Trigger warning: This story contains references to suicide and hospitalisation.
“I was first diagnosed with depression around twenty years ago working in Art and Design Education. After an extended period off work, I was sent to an Occupational Therapist where my problems were identified as work-related stress. Removing the stressors was the way forward and I gave up my management position. The depression didn’t lift, and the next stage was to take voluntary redundancy and give up my fifteen-year career in education.
My wife and I made the decision to move to Tuscany to be with our daughter. By the time we moved, the recession was taking hold and very little work was forthcoming and I was descending into that dark place again.
After five years we had lost everything and three years ago at Christmas, sitting in the dark with no heating and our relationship breaking down, I decided to take my life.
My wife found me, and next thing I knew I woke up in intensive care. I was transferred to the secure unit for observation. I was then released into the care of my wife, put on medication for depression and anxiety and had a weekly appointment with my psychiatrist. We decided it was best for me to move back to Scotland.
With the help of very good friends we were able to slowly rebuild our life. We were awarded a house, doctors continued my medication and I was given a therapy course with the Community Practice Nurse.
She encouraged me to express myself through art. These were very dark pieces with recurring themes of “holes”, “dark rooms” and “long tunnels”. We identified that isolation and catastrophising were part of the problem and I was encouraged to attend “The Men’s Shed” and “The Recovery College” at RAMH.
I explored my creativity and a vision of recovery that looked to the future. I met people who have been through trauma, who have a shared experience. I’ve also explored self-help and my role in peer support. This has given me back confidence and I’ve developed new relationships even during lockdown.
I feel I am responsible for my recovery and explore strategies and techniques that will move me forward.”