Yesterday I came across a blog written by an English, openly Christian chap in his mid-forties. He writes about how he's coping in his new journey through life as a single grieving parent since his wife of thirteen years' passed away suddenly from blood cancer in 2017.
Despite the fact I'm not a single parent, nor have I just lost the love of my life to cancer, his blog was the most inspirational and relatable bit of text I've ever read.
His stories are actually why I decided to start writing my own publicly. Maybe one day I'll tell people I've done this. Not ready to yet.
The words he used to describe the personal torment he had been living due to depression and anxiety really hit home to me. I felt as if he'd stolen every sentence from my own collection of private thoughts. I've never had to experience the sudden death of a spouse (as I've yet to locate one!) but the description of his emotion and mental state prior to even learning his wife was even ill is where I spotted the similarities in our experiences.
This brave man's honesty on such a public platform has somehow helped me to feel like I am normal... whatever normal is. Instead of thinking "for God's sake get a grip woman, you're exaggerating your feelings" his story hit home with me and it was actually refreshing to know I wasn't the only one.
Depression and anxiety are horrible little bastards who on their own are bad enough but when they arrive hand-in-hand they are vile plagues. When you're trying to build up your career, keep strong relationships with family and friends, establish yourself as a capable woman in her early thirties, trust me, the last thing you need is your inner demons knocking at the door.
For as long as I can remember I've tried to ignore my depression. In fact I never even called it depression, I don't think I even realised it had a name or was an issue. I certainly hadn't realised I was going through something that is almost a stereotypical case study for so many mental health professionals. But now that I've acknowledged its existence and shared it out loud with other people, I almost don't know how I coped before admitting it was there.
I've always found it so difficult to put my experience of depression in to words, but this guy's blog said it all for me. And I'm so grateful as its made me take some positive steps even in just a short 24-hour period since scrolling through his many paragraphs.
Over the last couple of years different people have told me to write my thoughts down rather than keep them whizzing round in my head. I brushed their suggestions off thinking I had no idea what to say. To me, keeping a diary of moods or thoughts was something only 13-year-old school girls do or that Adrian Mole chappy.
I thought people were suggesting that I should write a shopping list of the different emotions I was experiencing. But because I couldn't put the emotion in to words and often don't realise I've been feeling a particular way until I've come through to a brighter side, I then started to worry and over-think their mere suggestion; "oh Christ, am I imagining I have depression and I'm just wasting people's time by saying I'm unhappy?"
When I saw how this man was just speaking openly (to no one in particular) I found it refreshing. I often worry that what I say will be perceived in the wrong way, so I often alter the message and tone depending on my audience (a sign of a good communications professional perhaps). I have to regularly take myself back to my to the top of my do list (task 1 - stop over-thinking). Seen as the only audience member I'm aware of on this blog is me I find it easier to say what I feel and get things off my chest that would often eat me up inside for no reason.
I hope that should anyone ever come across these pages of my mutterings that they somehow strike a cord with the words and it takes some weight off their shoulders.
I don't think Simon Thomas will ever realise how his heartache has made such an impact on me in such a short space of time and how grateful I am.