Richard, 37, UK

Richard Oats

 “Long term sufferer of Melancholic Depression (MDD) & Anxiety. For 20 years I have battled with my illness. I lived in a permanent state of worry believing that everything I did or attempted to do was wrong or psyched myself out with the idea that I shouldn’t even try to participate in anything for fear of failure, so I didn’t.

For years I ambled through life thinking that It was just a phase and I’d snap out of it, never realising that as each day, month and year I lived like this, I perpetuated my own misery.  I never had the confidence to apply myself to further education or set goals for my life or build a career. I allowed this illness to spill over into every aspect of my life. I lost friendships, partners due to my non-participation and negativity, always have a pessimistic outlook and critical view of everything instead of trying to find the positive, love or joy in the small things.

I no longer enjoyed the sports I played as a youngster, I no longer talked in depth to people about subjects that interested me. I allowed apathy to consume me and before long I cared about nothing, especially myself. I wouldn’t shave or bathe. I wouldn’t get out of bed and even when I did manage to apply myself to something it was half-assed, so obviously, the outcome never favoured me, which I took as a confirmation and validation of my already negative outlook of “Why to bother, see, you failed”. Before long I just did nothing, not even leaving the house for days, sometimes a week without even stepping outside. An alien to fresh air, overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness and apathy.

There remained a small voice inside throughout, never loud enough or strong enough but always there. The part of me I’d lost begging me to take hold of myself, to grasp my life back before it’s too late. However, I’d let years and years go by before I allowed that voice to become louder, stronger. 10 years of my life passed by doing nothing, so many opportunities lost; so many memories not made, so many songs I never sang. I have to live with the regret of never loving life; I wasted my 20’s giving in to my illness instead of standing up to it.

It really wasn’t until my late 20’s that I started medication and controlling my anxiety & depression. I had a wonderful woman, nothing but supportive and understanding to encourage me through. Sadly it was too little, too late, and like others, before I allowed my old ways to creep back in and destroy this wonderful relationship. She stuck with me for years hoping I’d snap out of it, and when I finally started to make progress I suffered a terrible back injury which has taken years to recover from. By this time I’d tapped her support dry and with so much struggle in both our lives she needed to take care of herself. When this happened I felt the loss so profoundly that something finally changed. Despite being filled with regret, this loss was the catalyst to change. To say “No more, I will lose no more of my love or my life to you”.

I am back on medication which helps control my severe symptoms. This laid the groundwork for me to apply myself positively. I can feel myself gradually improving with my coping mechanisms. At the end of each day, I find 3 positives about my day, focus on them, however, small, and find happiness there. It can be surprising when you feel you’ve had a bad day then stop to think about the good which went unnoticed because the illness doesn’t allow you to absorb. Depression filters out all the sunshine, it’s up to us to filter out the depression.

Days you thought were bad can actually turn out to be decent days. It is incredibly important to fight, every day is a constant battle. I’m not here to say that it’s easy because it isn’t. You have to dig deep and find the strength you never knew you had, and we all have it. You will surprise yourself, given a fair chance.

Take that first step whether going to see a health professional or talking to friends or family. Please do not stagnate and waste your life like I did. It’s much better to try and fail than never even try at all. To look back on life with regret is the most painful things to endure.

You can do this, we can do this. I never thought I’d have the ability to talk to anyone about my journey yet here I am. Together we are strong and within this community, I have found friends and strength, you can too. You are wonderful, deserving of claiming life back and living it ten times over in one. Find peace, you must. Your sanity is priceless.”



For more information on depression check out BetterHelp





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