Psychology of Dressing Well

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on events and what I have discovered is that I hate to use the word ‘journey’, it’s just too cliché.  What I have gone through is a list of experiences that have got me from A to B. This description of events is far better that calling it a journey.

I was looking through some of my recent blogs and I came across a comment that someone had sent about not being comfortable about going out. Together with this I also read an article about rebuilding a shattered life and not being able to go out.

Now, don’t get me wrong but I’m not claiming to be an expert on this matter but I can only reflect and share my own experiences.

Long lasting conversation

I recall a conversation I once heard as a kid whilst travelling on a bus. During this said conversation, some girls were talking about the importance of dressing nice (mainly when they went out) and this has stuck with me ever since.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

As a result, I once put this into practice the first time I went to buy a brand new car. I once walked into the show room purposely wearing jeans and a grey t-shirt. The result was that I was ignored. A week or so later I entered the same show room wearing a suit, shirt and tie. As a consequence, I had more people offering me assistance than I could shake a stick at.

So what does this prove?

 

Well, we have all heard the line ‘clothes maketh the man’. This is so true. We are judged by what we wear or the accents we use. They draw a stereotype which may often be wrong but it is first impressions that count. I must admit that although I am aware of this pitfall I still do it. I’m not going to make any apology for it as it is a form of unconscious defence.

So how does this fit in with not feeling well?

This was a direct question out to me once and I had to think long and heard about how I was going to answer this. Put simply, if you feel good you start to, well, feel better about yourself. Dressing nicely is the first step to building self-confidence because people do judge you. If you are treated with respect you tend to gain and give respect.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

To explain this better I have had many pyjama days whereby I have not bothered to get dressed. As a result, the lazy attitude led to lazy actions. I probably didn’t brush my teeth until 3pm that afternoon and undoubtedly, I probably ate rubbish that day resulting in me viewing that day as a lost day whereby nothing was achieved.

First impressions

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

I can consider that dressing well promotes a good first impression. When you wear an ensemble, you tend to carry yourself in a more confident way, because you know you look good, hence, you feel good. The way you dress is also a unique way of expressing yourself, and therefore allows people to get a sense of who you are. To hell with people who perhaps don’t understand your style or message. This is about you feeling yourself again.

But how you are perceived by others before you open your mouth depends mostly on the physical signals you send with your appearance.

Appearances matter in real and fundamental ways that affect a person’s daily life – from how they are greeted when meeting others for the first time to whether or not they’ll be harassed whilst traveling.

All dressed up and nowhere to go

However, being all dressed up and having nowhere to go is not such a bad thing after all. The task of choosing an outfit with matching accessories can fill a good bit of time. But it goes back to that conversation I once heard on the bus as a kid. If you dress nice, you feel nice. It’s like slipping into a freshly made clean bed. We all know how good it feels but it is difficult to describe.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

But this is the same thing. Putting on a nicely pressed clean shirt feels more rewarding than putting on the t-shirt you found sitting at the bottom of the bed. Or wearing a suit that you had forgotten you had got (because it only comes out on certain occasions) because it makes you feel confident.

One of the first pieces of advice I have found in self-help books is almost always something along the lines of “Get Your Personal Appearance Under Control!”  It’s good advice.  People tend to perform better in life when they feel that they deserve to perform better.  The automatic assumption that a well-dressed person should be treated with respect works when it’s your reflection in the mirror, too.

A few minutes spent spiffing yourself in the mirror before you leave home reinforces the idea that you deserve success and good treatment in your own mind. ‘Just because’ is no longer an option. The game has now moved to ‘I am this and so I deserve this (in a positive fashion).

What have you got to lose if you don’t have the courage or desire to go out?

Spend a day dressing nicely around your own home. I know of some women that will never want to be seen unless they are wearing make-up. Well each to their own but it’s a good start. Having a standard is nothing to worry about or fear. It shows that you want to be seen a particular light and depression stops you having this desire. In effect, if you dress well you should also feel well (although this may take some time).

Over many years I have heard women explain the feelings they get after a hairdo or having their nails done. I suppose I get the same feeling when my facial hair sits how I want it to or if my shoes match my trousers.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

As I see it once you start feeling good about yourself everything should follow. Such as dressing nice and then having the courage to go for a walk around the block. Perhaps this could lead to dressing nice and going into town for a coffee. Who knows where it could potentially lead to but you never see a well-dressed person and think ‘victim’.

I can say that for me this worked. Feeling nice is a pre-requisite to anything if you are on the road to recovery. Feeling and looking nice gives you a value that cannot be given but it is something that you find yourself building on.

Have a look at:

https://www.riskology.co/dress-well/

100 Things That Happen To You When You Start Dressing Well

 

Regrets

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

Regrets. It’s such a simple word that holds so many meanings but it appears to be a word of self-reflection.

I consider that most regrets stem from the things we didn’t do, rather than the things we did do. Regardless of the life we’ve lived, whether we struggled with addiction, depression or have had a substantial amount of time in recovery, it turns out that most people regret the same things.

I think people who have been through what we have been through or how we have felt will always be hard on ourselves. Often, I have found myself saying “I wish I hadn’t” or “if only” and so on. But like so many of us I’m sure we acted with the right intentions at that specific point in our lives.

I could have done so much better

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

As a father, I wish I could have done better but I could only do what I could with the resources available or with the opportunities I had. As a partner I could, it feels, only fire fight by trying to keep things under control.

I’m sure many of us know the feeling of trying to spin plates by keeping everything in some form of order whilst dealing with outside issues. It’s difficult but it doesn’t require regrets. It actually requires stamina and we all get tired at some point.

Of course, on reflection I regret having found myself in that relationship but let’s be clear. No one comes with a label. Furthermore, no one sets out to say, ‘let’s give it a go although it may end up being the worst experience of my life’.

If we all did that I wonder what kind of world we would live in. We may never venture out of the house in case we get run over. We might not get dressed in case our clothes clash or match someone in the office.

Values

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

I briefly touched upon this train of thought in This Is My Advice, when I mentioned Nietzsche. His philosophy has stuck with me since I first read him many years ago. He devised the idea that we need to have bad experiences to appreciate the good. As a result, I have now learnt to embrace these regrets although I don’t want to go out and find myself repeating them.

We only seem to have regrets when we are reminded of what we have been through. There are times I regret not telling certain people what I thought of them. But the reality is that either someone else will tell them at some point. Or, they may be so up their own backside that whatever I may have said would not have penetrated their thick skulls anyway. Some people may call it karma I just call it time. All good things come to those who wait.

Pointless exercises

As a student many years ago, I was often told to reflect on things I had seen, done or experienced. I found this whole concept a complete waste of time as I considered that if I was doing my best at that specific moment how could I consider improving.

But I’m going to give this idea a new, more logical explanation. If I found myself in a similar situation would I handle things differently? What if I had different opportunities at that specific moment, would I still take those chances? Have I changed my views on things?

Where was the opportunity?

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

The reality however, is not as rosy as the romantic idea of everything being in its place. To explain this better I consider that many things are actually out of our control. If there had been better support for men in these situations then I may have had more opportunities available to me. If the police were more proactive with complaints then issues may have been resolved better. If the person was more willing to comprehend what I was telling her then she may have addressed her own failings. We will just never know because those options were not available at that moment (and may never be).

My regret is that I think I had too much faith in a failing system rather than finding myself in that position in the first place.

Reactive over proactive

I have spoken to a few people about regrets but the common denominator is based around reaction rather than being pro-action. Time and time again we may have forgiven or developed an explanation for other people’s actions (I know I have) but it is important not to judge everyone by the nasty experiences we have had by one person.

Of course, I now recognise the signs better and I am now in a position to question my first thoughts. But I have no regrets about my experiences. I only have regrets for other people or other agencies. I regret that there is no greater support but that’s not my fault. I regret not divulging more information (but when I did very few differences were made). Ultimately, I regret having too much faith in a system that did not work. But what is most frustrating is that the system doesn’t want to improve because it does not see (conveniently) its own failings.

Different strokes for different folks

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

Following my experiences, I have uncovered fake people. But equally I have also met and spoken to some of the most amazing people that I would never have had the opportunity to speak to otherwise. So a regret seems to have its own rewards. I am also equally happy not to forgive other people for their actions – pity is much more appropriate (see my blog on; forgiveness – why should you?)

Yes, I do regret many things. I regret things from my childhood but I was too young to have dealt with it at that moment. I regret telling my children off about certain things, but they have grown into fantastic people. I regret being in an abusive relationship but I have learnt self-worth and what is right from wrong. Surely these must be positive outcomes from poor experiences.

No regrets just lessons learnt

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

I have read that an abuser is never sorry.  Do they ever have regrets about people that they’ve damaged or hurt?  Even if they won’t admit it to other people do they feel sorry for the way they treated other people? I very much doubt it.

But I refuse to carry the burden of regret for people who do not see the errors of their own ways. Why should we? Life is and can be difficult as it is without trying to explain and justify your actions when dealing with a situation that you had not intended to find yourself in.

 

Nightmares

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

 

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

I recall as a child often waking in the night after a nightmare. After all of these years I cannot recall the exact nature of these dreams but I can remember waking in my bed crying. After a while they must have subdued as there have been many years between my childhood night terrors and what I have experienced lately.

Knowing things are not right

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

It does not necessarily mean that by not being able to recall the dreams that they did not happen. Sometimes I have awoken with a feeling that things were not right. This is often in the dead of night when there was no reason to either be awake or any reason to have been awoken following the dream.

Illogical

However, sometimes I can recall the visions and they do seem to have a relevance to what has been going on. Many of the nightmares have been based on things that have either happened recently or from events I experienced many years ago. There seems to be no logic to their visitations as time, when it comes to dreams, does not appear to be linier.

The problem with night terrors is the feeling of vulnerability. From the dreams, I can recall experiencing a feeling of helplessness within the horrors I am experiencing. These horrors can be based on recent experiences or a time that I would rather forget. As stated it has no logic and time has no relevance to the dreams. In some dreams I am a child again, or an adult fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. I am also aware that some of the dreams are events related to events from a few months ago.

Recent nightmare

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

However, I have recently experienced dreams that are somewhat out of the box. Last week I dreamt that I was a soldier during the first world war. The environment was real. I found myself fighting Germans in a deep muddy trench where puddles splashed onto my uniform. The faces of those soldiers I was killing were real with uniforms and facial features. However, during the fighting I spotted my ex in an enemy’s uniform trying to kill me. The strangest this was that I was unable to fight her off.

I am aware that all manner of interpretations can be made with regards to this specific dream. But when it effects your health interpretation has very little importance other than you want them to stop.

Now, I am aware that this may sound very strange but I think it reminded me of my vulnerability whilst I was with her. For heaven’s sake, I was able to fight off a number of heavily armed and experienced combatants yet I was helpless when I was in her line of fire.

There a vast range of other experiences I can give but the common denominator is based upon the wickedness I have experienced.

Waking becomes an escape

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

Waking becomes a relief and an escape from the reality of that moment. Yet, I am able to recall the dreams much better than when I experienced them many years ago. I have often awoke completely disorientated and the confusion is compounded because the reality of the dream does not match up to the room in which I awake in.

To explain this better, the reality of being in the trench was tangible. I could feel the mud under my feet. The smell of blood, sweat and explosives are also real. The physical effort of fighting could be felt in my muscles (I am also experiencing physical pains on a daily basis) and the sounds are loud and unmissable. But when I awake, the complete opposite is the reality. The room is in darkness and my safety feels assured. Yet it wakes you with a jolt of which is difficult to grasp when you are not sure of which reality you now find yourself in.

Walking away

It’s silly really, but as an adult I can distinguish the difference between the dream world and reality. Yet the fact remains that whilst curled up in the safety of a new home, warm in bed, we are perhaps all vulnerable to things out of our control. And I feel this is where the terror lies. There is no escape because we have no control over our dreams. In the waking world if I feel unsafe or uncomfortable I have the option to either get up and leave or address my concerns directly. However, we don’t have that luxury in a dream. We are carried by uncontrollable forces into undesirable circumstances. And this is not nice at all.

After leaving the forces many years ago I also had similar experiences that were evident but slowly faded away. However, these present dreams now seem to overlap what I felt I had recovered from before.

Night vs day

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

These restless night obviously have an impact upon my day time pursuits. As previously mentioned in recent blogs, I am constantly tired and crave a decent night’s sleep. Yet my sleep is often either broken by the night terrors or the physical pains I feel with my PTSD. It’s no surprise that abuse victims and people with depression feel so tired and ill all the time. There is, in effect, no escape from both a living nightmare and those of which invade our thoughts during the night.

Taking time

I mentioned these dreams to my GP when I saw him at the beginning of the week. He directly attached them to the PTSD I am experiencing. What was extra worrying was the fact that it may take a while to recover from the situation I now find myself in. It is only complete exhaustion that allows me to get some sleep but this is often hard to predict as it sometimes happens during the day.

Physical Pain and Anxiety

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Physical Pain and Anxiety

I have recently written a couple of blogs about feelings post stressful situations. If you recall I wrote about not feeling anything (Is feeling nothing an emotion?) and about physical reactions following stress (why am I so tired all of the time?).

Simple research

I have researched (although not deeply) about why I feel the way I do. I have found some useful tips and others have just been general common-sense answers.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Physical Pain and Anxiety

It has been shown that chronic pain might not only be caused by physical injury but also by stress and emotional issues. In particular, people who have experienced trauma and suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are often at a higher risk to develop chronic pain.

Evolution of pain

However, recently my mental pains have evolved. As previously stated I have been going through a period of tiredness and now I find myself suffering with physical pains.

The only way to describe how I feel is to liken it to the pains following a heavy period in the gym or after a boot-camp. Not only am I still tired but I feel aches and pains in my joints, back, feet and suffer terrible headaches.

Debilitating

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Physical Pain and Anxiety

These pains are prolonged and have seemed to not have stopped since I noticed them. Let me be clear, I have not suffered any form of physical injury or have previously suffered with any similar symptoms. But I am sometimes finding that the pain can debilitate my ability to move with ease. But to make matters worse I have realised tonight (which is why I am writing this blog) is that it seems to be increasing my feelings of hopelessness, depression and anxiety.

Full circle

I really thought I was doing well. A few months ago, I locked myself away from people and sat in my room either reading or watching TV but again I am finding that I am becoming introverted again. I have no time for other people and don’t really enjoy going out and about like I did recently. I have gone full circle. I felt I was getting better and now I find myself back to how I was. This ‘merry-go-round’ is exhausting in itself.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Physical Pain and Anxiety

I am familiar with the knowledge that emotional stress can lead to stomach pains and headaches. But I am wondering if my muscles are screaming out after a period of tension – is there a correlation? Have my muscles and joints become fatigued and so, as a result now become inefficient?

Awareness

I am aware that I am still stressed. I have not had any proper conclusions to my previous issues and concerns following my abuse. I have raised formal concerns and mentioned how my mental and physical health is declining. Yet I still await answers and explanations. Never in my life have I realised how wicked and cruel society can be to those of whom are finding things difficult. Perhaps my anxiety and stress has found a new focus at the abandonment I now feel by people who should have helped conclude the events I have had to endure.

Is this another branch of PTSD?

I think it may be reasonable to suggest that this is another form of PTSD. I have had this for a while and I have been able to manage it to a satisfactory point. However, I think my cup has recently overflowed and it has all become too much. Peter Levine, an expert on trauma, explained that trauma happens;

 “when our ability to respond to a perceived threat is in some way overwhelming.”

Most researchers disagree on a precise definition of trauma, but do agree that a typical trauma response might include physiological and psychological symptoms such as numbing, hyperarousal, hypervigilance, nightmares, flashbacks, helplessness, and avoidance behaviour. I can accept all of these points.

Survival mode

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Physical Pain and Anxiety

During and after my recent events I can now see that I fell into a ‘survival mode’ and so it may be acceptable to consider that I am having difficulty to revert back to ‘homoeostasis’ of which seems so distant to remember.

It’s all so different but the same

This has seemed to create a vicious circle of which is difficult to ‘jump’ from. I have actually found that I handle stressful situations so differently than before. I recently witnessed what would be considered a stressful situation (an accident on the motorway). As expected I felt nothing and had no consideration at all for the events as they unfolded. However, my physical and mental pains are making me feel as if I am being traumatized all over again, but in a different way. Perhaps I am not explaining this at all well. I just hope that you as the reader can understand what I am trying to say. I don’t feel stressed about stressful situations but I am getting stressed about how I have changed physically and mentally.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Physical Pain and Anxiety

Although people may not be aware of the lingering effect of a traumatic situation, or believe that the traumatic event has been put behind them, my body seems to be clinging to unresolved issues.

It needs to be stopped

I am due my final counselling session tomorrow but I actually feel I need it now more than ever before. Again, I think I need to lay down the banner of ‘blokeyness’ and consider that my PTSD is rearing it’s ugly head again.

Pessimism. Who Needs It? What Could Possibly Be The Attractions?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Pessimism. Who Needs It? What Could Possibly Be The Attractions?

I’ve had an interesting day today. I had an interview for a job which went surprisingly well, although I probably won’t get it. I also had my penultimate counselling session this morning.

As always during my counselling session, we discussed a range of things. Some going over old ground and some thought provoking discussions. However, we also discussed thoughts and feelings and considered my views on events and the future. I’ve decided that, by nature I have a pessimistic view to life. Just look that the first paragraph again. You can see the negativity following the good interview statement.

Pessimism is a safety net

When I think about it I have always had a ‘half empty’ view of life. I think it is the fail safe for a great number of people. If we prepare for the worst then we are ready for it when it happens. Anything positive is, therefore, a bonus. It must be a psychological safety net. There is nothing wrong with being safety conscious in the crazy world we now find ourselves living in.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Pessimism. Who Needs It? What Could Possibly Be The Attractions?

But pessimism is not such a bad thing really. My counsellor gave a brilliant analogy. She stated that it is a good defence mechanism. “If the caveman” she said “had not had an element of caution then the human race might have been wiped out”. I further endorsed this by mentioning that the Do-do became extinct (partly) because it had no fear of humans – laughably I considered that the Do-do was not stupid, it was an optimist.

I could have started this blog by saying that it would have been an utter waste of time writing it. Nobody would read it and if they did I would only get negative comments. I would then probably cry into my coffee and go to bed. Undoubtedly, I would be pelted with rotten vegetables as I head out to the shops. But it hasn’t happened – ever. Even after taking the first steps into the world of writing where I was at my most vulnerable.

Past giving a hoot.

As time has developed during my writing, I have been more and more open and honest. I have left myself exposed to critism and perhaps even ridicule. But no, it hasn’t happened. I’ve not been looking for it because that kind of ‘thing’ finds you. I’m sure people do have a negative view about what I have said but I have probably, unconsciously, dismissed it.

It doesn’t mean that what I say, write or do is correct. It just means that my ‘defensive pessimism’ has worn off a little bit and I am delighted to call myself a ‘writer’.

But why are we drawn to pessimism?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Pessimism. Who Needs It? What Could Possibly Be The Attractions?

Why do we read writers who are profoundly pessimistic? And what sense are we to make of their work in our ordinary, hopefully not uncheerful lives?

I’m lucky enough to write two blogs. This one of which I consider to be deep and meaningful. I hope people heed my words or value my advice and perhaps act upon it. My other blog (www.thecheltenhamhurrah.com) is a look at the funny side of life in my (now) hometown. It is a comedy poke at life that I hope entertains. It has ‘throw away’ comments that I hope people giggle at then move on to their next activity. Two very opposite characteristics that feed off each other amazingly well. But not all pessimists have the same fondness for my kind of comedy which is perfectly ok. On both blogs I cater for those that want to read them. Not for people who dismiss them.

It’s all very entertaining

Modern society as a whole, tends toward a sort of institutional pessimism. Soap operas are based upon negative situations and ‘bust ups’ in the local pub, people sleeping behind the backs of other people and so on. Yet we see this as a form of entertainment. We watch people being banished to remote islands to watch them fail in their endeavours. People are put into a locked house and we watch them argue and fall out. Yet we are encouraged to believe happiness is at least potentially available for all as the ‘dramas’ fade into another story.

But when we look at life we can see that it is filled with misery and pain and if we managed to escape these, boredom would lie in wait at every corner. In effect, we have embraced the evil side of life. The ‘baddy’ in films always has the nice car, nice clothes and is the best character to play. In general, playing the baddy is always the most sought after by actors around the world. There would be no story without one. The news headlines always tell us negative stories. Occasionally a happy story comes along about a dog who can talk or something, yet we still watch the news – sometimes four times a day. Why? Well perhaps we like to know that other people lives are worse than ours.

Pessimism? It could be worse.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Pessimism. Who Needs It? What Could Possibly Be The Attractions?

When I think about it we always moan about the negative person in the office or down the pub. I have found myself avoiding these people on a number of occasions. I may have crossed the road or dived into a shop before I was spotted. But think of the alternative. The over-happy, in your face, type of person is even worse to endure. We leave that kind of person for children’s TV (where they belong). So being a pessimist is not such a bad thing after all.

Yes, I’m a pessimist but it could be worse. By saying that am I now an optimist?

What It Feels Like To Want To Die

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression What It Feels Like To Want To Die

It wasn’t really a request that has drawn me to my keyboard today but a series of conversations that I have either been a part of or that has recently come to my attention.

Having been open about a range of thoughts and feelings I was asked to explain how it feels when depression becomes too much. How does the mind work?

This is massive step to take but I’m going to put this into words. I have contemplated suicide on a number of occasions. Now don’t judge me because I don’t want that. But I’m telling you this because I want to tell you how ‘ending it all’ becomes a logical conclusion in a complicated mind. I want the reader to know how easy suicide can become. But, equally, I want those left behind to be able to work out the mind of that person who has gone.

There is never a single reason

There is never only one reason that people take their lives. Like our lives, things can be complicated or difficult, and therefore very few people talk about it once the decision has been made. These people don’t want to justify or explain their ‘logical’ conclusions. Especially when they run the risk of being talked out of it.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression What It Feels Like To Want To Die

The appeal of suicide is loss of consciousness, and thus the end of psychological pain being experienced. For suicidal people, that leaves only three ways to escape this painful self-awareness: drugs, sleep and death. And of these, only death, nature’s great anaesthesia, offers a permanent fix.

Conversation

During a conversation I had with someone last week, I went into great detail of it all. I didn’t hold back. We discussed the planning, the build-up and then the act itself. What I wanted to emphasise was the fact that when the decision has finally been made a great feeling of relief becomes apparent. The verdict has been made and all other alternatives don’t fit the space in which everything fits. Nothing makes sense anymore other than the drive to finish with life.

Planning

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression What It Feels Like To Want To Die

Even the grim, tedious details of organizing the act of suicide can offer a welcome reprieve. When preparing, the victim can finally cease to worry about the future, as there is no future. The past, too, has ceased to matter, for it is nearly ended and will no longer cause grief, worry, or anxiety. And the imminence of death may help focus the mind on the immediate present.

Signs

It is not at all apparent that those at risk of suicide are always aware that they are in fact suicidal, at least in the earliest stages. However, signs begin to manifest and show when the plans have been developed.

Firstly, they may appear at ease. In fact, they may even seem jovial.  They are happy with the decision that has been made and a conclusion to their miseries are now within reaching distance.

Secondly, plans are made and things are given away. During my time as a paramedic I came across a number of victims who had spent the previous week or so tidying up the house or paying off debts. In some cases they may have given things away. But in every suicide I came into contact with, a letter was always found.

Letters

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression What It Feels Like To Want To Die

One well-known “suicidologist,” Edwin Shneidman, once wrote that, “Our best route to understanding suicide is not through the study of the structure of the brain, nor the study of social statistics, nor the study of mental diseases, but directly through the study of human emotions described in plain English, in the words of the suicidal person.”

When I have read suicide notes I have often found that the deceased has tried to reach out after death or try to justify their actions. The notes can be simplistic but a great deal of thought has gone into these words (good or bad). But for them, these words are the most important they have ever committed to paper. And so, because of the rush or the path they have taken it can sometimes paint a picture of a confused and complicated mind.

Everything in its place

From all of this one can conclude that a plan has been made. In my case I too had made a plan. But it is easy. It is easy for the victim at this stage because it is the right thing to do. There are no complications following death. Bills are paid. People have the things you wanted them to have and it is all done with ease.

The mind has been made up and as the ‘time’ rushes towards the victim the relief is more and more tangible. In essence, any troubled mind has a feeling of clarity (probably for the first time in a long time) and everything makes sense because there is a final, logical conclusion.

I cannot think of a single genuine suicide case whereby it has been done to spite anyone left behind. In fact, it is the opposite. A depressive feels like a burden to everyone around them. By ending it all will not only end the victims suffering, but they feel they will no longer be a problem to anyone else left behind.

Taking control for the first time

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression What It Feels Like To Want To Die

For the victim this planning is beneficial. It is better to do this than die suddenly with no plans or provisions made for the ones left behind. The victim will never understand the feeling of loss for those of whom are left behind. They only see their own conclusions and the control they now have over what is going to happen. You see this is the problem with mental illness – there is no control. It takes over and suicide gives ownership back to the victim. This may be the first time they have had control over themselves in a long time – and it feels good.

What is logical?

I’m not claiming any of this makes sense. We are reading this with our own set values and understanding. But to the victim, their views and conclusions are equally valued in their own eyes. In fact the relatives who are left behind may scream it is illogical to do these things – but these are the patterns that suicidal people generally follow.

In fact, you may be able to pin point the actions identified. If you do I hope it bring solace to know that they did it in a state of peace, of which they had not felt for a long time.

In considering people’s motivations for killing themselves, it is essential to recognize that most suicides are driven by a flash flood of strong emotions and feelings. It is not rational, philosophical thoughts in which the pros and cons are considered.  The final act of suicide as an escape from themselves.

It will never make true sense to those left behind.

There you have it. I have shared it all in its gory details. I suspect for a few people it has been uncomfortable reading, but you have taken a glimpse into a mind that has been prepared to end it all on their terms.

It’s not nice for the victim or for those left behind but it is a reality. People will kill themselves for whatever reason but for the victim it all makes sense. Their pain is at an end and that is what they wanted.

For me, I have learnt a lot. It’s not about science because science hasn’t stopped people killing themselves. I think it’s all about perspective. It’s how we see things. In a previous blog I wrote that by killing yourself it might be an own goal. I might have missed the best years to come. But for those in this situation that statement would never make sense.

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.

 

 

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.

How To Hide Depression

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How To Hide Depression

I had a thought provoking conversation with a friend last night.  Out of respect, I won’t mention his name, but he will know who he is after reading this.

I took the step to tell my friend about what I had been through. After I had sent him a link to this blog he called within minutes. I wanted him to know because I could see the signs that he was also suffering with depression. The difference between us was that I was more proficient at hiding it. He stated during the conversation that he had no idea that I had depression, but felt refreshed that I was able to share it and identify his plight too.

It takes one to know one

I am able to say with great confidence that I have had depression for most of my life. I briefly touched upon it in my blog My father And I. In that blog I talked about the lack of identity and the complications that that had entailed.

As I grew into a man

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How To Hide Depression
As I grew..

Teenage years are often riddled with angst but I lived in a loveless home, I had accepted that I was adopted and evidence of depression was starting to emerge.

As I reached my 20s I was fully aware that there was a problem and started to seek some form of identification of what it was I was suffering. By the time I reached 30 I knew I was a sufferer. I adapted to my life and came  to accept it. By the time I had reached mid 30s I was fully proficient at hiding it. I had learnt this because depression at this stage was seen as a weakness and there was no room for weakness in any parts of my life at that moment. As a result I had adapted and developed clever ways of hiding it from pretty much everyone around me. Unfortunately, this act stopped me from getting the professional help I needed at the time. In effect I had fooled myself into believing that my depression was not a problem and manageable.

 

Tricks of the trade

My depression went unseen and unrecognised. I was able to conceal my depression so well that I became conditioned to deal with my inner demons on a daily basis. This way my depression was not clearly visible to people who were not aware. By being able to do this I knew I had cracked the code of being able to hide my pains. I was not being deceitful, I was protecting myself and those of whom I love.

I intentionally made efforts to appear happy and upbeat.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How To Hide Depression

The perception that those with depression all have a dreary personality is false. My depression was more than just a mood. It was a way of life of which I had learnt to adapt to. I had learnt to create a happy persona that often required recycling old jokes and actions because I knew they worked at particular times. My depression was my pain and not anyone else’s. I didn’t want to bring anyone else down by exposing my true feelings.

I feared abandonment and rejection.

Depression for me felt like leprosy. I feared being rejected and cast aside. An outsider. Unloved and unclean. I had felt rejection at an early age due to my adoption and this was more deeply ingrained than I had given it credit for.

I felt that if I had let someone in enough to see the depression, they would walk way. As a result, I can see now why I had had a series of failed relationships.  It endorsed my need for secrecy, out of fear of rejection from those of whom I love. There was nothing more painful than to expose the ugliest layer of my personality that I wished to hide even from myself.

I was an expert at deflecting questions.

During my lowest periods I knew how to avoid any unwanted attention. The use of humour was good, but I also used a tactic I called ‘questioning’. I found that people often liked to talk about themselves. From this approach, I would ask an open question that required them to discuss their views and feeling on a subject. By doing this it required them to speak for longer than I needed to, hence I didn’t have to talk or explain.

I had habitual remedies.

My relationship with medication was always a bit ‘on and off’. I took them and then when I felt better, I stopped  (foolish this to do). In-between these periods of medication I used to use activities that offered a routine. This gave me goals to reach by certain times of the day. It was often in the form of music, walks, and so on. If by 5 o’clock for example, I had made it to the time of day for my daily walk, then I was doing ok.

I understood the impact of certain substances.

I have always known that alcohol can be problematic for people with depression. As a result I became tea-total to avoid falling into its grasp. This was further validated by witnessing the effects of alcohol on people around me and ultimately my step mother. I knew that caffeine was an upper and so was sugary foods. As a result, I favoured coffee over tea and could polish off a large amount of sweets quite easily.

I had a very good understanding of life and death.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How To Hide Depression

I have spent most of my life trying to work it all out. Especially the meaning of life. Is it a pursuit of something, or are we to reach certain points in various stages of our lives? As a paramedic, I also witnessed a range of deaths. I quickly learnt which were more favourable ways to die over others. I feel I became an expert in death and its aftermath. As a result, even now whilst I feel ok, I have no fear of death. However, I must admit, following my treatments and medication I have given less time and thought to the later.

I needed to find a purpose.

My goal in life was that I had a purpose. What I was needing to do was to find something that was worthwhile otherwise my life had been pointless. But for me I also needed reassurance that I was moving in the right direction (whatever that is or was). Recognising my depression also gave me a feeling of inadequacy. I felt inadequate compared to the people around me. Everyone was happier than I. Other people were better at their job than I and this compounded my feeling of being a failure even though I was fighting a battle to give my life a purpose. I felt I even failed when my best efforts were in place. As a result I was always trying to compensate in my life for the frailties that I had inside. Even now I am still striving and searching for more to validate my purpose in life.

The meaning of life with depression

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How To Hide Depression
It takes one to know one

The reality of my life with depression is that I have been striving to find love and acceptance. This stemmed from trying to be accepted by my adopted family to the need to find my father. But the reality is that everyone strives for this requirement. It’s human nature. My personal advice is to never turn away from a person who seems to be struggling. Love us, especially when it’s difficult.

I once heard a quote from Stephen Fry who stated that

“I hate the fact that I have [depression]….. but I wouldn’t want to live without it because it is a part of me that I have come to accept…”

What I want to say to my friend who I spoke to last night is this. I knew you had depression from the moment I first met you. How? Because you showed all the signs that I had perfected. As I have highlighted, it takes one to know one. Embrace it, it has made you the outstanding man that you are.

Stephen Fry and depression