People may not understand how invisible illnesses disrupt our everyday lives – precisely because they're hidden. Gary shares his story of battling depression and the support he received that saved his life.
We all have moments in our lives that define us. Significant dates and experiences that burn themselves into our memories so we carry them with us. For me, one of those moments came on 8 November 2017. Having been stuck in a deep depression for several months I finally decided that was going to be the day I ended my life.
I’ll always remember lying in bed with my laptop researching how to kill myself. Trying to find the most painless way possible. It was a task that ultimately didn’t take very long. A simple Google search revealed pages and pages of websites devoted to suicide.
I was just about to order everything I’d need to put my plan into action, but something stopped me. It took me a while to realise what, but it was fear. Plain and simple. I was terrified to die.
I didn’t know what to do, I was in so much emotional pain that I didn’t want to go on living but at the same time I was too afraid to die.
And in that moment I did the only thing I could do; I sent my wife a message telling her I was scared and that I was about to do something insane.
And she did the only thing she could do: she came straight home and saved my life.
The next 48 hours were a blur for me. I was rushed in to see my psychiatrist who immediately recommended that I be admitted to a hospital for my own safety. Two months later, and after an intense schedule of psychotherapy, I was discharged.
And that brings me to another significant moment in my life: 27 February 2018.
I’ve always wanted to be a comedian but the fear of failure had stopped me. So, after being through a breakdown and still suffering from pretty serious depression and anxiety issues, I decided I wanted to prove to myself that maybe I could make people laugh after all. I signed myself up for a stand-up slot at an open-mic night and performed in front of 50 people.
And it turns out, I could. I even came second out of twenty other comedians.
It’s given me so much hope for the future. And the fact that I can actually imagine a future at all is proof that the darkness doesn’t have to win. Life is a fight worth winning.
Do you have a Hidden Story you'd like to share with us?
We'd like to know how your invisible condition has affected your day-to-day life, and hear of the kind gestures or dismissals you've experienced along the way. Or can you offer a perspective as a friend, family member or carer? Or as someone who now feels differently after learning about another person's experience with an invisible illness?
The stories we collect will form part of our Hidden Stories project, which is about exploring – as a community – the way we behave towards people with conditions and illnesses which can't be seen. Only by sharing our experiences can we begin to understand them.
Get in touch with Jessica (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we'll help you to (sensitively) share your story and find support if you need it.
Join our support group on Facebook
We've started an online Hidden Stories community for those living with or affected by invisible conditions and disabilities. As a closed Facebook group, it’s a safe place for sharing stories, asking questions, and for mutual support and solidarity – amongst people who really know how you feel day to day.