Time to Talk

j-brollyToday is Time to Talk Day, on which we are encouraged to have conversations about mental health, and in particular extend our hand to those suffering from mental health problems, to remind them that they are not alone, they are not weak, and that they do matter.

I silently endured depression and anxiety for four years, beginning at sixteen, shortly before my GCSEs. They were failed for definite, I would tell myself, and I would abuse myself with visions of success that were now apparently out of reach. That, in itself, probably wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. But it spiralled, so massively. When alone, I would cry floods of tears without really knowing why. I would fantasise about my own death, have visions of my funeral, and see so assuredly that the place would be brighter without me in it, so why not hurry that along? It was toxic – toxic in that the darkest thoughts felt good. I kept pushing myself to go to the doctor several times over that period, but each time my mind managed to convince me not to go. I don’t doubt that this prevention was a form of self-harm in itself – beside the sheer embarrassment, I didn’t ever think I deserved to be listened to. It really didn’t help that every time I tried to talk to them, my parents said I was just being silly – there was obviously nothing wrong with me. I was just lazy, grumpy, just a typical teenager. It took a breakdown for them and indeed anybody to realise that something actually was wrong.

Trust me, that is not how you want it to go. As inadequate a warning as that probably is, you really don’t have to let it go that far. The time after that was the lowest I’ve ever been; I gave up my degree months from completion, riddling me with failure; I stopped working, and spent most of Christmas hiding in the dark, under a duvet (never asleep, though), when I wasn’t running away from telephone calls, or locking myself in the bathroom to get out of speaking to the nurse so concerned he turned up unannounced. I felt as though I’d lost all sense of communication, which lead to me becoming disconnected from my family – supportive though they continued to be – and losing virtually all of my friends. In 2013, at my lowest, I did leave the house with a view to never returning, though, thank heavens, something pulled me away from that mindset on the day.

It seemed that, since then, I actually found myself seeking the ears of others more than I had done. I’m not sure exactly what it was that clicked; perhaps a revelation that I didn’t want to die after all? As I’ve said before, it’s all about finding the lights in the dark. People who are not necessarily doctors or professionals, but those that listen, even if they haven’t a clue how to respond. It is the absolute hardest thing I’ve done, ever. But the mere release is huge. Indeed, blogging and the web as a whole helped me tremendously in this regard – I see it as something of an ‘in between’ the silence and conversation, allowing you to speak but with the anonymity that comes with online exchanges – it was an excellent starting block for me and the responses were all so lovely and caring. I also found myself writing letters to my doctor and preparing notes for our sessions, which helped no end in getting it all out.

It’s still difficult – my depression has not gone away, no matter how much I rattle with pills or how familiar I am to my GP. I miss my old friends – well, a couple of them. But what I do know is that I began 2016 feeling stronger than I had for a long time – dare I say, I was even optimistic about it – and that can’t be a coincidence, with some of the outings, revelations and progressions made last year by just opening my mouth, and indeed through wittering on via WordPress to such lovely people as yourself. You never know, I might even find a job soon! Perhaps that might offer just a shred of hope to someone – when you are ready, it will happen. There are so many stories of recovery out there.

A conversation about mental health can be one of the most crucial you ever have – and today is all about educating and removing the stigma, allowing these to become less of a daunting prospect for both parties. Indeed, the purpose of this post was primarily not to tell you about my ordeal but to offer that listening ear to anybody out there reading this – please feel free to comment and we can have a chat. I’ve mentioned already the benefit I felt using the internet as a starting point; a further bonus is that you don’t even have to actually get under the umbrella with that strange chap!

For information about today and for support on both sides, see the Time to Change site; Rethink and Mind have similar material. You can contact The Samaritans if you are in urgent need of help.

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49 comments
  1. I see light under that umbrella – a face lit up. Great image for this message. Great message.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks so much, Cynthia – glad you like the image. It’s all about those lights in the dark! (I’m determined to make that my catchphrase).

      Like

  2. Oh, Jacob, thank you for sharing your heart and struggles with us! I’ve mild depression (though giving birth brought out awful post-partem depression for me), and I know that struggle although to a lesser extent. I’m so glad that you’re feeling stronger now and hope that you will find a job suited to you, one that uses all your talents. Big hugs! ❤

    And I love how that piece of art conveys your emergence from the darkness!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks, Teresa! Here’s hoping! 😉 Your continued support and friendship means much to me! I’m sorry to hear you’ve had similar experiences… we must keep laughing – it’s the best way through!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Laughter, in addition to other intervention methods, helps a lot! 🙂 We’ll keep on keeping on!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jacob said:

        Definitely! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Jacob, it’s so wonderful and brave of you to share your journey and offer to support to others. You see, this is exactly why I adore you and am thrilled that we’ve met on here. You seem to be a kind and wonderful man who I consider a friend. Even though we’ve not yet met. I think you’re doing even better than you realize. You’re wonderful. Keep looking for the light. It’s always there even in that blasted darkness. Much love to you and for the record… I’d happily join you under the umbrella. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Oh, Charlie… you’ll start me off if you’re not careful!! Thank you so much. I could say all of that back to you; you always make me laugh, and your friendship means an awful lot to me. ❤

      And as for the umbrella, well, if only! Can the Doodlewash Express cross the Atlantic? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Back at ya friend! Enjoy the laughs and fun. Blogging is rough work, so it’s amazing to have friends who support you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jacob said:

        Indeed! Haha, rough work. I’m sorry for making it such a drudge, Charles! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jacob said:

        Aww, so sweet! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Jacob, do you remember my last email? I wrote you some facts from my private life, what I never did before. It was something of the subconscious, what told me I can do it. I don’t have the courage to write about my life, I am scared. But all your feelings are familiar to me. I have had to endure, because the situation required it. There were children and my father, who was always with me and his support helped me to survive. There was also Freddie, who really helped me to find peace of mind. Today I am lonely runner, but happy. I have no friends, but I don’t feel alone. I feel good with my blog, Freddie is alive for me and I feel happy. Jacob I’d closed the umbrella and I would let the rain fall on me, to wash away all the troubles from me. Try it please, maybe it will help you to find peace of mind. Love you my friend ❤ Camilla ☼

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Hi Camilla – I’m touched that you felt able to share those details with me. I find it difficult, still, and I don’t do it at all often, but I feel compelled to do so today in the hope that it might help others who feel the same.

      As for taking the umbrella down, it’s something I’ve considered many times. It was what I did in the beginning, and it didn’t end well. However, I am braving it, but slowly, as the weather starts to better.

      Much love back to you. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beautiful drawing Jacob ~ your frown sad look, but your mouth are trying make magic smile, what is good sign. ❤ Camila

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jacob said:

        Thanks, Camilla!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      That’s very sweet of you Jean-Paul – thanks. I could say the same to you – thanks for making me chuckle so often!

      Like

  5. But who will help those who really want to die? When will we let go of people are just tired of life, don’t want to talk but just end it?

    Any time I see such a campaign, all I see are people who disrespect my bodily autonomy and think I must live, because they consider their own life worthwhile. Unless you’re advocating for assisted suicide, you’re not helping suicidal people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Assisted suicide is one way of helping a suicidal person, yes, but not necessarily the only way. Does one even know if they really want to die, in that state of mind? I was positive that I wanted my own death, but quite obviously didn’t want that at all.

      We are tired of life for a reason. If discussion as to why is out of the question, I guess all we can hope for you, and those in the same boat, is that something comes along to change that, because indeed it’s no way to live. I don’t see disrespect to such people in the campaigns, nor do I see any forces or musts, but merely an offer to those that want to take it. And if such movements mean less shame, better care and fuller, happier lives, then they’re no bad thing and I will support them.

      Like

      • Why do we doubt the soundness of those minds? Why do we consider suicidal thoughts so wrong?

        We’re fine with confining our children to jails and judging them by pointless tests. We think the amount of sex partners a woman has determines her value. We think a lot of crazy ideas.

        Why does dying have so much weight on it, in contrast to forcing a child to exist? We give some people a lot of power much more readily. I don’t see the harm of assisted suicide. You can’t regret suicide when you’re dead.

        Suicide prevention doesn’t mean ‘less shame’ since it is, by nature, against the right to die. In fact, suicide prevention is important in continuing the shaming of suicide. It does not offer help or care or happier lives. It just makes suicidal people scared.

        I’m a part of a suicide forum and suicide prevention is probably the most hated thing there because they won’t let us die. Let people choose their life or death.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jacob said:

        As indeed countless people do choose life or death. How we act on our thoughts is in our own hands, ultimately.

        Like

  6. This is a wonderful post, Jacob. I’ve had issues with anxiety too and found relief in multiple avenues, including the Bach flower remedies and finding food intolerances. I think emotional issues are probably more prevalent in the art community than elsewhere, and from my own experience, the act of creating in itself can release so much negativity and bring in the positives. I’m really happy that you’re finding a path to healing. Your work is so lovely and you clearly have been blessed with many gifts and talents. Best to you in 2016; you have a bright future ahead. A brave and wonderful post right here. Bravo to you, my friend. 💛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Hi Laura, thank you so much for your lovely comments! ❤ I'm sorry to hear you've had your own experience of anxiety. There are lots of intriguing remedies. One thing I've always found good to relax, especially in helping me sleep, is white noise and ambient sounds. The sound of thunderstorms on Youtube – curiously enough given the image here! – works brilliantly. Love the sound of rain!

      Oh yes, art so much lends itself to our emotions and is wonderful therapy in itself… it's partly why I started up this blog, to ensure I kept up with it. I'm thrilled to have met so many lovely people along the way!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I also want to add that I really do love your artwork and it is so perfect to illustrate your message here. I’m really proud of you on so many levels. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jacob said:

        I’m especially thrilled to hear that – thank you so much, Laura.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Bill Fufkin said:

    Great art and post, Jacob…and I’m pleased to hear you are feeling better. Reaching out to others is key; it cannot be done alone. B

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks so much, Bill – you are right in what you say. I really appreciate your continued support.

      Like

  8. Rebecca said:

    Jacob, your expressive picture here says a lot, but I do think I can also see optimism gleaming in your eye. Onwards and upwards, whatever the weather… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks so much, Rebecca – glad you can see the light in the drawing. And indeed, you are right – upward is the only way to go!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Lee Hesketh said:

    Talks and hugs and friendship, you got it Jay, I am here for you always as I hope you know that. Love you and your amazing work, keep on going. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Oh thank you so much, Lee – that’s lovely to know. I might have to take you up on the hug sometime 😉 Blimey, everyone’s being so kind!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for sharing this Jacob, so many people suffer with poor mental health at some point in their life (as I did in my late ’20s and early ’30s) and yet it’s still stigmatised. So strange how easy it is to talk about most physical health problems but not about our mental health; well done mister! And I’m glad to hear you’re feeling brighter this year, long may it continue 😊.
    And what a wonderful image you’ve posted, full of atmosphere and feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks so much, Phil! Glad you like the drawing! And I’m sorry to hear you’ve experienced it yourself. It’s quite an eye-opener to see how many just in this comment thread alone have been through similar; it really demonstrates just how widespread it is, in turn making the stigma and fear seem all the more perplexing.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Tori said:

    Thank you for sharing so honestly and openly and for bringing awareness. I’ve been to that place and I hear you. Upward is definitely the way to go and we’re with you all the way 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks so much, Tori – I really appreciate it! ❤ The only way is up indeed!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. jmnowak said:

    Good luck with everything, Jacob! Your artwork in this post has a sense of optimism about it despite the ‘moody’ colours, that light under the umbrella, as someone else has said here. All I’ll say in way of ‘helping’ is T’ai Chi Yang style, Meditation of the yoga kind, fresh air and sunshine, including walking or cycling with stops to admire the view and to ruminate, count your blessings and last, but not least, a good eating regime suited to your metabolism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks Janina for your nice comments and the tips too. I do a lot of walking, whatever the weather, though must get out of that irksome habit of being ‘plugged in’ with earphones for much of the journey, for the reasons of which you speak. I have recently discovered vegetables, too… I’ve little doubt this has had a positive impact.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jmnowak said:

        It may have been my ‘last’ point, but, for me, it is the first one to look at when it comes to any type of ill health. You are what you eat! I enjoy veges too! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jacob said:

        Couldn’t agree more!

        Like

  13. Cool painting :-)! You’re really good at chiaroscuro. I like the look in umbrella man’s eyes – slightly scary, but clearly smart with a wicked sense of humour. I appreciate your courage in writing this post. I can relate. I hope we both continue to find a bit of optimism, joy and vegetables in each day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks so much, Myriam! Umbrella man is scary indeed… I often get that! 😉 And thanks again about the writing. It’s an eye-opener indeed to see how many even just on here have had similar experiences. I wish you all the very best.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Very well said, and very brave to write, putting in writing is a way of accepting to one self in black and white.i too had depression many years ago, I don’t know how I began to get over it ( it took years, lots of medication, which I just quit one day- apparently a v bad thing to do, but I had to) it is very hard to understand depression until you have been through it, even then every body experiences it differently. Great painting, it really represents what you have described fantastically 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks for all you write here, Rebecca, and sorry to hear of your past struggles. I agree that experience helps – I think if we club together and try to support each other, we will not only feel less alone but also feel better about ourselves, and that’s half the battle won.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Thankyou for posting this.

    Mental illnesses are so common and widespread, and yet mental health is still such a taboo subject. but it’s so vital that we speak about such things. Depression is such an isolating thing. Feeling that we’re not *allowed* to talk about it only exacerbates this isolation. In my own experiences ( with bipolar disorder) I’d try to reach out to friends, but they’d dismiss my attempts to communicate what i was going through as whining/ attention seeking. It made me feel very alone, so then i began to withdraw, inevitably drawing criticism for being too reserved. It’s a no-win situation which keeps us stuck in a destructive and unhealthy cycle, and I suspect it’s an unfortunately all-too-common scenario.

    Encouraging others to speak out, and honouring their courage to do so is CRUCIAL! There are a lot of people out there suffering in silence. I never want to make anybody feel that they must silence themselves. As Carl Jung noted, isolation and loneliness is not caused so much by lack of company, but by not being able to communicate the things that are important to us. So we must seek out, and connect with those who understand and empathise. That’s one of the nicer things about The Internet, i think. It provides a haven where people can feel a little more relaxed about sharing their experiences, in a way not always possible or comfortable IRL. Hopefully someday mental health will eventually become a much less taboo subject outside the realms of the internet too. But until that day, thank gawd for online discussion!

    Thankyou again, and lovely drawing. I hope that your day has some brightness in it ,and that there are many more bright moments to come!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences – my scenario with regards discussion was indeed very similar to that. It’s a nasty place to be, and it does perplex that it can be SO widespread and yet also SO taboo.

      But indeed, we are lucky to be in the age of the internet, allowing us to start to talk about such things. The digital experience, like that of the real-world, is all about finding the right people and places. I love this little corner here on WordPress, everyone’s so friendly, not to mention inspiring in their talents… I’d be lost without it.

      Thank you! I actually had a lovely day spending time with my niece yesterday, and she’s good for cheering anybody up. The sun is out today, which is a nice change too. 😛 Likewise, I hope it is bright where you are, and I wish you well! Have a lovely day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aww, lovely to hear! Sounds like a happy day 🙂 And thankyou, i did have a not-too-bad day here in Aus. Was cold and rainy, however, i have chocolate biscuits, so it’s really not so bad.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jacob said:

        Ooh, chocolate is never a bad thing! 🙂 And literally a couple of minutes after writing my previous response, the sun did a disappearing act and we were hit with the worst hailstorm in a long time. Typical!

        Like

      • Damnit. Funnily enough, it got really sunny here! What a contrary world! I recommend chocolate in times of surprise hail ( and other times)

        Liked by 1 person

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