"I'm staying on the phone until I know you're safe" are words that I've become very used to hearing, especially over the last few months. During particularly bad episodes, usually at 2am after far too many drinks, those words can prove to be pretty invaluable. These words, in my case, often come when I've had far too many drinks and have called Finlay to have an argument about something I've invented in my head over the course of an evening. Arguments like these often degenerate into vicious name-calling contests (almost always initiated by me), huge downward mood swings and, on rare occasions, suicide attempts. There have been times when I've been circling the metaphorical drain, and those words have pulled me back, but I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm lucky to have a partner that has stuck by me through depressive episode after depressive episode, through mood swing after mood swing, through the huge ups and downs that the storm going on inside my head can throw at me, at him, or at our relationship. I'm incredibly lucky to have someone who, in the middle of an argument that I've blown out of proportion, can put his own feelings to one side and make sure I'm feeling okay, and that my mental health isn't taking too much of a beating. I'm lucky because, despite the trials of long-distance relationships in general, my partner has been by my side - in person, over the phone, via text - whenever I've needed him to be.
Being the partner of someone with depression can be a trial, and you need a will of steel to stick by them through the bigger, more long-lasting downswings. Constant reassurance is needed, along with a resistance to the words they carelessly throw at you, but that level of support it entirely indispensable. I'm one of the lucky ones because I have someone like Finlay in my life to help me through a lot of the bad times, despite all the tribulations. But there are plenty of people suffering from depression that don't have that. Plenty of people with a black dog don't have people that they can turn to at any time, and so many of them feel lonely, isolated, and outcast. That's why charities like MindOut are so important. Their online chat has saved lives and continues to do so regularly, with a brief selection of the testimonials on their website reading: "I make contact often, because it helps me feels connected to the outside world, without it I wouldn't have contact with anyone" and "I feel suicidal daily, mostly of an evening. This service is a lifeline!"
That's just one facet of the support that my chosen charity offers, too. They offer an advocacy service, and the testimonials and praise that they've received from their clients are consistent with every service they offer. "Without the support from MindOut my life would have spiralled out of control! My advocate has helped me stay on top of things, my life has really changed, he has saved my life!" writes one. "Advocacy helped and went beyond the call of duty! I know I could have asked anything and would have received good advice and support," writes another. These are real lives being changed and, in some cases, saved by the work of this fantastic charity.
I'm quitting drinking for MindOut because of their work saving the lives of LGBTQ with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, but also because of my own mental health. Arguments can be avoided, relationships can be made easier, and mental health can be dramatically improved. I know this is a short article, and I didn't intend for it to be an essay, but I just want to close it by thanking every single donor that the campaign has had so far, everyone that has shared it on social media and told their friends about the fantastic work of MindOut, but most of all I want to thank my partner. Someone that has stuck with me through thick and thin, ups and downs, and always will. Thanks, Finbob, I'm doing this for you. x
If you want to donate to or share my JustGiving page then take a look at it here.
If you want to contact MindOut then take a look at their website here.