“I’m Matthew and in spite of being here, I consider myself to have a very blessed life. I am a single father of two wonderful children; I have a career in a sport that I love, that enables me to spend each day doing something that I am passionate about; I have the best friends and family a person could wish for. I have a mental illness.
Or rather I had a mental illness. Twice I have suffered serious, debilitating, lengthy periods of depression. Twice I have stared into the darkest parts of me, parts of me that felt utterly alien to who I thought I was, parts of me that I had to accept existed if I was to ever find my way back to me that was lost to mental illness.
Twice I have recovered.
Depression has had a profound and lasting impact on my life, leaving a permanent imprint that has forever changed the way that I see life and see myself. And for all the pain and suffering that it forced me to endure, I must also credit it with bringing out of me a strength and resilience that I never knew I had. Strength and resilience that has enabled me to thrive and flourish in recovery, in spite of the inevitable challenges that have arisen along the way.
Reading to understand the nature of depression, medication, psychotherapy, meditation, a growing self-awareness, recognising damaging patterns of thought, the support of loved ones – these are the instruments that have helped me to bring my black dog to heel. That have allowed me to heal.
After my first recovery I thought that I was ‘cured’. My second paralysing depression cured me of this notion and now I am less complacent about the nature of the illness, more aware of the seeds of depression that lie within me and more conscious of the things that I need to do to stop them from growing.
Today I am healthy, I am happy, and I am wiser for the experience that I have gained. And I have a greater curiosity about, and fascination for, the power of the mind – if it can be so powerful as to turn me into an unrecognisable, crippled shadow of myself when turned against me, then imagine what can be achieved through conditioning my mind to work more positively for me.
For today, for tomorrow, this is what I strive for.”