Irish man (28) on his past struggles with depression: ‘I'd rather be in a coma until I feel normal again’
"Depression, like cancer, is an illness - it’s not a weakness and it’s certainly not a choice."
A young Irish man, who wishes to remain unnamed, shares his story of depression with Independent.ie.
The writer believes that depression in Ireland is an epidemic, and cannot stand when his peers or colleagues refer to hangovers as being 'depressed' or 'dying'.
For this man, the feeling that something was not right emerged pre-Christmas the year he was studying for his Masters.
"I didn’t feel right, I began to feel flat and down and I began to sink in to a hole. It was a feeling I recognised from a few years previously and although I wasn't too sure what was going on I knew I was in trouble," he says.
He feels that depression, like cancer is a serious illness, and in the wrong circumstances it can be fatal.
"There is not much you can do when you are in the mire of the dark clouds. Personally, it comes and hits like a freight train and there is no stopping it. You better believe I have tried. People from all walks of life suffer. Rich and poor, black and white, successful and struggling. It’s not a weakness and it’s certainly not a choice."
He did what he could to occupy his mind, but attempts to busy his mind from dark thoughts mostly proved futile.
"Depression is about losing the ability to function. Just like the seasons change so would my mood. I can’t explain it. Laziness has never been a factor for me because I force myself to do things that I would have done anyway like climb a mountain, go for a cycle, run sprints. I won’t enjoy them at all and will still feel awful but it's better than sitting on my backside and feeling bad."
He adds that he doesn't enjoy anything during these days, but he tries to get on with it as best you can.
"People will help and try to do their best but really they can’t change how you feel. I know I am incredibly lucky to have such people - if I didn't I probably wouldn't be writing this because they keep me going. But can I fully enjoy their company or anything going on around me - no - I still feel like dirt regardless of company and situational surroundings."
"Over the last seven years I've been depressed every calendar month of the year. I've been depressed when I'm single and when I've been seeing someone I really care about. So what do I do to keep going? I hang on and look for any glimmer of light or inspiration. I reach out to people who I know care about me and look for their care and support."
The 28-year-old states that he has seen over 30 professionals - some helpful, some useless.
"In my opinion the treatments for depression are appalling – they are a disgrace. When I was in trouble I just wanted it all to be over. I've broken my bones and had operations, but nothing compares to the pain of being depressed."
After a particularly bad bout, he sought help from an uncle and two of his closest friends, who have inspired him to find what he is most passionate about.
"I have started to look outside the box for things and interests that should try and help me long term. When I am depressed I don't have any opinions, any dreams, any belief and I find it hard to follow up on things. But being depressed will go in time."
Prior to this, he fell into a habit that is probably familiar to most young Irish males.
"Looking back at previous well periods I was probably doing the wrong things. I wasn't really doing much with my time apart from the gym and hanging around with the lads, dates with whatever girls and nights out. Enjoyable at the time but I wasn't doing my own thing and being responsible for my own well being/happiness - I was going with the flow. Looking back it's a pretty toxic thing to do for somebody who has the tendency to get depressed."
"When I start to feel bad I can't join in on the fun anymore because my mood won’t let me - it’s a waste of time and I feel alienated because I can't connect. The boys will keep going on having the same craic but I won’t be able to."
To combat this, he has begun to take up activities to support his mental health.
"If you are prone to getting depressed it's best to keep busy. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Every horrible, painful and agonizing time I have been through I have come out of, and stronger for it. You begin to remember your personality again and all the good things about yourself you had forgotten. The little the things that when you add them all up make you feel proud and lucky to be alive."
"My belief is back and I can’t get enough of it. We all go through tough times. Some like me have gone through ones a bit tougher than others. Some have diabetes, some have skin conditions, some people have mobility issues, and some have cancer or other horrible illnesses and conditions. I have experienced depression. But I am lucky. I'm still here. I'm still pulling birds, I'm still playing sport, and I'm still having quality time with friends and family. I'm still alive and I'm cherishing it every second I can. Will it come back again – probably. Will it be horrible and painful and morbid – probably – will I do my best to hold on and see it out - Definitely. But I won’t give up and you shouldn't either – get help and do it today. You have everything to lose if you don’t. Do it for yourself, do it for your friends and family."
If you have been affected by any issues raised in this article, please contact The Samaritans free helpline on 116 123.