As many of you will know I've written extensively on this subject. My own experience being a heavy and unspoken cloud of depression, which engulfed me both before and more so after the suicide of my brother thirteen years ago.
It was something that for many reasons I refused to speak about or at times even acknowledge. One of the reasons was that I didn't want my parents to have to worry about me as well, after losing their eldest son. Another reason was that I was determined to be strong for those around me. Another was that having seen how suicide destroys a family, I absolutely knew I would never allow myself to feel so low that I didn't feel life was worthwhile. Until I did.
Many of us have spent year upon year feeling alone and excluded, unable to share the things that go on within our own minds. And the difficulty as I see it, has been the fact that we have been trapped - alone - with the very thoughts that we yearn to escape.
My experience of depression has always been a feeling of looking inside myself and finding nothing of value. Wherever I look - my family, my relationships, my job, my house, my life, the world - I find nothing there for me. It's like wearing a long grey coat over your clothes each day of your life. You pass the mirror and all you see is grey. Each time you pass, you look, hoping to see a little bit of the colour you wear beneath, but it's not visible. And over time, this becomes a perpetual cycle whereby eventually you stop looking. You already know that there is no colour in your life, all you ever find is greyness. Darkness.
For years I didn't speak about it at all. I didn't want people contradicting my view on life, after all, I should know how I am feeling. The dark feelings grew and grew. Like a balloon inflating inside me, filled with unspoken thoughts, the pressure was enormous.
Suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20 and 49. It eclipses traffic accidents, heart disease and even cancer. It was only when I really felt like there was no other way out that I made one last choice: I would at least tell people how I was feeling so if I disappeared they'd understand. Something my brother was unable to do.
I sought help. After all, I needed to prepare and I'd try out my thoughts with a therapist. I began to talk, slowly and tentatively at first. It was difficult, but not as bad as I thought. I began to release the thoughts that I had kept inside for twenty years. Thoughts I'd stored for fear of embarrassment or rejection or just to try and protect the feelings of others. And over time, as I began to speak to my friends and family, I was surprised that some of the things I dared to say that I thought were unique to me, were feelings that had also been experienced by people I knew.
I was not alone. If people I knew had experienced these things, just imagine how many people worldwide had. When I began to view it this way, I realised that I was far from alone.
Over time (and with the help of professional assistance) the pressure slowly began to reduce and the balloon inside me began to deflate. I could feel it physically. An internal pressure reducing. The reason for the phrase "a weight off your mind". But it all began with that first release. Those first words to say that something was wrong. Mental health is woefully misunderstood but we do have people who will listen. Strangers at the other end of the phone who will listen all day every day if it helps.
And it will.
And all I can recommend is even in your very darkest hour, you have nothing else to lose by at least pushing those first few words out and relieving that seemingly insurmountable pressure.