If I talk who will listen?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?

 

Nearly 25 years ago I won sole custody of my sons. Just saying it like that makes it sound so simple. But it wasn’t. I had to sacrifice a good career, battle with social services who had a single view of parenting and I had to face up to the realities of being a single father in a hostile environment to men.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
When I recall those times I remember feeling frustrated and isolated. I knew of no other single male fathers or other men who had or were battling social services to meet a logical conclusion.

The big world got smaller

The big difference then was that the mode of communication was very limited. The internet was still in its infancy and organisations like ‘Families Need Fathers’ could only be contacted either by post or by visiting their weekly meetings. I suppose I could argue that the world was a very narrow place when looking or seeking for help, guidance and support.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
Now with technological advances similar people can be contacted and groups be found within a moment. Furthermore, all of this can be done from the phone that sits in my pocket. All of these advances are something beyond my dreams back then – but here it is and it is wonderful.

The power of the internet

I must state that I have taken full advantage of the technology to hand and found it to be useful. I have links on various social networks. I have contacted groups from all over the world and spoke directly to individuals not only in my own country but from all around the globe.
However, I have found a common denominator. I have found that the art of being ignored by the authorities is not a single issue. It is prevalent all around the world.
Whilst I have researched, considered and delivered my findings and arguments I have found that the people who need to hear us are actively ignoring our calls.

The need to write

My writings have generally been about depression and domestic abuse from a male perspective. I set out to do this over twelve months ago because when I was looking for something there was nothing available. Yes, there is literature available about domestic abuse but only if you are female. The literature on depression is limited but tended to be clinical and lack the authentic experiences of a sufferer. As a result, I found it easy to combine, but I have found it frustrating not to be heard.

Over exposure?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?

It took a great step to open up. By writing about my views and experiences I was (and still am) leaving myself open to scrutiny. When I set out to write I decided that as there was very little out there, I would be a no hold barred writer and express and talk about anything and everything. After all, in my view and hour of need it was what I wanted to hear from someone else.
My point throughout has been that (mainly) men should open up and accept that enough is enough. It is not good enough to expect there to be no literature in doctors surgeries highlighting male victims of domestic abuse. It is also unacceptable for a male victim to be expected to sleep rough as there are no refuges available for men. It is also a life saving decision to express a need for help when the dark clouds of depression take hold.
Yet, and here is the rub. I had made contact with a number of organisations who had claimed to offer an ear of understanding.

In the kingdom of the blind…

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
I approached the police with my evidence of assaults and abuse. I also supplied them with facts from the Crown Prosecution Service about the lack of information received. The Crown Prosecution Service were informed and challenged about their views on male victims and the issues related to target setting prosecutions against men (and not women). I had also contacted a range of social services expressing my concerns related to male victims of abuse and their continued lack of resources for men.

Yet each and every one of them had either refused to comment or delivered a range of unexplainable and illogical excuses. Time and again I had received letters implying that I should either just go away or put these things down to experiences and move on. One example, was found in a letter I received from the police. It said;

…[the] meeting presented a further opportunity to articulate your concerns and observations and for me to report back on my considerations of the matter. I know you do not share my opinion but I retain the view…. Your allegations was dealt with represented a proportionate police response.

Let me put this into perspective then. I supplied the police with evidence such as diary accounts, text messages, emails, photographs and independent statements from independent witnesses (x3), Ambulance Service Managers and family members. And yet they decided to not take my case further. As a point of fact, they did not even pass my documents to the Crown prosecution Service for their consideration. Is this not a case, therefore, of cherry picking? And yet the full force of the law was placed onto me because my ex made a claim and it was backed up by her (none independent) daughter. Or to put it another way, there was no diary accounts, text messages, emails, photographs and independent statements from independent witnesses.

…the one eyed is king.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
I have taken the time and the opportunity to raise this concern with the police time and again and yet they stick by their guns still refusing to accept the fact that they have not applied the law equally. Or for that matter justly. I have also taken the time to express my concerns with the police for the lack of support for male victims of domestic abuse. To date the only response I have had about this matter is a paragraph in a letter stating;

…the availability of literature for male victims of domestic abuse could be enhanced.

I note that it says could and not should. In essence it makes no promise or effort to address the imbalance. Furthermore, when I stated in a previous letter that I have still not heard from a Domestic Abuse Support Officer (now 14 months after informing the police) I have still not had any response whatsoever. To quote from Mark Brooks from Mankind Initiative UK following the death of Mark Von Dongen “[is] it down to lack of competence and because… [I am] a man?”

A no win situation

With the lack of clear support and understanding of male victims it therefore, makes it even harder for men to come forward. In essence, with the present status quo the fact of the matter is that male lives just do not matter.

I now sit back in my chair and think about how far I have come. I am now in a good place and I consider myself to be happy. Yet all of this has been done with the support of friends and my own un-defeatist attitude. However, I have learnt that it is impossible to reason with the unreasonable. When you have an agency that are so stuck in their ways and are encouraged to be so there is no impetus to change. After all, why should they when they are meeting targets and individuals can be pushed aside and forgotten? Why should there be change when society is so silent about private injustices or plights?

If we close our eyes (and ears) it won’t exist

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?

There is no requirements to support men when they have been painted (and remain so) as the perpetrator of all things evil and blue eyed, blonde haired claims are taken as the gospel when the facts show otherwise. Why should the police delve into an accusers past and find a pattern of abuse claims against other men?

The answer to all of this is simple. It is not politically correct to consider a male view. It is impossible for them to consider evidence as facts that fly in the face of a perceived consideration. Furthermore, a lone man trying to take a stand against an established authority is small fry and is easily pushed to the side with rhetoric and false appeasements.

Past its sell by date

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
Regardless of how the police and judiciary try to defend their lack of actions with regards to male victims of domestic abuse, the same old rhetoric about women being more likely to be victims of domestic abuse will keep getting rolled out. But why has no one stopped and considered that fact that this statistic is nearly 30 years old, and in my view, therefore, outdated. It would be inconceivable for a new study to be carried out as it would find that the police actions and lack of support does not fit with the real world of which they claim to police.

Well if you won’t listen, I will turn up the volume

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
I suppose I can consider that my journey is coming to an end. I am not waving a white flag and laying down my arms. Far from it. I suppose I am going to take a new and different stance on the matter of male victims of domestic abuse. I have focused on my own experiences with regards to the failure of the police. A new tactic is one whereby I can now go public. My knowledge and understanding of the system that chooses to ignore cannot overlook the fact that a sole voice can sound much louder when it has access to media and other men (and women) in similar situations that have felt ignored, forgotten and alas expendable.

My ex has been arrested

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression My ex has been arrested

I usually pride myself on my use of words, but I have sat hovering over this keyboard for a while now.

It’s not that I have nothing to say, the complete opposite in fact, it’s just that I can’t quite get the words to fit with what it is I’m going to say.

My ex-partner has been arrested today. There you go, I’ve said it. Seven simple words but they are words that are massive and potentially life changing.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression My ex has been arrested

Invite to the police station

Following my complaint to the police with regards to my treatment I was offered an appointment at Worcester Police station. Obviously, this gave me time to ponder and consider my potential actions. I know what it is like to be arrested and questioned. Furthermore, I can appreciate what it is like to sit in a cell counting the scratches on the door and wonder what will happen next. But with this I am also aware of what it is like to do all of this when you are innocent of the crime you have been charged for.

Dilemma

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression My ex has been arrested

And this was my dilemma. I know how awful it is and I would never want anyone I know to go through this. But on consideration my ex-partner never once gave this a thought although she had a record of abuse and false allegations.

I hadn’t set out the rules, I just played by them.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression My ex has been arrested

Ideally, I wanted this to stop but where had the line in the sand been drawn? I hadn’t set out the rules I just abided by them and she dictated that I should get arrested because I had had enough of living under her regime. I had experienced abuse in various forms, theft and psychological distress. I had also had to defend my good character in the face of false allegations. This is enough for anyone to endure. So why can’t a guilty person also face up to their actions and reap the seeds that they had sown?

Two options

At the police station I was given two options.

Firstly, I could drop it all and consider it done and dusted. However, this would therefore, allow her to act in the way she had become accustomed too and not be answerable for her actions. She clearly had a history of hating men dating back to her first husband. But she was wrong to consider every man is the same. Perhaps having to explain her actions may entitle her to therapy of which she dearly needs.

Secondly, I was offered a full investigation with potential prosecution. As stated above I gave my reasonings and opted for the latter. Should I have not taken this option then everything to date would have been in vein. Furthermore, her next potential victim may not be as lucky or mentally sufficient to deal with the consequences of dating such an evil woman.

Process

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression My ex has been arrested

The process to far longer than I had envisaged. Initially I thought it may have taken a couple of hours but the whole process took just over four hours.

During this time I was asked about historical events leading upto the arrest in May. They then questioned things such as the relationship itself and what had happened behind closed doors. It was difficult to discuss certain factors but the conversation was open, frank and at times explicit.

Where are the men?

During the conversation an area of concern was raised. The female police officer stated that in her 13 years on the job I was the second male to come forward stating that they had been abused by their female partner. I consider this to be a shocking statistic especially the amount of times I, as a paramedic, have seen male victims within my line of duty. This statistic also reinforced my fact that men are reluctant to come forward. In essence, the fact isn’t recognised because men dismiss it. For things to change it must be down to men to point the finger when the case arises.

Support

Initially, there were two police officers. As stated I was being interviewed by a female officer but in the corner sat another (male) officer. It transpires that this said officer was connected to the domestic abuse unit. He introduced himself and stated that I certainly had a case for support and would be happy to offer this to me.

The support offered was related to counselling and group discussions. Obviously I raised my concerns that I had some issue with being potentially the only male in a room full of abused females. He categorically stated that these groups were tailored to male victims. I was disappointed that this had not been offered from the outset. In effect, the door had been slammed after the horse had bolted. But equally I was not going to look a gift horse in the mouth and was pleased to state that I would be delighted to receive any support they had to offer.

The importance of keeping a record

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression My ex has been arrested
Reporting everything

As stated, the whole process took just over four hours with a majority of this spent writing my statement. And here is where I need to make myself explicitly clear. My record of events were essential. Much of what I had said was copy and pasted and letters that were endorsed by my employers were invaluable. Within those letters were dates and a comprehensive explanation of what had happened. I also provided photographic evidence with texts etc. let me hereby state, if I had none of this I would have been found possibly guilty at my trial and this present set of circumstances would have been he said/she said. But here I was with firm and irrefutable recorded evidence.

Feel nothing (again)

I can’t honestly say I feel anything. I don’t feel vindicated or liberated. Furthermore, it is certainly not a victory of my ex-partner. We all have ex’s and some break-ups have been easier than others. But I would have been happy to have walked away several months ago without any consequence or ill feeling. But she had set these wheels in motion and to prove my innocents I had to highlight her failings. It wasn’t and isn’t nice but had become a necessity

I suppose I can now confirm that the events are far from over but I feel a certain sense of warmth that I have at last been listened to. It’s just a deep shame that it had to be done this way.

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.

Just Feeling A Little…Lost

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Just Feeling A Little…Lost

If you are a regular follower of my blogs you will probably have noticed that I have slowed down somewhat with my writing. Let’s be clear I’m not feeling depressed or anxious. Not even a little sad. I just feel a bit lost.

I spoke to my counsellor about this and she was right when she suggested that I don’t need to go out looking for an emotion or a reason to be emotional, it will just come (if it comes at all). But I’m still void of anything.

I’m looking forward to what the future holds and what it may bring but I feel like I’m just treading water at the moment so not actually going anywhere. In fact, I just feel a little bit lost.

Changing routine

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Just Feeling A Little…Lost

I’ve changed a few things over these past few months. I know I used to bang on about the benefits of going to the gym, but I’ve stopped going and I don’t actually miss it. I read a lot more now than I did a few months ago which shows my concentration is coming back. But I was hoping that a change in routine may have offered me another perspective – but it hasn’t. Surely this can’t be right?

Let down

I spoke to someone from work the other day and I expressed how let down I felt by the lack of support I was given other than the counselling. It’s as if the mantra of not being seen equates to not being a problem exists.

In fact, I have spent the last few days looking for alternative employment. I don’t think I want to return to an industry that really doesn’t care for its staff, regardless of what it claims. So far, I’ve had one interview that went really well (still awaiting an outcome) and another one soon.

Sense of purpose

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Just Feeling A Little…Lost

I think feeling lost reflects a lack of purpose. I know what I now want but not really sure how to go about it. I don’t want to be a paramedic anymore, that’s for sure. I would love to write for a living but it’s full of potholes and will never pay enough to meet the bills.

I have found a great relief in writing letters of complaint about certain individuals I have recently had the misfortune of coming into contact with recently. I even discovered that one of these said people had been acting illegally. So, I suppose I’ve almost become the new Poirot of Cheltenham Spa.

Am I being decadent?

Following my victory in the courtroom I decided to treat myself. So, I went out a bought a new car. I suppose I could justify it as my old one was due for renewal anyway. It’s just that it is far grander than my old one.

But even now when I look at it parked on the drive I can safely say I think I deserve it. I have been through one of the worst experiences of my life with little support from those of whom should have offered it. I now know who my friends are and where my loyalties lie. But this car is a ‘well-done you’ message to myself. And, like I said, I don’t feel bad about it.

Grandson

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Just Feeling A Little…Lost

I babysat my grandson last weekend whilst my son took his partner away. It was lovely. Really lovely. He is such a happy baby. We sat and watched TV whilst he was awake and I found myself singing to him. His little fact lit up when I sang and so I continued. I felt a bit guilty really that I had not seen him as much as I could have other these past few months. But it was nice to have the time to reflect and enjoy the moments I had with him.

I suppose this was the only time I’ve had any form of emotion or feeling. I was proud to change his nappy and make his bottles. I enjoyed feeding him and watching him happily drink his milk. It was just a nice period of time that went far too quickly.

Why?

I’m not writing this to spout any kind of philosophy or deep meaning thoughts. I am writing this to get some kind of grip or understanding about what is going on. I’m not looking for an emotion yet, even after all of this time, I still feel absolutely nothing. I’m not angry, although I am somewhat disappointed with a few people. I’m not sad. In fact it’s the dead opposite, I’m looking forward to things changing. I’m not even bored as I have so much to do. I’m just a little bit lost as to how to feel. Surely by now I should have some form of daily structure?

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.

This Is My Advice

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression This Is My Advice

It’s been a funny week. A lot has happened. I am aware that for a few people it has been a hard week. But for me, it has made a turn and things have improved.

However, for this blog I want to concentrate on a couple of people who have also had a ‘life changing’ week. I won’t mention their names mainly out of respect, but I want them to recognise who they are through my words.

Study

I had the luxury many years ago to have studied philosophy. Although it was heavy at times it really made me think about everyday things. I was once told that the art of philosophy is to ‘look out of the window and see what is going on.’ There is some truth in this but I also think that philosophy can also require you to look at yourself and your emotions.

I have always been drawn to two philosophers.

Schopenhauer

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression This Is My Advice
Schopenhauer

Firstly, Schopenhauer. His main motivation of thought was his investigation of individual motivation. Schopenhauer believed that humans were motivated by their own basic desires, (aka “Will to Live”), which directed all of mankind. These desires can be simplistic like the longing for food and shelter. Or it could be more complicated like the desire to be loved.

Schopenhauer directed us to the philosophy of ‘love’ and its purpose. Love still drives many people into the lunatic asylum. There is a case of some sort every year of two lovers committing suicide together because material circumstances happen to be unfavourable to their union. This was also illustrated within Shakespeare’s tragedy on the suicide within Romeo and Juliet.

Looking at the chaos of life from this standpoint we find that we become occupied with its want and associated misery.

Nietzsche

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression This Is My Advice
Nietzsche

Since first discovering Nietzsche I have found him fascinating. He has often been misquoted and his thoughts have been used in error. But this man should be recognised more for an everyday thought that we have all heard at some point in our lives.

It was Nietzsche that coined the phrase – “we need the bad times to appreciate the good”. I was recently told by someone that “if we had constant sunshine then we would be left with deserts”. This holds the same qualities of what Nietzsche said and it still holds true from whatever angle you look at it from.

I know I’m stating the obvious, but sometimes bad times can be so dense and thick that it becomes difficult. No, almost impossible to see any other alternative than what we are experiencing in the present.

At present

I have a good friend who is presently trying so hard to battle his demons. We have had a range of conversations in the past that have stemmed from the down-right stupid to deep and meaningful. Recently, his demons took a greater hold and he found life very difficult. Thankfully, he was given a lifeline before it became too late and he is finding the time to recover. I know he doesn’t know it (although he does read my blogs) he really is precious to many people.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression This Is My Advice

In our daily lives, we never stop to take the time to tell people these things. It is only really done when it is either too late or our thoughts are concentrated on that individual following a difficult period.

We are not guilty in our negligence. We just assume people know what we are thinking. Or, we may see it as a weakness to stop and tell these people what we think of them in a positive way. However, we are all very quick to say negative things in a heat of an argument.

On the flip side

I recently had some correspondents from a local friend who has been delighted to share her good news with me. I was informed that her life is heading in a new direction. She has made positive steps to shut down and liquidate her old life to replace it with a new hope.

My friend had suffered terrible abuse and accepted it as a part of normal life. She craved love and attention and received counterfeit examples of this amongst bad people.

For her, this desert has now started to flower and offer an oasis amongst a shaded area. This outcome has only come about because she put a stop to what she didn’t recognise as being right.

How does this link?

All events and outcomes stem from things we say or do or the actions of others. Whether this is because of ill health or abuse, I think it is immaterial. But for me, having had bad periods in my life has given me a philosophy of its own.

I know that by surviving events I have the strength to fight on. I hope things will never be as bad as they have done. But if they are I know I can fight it.

Milk and honey

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression This Is My Advice

If our lives were one of ‘milk and honey’ then life would have no value. I am rich in the value of my experiences and knowledge and this currency makes me know that things will get better. It has to because things can never remain bad forever. That’s life. It has ups and downs.

For my friends

For my friend who has having a difficult period. It won’t last. Believe me it won’t. If you want to survive this then you will because you are too big to drown in this nightmare. Things were bad but your life is too valuable to be beaten by these demons. Once you survive this you will become a greater person carrying the scars of mental health. Everyone has had moments, it’s just that some scars are deeper than others and so take longer to recover.

For my friend who has come through it and about to find a new home. Never lose the focus on what you set out to achieve. But equally important is to remember why you needed to do the things you have done to get this far.

If only we had a book on life

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression This Is My Advice

I would never consider myself to be a philosopher within a classical sense. But I would like to suggest that our lives are not a pamphlet but a thick book with contents and chapters. It’s just that we are all on a different page to each other.

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.