This is Jon’s story of battling his demons, how he has navigated accepting them, and the struggle of “coming out” as having a mental illness.
“For years I kept going, living on my nerves, my determination not to give in to the demons in my head. There was no way that I would admit even to myself that I had depression, that I suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. I certainly wouldn’t talk to anyone about it. My business, my problem, everything is fine, get on with it, you are just a failure and you deserve nothing better (everyone thinks you are stupid and is laughing at you anyway as you stutter and stammer)
And so my demons ate away at me relentlessly, undermining what scant confidence I had, destroying friendships and isolating me against anyone who could help. I struggled at work, I would not socialise and I started to doubt even my teenage daughter, my wife and my son as being disappointed in me and realising how useless I was.
Several times in my life I have gone to dark places and considered stupid options – each time something has stopped me but the utter desperation I was feeling at this point was too much – but I couldn’t – WOULDN’T – seek any help. Basically I was a disaster waiting to happen.
Something had to give, I needed help, I needed to accept I had problems and deal with them.
We were eating dinner on Saturday, the four of us. My daughter was winding us up as only teenagers can do and I lost the plot – I couldn’t cope and it came out in anger (frustration at myself in not being able to communicate my feelings). I had to get out of that room but my 5 year old sons empty little chair was in my way so I picked it up and threw it across the room.
It wasn’t broken but I was. The horror of what I had done in front of my family was worse than all of the demons in my head (which obviously started to feast on me even more). I cried, I apologised, I offered to leave but my family stopped me.
Monday morning I went to see the Doctor with my wife, but I asked her to stay in the waiting room. I entered the Doctors surgery and opened up to her through tears about everything that was going on in my head. My Doctor was great, sympathetic, she listened and didn’t judge me. I had to fill in a form to assess if I was a danger to myself or not, the results got me to see someone the next day and so my recovery through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy begun.
That was 2010 and here we are in 2016. Am I better? Certainly I am better than I was. Am I cured? I’m not sure that is possible! But now I know my demons and I own them, not the other way round. I know how to put them back in their box and get on with life. I am at peace and still surrounded by my loving family.
I will never forget the horror at throwing that chair, of the look on the face of my 5 year old boy, they will stay with me till my dying day, but had it not been for that chair I would never have taken the steps I had to in getting the help I needed.”