The End

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The End

The End

For an end to have an existence it must be the conclusion of something. The end of the day must have had a morning, and a death must have had a birth. Even the greatest oak trees started from a small acorn. But if I am to discuss the end of my story we must be aware of where it started. At the beginning of my first book (Silent Story) I made the unassuming comment that when I woke on that one Sunday morning, little did I know the night before that the world of which I once recognised would no longer exist by lunch time the following day.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The End

History Paths

Both the ancient Greeks and Romans believed that history was on a linier path and not circular. To put this simply, day to day experiences were independent of each other and they were of no consequence to what had happened before. By todays standards we are fully aware that events are indeed a consequence of events and actions that had happened before hand. If we think about the terrorist attacks that happened on 11th September 2001 they were not just an idea plucked out of thin air. There was a history attached to the ideology behind it all. The attacks took planning and logistics. These events were nearly identical to the 1605 terrorist plans associated with the gun powder plot to blow up the king and Parliament. Both plans were based on a religious, philosophical and the need to spread fear in the name of terror. Although the topic is not about terrorism both events shook the world so much that promises were made to learn and react and yet, the same events unfolded with 400 years apart.

Words

The journey associated with history is littered with events that are either not new or indeed repeated. Time after time I have witnessed great speakers talk about the events before, during and after the Jewish holocaust in the 20th century. And yet, each time these people speak they talk about learning from the past and avoiding the horrors that had happened before. However, in our own lifetimes we have seen ethnic cleansing, mass genocide and victimisations of minority groups repeated time after time all within the space of a few years. Therefore, you can argue that it is okay to study history but why bother if nothing has been learnt or heeded from these events. Therefore, it could be argued that the study of history is nothing more than a high brow soap opera with the obligatory bad character battling the good – and there are countless examples throughout time to give here.

Journey

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The End

When I reflect upon my journey following my abuse and life time struggles with depression it becomes clear that the peaks and troths, the bends and dips were and all part of the recovery. Yet like the impatient child seated in the back of the car it is inevitable that I will ask “are we there yet?” By giving the seated child analogy it is not the journey they dislike it is the arrival at the destination they are impatiently seeking.

Throughout my time struggling to get answers and seeking explanations, I have peered through the windows to discover cover-ups, uncomfortable apologies backed up with nothing more than formally typed letters, stereotypical conclusions, narrow minded protocols, systematic failures and ignorance by public bodies. I have discovered that the journey has not been pleasant but highly educational. The journey has shown me that although there are a lot of errors and faults in supporting male victims of domestic abuse and support for people with depression there is no impetus or encouragement to change. The David and Goliath struggles are far too big to tackle when those holding the cards are so deeply infused with narrow minded ignorance that change appears almost impossible.

Fear the truth

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The End

Over several months I have read and watched both recent and historical events of minorities who have suffered at the hands of the authorities. I have concluded by finding two facts. Firstly, as quoted by Socrates, “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers” and secondly, People start to ridicule because they fear the truth. In both cases the fight to expose the truth is over shadowed by the fight to maintain your dignity in the face of hostility. In so many cases it has been the case that the bringer of facts has had to fight organisations such as the police, both criminal and family law courts, social services and so on. In every case I have attempted to raise the truth I have been stopped by convenient red tape, systematic protocols, and institutional ignorance that suits the blinkered stand-point of which they wish to operate by.

A lack of interest

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The End

Having now reached the end of the journey the car park looks very dull indeed. The dystopian future is filled with dread for our sons (and in part, daughters). In the twenty-first century we still lack the medical support for depression and above all the lack of interest or concern for male victims of domestic abuse. I have found that the future seems utterly disinterested in offering equal support for men who live with the daily horrors of a violent partner (whether heterosexual or not) or the rising numbers of men taking their own lives. There appears to be a complete lack of interest when men are discharged from hospitals following assaults to ensure they have a safe place to go home to. There is an utter lack of interest from the police who attend male victims who call out for help following the utter embarrassment to admit that they are victims. Social services and family law courts still and will forever favour the mothers over good and caring fathers.

A dystopian future

The real pain rests with the fact that no matter how hard a few voices have shouted out that enough is enough, absolutely nothing has changed in my life time. We can only conclude by stating that male lives just do not matter. Men are replaceable, expendable and unequal in the eyes of the law and in the role of a husband, father, brother or son. And this is where my argument holds so much importance because every wife, mother, sister or daughter has a male counterpart of which feels the same pains as them. It will be hard to bring up our sons telling them not to bother being in a relationship because the breakdown can and would destroy their lives. Or tell our fathers that they might as well put that rope around their necks because nothing will be done should you choose otherwise. This, as stated, is the dystopian future and my journey to this point has shown no impetus or need for change.

The end

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The End

However, I suppose that by concluding my work I have discovered that there are so many other men out there that have experienced what I have. It has brought me great comfort to know that by telling my story I have been able to be open and frank about my experiences. I am certainly wiser about the system and how it does not practice what it preaches. At the time of writing this I am still awaiting support from a police domestic abuse support officer two years after raising my concerns.

I suppose I can now see that I am stronger than I originally gave myself credit for. I have learnt that to survive the nightmare conditions I had found myself in, recovery must and does start from within. I have found that people who suffer with depression are often the kindest and (ironically) the happiest people you could know. Furthermore, having a dependency on an agency doing the right thing is a fallacy. But here lies the irony, by accepting these newly found facts and adjusting my stance to how society should respond I am now in such a better place. My happiness is genuine and my knowledge is stronger. So I suppose by concluding my work I would like to finish with two quotes from my favourite (and often misunderstood) philosopher, Friedrich Nietzche (1844 – 1900)

Insanity in individuals is rare – but in groups, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

And finally

What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.

 

Settling back

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Settling back

I suppose now having returned back to work full time it would be reasonable to reflect on how it has gone so far. Futhermore, and this was good advice given to me, it should be worth considering those of whom are at a point whereby they too are thinking of returning or about to return to work.

Just reflecting

Now I know I have previously written about returning to work when I wrote ‘The Philosophy of Returning to Work’. However, this piece is going to be less philosophy and more reflection. Or, to put it another way an ‘idiots guide’ to returning to work after a long period off.

Great works of fiction

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Settling back

Firstly, lets not be under any illusion when I suggest that you have been the topic of conversation at some point whilst being away. I can consider that I have been lucky in that respect as I was told by a number of friends that I was. However, what I found deeply amusing was that the stories about my absence were wide and to some extent quite entertaining. The reality is that there is only one factual explanation and it is you who has it. As a result I found (and still consider) it best that if people asked me why I had been absent I told them. Almost instantly, with the truth now being out from the’ horses mouth’ (so to speak) the more adventurous elaborations were instantly put to bed.

With this in mind, having returned (appearing unscathed) I generally don’t think people were too bothered about it all. One day I was away and the next I wasn’t. It was that superficial. That simple.

Was you away??

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Settling back

Interestingly I spoke to a colleague whilst sat outside the local Accident and Emergency department doors waiting for a ‘shout’. She raised a point that I have often thought but never really considered beyond the thinking part. She stated that in our line of work we can go for months without seeing specific people and when we do eventually catch up it may have seemed like weeks rather than months of absence. As a result, I suppose old un-concluded conversations are revisited and same old dilemmas are discussed. In effect, nothing if anything has changed. In many ways I had picked up where I had left off.

Hello

When you think about it it’s not just about you returning to work but it is also about allowing other people back into your life. For me the time I had off was a great period of re-evaluation and reflection. I had spent days deciding on what and who matters in my life and daily existence.

However, I had a ping of guilt when I returned and realised there were people I had forgotten about or had not given a second thought of. But the real comfort came when these individuals actively approached me in the corridor, staff room or even in the toilet and said how nice it was to see that I was back. That was a real warm kind feeling. These people of whom I had temporarily put to the back of my mind had put me to the front of theirs. For me this was the kind of welcome I felt grateful for. It was both kind and considerate.

It’s all so familiar

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Settling back

To date I have had no awkward silences or embarrassing avoidances. Indeed people know why I was off (either realistically or not) but either-way they knew I was off and now I was back. Just like before, people are asking for shift swaps or what shift I am on next week etc. In fact those ten months of absence may not have happened for both by colleagues and I. I was back to early starts, searching for a decent vehicle and attending a range of calls with people both new and old to the job. I still have the same dilemmas such as what to have for lunch or the fear of another late finish after a twelve hour shift.

Inwardly however, I am still able to chuckle at the patients who still persistently phone 999 for illnesses or conditions that do not come close to what I or others had suffered. Yes, the frustrations of the job had returned. But it was surprising to note how quickly it had returned yet also felt comfortably familiar.

Different strokes for different folks

It’s not just illness or circumstances that requires people to be away from work for long periods of time. I recall my first day as a qualified teacher after the summer holidays. As a new teacher I was excited about having my first form group and ready and prepared with my stimulating and informative lessons. However, in the classroom opposite was a (shall I say) more seasoned teacher.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Settling back

Whilst standing in the doorway once the bell had rung she said how sick she felt. With concern I asked her if she felt well enough to be at work. In reply she chuckled ‘it is normal for all teachers to feel this way after the summer break’. In fact, she was right. As time progressed I too developed the sickening feel of returning to work after a holiday break.

Better differences

The difference, however, from returning to work after a holiday break and a period of sickness is that following sickness you return when you are well enough to do so. In the teacher scenario you return when it is dictated so.

With this in mind my recent return to work was a better than that of a teacher but I had forgotten that. I was eager to return unlike many teachers who dread that moment.

Phased return

Furthermore, depending upon your job or career path you may get what is known as a phased return. Whoever came up with this concept is a genius. For those not in the know, a phased return is allowing you to return to work on a slow and steady pace. For me I started on a couple of days a week on half a shift. After time both the days and hours increased concluding into a normal shift pattern.

I was placed with a paramedic I knew well and we were able to ‘chew the cud’ and talk openly and frankly about everything. For me it was a positive and welcoming return to work compared to the fears and intrepidation I had felt prior to returning.

What I am saying

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Settling back

I suppose that if you had found this page because you had googled ‘returning to work’ or you know someone who has been through a similar experience and knows they have to return my advice is simple. Just do it. Having a job to go to gives a person a purpose (I have never understood those people who refuse to work). If you fear returning because of what people may say or think the reality is that no one really cares. And the good people will be glad to see you back anyway. Furthermore, if you feel it is okay to do so, be honest about why you were away. It is better to lay those ghosts to rest but also to kill off the wild and fanciful stories that had been circulating prior to your return – regardless how funny they seem.

 

 

More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

The recent opportunities given to me to spend time researching has opened many educational, philosophical and social pathways.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

I am often amazed to discover facts that seem to pass us by without us either knowing or wanting to know. But today, I came across a revelation that got me thinking. I discovered that more people die each year from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts.

By their own hands

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC)‘Suicide in the United States’ (2000) found that more people die by their own hand than are killed by others. In fact, by their own statistics there were 1.7 times more suicides than homicides.

Furthermore, in the UK the Office for National Statistics (Non-fatal suicidal behaviour [March 2002]) showed that nearly one in six adults had considered suicide at some point in their lives. The study also found that over 4% of people between 16 and 74 had attempted suicide.

Biggest cause of death for 15-35 year olds

The World health Organisation (WHO) have discovered that suicide rates have grown by 60% worldwide in the past 45 years. With the statistic provided by WHO who state that in 2000 alone 1 million people died from suicide it is now the biggest cause of death among people aged 15 to 35 worldwide.

Not just a western problem

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

Furthermore, it is not just a Western problem as I have heard mentioned so many times before. Former Soviet states such as Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Lithuania have all showed alarming rates of suicide. Also areas such as Uganda and Pakistan have shown a marked increase in people showing ‘depressive disorders’ and suicide (N. Hussain et al. ‘Depression and social stress in Pakistan’ (2000). Psychological Medicine).

Early records

I have also heard it said that depression is a modern phenomenon based on the rise of leisure time. However, again I have found a contradiction to this so-called fact. Depression was once referred to as ‘melancholia’ and the earliest records of such a condition can be found back in the 5th century BC. Philosophers such as Hippocrates and Arateus both described symptoms that sound all too familiar with what we would now describe as ‘depression’. Arateus described melancholia as ‘…the patients become dull or stern, dejected or unreasonably torpid… they also became peeving, dispirited and start up from a disturbed sleep’ (Matthews ‘How did pre-twentieth century theories of the aetiology of depression develop’).

Doubled

Since 1950 suicide rates in men aged 45 or under in England and Wales have doubled. I consider that a change in family circles and a rising lack of security in work may have contributed to this. Could it also be worth considering that there is a rise in drug and alcohol use since the 1950s?

Men and women

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

As a paramedic I can argue with the fact that more women attempt suicide but more men likely to fulfil their actions. This has also been supported by The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) ‘Suicide in the United States’ (2000). In fact, CDC have made it known that males are more than four times as likely to die than their female counterparts. Yet as we know, men are less likely to admit to depression and so it can difficult to diagnose. And here, in my opinion, rests the connection. I would suggest that as a result of men not seeking help they are more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs and perhaps, as in my own case, work longer hours.

Elderly

Another shocking fact that I found out was that the elderly are at the highest risk of all. In fact, according to www.suicidology.org white men over the age of 85 are at the highest risk of all with a suicide risk more than six times that of the general population.  But what, in my opinion, is a truly sad fact is that only a small percentage (two to four percent) have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Time and again, I have witnessed our older generation being dismissed as ‘just getting older’ rather than seeking true and professional treatment.

Global burden

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

For those of you who dismiss the idea of ever having or will ever have depression it is time to wake up. It has been predicted by WHO that by 2020 depression will be the second largest contributor to the global burden of disease. And by then . there will be 1.5 million deaths per year by suicide (quoted in ‘Stigma Ties’ Guardian 11 September 2002).

In my opinion these facts show a serious public health risk. Although I have noticed recent attempts to bring depression to the fore front of peoples minds there still carries a stigma. There is also a question on how public health bodies should tackle what is, in effect, an individuals choice. If a person has made a rational choice to die (say after being diagnosed with a terminal illness) then how can society justify in intervening?

Tools of the trade

I fully accept that the state and public health bodies are always operating within the ‘best interest’ policy. When the UK moved away from supplying household gas from lethal coke gas to a less toxic form, the suicide rates dropped. Yet in the US it is estimated that there are some 200 million firearms in private hands, yet it is the only country in the world where self-inflicted shootings is the most common method of suicide (A. Solomon, The Noonday Demon’ [2001]). Would it not, therefore, be a sensible idea that to take away the means to make an impulsive decisions, then suicide levels may drop?

Stigma

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

I believe that the crucial question rests with the fact that there needs to be a move away from the stigma associated with mental illness. In England alone, 5000 people killed themselves in 2010, yet only 1,200 had sought help or had had contact with the mental health services prior to their deaths (www.ohn.gov.uk).

I conclude with the on-going debate that more needs to be done. Time and again I have found that, even with the best of intentions, medical staff still struggle to find the best provisions for emergency mental health patients. As I have stated, this problem isn’t going away and it appears to be increasing at an alarming rate. We, or our loved ones could, may and perhaps will be a victim of this disease therefore, it is everyone’s problem.

Published (nearly)

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Published (nearly)

I very much doubt that you would remember but on the 23rd October 2017, I wrote a blog questioning whether I should publish my story or not (to publish or not to publish).

Initially, way back in June 2017 I started to write because there was nothing out there that fitted my needs or to offer advice I was seeking etc. I still stand by the fact that I fully believe that it was perhaps the best thing I had ever done. Furthermore, it has also given other people (both men and women) the impetus to write and share their experiences too. That must also be seen as a positive outcome.

Change in focus

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Published (nearly)

I am fully aware that my writing has changed and that my focus of anger and disappointment has somewhat changed. But I make no apology for this because, as I later found out, this is all a part of the recovery process.

I also stand by the argument I made several months ago that I have learnt that if you have a principle that you believe to be right, then it is worth fighting for.

Anyway, as usual I am waffling.

After researching the writers market, I have eventually found a publisher. It must be stressed that it is a bit of a minefield out there when it comes to getting a book published.

As expected there were firms who offered me the publishing world for a rather large fee. Of course, it is a bit of a gamble for everyone concerned but like I have said, if you feel it is something you believe in then it is worth sticking it out. This is a book of importance (okay I accept that this is my view) but so many other people have said it too. So why should I stump up massive costs first? Anyway, that’s a whole different story.

Are there anymore writers?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Published (nearly)

Following my choice to write and discuss events and outcomes I have discovered other people all over the world expressing the same things. But prior to this I could not find anything to help me with my struggles or choices. Indeed, it is fair to say that there are books out there, but they are either from a female perspective or they only covered one area that I was discussing. But my main problem was that there was absolutely nothing written for a British market.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with foreign books, but I needed a relevance to the state and society I live and work in. So, I wrote my own and now I have a publisher who is interested.

Still work to do

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Published (nearly)

I am under no illusion that much of what I have written will need to be re-written or even merged with other things but the content will remain the same. Yet, I want to tell the reader what it is like to be a male victim of domestic abuse and the consequential mental struggles. Also, I want the reader to know what it is like to be assumed guilty before being given the opportunity to clear your own name. But this is not happening in a backward country. It is happening in every street and every town in a so called ‘civilised’ society where people consider themselves to be equal in law and protected by the state.

Alas my story is not rare. It’s not even a hidden story but the struggles continue for so many other people. It’s just that I have had the opportunity and ability to tell mine.

I am aware that there will need to be work done to make the book more palatable for a reading audience. But I’m okay with that. My readers are my customers in effect, but my story can’t be diluted. It’s just my story and I am looking forward to getting it heard even more.

 

 

 

Making Sense Of It All

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All

To have an identity.

As a child it doesn’t really matter, as a teenager it’s everything but as an adult we seek high and low to find it. But identity and acceptance is a major vein of a person’s identity.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All
Plato

‘Social Acceptance could be defined as the fact that most people, in order to fit in with others, attempt to look and act like them.’ – Plato 428 BC – 348 BC

A few of years ago I came across an article about men with beards. It raved about them and went into detail about what can be done with them. But here I was carrying mine with a sense of individuality. Nobody else had one. Now when I look around it is unusual to see any male without one. Hence, had I lost my identity as an individual within the crowd? I can never consider myself to be a trendsetter – that would just be hilarious.

Yet the dead opposite is the case for teenagers. They try so hard to be a part of their sector. I remember wanting the same trainers as my mate. I had the same school bag as everyone else. It was what we did then and I am fully aware it’s what teenagers still do now. They all want to look the same – perhaps it’s a primeval behaviour that we try and revert to a tribe mentality.

I hate going into certain high street clothing shops as I try to avoid looking the same as the next person. Individuality for me is essential. Both physically, in the way I look and mentally by the way I think.

Banishment

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All

It may be difficult to understand what it is I am trying to say. But I think I am recovering. For the first time in my life I am sitting here comfortable in my own skin. Recently, I have banished what people expect from me and took a long time to look at my inner self.

I don’t want to be like the next person. I’m embracing what and who I am. Between you and I, I have discovered that usually the next person is more screwed up than me. And that can be refreshing to know.

I have now given up being the enabler to fit other people’s profiles and expectations. I’m comfortable with that. It suits me because it is me. The problem with being what I wasn’t was that I had, therefore, lost my identity. When I was falling into the crowd I actually didn’t want to be there. Instead I wanted to sit in a corner and happily watch as opposed to partaking in various misadventures.

A clash?

Of course, I will find myself trying to emulate the confident person, it’s a matter of survival at times. And to be honest a part of me doesn’t want to give up that character I had created. He is funny, sociable, and confident. I mean it was who I wanted to be for most of my life and now what? Now I’m struggling more than ever with identity. It feels like an evolution as instead of a revolution.

Misconceived Social Expectations

Going back to creating an identity I have often spent many hours looking around at other people around me. It made me feel mostly like failure. But this isn’t a sob story or anything but was how I felt when I was trying to build a level of confidence.  I would look around at people of my age and see that they were better at their jobs that I, they would be in great relationships, having nice holidays, beautiful homes and so on.

Ironic

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All

But here sits the irony that I have only just realised. I know these people have their own battles to deal with. In all of its formats life is tough and I know everyone has their own difficulties to deal with. This was why I felt so guilty about being ill. It explains why I beat myself up about the situation I found myself in and struggled to get better quickly. That was why I rushed back into work before I was ready to return. But this was why I tried to hide my illness from everyone. To everyone I knew I just want to be seen as normal. Just what my understanding of normal was misrepresented.

Acceptance is one thing. Knowing what to do about it is another.

Consciously I can now sit here and see the problems and how they manifested themselves over time. I try hard to write my points down and share them with others (such as yourselves) to try and get some perspective on it all. But the reality at the time was that I could talk the talk but I struggled to walk the walk. Why? Because I tried too hard to be what I wasn’t.

If we take an extensive look at the how this misconceived social expectation is fuelled. I can point my finger directly at social media, adverts, magazines, television programmes, and so on. But it’s obvious to everyone the pressures we are under because it’s constantly shoved down our throats.

Fraudulent life style

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All

There is an artificial expectation to succeed, to look good (although everyone wants to look the same), to eat more salads, to look good the gym (although the majority who go don’t), to have money (but this equates debt), to have a fulfilling career.

But the false failure is always around us. You just have to open your eyes to see it. For example, whilst I type this an advert is running in the background. It’s for a sports shoe. The reality is that if you buy this shoe it will not make you into a super athlete as soon as you put them on. No, it requires pain and commitment not being a lazy arse and over spending on a false hope that the advert appears to offer. The reality is that it won’t change my life by not owning them. In fact I will probably save myself a couple of hundred quid by not doing so. So, in effect its 1-0 to me for not bothering to be fooled. My mind boggles that we who consider ourselves as the superior species on the planet are so easily fooled by other humans. It’s a cruel irony really – when you actually think about it.

 Acceptance

I have tried hard most of my life to fit into a category of which I am comfortable with. I have no idea why I used so much energy on this meaningless task but I had/have. In adolescence, I can understand why we do this. At this point in our lives we are trying to create and shape an identity of our own, and that is part of the process of becoming an adult. We desire to be attractive and popular. Perhaps this is a primeval survival technique. But  as an adult, I struggled to accept the fact I didn’t feel I had an ‘identity’ (or whatever that means). I consider now that I never really had the opportunity to finish what I had started. I never really had the opportunity to create an identity of my own because my home life was such a mess. That, therefore, became my identity and would be for a number of years. Now that I realise this error I am enjoying starting again. It’s actually quiet exciting.

Acceptance is a huge part of coping with mental health problems

Acceptance of mental health is still slow. Suicide is still the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 and therefore a tremendous amount of work still has to be done so that people feel more comfortable with opening up and talking about their problems and who they really are.

Writing this website has helped me identify a whole lot of things. I have said things on these pages that even now I would never verbally say and have never been said before. But I’ve said them. And I’m glad I have. I am also glad to know that people read what I have to say. And that for me is the most important thing.

Trying to make sense of it all – again.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All

The fact is this. There is nothing to make sense of. Our concerns are a product of fake hopes. I know I will never have the body of a god, or be filthy rich. Together with this I won’t have fantastic holidays on heavenly beaches. But what is important is self-contentment and happiness. Those are things that you can’t buy. You just acquire them – eventually.

 

 

People With Depression.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression People With Depression.

It recently dawned on me that I’m part of an exclusive club. I don’t wear a badge or carry a membership card. But it requires a certain feature to be a member. Not many of my friends or family know of my membership, and I would rather it stayed that way (I’m not a Mason either, before you jump to conclusions). Although, when I say it’s exclusive – it isn’t really, because it transpires that there actually millions of us.

This exclusive club is depression.

Let me try and make this a little clearer. I learnt to drive when I was 17 and at 45 I’ve never been without a car. I’ve had some fantastic cars, and some real shockers. But I’ve always had a car of some sort.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression People With Depression.

Since having a driving licence I have always adored ‘Bentley’s’. They are such beautiful cars. The curves are such that I want to run my hands over them. The interior is such that I would happily sit inside for hours on end. And as for the engine, the roar is like an untamed beast insisting on liberation. What is there not to like about such a thing? But, if I had all the money in the world I would never buy one. Why? One may ask. Well the answer is simple. I wouldn’t want the attention. It would fill me with horror to think that people are looking at me.

So, I’m happy with my VW Golf. It does what I want (except the boot is too small). It gets me from A to B and no one gives me a second look when I drive into town. It can absorb itself into its surroundings and can be easily forgotten by people who see it. It just doesn’t shout out “look at me”.

So, what has this to do with depression?

This is complicated to answer but I hope that you, the reader, will be able to understand.

I am proud to have survived this illness although I have had it all my life. Yet I would rather the people who knew me didn’t know about it. I don’t want to be judged I want them to know me for the persona I am allowing them to see. I am happy to disappear in a crowd.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression People With Depression.

But this is an exclusive club to be in because some of the nicest people I have ever known have depression. And we are quiet about it. Perhaps because we don’t want to draw attention to something we have been made to feel ashamed about. We don’t want people pointing and judging.

Characters

Since setting up this website I have often taken steps to see how other people with depression get through life. I have found many depressive types. For ease, I have broken them down into three different categories;

  1. People who think they have depression – but don’t. These are tragic types. They shout from the highest peaks telling everyone how much they deserve attention and how life has been ‘so hard’ for them. These types get over depression as soon as they become occupied – or get the attention they think they deserve.
  2. People who know they have depression and are willing to talk about it only if they feel they have too. They cope with life on a secret basis based on techniques they have developed but don’t have the energy anymore to hide it as well as they used to.
  3. People who have depression and take measures to hide it. They struggle with the suffocating pain but don’t wish to make a fuss in-case it creates greater problems. They have created a persona that fits with how they think they should be seen. These depressives are tired but still holding on.

For this blog I want to completely dismiss type 1 depressive. They give depression a bad name and only suffer with their own vanity.

What I have discovered about people with depression.

Some of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting suffer with depression. Recently, I have been able to identify those types who try to hide it. When you are one it takes one to know one. But there are features I want us all to recognise.

Sympathy

People with depression can identify someone’s pain from a distance. What is worth knowing is that they can feel the pain others are experiencing. Even if it isn’t depression. Depressives don’t want to feel pain and as such feel the agony in others, yet know there is little they can do about it.

I can think of people I know with depression and I have spoken to a couple of them. The relief on their face when I share my feelings and thoughts is immeasurable. They are relieved that someone understands. Yet I have only ever told them privately. It’s just easier that way for everyone involved.

What surprises me is that many of these people had no idea I was a sufferer. Well, that’s simple, I perfected the art of hiding it but I found I had sympathy for those of whom had not mastered the art of camouflage.

A depressive will always understand a true sufferer and will have sympathy for how they are.

Do not judge

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression People With Depression.

Many depressives have had a lifetime of judgements and so do not want to judge others. I for one, do not wish to be seen as judgmental. We have all reached this point in our lives based on actions we have experienced. Who are we to judge others when we feel so little about ourselves?

A depressive will always love you for who you really are, not how you want to be seen. I adore all of my friends but especially love my depressive friends because they are genuine and will do anything to protect others within their circle. That takes a special kind of person of which non-depressives can appreciate.

Ability to listen

From my own experiences, I have found that when talking to a depressive you don’t have to say much. Listening is an art. Depressives don’t want sound bites and certainly not sympathy. They just want to say things and not for you to hear but to listen – and of course know they are not going to be judged.

Throughout my time with depression I have found that everyone thinks they are an expert and are keen to offer their advice (which is often wrong). I don’t need advice, I had a life time of that. We just want someone to listen and offer an alternative view – which is not advice. We just want to know you are there. Demands are not being made on anyone and there is no duress to make you stay. They just want to either listen or to be listened too.

Considerate

I have found that meeting other people with depression come from a range of backgrounds. Their journey to realisation has come from many sources and causes. As such people with depression are for more considerate of others than any other section of society. Our experiences are far and wide.

I know that people find different ways of dealing with their suffering. As a result, I would never make direct suggestions to them as that would be inconsiderate. What works for me works for me. Therefore, I appreciate other people systems they have in place. If it works then well done them.

Friendly

A depressive will never intentionally hurt anyone. I know I have hurt people and this has become a heavy burden of which I carry. I have said “sorry” so many times and undoubtedly will continue to do so. Equally, I am always happy to welcome back into my arms those of whom hurt me – although I may remain cautious.

I consider depressives as (generally) to be friendly. I know I try and appreciate the best in everyone. Equally, I try and offer the best I can to anyone. Is this a friendly characteristic? I hope so.

But when I think of people I know with depression they will always stop to say “hello” and ask how I am. Even though I will always tell them that I am “ok”.

We say we are “ok” because we don’t want to be a burden to others when we know they may have problems of their own. Yes this is being friendly, but it also overlaps into consideration.

Survivors

This is something people with depression very rarely recognise. If you have followed my blogs I have openly talked about ending it in the past. Having survived these periods, I can now call myself (today) a survivor. As previously stated, when I made my mind up to go I was ready to end it. It was only circumstances or coincidences that stopped me.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression People With Depression.

It takes a strong personality to stop doing something that you have drive and conviction to do. So, any survivors out there I personally congratulate you. We have all made it this far and this is something people without depression will never be able to appreciate.

Surviving in a hostile world is a daily struggle and getting through each day is far more than a simple achievement. It’s an accomplishment.

When writing this…

I have sat for about a week or so prior to writing this. I have tried to get a grip on who I am aiming it at. Am I aiming it at the depressive, the non-depressive or those of whom know a depressive?

Well, on reflection, it doesn’t matter. From the depressive point of view, I want to congratulate you for being a survivor and being the good person that you are. It is we who are in the exclusive club of which we don’t want people to know about.

But I am proud of my association with other depressives and my illness. I think it has made me into a good, caring man. And my associates are just lovely people – it’s just that you don’t know it yet. Or, perhaps like myself, I refuse to accept it.

For those of whom care for a depressive I want you to recognise these qualities that your loved one has. Let them know it. If needs be get them to read this blog. We know we can’t be easy to live with and we know that. But I feel a depressive has a lot to offer you. Its just that you need to be patient with us.

Common denominator

I will end as I began. Depression is an exclusive club. Only kind, considerate and loveable members can join. It just that we don’t see it in ourselves. Oh yes, it so happens we also have depression.

 

 

 

The Modern Shame – The Big ‘D’

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Modern Shame - The Big 'D'

Depression – The big ‘D’

I was doing one of my favourite past times yesterday. I was sitting in a coffee shop. Nothing special one might think. But it is when you think about it. You can sit in any coffee shop and you can cross the paths of people from every back ground. These people come with a wealth of experiences and knowledge.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Modern Shame - The Big 'D'

One group of people caught my eye. They were a group of young people, in their twenties. Watching them, they were clearly happy in each other’s company. Although they could be heard laughing and sharing a range of stories, they were not imposing on the rest of us in the shop.

What struck me after several minutes was that by the number of those of whom were sitting around the table at least (statistically) two or three of them will suffer some form of mental illness at some point in their lives.

If it was suddenly revealed by any one of them around that table would the tone of the conversation have changed? Would they have alienated those individuals or embraced them?

Change in age, change in view?

Since thinking about this I have had two trains of thought. Firstly, do we now have a new generation of people who are now more accepting than any generation prior? Secondly, what if there is still no change? Perhaps we have not moved on as well as we believes society likes to think it has.

Society, in my view has moved on with regards to so many aspects of life. Men and women are considered equal (although this can be challenged). Homosexuality is no longer a crime. There are laws in place to protect those of whom suffer a physical form of disability. Yet, I struggle to see equality within mental health concerns.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Modern Shame - The Big 'D'

I do accept that society no longer chains ‘the mad’ to the walls anymore, but there are some of whom are still subjected to medicinal chains and become restricted due to their side effects.

Movement in perception

Society is a fickle madam. It accepts concepts based on a fashion and understanding. Let me explain this better.

I recall a lecture once whilst at university. It discussed how the female form within art has changed. At one point the voluptuous female figure was seen as more desirable as extra weight was seen as healthier and wealthier. Yet magazines today (and certain elements of art) reject this in favour of the stick thin model, who perhaps shows restraint from indulgence and control over image.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Modern Shame - The Big 'D'
George Fox

Mental health has also had its ups and downs of acceptance. George Fox for example, the founder of the Quaker movement, clearly suffered schizophrenia. George Fox openly stated that he heard voices which drove him to religious compulsions. After all, how many times have we heard about the return of the new messiah.  Would Jesus be accepted today or would he be locked up? Who knows, he probably has returned but we have rejected him (or her) in the name of self-protection. And he/she is buried on a mental health ward as opposed to turning water into wine.

The big ‘D’

It was during the 80s that certain things were not mentioned. AIDs was considered an illness for those of whom deserved it. Prior to that the condition of shame was cancer and was referred to as ‘The Big C’. Yet, I do feel that depression is the new leprosy.

I have been open and candid during these writings. Perhaps, too open at times. But consider this, I have suggested that it is ok to be open about this condition yet not everyone of whom I know, knows that I have it. It is easy to share comments and views over the internet or by word of mouth yet, I have been very selective about who knows any of this.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Modern Shame - The Big 'D'
Shame

When I told someone this, they asked why. They knew the answer to this before I even opened my mouth. I am still scared of being judged. We know depression is not contagious but I fear being cast aside and perhaps being identified as; ‘Keith – the one with depression’. As opposed to ‘Keith – the one with….. the cute smile, or something.’

It’s crazy to state this but I know this is the case. Other suffers have also told me this is so.

Public views of depression

Depression has been a throw away comment used and often misused on a regular basis. I have often heard people say they are ‘depressed’ when in fact they are feeling ‘slightly down’ about a particular topic.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Modern Shame - The Big 'D'

I can recall a time when the news columns spilling their headlines after a particular boy band split up. The media have the habit of focusing on the inconsolable teenage girl walling like a banshee stating she is ‘soooo depressed’ about the end of the band. That’s not depression, that’s you just her not understanding what depression is and using the title to defend her stupidity. It exaggerates a feeling to suggest sympathy which is not justified.

Instead of understanding depression as an illness, many people view depressed people as simply being sad or refusing to be happy to gain attention. This outlook can harm the esteem of depressed people, because these patients may begin to feel guilty for their feelings if they accept this view.

Burying the head in the sand

It has been said that depression is a western illness. I was once told that because we in the west have more leisure time so we fill it with thoughts which lead to depression. Therefore, I believe that ignorance is more damaging and leads to segregation. It is easier to turn a blind eye than accept that our brothers and sisters are the same as everyone else in every other respect.

Any form of mental illness does not indicate mad, bad or sad. And so society has no right to reject that individual. Yet it does. I have previously stated that when a crime is committed the media instantly find some connection to mental health condition. This is a tragic and dangerous conclusion. Mental health is not a prerequisite to a life of crime, but the true crime is the ignorance of people allowing the preconceptions to continue.

A big revelation

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Modern Shame - The Big 'D'

For those without depression or any other form of mental illness I want to tell you this. It might be a shock but, some of the nicest people I have ever met have depression. I have found them to be far more considerate, polite and understanding than those of whom claim they don’t suffer. People with mental illness have had to be more understanding as they can appreciate what it is like to be judged or to feel unwell. They equally value each day as it comes and take absolutely nothing and no one for granted.

I, therefore, applaud their strength by keeping their conditions hidden to avoid the shame and ridicule that is heaped upon them.

In an ideal world, I want to remove convenient labels that are placed on mentally ill people. Previous scapegoats such as homosexuality, Judaism, colour of skin or gender and so on are accepted without prejudice. Can this not be done for depression too?

Consideration

So, returning to my group around the table. Are we now living in an age where those seated would reject those suffering or not? I would like to think they would accept the suffering into their arms. But alas, I am still sceptical. Society needs a scape goat and those of whom are not protected are the easy prey. Mental illness is not protected therefore, the cycle of self-protection secrecy will continue.

Depression needs to be celebrated not hidden. Many great historical people suffered with depression (Winston Churchill, Buzz Aldrin, Graham Green to name just three) but it is conveniently acceptable to forget that in honour of their greatness.

 

 

The Fear Of Not being Believed

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Fear Of Not being Believed

Not being believed is one thing, but having to retell the events over and over again to get people to listen to you involves reliving the events you have tried to bury. And I just don’t know which is the worst.

For me, telling and retelling the catalogue of events felt like a constant kick in the head. I have had to bat off the quizzical expression and the occasional uplifted l eyebrow. I eventually wondered if my story was too much to be believed and started to consider that my comments were hollow and my hopes of being believed unrealistic.

Is it too high a price?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Fear Of Not being Believed
High price

The real challenge of not being believed is how big the price will be. It took all of my courage to try and take my self-respect back and fight against the abuse. It was a dreadful step to reveal the shame of being both abused by my partner but also to reveal a lifelong condition of depression.

I had spent all my life hiding the depression from everyone, and revealing it broke my life long conventions. To add to this exposure, I also admitted that I, a fully grown adult male, had been abused by my female partner. Shame on me, this was not supposed to happen. But to admit all that was only half the problem. The other half was not only being disbelieved but to trying to get support from quarters I had expected more from.

I am sure that my ex knew she was doing wrong. Not just once, but every time she let the abuse happen. This was why, during her nice periods, she used so many words to convince me that I had asked for it. And I initially believed her words.

Once I had the awareness that the way I was living was wrong, it took a whirlwind of thoughts to make a plan of action. I was sure I would be believed, I had to be because I was telling the truth. People had to be able to see that? Even the police.

Physical Abuse vs Emotional Abuse

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Fear Of Not being Believed
Abuse

It’s strange how people still see physical abuse as “real” abuse and mental/emotional abuse as, a case of ‘get over it’. Both types of abuse are horrible and utterly unacceptable. The scar on my hand from a burn is healing. But words never heal, they never seem to want to leave me. And the deeper hurts have never been forgotten.

I can’t remember the first time I felt the sharp pain of a cane on the back of my legs from my adopted mother. But I can vividly recall the moment she pointed her finger at me, saying that I was “worthless and would amount to nothing”. After a while, when it is physical pain you learn to ‘harden up’ as you know how it feels when you know it’s coming. But words are unpredictable and knock you off your balance when you least expect it.

I had equally forgotten the first time my ex punched me in the ribs saying it was a joke. But I can now recognise that she had had a life time of inflicting misery on everyone she met. The only difference was that I wanted to fight back. And my arsenal included the weapon of honesty. Her’s was one of denial.

The need for acceptance is like an addictive drug. You need more to feed the habit of desire. The need to be desired by others. And to be loved by someone who seems to be making it difficult. I needed all this from both my ex and my adopted mother because I needed convincing that I had a value in somebody’s eyes (if not my own).

All of this led to a disbelief of my own place in this world. As a result, I believed the untruths to accommodate my own beliefs of right from wrong. As a result, if I couldn’t believe myself, who would believe me when I called out for help?

Listening

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Fear Of Not being Believed
Listening

Sometimes when I used to speak to my counsellor, I wondered if she questioned the validity of what I had to say. She appeared honest and kind (and still does), but when I left I often asked myself if she believed me because she had to rather than wanted to. I didn’t blame her. It’s a natural reaction to have a question of doubt. It’s a defensive mechanism I suppose. Even more so when it is a male is talking about being abused by his female partner. Society still has a problem with this concept.

Things changed when I took the time to talk about the history of my events. She implied that she did have a pre-conceived ‘story’ in her head about the events. Now I had clarified things a little she seemed to have a better grasp of where I was coming from.

At that moment, I felt believed. It gave a sense of relief.

Quest to be believed

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Fear Of Not being Believed

It felt like a breath of fresh air when I knew I was being believed. However, it was naturally short lived. Like the addictive drug I needed to feed my validation. I wanted more people to believe me now the ‘cat was out of the bag’. I wanted to share the fact that I was now convinced that what had happened was wrong and I needed to convince others around me.

At the heart of my denial was a core belief system. Mothers should love their children. Fathers should support their children. And partners should ‘love and cherish.’ It flies in the face of what I now know to be true. It is wrong that a Mother have no empathy for her children. It’s beyond comprehension that a father believes the worst about his children. It is crushing that a partner would degrade the very person they vowed to “love.” It just appears to be all wrong. It couldn’t possibly have happened. But, it did.

My abusers knew it flew in the face of what was morally right and each of them used words to convince me that I deserved it, or I had asked for it. Their justifications were the flip-side of my expectations of right from wrong.  If I had not believed their actions to be wrong, then I wouldn’t have been in denial.

I still fear not being believed. All the courage I have summoned to leave myself exposed and vulnerable to other peoples’ picking has been life changing. I have held everything I value up high for other people to value or disregard as they see fit. And this is hard. All my ‘dirty little secrets’ have been forced out of me and it is difficult to cleanse, even more so when people are willing to walk all over it in the name of  belief.

I have spoken after years of saying nothing. I just want to be heard. Not judged or disrespected. Just heard.

The Quiet Man – Nature Verses Nurture

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture

It was the rain tapping against the window that woke me this morning. I didn’t really have much planned to do today so I intended to sleep in for a while longer than normal. But, as stated this wasn’t the case. As I could hear the rain it dawned on me that I don’t like rain. Don’t get me wrong, it would never stop me going out – unless it was torrential. But I find it uncomfortable getting wet and it’s just an all-round hindrance. Furthermore, it leaves me with the dilemma of what to wear. If I wrap up it will, undoubtable get warm later.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Rainy days

But where did this dislike of rain come from? I was never actively instructed to dislike rain. It just developed. After all, where does the dislike of spiders come from? We are lucky here in England as we have very few venomous creatures to avoid. So, the English fear of spiders is clearly irrational. But this brings me straight to the question – where do we acquire such feelings and thoughts?

Natural father

If you recall, I went into some detail about my relationship with my natural father. He had absolutely no input into my upbringing. As a child and a young adult, he was a shadow. It was only later when I reached 40 that my thoughts became flesh and I had finally found him. We had a few similarities as we both liked history and the arts. We were also within the medical profession. But on reflection that was pretty much it.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Outdated views

I drew the line at his outdated views of the roles of women. We were poles apart politically. I was quiet and he was loud. He just loved the attention. Especially female attention. He took advantage and I was happy to supply. But my views and personality must have been shaped somehow by someone.

Nature verses nurture

Whilst realising that the rain made almost rhythmical patterns it dawned on me that I was stuck in the question of nature verses nurture. There are indeed parts of me that are unidentifiable. I just don’t know where these features come from. But there are others I can directly attribute to key figures in my life.

And this is where I want to reach today. I want to talk about my adopted father.

(Adopted) Father’s father

My adopted father was a good man. He had acquired a lot of his father’s traits. Both were well-spoken and gentle. My grandfather (for ease I will address him as so) always wore a cardigan regardless of the weather and this gave him an endearing character. When he laughed his shoulders would rise and fall – and what was nice, was that he did this often.

Days spent with my grandfather always seemed sunny and I utterly adored him. He would hold my hand and I would smile so any opportunity to spend time with him was always welcome.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Holding hands

I never met his wife as she died two years before I was born, but I know he missed her. I know this because he told me. He had a black and white photograph of her in a frame on the mantelpiece. She was also beautiful. Typical of her time with her hair in a fashionable bob. I also knew that he talked to the picture because I heard him one morning. This made him seem vulnerable yet loveable in equal measure.

He smoked because he lived in a time when it was expected. He loved classical music but enjoyed sharing my tapes (remember them?). Musically, I introduced him to the Pet Shop Boys and he introduced me to Puccini. Food wise, I introduced him to prawn cocktail crisps and he introduced me to chocolate limes. I still love those sweets. But he treated me as an equal of which was lacking at home.

He passed away in 1988 after finally admitting he had cancer. He had known for a while but didn’t want to make a fuss. Not making a fuss finally killed him. But this was typical of him. He would allow me to watch my programmes when he wanted to watch the news or we would eat chocolate instead of salad. I never really recovered losing him. He was really loved by me. As a result, I gave my son his middle name as homage when he was born. It was such a shame that the two never met.

His father’s best features

My adopted father had acquired his father’s best features. He was middle class in ideals and nature. Soft and caring. During my formative years I had considered him to be the most intelligent man ever to have lived. He could explain mathematical problems to me of which I struggled with at school. He could make a sideboard out of an old wardrobe. Furthermore, he tried to see the good in everyone. And that was the problem.

What did they see in each other?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Mismatch

My adopted mother (and I don’t want to go into much detail about her here, that’s a blog for another time) was the complete opposite. Where she screamed he just spoke, where she beat he just shook his head. In reality, I just cannot see how they ever got together. He was middle class in character, yet she was spit and saw dust, working class.

I have often considered that I took the beatings for him. Which was wrong. Many years after I had stood up to her and the beatings had stopped, she was admitted into hospital for a stomach problem. It was nothing major but it required her to be admitted for a few days. It was during this time that he spoke to me in-depth.

I recall us walking through the park on the way to the shops and it was during this walk that he revealed that she was a troubled woman. It took me by surprise, because I had never expected to hear this from his mouth. Furthermore, it had cemented my view of her after all.

Cut me, do I not bleed?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Do I not bleed?

From this point, I knew a mother’s love was not what I had come to accept. It was also a time when it dawned on me that he was not as intelligent as I had considered him to be. He could have stopped the physical chastisement by her hand. Why had he not stepped up to the mark and supported me during the difficult times of my identity struggles? But he didn’t. Why? Well that’s simple, he was too nice to have done any of that. He just wanted the quiet life.

I suppose we would call it ‘hen-pecked’ today. But he was out of his depth with what to do. He had in effect, put his head in the sand to deny any of it. And here lie the similarities. His father had done it before him (cancer) and I had done it with my depression and abuse.  It is only now that I realise this. I had acquired his character. I also wanted the quiet life.

This was not a dreadful thing to have. I would rather be like him than her. But my character dictated my future. I could fight if I had to (adopted mother characteristic) which protected me from being bullied at school. But my failure to admit problems came from him.

Challenged

A few years ago, I took the step to directly highlight my adopted mother’s failures. I identified that comfort and care had been restricted and rationed. Her treatment of me over their child had been unequal and harsh.

I really wanted her to admit it and to try and help me build bridges with her. But her response didn’t come as a surprise. She rejected my claims and dismissed any further comments I had to make. She just failed to identify or admit any failure on her part. Yet she made it clear that I should forever be in her debt and it was my duty to identify this.

Unfortunately, my adopted father was present and as expected he said nothing. He neither defended me or her. And that didn’t come as a surprise either.

Good-bye and God bless

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Goodbye, god bless

A week or so later my adopted father came to my house. We sat alone in the living room whilst he drank tea. I knew this was his good-bye. We spoke about things that had bothered me and he calmly listened and considered what I had said. Ultimately though, he had to conclude that she was his wife and that he could not be seen to side with anyone but her.

I accepted this as I knew from the moment he arrived at my door that this would have been the case.

I never saw either of them ever again. To give her up meant I had to lose him too. It was, alas, a price that I had to pay.

This and that

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
keep calm – I’m adopted

There are many things I disliked about my adopted father. He was weak and never really spoke his mind. The opportunity to stop the physical punishments were missed by him. Chances to treat the children equally had passed by.

Yet, I hope that I have the best of him. I hope that I am sensitive when its needed. It would be great if my children thought I was intelligent. His loyalty was obvious. He was just a nice man – simple.

If this is the case (I’m sure people will be quick to tell me otherwise), then parts of the nurture debate are true. I made a positive decision to not be like my adopted mother, and to date I don’t think I am. But I want to care and love and I want to hide from the horrors of life. And that was who he was.

 

A Letter To My Older Self

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

Time goes so quickly

When somebody mentions the 1990’s it feels like 5 years ago, but it isn’t, its nearly 30 years ago. And I find this a shocking revelation. I can still recall the songs played on the radio and I probably still own a few shirts from back then buried deep in my wardrobe. Time has passed so quickly, too quickly in fact. It almost seems unfair to think about the time I have wasted or the positive things I could have done.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

I probably won’t have another 30 years left (who knows). But I want to take the time to talk to my future self. I want to be able to, one day, look back and read this letter and say “oh yeah, I remember that”. Or “that problem seemed so massive at the time”. Better still, I hope to say the following; “I survived it all” and “I’m happy now.”.

So much to say

This letter has taken a while to consider. Undoubtedly, I have probably left some important things out, but that’s ok. I can always write another. A part 2 if you like.

But below is my letter addressed to my older self. I want to be in my mid 60s when I read this letter. I can picture myself now. Balder, thinner (I hope). But I want to remain gentle and loving. I want to be warm with a wealth of knowledge to share and appreciate. But most of all I want to be content with who I became and I want to have buried the evils that have plagued my life at present. Did the abuse turn me into a better man than I could ever have envisaged or did it finally take a hold of me of which could not be shaken?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

I want to live and be strong. I have a whole lot of love to give in its many forms. Perhaps I just want to know that I eventually had the opportunity to reach my full potential.

Anyway, here is my letter to myself…

My Letter To Myself

Hello

I’m glad you’ve taken the time to read this letter. It has been a long time in the making, but was very hard to submit into words. After all, how do you talk to yourself in an unknown situation, at an unknown time?  Of course, you are older now and I hope that you are well.

Firstly, if you are reading this I want to congratulate you. I’m pleased that you never took your life. I know the depression was hard and although you didn’t want to give in to it, the option of ‘ending it all’ was always there, over hanging your every thought and action. If you recall you never feared dying and that was always admirable. But it never stopped the pain of your past and present.

Fear

Yet this has been my biggest fear. When I was ready to die, I really was ready to go. But it’s all about what came next. Would I have scored an own goal and missed out on the best years of my life yet to come? Would the pain of those left behind been too heavy a price to pay for my weakness? Perhaps it’s easy to suggest, as an alternative, that I may not even have been missed. Do you recall the months of planning and researching the best way to go? If you remember you did indeed discover the painless way and you were happy to keep it a secret for years. I just hope that you put those thoughts down and picked up new revelations. Things that had a bigger and better meaning. Will I see them too, soon? I am trying to seek them out, just need a bit of direction at the moment.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

I just hope the future was brighter and gave you everything you ever desired.

Monetary wealth is not riches

I know you never hunted for financial riches, but you spent all your life searching for other riches in life such as acceptance, warmth and love. Please tell me you found them? Are you happier now? If so do you measure your happiness in a different way to how I do it now? Most importantly though, did you learn anything from those awful years?  I keep telling myself that within these grey clouds a silver lining must be found. I must admit, it is only now that I do see glimmer of hope and it’s a warm feeling to know it is there. It’s a happy feeling and I hope to feel its full embrace very soon.

Pets

Do you remember how much you loved animals and how you would go out of your way to show them affection. Animals for you gave you the unconditional love that you had always wanted. You knew it was easier to love animals than people at times. I just hope that your affection for animals remained and that you have a loving dog curled up around your feet as you are reading this. Next to a warm fire with the lights down low. I know that would make you happy.

Children

Your children grew into lovely people I’m sure. Did you maintain a good relationship with them? I know that your parents (in all guises) let you down. I am also aware that their style of parenting shaped yours. You never intentionally hurt them and always told them you loved them – this was a characteristic I liked about myself. I was always keen to let them know that parental love was important. And I always grabbed the opportunity for a hug.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

If you recall, you have recently become a grandfather. We both know that he would be a good father. You will have to let me know how his parenting skills were. He often called or text with messages on what to do in certain situations. This gave you comfort because it showed he cared for his son. Perhaps I had done right by him. After all he has the makings of a good father – that was all you wanted from him.

Country living

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

I was always drawn to the countryside. The early years were spent living in the city and the first opportunity I had to leave I grabbed it with both hands. Living in the countryside was a liberating experience. I would spend hours walking through fields and down remote country lanes. The air was always so much better and the smells made me feel complete in the knowledge I felt at home. I really hope that you did finally find your little ‘bolt-hole’ deep in the country side. As far away from other people as you wanted. Do you remember that time telling your careers teacher that you wanted to be a hermit in response to his question “what do you want to be when you’re older”? I always thought this was a funny response.

I suppose by the time you read this there have been advancements in photographic technology, and you have taken full advantage on your country walks. It would be nice to know that the love for photography never wavered.

Those aims and ambitions

Contrary to what you are probably thinking right now, I did not have any massive demands of me, or false expectations or goals that I might have failed to meet. I was just happy to get through each day. I’m also glad that I broke down my own barriers to accept the help when it was required. I did it for my benefit really, because I wanted me to grow old surrounded by the important things in my life. Those were the simple goals. One day at a time. Not a big house or a massive car. But self-contentment and self-value.  We both know it was difficult to find when the timing was tough but I’m glad we saw it through. Did I achieve those things? Did I achieve any of it?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

If you are not who I imagine now, I’m ok with it, I’ll support you. Because maybe who I’m imagining is someone else, and you are—well you’re not someone else, you’re me. And what you are now is the product of the decisions I have made today.

For me, at this moment, the biggest lesson I have learnt is the idea of allowing myself to be whoever I am. I am also looking forward to making plans for who I should become. And that for this present moment, is more than enough.

Laying to rest those ghosts

Was there ever a time that you were able to lay the ghosts of abuse to rest? I accept that you may not have ever let your younger years go. They were after all your formative years. But what about the failed romantic relationships? I really hope you have now got to the point whereby you struggle to remember her name. I was always adamant that I would never forgive her but only feel pity. Was this option the best to take or did anger and hate consume me further before I could let it go?

My advice now

Before I go, I want you to heed my words. I want you to love your children even as they are now fully-grown adults. You sacrificed so much for them and they were ultimately your reason for holding on. Really love the woman you may have now. Although you know you could survive on your own, sharing these years with someone special is all that you had desired throughout your life. Let it be. Enjoy her and be what you want to be with her.

I hope you are happy

Love

Keith