If I am being totally honest, when I wrote the blog on my struggles with depression and anxiety that I published yesterday I thought little more than this is something I just need to get off my chest. I thought a lot about what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it because I was very aware of how it could be misinterpreted and misunderstood. Unlike my blog last week that just came out of nowhere and flowed from my fingertips and my heart, this was something different. This is a complex and very sensitive area. This is a subject that all too often suffers the hurt of misunderstanding. This was an area of my life that I had to really think and pray about before sharing it.
I’d love to be a mainly positive person, and in many ways I am, but when it comes to my own self esteem, I’m not. As I finished it on Thursday I showed it to my closest friends to gauge their thoughts. The feeling was this was something that could impact a lot of people. I didn’t think anything of the sort. Although it was something I wanted to write about and thought one or two people might get something from, I didn’t expect much in terms of a response. I don’t write for a response, I write because I find it just helps me to process what I’m thinking. I’ve done it since the early days after Gemma died. As my racing mind consistently woke me up in the early hours, I would go downstairs, light the fire in the lounge, and just write. Write anything that came into my head, and I’ve not stopped. Every memory and thought that I’ve had since she went I’ve written down, and as I’ve done that I’ve discovered new things about myself.
I’ve discovered I’m not quite as shallow as I thought. I’ve discovered that I loved Gemma more than I ever realised and I’ve discovered that I’m able to articulate my emotions and feelings into words in a way I never knew. Since my degree I’ve never really had to write; but suddenly I find myself writing and expressing myself a lot. It’s cathartic. It helps release some of the pain that at times consumes me. It helps form some shape to the confusion.
I’m only writing to say this. I am bowled over by the response to what I wrote. I am touched and I am hugely grateful.
In some ways I am surprised, in other ways I am not. Not because I said anything particularly succinct but because the issues that have affected me, affect more people than we have ever dared to imagine. I have barely been able to read a fraction of the messages I’ve had, but those I have, have painted a complex picture of a mental health problem that respects nobody and no status. From Barristers to barman, counsellors to carpenters and policeman to politicians I have had messages from so many different people all narrating a similar story – the battle of living with depression, the daily fear of living with anxiety. I have read stories that filled me with hope and I have read stories that have filled me with real concern So many people are struggling with this, but too many are afraid to pull their mental baggage into the glare of every day life.
I have gone away for the week to a place I love on the North Norfolk coast – Blakeney. It’s a place of natural beauty, a place to get away from the pace of life, a place that we have enjoyed and loved going to as a family for the past few years. As we left here a year ago at the end of this half term we booked again. A week or so after Gemma died I wanted to cancel. I couldn’t bear the thought of going away to the place we loved so much without her. I’m glad I didn’t cancel. For the next few days I just need to have time to myself, time with family and friends and time to walk and drink in the Norfolk air and capture its beauty, and most importantly time to spend time with my boy.
I guess what I’m saying is that I really want to be able to respond to all of the moving messages I’ve received, but for now I need time to just continue to grieve.
If you’ve shared something deep and difficult to admit to others I’m not ignoring you or your pain. I will in time do my very best to at least acknowledge you and say thank you for what you have said, but for now it’s time for some Ethan and Daddy time.