Depression is no laughing matter, and I learned the hard way.
Growing up I had always seen depression as nothing to be taken seriously. I’d make jokes about it to friends and stereotype the illness to certain types of people which just wasn’t the case. There are endless reasons as to why depression can affect you, such as you’re not happy with your appearance/what you look like, the background you were brought up with or the hardships you have faced just to name a few.
My battle with the illness started early into my teen years. My papa was in a pretty bad way over a long period of time and seeing his health diminish was the roughest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. See, my papa wasn’t just someone I’d go and see every now and then, every day my parents would take me to spend time with him, from the day I was born till the day he passed away.
The feeling of losing someone in my family never really effected me until then, as I hadn’t lost someone so close before. It was like someone had taken this huge portion of my heart away from me and all I could do was hurt, not knowing who to release these emotions upon as my mum, dad and uncles had grieving of their own to do.
That was the foundation of my battle. A build up of different factors only added to these emotions I had bottled up and I’d be lying if contemplating suicide hadn’t have ran through my head in my darkest hours.
The only thing stopping me was the pain and suffering I knew I’d bring my family.
I had seen how they were when my papa had passed and to do that to them just wasn’t fair so I continued to stay quiet and block out how I felt. Looking back I’m glad I didn’t act upon my wishes, as so much has happened that has sculpted a bright and happy future for myself.
The birth of my sister really sparked something in me, that I had to act upon my thoughts and feelings and tackle them head on. I went back and rebuilt bridges with friends that had once made me feel low, I also burnt bridges with people that continued to do so. I got involved more with sports, I took up rugby as a sport and found a way of escaping through that.
The only mental block that I had to face and found the toughest of was when I’d think about my papa. It was difficult at first but over time I learned to think not about the last few months I had with him, but the first 12-13 years before hand that were filled with joy and happiness, and over time I felt myself improve.
Writing this is the first piece of writing I will have done to explain my emotions.
I took my depression head on and dealt with it myself behind closed doors.
I don’t speak about my illness with anyone other than the people I know that have had similar battles as I and just like I did, came out the other end.
With these people by my side and with the support I found through the joy of my sister, I slowly but surely escaped the mind set of sadness and filled a large gap with love.
Obviously, there are still days when I feel really down, when everything is a struggle and I want to be left alone. And there are still the days that I would love nothing more than to be seated in the smoke filled kitchen of my papas house, watching the golf and in the presence of a truly remarkable human being, but even I know that can’t happen.
When I think about it, I’m sure I’ll see him some day, and I’ll be able to tell him what I did in my life that I can honestly say, is more than worth living.
Words by Reece McLannigan