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Why Are We So Afraid to Talk About Depression?

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CHILDREN OF DIVORCE
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How do you tell your friends and family that you are seriously ill? For me, it was made - strangely - somewhat easier by the fact that I had just emptied my bank account of ten thousand pounds and told my parents they were no longer invited to my wedding two weeks later.

Winston Churchill called it the 'Black Dog'. Every year, thousands of people in Britain die because of it. One in three people will suffer from it at some point in their life. Why, then, are we so afraid to talk about depression?

The problem is particularly striking amongst my own demographic, young men under the age of thirty. At this age, we're programmed to be strong and manly. We go out and swill beer, party until late and generally put out the alpha-male persona which is expected of us. Inside, though, hundreds of thousands of young males are battling against their inner demons and living through sheer hell.

Some women find it easy to talk - my wife certainly does, anyway. For most men, things are different. We walk it off. We battle on. We certainly don't want to bother our doctor when we're probably just feeling a bit down. Underneath our confident muscle-flexing exteriors, we men have a problem: we leave it too late.

Although I had been on some pretty hefty medication for two years beforehand, the culmination of events last summer meant that I had to tell my family and friends what I had been dealing with. Despite having enjoyed a preceding year which saw me release three number-one bestselling novels, bought my first house and planned my wedding, I was at the darkest point of my life. That's the nature of the beast: when things are bad, you deserve it. When things are good, it's even worse. Good things only happen because you're either lucky or a fraud.

When it finally all got too much for me, just two weeks before my wedding, I snapped at my parents and told them they were no longer invited. I can't even remember what set it off. I then logged into my online banking account and returned all of the money both sets of parents had kindly given us to help us with our wedding arrangements. The money wasn't even there - it would have bankrupted us, but I didn't care.

I also printed off and packaged up two copies of an extensive journal I had been keeping since my diagnosis with clinical depression in the summer of 2010, with the intention of giving them to both sets of parents as some sort of retrospective insight into what I had been dealing with. At that point, my intent was to kill myself.

Writing is a highly therapeutic process, but even that becomes an enormous chore when you are physically unable to get out of bed for days on end. One would imagine light relief would be given upon checking sales reports and and figures from my books. The figures were certainly hugely encouraging and the wonderful reviews and kind feedback were, of course, very nice. Inside, though, I still felt like more of a failure than ever.

It was at the pre-wedding breaking point that my wife decided that my family needed to know about my condition. Five months after, my journal had been packed out with narrative and commentary on what I had been battling throughout and released as We Need to Talk About Adam, a book which details my free-fall into severe depression, most of which was written whilst I was at the darkest depths of my battle. Through giving proceeds from this book to mental health charities, I hope to be able to give something back and - potentially - save a life. That would mean so much more than any sales report.

Around the Web

Depression UK - help for people with symptoms of depression.

Understanding Depression - Mind

Depression | Health | Patient.co.uk

Clinical depression - NHS Choices

Depression - Understand it, Treat it, Beat it

Postnatal depression hits one in seven mothers

James Arthur reveals depression battle is behind his Red Nose Day support

Stacey Solomon: Why I thought I was the 'worst mum'

NHS recognises that mindfulness meditation is good for depression

Royal navy job helps nurse beat depression

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