues, email firstname.lastname@example.org