One of the first symptoms of depression is when you can't make any decisions. Choosing which direction to walk is overwhelming, looking at a menu is like going on Mastermind. Eventually your brain gives up, it has no more room, you've scored 'game over' hit your full capacity like an over stuffed hoover bag before it explodes.
I felt like an outsider, an imposter, someone who was tolerated, but not really accepted. Awkward. I always felt so unbelievably awkward, like I was taking up too much space. I was afraid to join in. I didn't do societies - walking into a room full of people without actually being required to be there was beyond me, never mind walking in and actually striking up a conversation.
With the clocks going back this week, the season of S.A.D is upon us, and with that comes a surge in diagnosis. Seasonal affective disorder is type of depression that comes with the changing seasons, hitting at the same time every year, usually in the dark depths of winter. It's estimated to affect about two million people in the UK.
You call in sick with a moderate physical ailment, because it's easier to tell your boss you have a migraine/food poisoning/the flu than go into the intricacies of something you may not understand yourself. Have you ever been told to 'be strong' or 'get over it' by someone who just can't fathom the incorporeal nature of what's affecting your life?
I'm tired of being asked why I got depressed. I have no problem talking about how it has impacted on my life, and that of my family and friends, I think people need to know exactly how much mental illness can take over and infiltrate every aspect of life. But I have a very big problem with the perception that this could somehow be my own fault
The overwhelming evidence is that talking therapy works. And works in ways that can be life transforming for many people. It doesn't matter much what the brand of counselling or therapy is. What seems to be most healing is the relationship that develops between client and practitioner, based on attunement towards the client, honesty and respect.
But how about my kids? How am I with them? At my worst, I'm unable to cope with them. I can't engage, I don't want to play, getting myself up, dressed and fed is sometimes beyond me. Often, all I'm capable of is sitting and staring at a wall for hours on end. I resent every demand that's made of me, I want to be left alone, utterly and completely.
Last week, the chief medical officer for the NHS said that more help is needed in order for people with mental health problems to stay in their jobs. The lack of help she spoke of has resulted in 70million lost days of work last year, costing the economy £100million, an increase of £30 million on the previous year.
At the times in my life where suicide has become a real and valid option, it seemed the best thing to do for everyone. When my mind reached this completely irrational conclusion, I was convinced that while my family might grieve for a while, they would ultimately get over it, move on, and be the better for no longer having to watch over or worry about me.
It's the only illness where you get - absolutely free with the package - a real sense of shame. I've heard people say, "I know people with real diseases, show me lumps show me X-Rays", and of course you can't so you begin to feel bombarded with self-disgust thinking," I'm not being carpet-bombed, I'm not living in a Township, how dare I, who has everything, be depressed?"
In September 1994 Elizabeth Wurtzel's first book Prozac Nation was published and a new era of confessional-style memoir was born. Further than that, Elizabeth's frank and unsympathetic portrayal of her battles with depression was revolutionary in a way that now, even 20 years later, we're still getting used to...
I can still recall those early days when our second daughter was born in June 2012, endless tears; long periods of inactivity, terrified to leave the house caused by an unbearable anxiety and despite being surrounded by loved ones a feeling I can only describe as utter emptiness and isolation. This is how I remember seeing my wife in the summer of 2012. My heart still sinks when I think that at the moment our little treasure was born a part of my beloved wife died.