This is not easy to admit in the slightest but I suffer from depression. To be honest, I didn’t want to admit it to myself let alone stick this up on a public forum but a series of events have led me to the point where a Facebook contact convinced me to go public.
“It’s refreshing to know that if you can be suffering from depression then it’s OK for me too”
Whilst I don’t agree with this argument, I can see his point. The public face of ‘Kevin Shannon’ could be perceived that of a hard-faced adventurer that pedals thousands of kilometres, walks across countries, punches wolves in the face and can stand on stage in front of hundreds of people and regale them with my tales. The reality is however, I’m not that hard-faced adventurer that people may see me as – I’m an average bloke that has an amazing partner, an awesome step-daughter, two idiotic but loveable black cats and who likes to push himself to the limits by going on little jaunts. But, being in the public eye (even a little) has given me a voice to perhaps help others, so fuck it, I’m going to tell you my story.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment the ‘bad’ feelings started to creep in and I began to feel really shitty about myself but I know that pretty soon they were all consuming. It all started as what I can only describe as walking around surround by greyness, from when I woke to when I went to sleep. It was like a numbness that crept over me. No matter how many times I tried to convince myself to snap out of it, cheer up and HTFU (harden the fuck up) I couldn’t get my head right. Then, that grey cotton wool cloud that had surround me for a few months began to darken and seep into my pores.
Shit got dark.
I felt like I was swimming through treacle and I couldn’t get my mind right. I didn’t want to leave the house, I would go into myself and not speak to anyone, and could sleep for England (and Wales and Scotland). My mood would go from ecstatic to absolutely miserable within the space of a few minutes. I developed crippling anxiety that would stop me going to overly crowded places where io felt people might be staring at me (standing on a stage and talking was ok though – strange). I would silently sob myself to sleep, stifling my tears with my pillow, for seemingly no reason not wanting to wake my Fiancée. Everything was getting on top of me. Even when work was good and my business was starting to flourish I was still in a dark place. I felt useless, as if being around was pointless, and I began to question whether being around was even worth it. I can’t say I was actually suicidal as I never had the thought to actually kill myself but I did start to wonder if I sticking around was even worth it.
Everything came to a head one day last year when, while out for a walk with Rachel (my better half) I broke down. Sobbing uncontrollably I confided in her how I’d being feeling and to my surprise she had suspected something for a little while. Confiding to the person I’m closest to was extremely difficult but extremely relieving at the same time. If I couldn’t tell her, then who could I tell.
“I think I need help”
Saying those words was difficult, quite simply for the fact that being a male and being depressed has a stigma and is seen as a weakness. Ever patient, Rachel convinced me to go to the doctors and get professional help. It took me a while to work up the balls to go – I was certain they were going to put me in a strait jacket and chuck me in a van with a one-way ticket to the “loony bin” so I kept putting it off. Finally I thought ‘fuck it’ and booked an appointment. I sat with the doctor and, fighting back tears, told them I was feeling very ‘unhappy’ and felt like I needed help. The doc gave me a little questionnaire to fill out in private and told me that if I scored more than a certain number (I forget the specific number) It was a sign I was suffering from depression.
It’s the first test I’ve taken in a while that I nearly got full marks on.
“OK, Mr Shannon, by looking at these numbers it seems you have chronic depression”
As horrifying as it was to hear “you have chronic depression”, I felt relieved to have a reason for feeling like I was. I left the doctors office with a pamphlet and some tablets and felt a little elation. I knew the pills and pamphlet weren’t going instantly change my thoughts and feeling but it was a step in the right direction. On the way home I also made a pledge to myself, instead of hiding my problem I would tell 4–5 people who were closest to me, so over the next few day’s I started telling people. To my surprise, no one laughed and no one told me to cheer up – they were genuinely concerned and offered help should I need it – and I was touched by it.
Over the past few month’s my life has seemed to become easier, albeit with ups and downs. I felt the tablets start to kick in and take effect, the people I confided in would check in on me to see how I was doing and Rachel would know instantly when I wasn’t quite right and would talk to me about what was going on. The doctors have upped my dosage and changed my prescription a couple of times to find the right fit for me. My crippling anxiety has died down and I’m no longer a shaking quivering mess when entering a crowded bar or restaurant. In general, my outlook on life is just better.
Then one day on Facebook I saw an animated video about male depression pop up in my news feed and, without much thought, I shared it. A few hours later I checked I noticed a couple of private messages and, to my surprise, it was two different men, completely unrelated who asked me the same question.
“Hey Bro, I saw you shared the video about depression. I was wondering, did you share it because you suffer from it?”
Tentatively I replied yes. What happened next was amazing. I was told that it was relief to know someone else suffered from similar issues and it was refreshing that someone with a public profile (again, I use that term loosely) was admitting it to them.
It feels good to be able to help other people by admitting I suffer from depression with just one simple video share. That’s why i decided to sit here writing this piece. I’m here to say it’s fine to suffer from depression or anxiety. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not easy to live with but there is help out there, you just have to ask for it.
If you’re reading this and feel like you may be suffering then reach out to someone. Find that one person who you can trust absolutely and let them know. Text them. Email them. Call them and tell them. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’m here to tell you it’s all good and the sooner you get help, the sooner the cloud will lift. Nobody is going to mock you, laugh at you or think of you as weak! And if they, do? Fuck them!
If you don’t feel you have that one person you feel like you can tell, hell, why not tell me! I’ll listen.