When you’re in a very dark place, it can feel as if you are lost with no way out. You cannot see which way to go.
Immobilised, trapped, feeling low, you question whether you are destined to struggle in the dark for the rest of your life?
Hold on, there is a way, a light at the end of the tunnel. You just need to step towards it.
Depression can be overcome. Even the most severe cases of depression can be beaten.
Hope is a powerful emotion. Right now you may feel hopeless, but read on to hear real-life stories of how brave young men have overcome depression.
Are you looking for a little hope? Let’s look at how life can change.
Meet Jordan. He has been suffering with depression since 2015. For a year he tried to keep it to himself. He only sought help from his doctor when he felt he had no other choice. Why did he struggle alone? Jordan recounts:
“It’s not easy to be vulnerable in a society that demands men to be tough. Like many others I opted to suffer with my difficulties in silence. We believe that by showing no sign of weakness we are stronger.”
Once Jordan had spoken with his doctor he was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
“It’s ironic really – the strength it takes to admit you need help. I don’t know how I ever considered it to be a weakness!”
Jordan continued his journey by confiding in the people that were closest to him, which he found really tough.
Despite his diagnosis, Jordan still didn’t take ownership of his illness or recovery. He thought external things would fix him, like having more money.
This didn’t help him to get better and he came to the decision that although his illness was not his fault, he was the one who needed to make it better.
Jordan found that talking to those around him was so important – and the more he opened up, the better he felt. The amazing thing was that the more he shared with male friends, the more open they became. He discovered that they had also been keeping things to themselves. Jordan was surprised how common mental health problems are, and yet are so infrequently spoken about amongst men.
“If people could see me become vulnerable and share about my difficult times, they may be encouraged to do the same.”
Jordan has come a long way. He no longer buries his thoughts, and now helps others by sharing about his difficulties on social media. He has published blogs and created a website to share his work.
Four years ago, Jordan could not have imagined being where he is now.
In 2015 Luke, in his mid-twenties and a father of two, found that he was feeling really low. It was a shock for those around him as he was such a positive, happy character, and a really big shock for Luke himself.
Luke had a high-pressure job. He also played in gigs a few times a week, burning the candle at both ends, which all took its toll.
He just couldn’t see a way out.
Fortunately, those around him noticed that Luke was struggling and his Mum booked him a doctor’s appointment for his 27th birthday.
Luke was prescribed antidepressants and signed off work, but not wanting to show weakness he didn’t take the time off and instead tried to fight his illness himself.
He fell deeper into depression, his temper shortened, and he felt life was joyless.
His family urged him to collect his medication and take it! Eventually Luke began to feel the benefits and this enabled him to make other lifestyle changes, such as joining a gym, eating healthily and reducing habitual drinking.
“My lifestyle changes, coupled with my medication, which keeps me on a level playing field, have helped me more than I could ever imagine. Thankfully, I now have the clarity to appreciate everything I have in my life.”
Jamie had been boxing since the age of nine. He loved it and everything was going well. He was ranked 34 in the UK, but then he was injured.
He was told by doctors that it wasn’t safe to box any more. Sadly, Jamie felt that he was letting everyone down. He stopped going to the gym, he stopped running, he stopped leaving the house and ultimately stopped getting out of bed.
“With no motivation, no goals, no routine, I’d ask myself what the point was.”
Like so many young men with depression, Jamie self-medicated; he started drinking every day. He felt a failure and attempted to take his own life.
“I couldn’t speak to anyone because I thought they wouldn’t listen – I was suffering in silence.”
A message from his daughter made him realise he needed to get out of the dark place he was in. Jamie went to his doctor and talked about how he was feeling. Speaking about what was going on really helped him.
“It’s so important to speak out and not suffer in silence. I’ve learned that there are people out there who can help, and I encourage others who feel like I did to do the same.”
Jamie now feels like he is in a great headspace.
“I now set myself a goal each month. I’ve now taken part in half marathon for Mind and also RED January.”
These stories, and others can be found here.
You can read more about men’s mental health in this related blog here.
What is the treatment for depression?
Imagine you have plucked up the courage to talk to your doctor; what happens next? What is the best treatment for depression here in the UK?
Well, after a diagnosis, depression is usually treated with medication or psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.
They must be prescribed by a doctor, usually for depression that’s moderate or severe.
A GP may recommend that you take a course of antidepressants combined with a talking therapy, particularly if your depression is quite severe.
A combination usually works better than either treatment by themselves.
If you have severe depression, you may be referred to a mental health team comprising psychologists, psychiatrists, specialist nurses and occupational therapists.
These teams often provide intensive specialist talking treatments as well as prescribed medicine.
Let’s round off with hope. You can see from these brave young men who share their stories, that depression can be overcome. Please don’t suffer in silence. Take the first step by talking to someone. Depression is an illness; there is no shame in it. As with any other illness, seek medical help so that you can recover.
* If you believe that someone is at immediate risk of suicide, get help straight away. Find a local NHS urgent mental health helpline (England only) here.
Written by Hannah Matarazzo.
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