Thursday, 20 July 2017

Breaking The Silence

With the shock news that talented Linkin Park lead singer, Chester Bennington, has tragically committed suicide I think it is time that I come clean. With you all....
For many years, nearly 15 since my first massive breakdown, I have battled with anxiety and suicidal depression. I have shared this with some of you and I wrote an article last year about my struggles. But I have never really talked in detail about the truth, the truth is that I still suffer and I still have to endure days that threaten to topple me once again into the abyss. This is an illness that takes no prisoners, it has no respect for fame or wealth and it kills more people than any other disease. How do I know this? because two weeks ago it nearly beat me and I as my strength left me so did my desire to hold on to life. It is only because of a close group of friends and family and a bizarre sort of twisted stubborn streak that I clawed my way out of the dark pit that I had once again fallen into.

I have a wonderful family, beautiful children and a small but loving group of friends who understand me and care so much. My PR company is growing and I have a number of amazing projects that I look forward to working on. I love my job and I love that I get to support the astounding talents of creatives who I both love and admire. Could do with a little more financial stability but then, who amongst us is in a similar position. Yet, I found myself sobbing my heart out in absolute despair and staring straight into the snarling and hate filled face of the black dog. You see, depression can take you at any moment and with little or no notice because, contrary to popular opinion it is not linked to how well, or badly you are doing at life. If death is the great leveller then depression stands shoulder to shoulder with it and it afflicts highly creative minds to an even greater level. Some of my most respected idols across all of the disciplines have battled with this monster and not all of them have won. Medication only slows its progress and the beleaguered NHS is not funded well enough to cope with the level of support required. The outlook is not great and the Doctors diagnosis is one of the worst possible outcome. Depression at its worst form will, or can, kill you and it does on a horrifically regular basis. I don't know what demons Chester was battling and I don't know how long he fought for but when someone kills themselves it is simply because they ran out of energy. It is always a terrible tragedy and regardless of who it is next my heart breaks for them in their last moments and of course for the gaping hole left. Anxiety paralyses but depression is a killer! 

One of the problems that we face when we battle with depression is that of an illness without any outward symptoms. If you have a broken leg then you have a plaster and it is obvious that you are ill, incapacitated for 6-8 weeks when the plaster is removed then it is abundantly clear that you are better. Not so with depression, there is no cure just coping mechanisms or strategies. People may not see the tell tale symptoms, the lost look in your eyes or the spark of life that has been extinguished. Worst still is the defensive or in some cases aggressive tone that can be adopted as the mental torment that is being experienced takes its toll. As control and self awareness dims it is still not obvious what is occurring and yet the disease is slowly but surely making its terrible way through our minds and bodies. As we withdrawal from loved ones and remove ourselves from life we can be accused of rudeness and the kind of selfish behaviours that simply lead to labels of hatred and derision. All this does is make the depressed victim feel worse and pitches them headlong into a pit that they may never escape from. If things don't improve and help is not found then family and friends are left struggling to find answers whilst staring at an empty chair. 

The other problem is the staggering lack of understanding that shrouds depression like some sort of impenetrable fog. On many occasions I have been told "what are you depressed for you have so much to live for" (not helpful and at the time a lie) or "oh cheer up" (don't you think if I could I would) and the old chestnut "you just need to focus on what is positive" (thanks for the sage advice and don't you think I am trying) This fog carries with it a conspiracy of silence that renders the depressed voiceless and unable to whimper for help. We suffer alone because we don't wish to make a fuss but to vocalise our suicidal thoughts would be too risk scorn or loss of business. I have to be honest here, I have never spoken about this in such a way because who would entrust their projects promotion with someone who struggles sometimes to put one foot in front of the other. Which Film creative would want a company to represent them when the owner cant see any purpose in life and is in such mental anguish that just breathing causes needle like talons to penetrate their skull? Yet I must speak and if you suffer so must you, because when we speak we join together. I don't have answers but I know I don't suffer alone. Perhaps if we screamed in pain a little louder people would realise that this is an illness that doesn't go away just because we don't complain


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