Good days, bad days

I never thought I’d be one to write this sort of article. Come on, I’m large, loud and laugh a lot, never backward with an opinion, always quick to lend a helping hand.
I’ve been described as the life and soul of the party, The Big Eejit in the middle when there are shenanigans, the one that’s usually started them too. My daughter calls me a man child and my son, he’s usually telling me to stop being an imbecile. He’s eight and he uses words like imbecile to describe me. I rather like that.

My wife and I have been together twenty years now and not a day goes by that I wonder what she sees in me. Me being a rowdy Scot and her being a pretty, well educated, beautifully spoken English girl, who my former band mates described as Lady Mackay due to her plummy accent. I married my best friend and we laugh together, facing everything as one.

With all that in mind, why the hell do I suffer from depression and anxiety?

Not an easy question to answer but I do think it has been being too stressed in a pressured environment for too long. Having been a Project Manager on some massive and critical programmes, I was working for years in pressure kegs, usually being brought in to get things moving again when they had gone wrong. Early mornings, late nights, intense days and the pressure of being a consultant with my own business, while working for some of the most difficult people I’ve ever encountered (none more than the civil service) just ended up taking its toll on me. I was burnt out and demoralised.

That was when I chucked it for a different life, leaving the corporate jungle of morons and despots to continue their hand wringing without me. I was delighted to have got out, bought a cafe and settled into what I thought would be a way of managing my own destiny, slaying some demons and having a lot of fun working with two big loves in my life – coffee and food.

Long story short, it didn’t work out that way. There are different pressures in running a business of that nature and the way out I thought I had, was not to be. I wasn’t sleeping, I lost a lot of weight, was obsessing with small things, worrying constantly over the bank balance, couldn’t concentrate, my memory was shot and I was constantly on edge.

How I managed to get through it all without breaking I’ll never know. The health professionals don’t use the phrase anymore, but what I suffered was a mental breakdown. I couldn’t talk about anything emotional or close to me as I was in tears before I knew it. Driving to work, I was hoping, fingers crossed, that the cafe had burnt down and I would be free. Of course it hadn’t, so I’d go in alone, sit down at a table and cry. I’d pick myself up for the staff coming in and get on with the job in hand, but every day was so hard to put one foot in front of the other, keep going, keep others going, when all I wanted to do was drive away as far as I could.

The intense feeling of despair, being on my own in a world of pain and not knowing what the hell to do is one of the worst emotions I’ve experienced. I felt trapped, helpless and desperate, with regular thoughts that I’d be better off dead. I couldn’t slow down my brain, stop the thoughts from racing and my attempts at meditation were not putting the brakes on. Every day seemed to bring a new issue which was like water torture but the tap wasn’t on slow drip, it was more full on than that.

It kept pouring in on me, relentlessly.

I had a conversation with one of my staff, a more mature lady, and she saw I’d lost a lot of weight, always tired, etc. She kept saying that it must be the stress of this place and was a touch surprised when I said that I was ill.

“You?”, she said loudly in a  shocked tone. “How can you be depressed?”
That summed it up for me, that I was very good at hiding things, always joking, keeping on going, being that Big Eejit for everyone else that they never noticed. Being so good at hiding it was hurting me more.

This illness has also cost me a lot personally, never mind financially. I’ve lost two businesses, given up coaching of kids football which I loved (was in tears leaving the ground one day, with the welfare officer being concerned about me), I’ve lost friends, given up regular activities and avoid social / community events. I stopped playing in pipe bands and haven’t picked up an instrument for a long while, which is something I did regularly and enjoyed for years.

I went home to meet up with old friends about eighteen months ago, people who are more like brothers to me and crashed, massively. I was exhausted, on edge and even suicidal, which brought me to the realisation that I needed urgent help. For the good of my family and those around me that I hold dear, I needed help. I was on a destructive and damaging journey which needed to stop.

Thanks to Lady Mackay, who is the most exceptional human being I’ve ever had the blind luck to meet and the support of good friends, I am slowly getting back to health. Right now, I’m not working, not even sure what I am able or want to do but I’m here. I have good days and bad days, and as long as the good days outnumber the bad, then it’s a life worth living. I make my kids laugh, watch my wife smile and try to live in the moment, grateful for having them in my life.

We’re working out where we go from here and what’s best for all of us. Main thing is that we do it together and be happy.

That’s all we can ask for in life. Right?

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33 thoughts on “Good days, bad days

  1. Well said Sir. The cognisance to look behind the door you’ve opened, see the dark place beyond, and close that door to open the many others available, helps maintain or improve the good:bad ratio. Sometimes being the life and soul also puts strain on you to keep performing. Notwithstanding this, it does feel bloody good making someone laugh and smile, without having to think too long or hard to do so.

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    1. Just goes to show what’s going on inside someones head,and would never dream what sort of demons they are fighting…you would be the last person I would have thought was going through this,you always come across,so confident, sure of yourself and funny…get better soon,and keep talking/writing..it helps ❤…

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  2. It takes a brave man to recognise and openly admit that things are not right. You have taken a big step in sorting this out and now or in time you will look back and see clearly what the problems were. Good luck Richard and remember I am only a message away if you ever feel the need to have a chat or talk some pish.

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  3. Hey mate,I never knew or suspected anything was wrong.You know I’m here for a chat if needed.I hope your recovery is a quick one and you feel better soon.A bit soppy I know but ‘man up ya big poof’didnt seem appropriate.You’re a good man Richard.Good luck for the future👍

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  4. Wishing you all the best Rich. It’s hard to put into words just how desperate depression and anxiety can make you feel and you’ve done a damn good job. It sounds like you have some brilliant support. Keep writing and keep believing in yourself. Sending a big hug from a little person x

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    1. Aw, thanks, Lynn.
      All we can do is find some way to deal with it, stop the mind from taking control and running riot.
      Easier said than done and it’s a constant struggle, but we make it with the support of good people.
      Big hugs, Lynn.

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  5. You will get through this Richard with your big smile and great personality! Take your time before you make decisions for the future! All my love Audrey xx

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  6. Richard ,
    I think it says a lot about you that people you don’t see on a regular basis still care deeply about how you are doing.

    The best thing you can do is what you are doing. Get it out there and talk about it. Not something West of Scotland man is good at, so hats off mate.

    Regroup, refocus and for fuck sake move to Canada!

    Cheers
    Mark

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    1. Thanks, Mark.
      Aye, Canada is looking very attractive these days. lol
      Appreciate your words and it isn’t easy to talk about it but it is getting easier.
      Just need time to get my head together and decide what to do with myself.
      Onwards and upwards.
      Love to you and Collete, plus all your furry weans.

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  7. Well done on this amazing piece of writing. Just because people can’t see your ill, doesn’t mean you’re not. Like myself people probably look at you and think to themselves that’s there’s bugger all wrong with you cos you let the world see what you want them to see. Behind closed doors is a different matter. So glad you got the help you needed and at the right time. Great you’ve got the support of your friends, and most importantly your family. Keep well xx

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    1. Thanks, Norma.
      It is hard on so many levels as people don’t understand an invisible illness.
      ‘You don’t look ill’ is one I’m sure you hear. Well, I am and it’s a struggle with some days me winning, other days the illness.
      I wish you the best of health too and hope all good with you. xx

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  8. Richard, I myself have suffered from both depression and anxiety in the past (it’s under control at the moment but I know can return) and the best thing I ever did when I was at my lowest ebb was talk to friends and open up to some of my workmates. Can totally relate to the being a very outgoing type of person and people not understanding “how someone like you can be depressed”
    Fantastic article and a great read. Keep it up ya big baldy looney

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  9. Dear “Richie” as my two children named you with affection and still speak of the good times shared with you through primary school and beyond, KNOW that you will beat any negative feelings you may have, as you are made of stronger stuff like the “IRN BRU” which I bet you miss. Take your nickname and relate to its first part being “Rich” and take that as what you are..,Not in wealth as in a monetary sense, but with respect for you from your family members and friends whom you know you can rely on with certainty.Take it from this “old boy” they are all that matter. “Here’s lookin’ at you kid!”x. Eric..

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    1. Thanks, Eric.
      I really appreciate your comments here.
      I think back to Larch Place now and then with affection. The reason the people there are still in my life as they are good people, helped shape me from a young eejit into an older eejit, even the skelps round the lug.
      I’m grateful you took the time to read my piece and also for your comments.
      Love to you and Mary.

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  10. Its like you learn my thoughts! You appear to grasp a lot approximately this, such as you wrote the book in it or something.

    I believe that you simply can do with some percent to power the message home a bit, but other than that,
    that is magnificent blog. A fantastic read. I will definitely be
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  11. Richard I resonated with this sooooo much! I’m the loud one, the fun one, the kooky one, the one that laughs and sings and likes to cheer up others! I too overworked and I burnt out, I have know depression and the word GRIM is an understatement isn’t it, it’s like being awake in a nightmare and feeling helpless to do anything about it, even though you are trying with all your might! It’s exhausting and frightening!
    I have two children too and being ill and not being the best mum I could be was very difficult. But I recovered! And today I am well! And you will be too 🙂 because it is an illness and it sounds like you are on the right track on the mending front. I wrote a blog too and in particular one about the limbic system, which shows how we can get ill in the first place, mostly from burnout! I’m glad you have a great support network with your family, and thank you for this blog, Donna Xx

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    1. Thank you, Donna. That is a wonderfully heartening comment and I really appreciate it.
      It’s a long road and I am on it, but I intend to recover for the good of my family, be the best I can be.
      Do you still blog? I’ll have a look at the link and really interested to learn about your journey.
      Thanks again and hope you’ll follow, stop by again soon.

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      1. I’m Channy Chat I think you’re following me? From what I see my blog is very similar to yours, and for exactly the same reasons 🙂 I’m looking forward to reading your other posts 🙂
        You will recover from this illness and it will probably be soon, sounds like you’re doing all the right things to help yourself, even if your mind is telling you otherwise! (Bcos that is one of depression’s sypmtoms!) xx

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      2. Sounds like we are very similar indeed. I found your blog and will be reading too. Initial look and yes, we seem to have very similar experiences.
        It’s great to talk and find out how others deal with it, your recovery is great to hear as it gives a lot of hope.
        Thanks and I look forward to reading more from you.

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