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'I phoned my mother at 4.30am. I couldn't say a word. She brought me to hospital'

Treating depression isn’t as simple as putting on a brave face, writes our final Darkness Into Light contributor.

Anonymous

THIS YEAR’S DARKNESS Into Light walk takes place on Saturday May 6th in aid of Pieta House, supported by Electric Ireland. Participants in more than 150 locations, on four continents, will walk the 5km route to raise funds and awareness.

All throughout this week, people around Ireland have been opening up about their own Darkness Into Light journeys. For the final part of the series, we’re sharing an anonymous story from Frank*, 40, from Wexford, whose battle with depression began five years ago. 

Depression wasn’t something I really had an understanding of in my younger years. If you’d asked me, I’d have told you people with depression were weak, that they didn’t realise how good life was and that they should just fight through their problems.

When I did eventually begin suffering from depression myself, I realised that treating it isn’t as simple as putting on a brave face. It’s an illness like any other.

At the time, I had taken over one of my dad’s businesses. The recession had hit and we were losing money quickly. Every day became a fight to keep the banks from the door. I’d always manage to call in a favour or get a lend of money to keep us open, but over time the uncertainty, stress and pressure of trying to keep a struggling business afloat wore me down.

Dark fog

No-one noticed how bad things were getting inside my head. I tried to follow my own advice, thinking of every single way I could to stay positive. It worked for me 95% of the time, but then more and more I started thinking, ‘I just want my head to be free of this.’ It’s impossible to describe depression to someone who hasn’t suffered with it, but I felt like I was constantly in a dark fog.

The first time I came close to taking my own life was in September 2012. I phoned my mother at 4.30am. I couldn’t say a word, but she knew something was up. She just said, “I’ll be there in a minute,” came over, and brought me straight to hospital.

A sign

The second time I came closer again. I was on a night out for a friend’s birthday, and all I could think about was going home to end it all. I left the nightclub without saying goodbye, and in my head I was going home to take my own life. I was convincing myself to go through with it when I heard a car pull up outside. It was a friend of mine in a taxi, coming to look for me. I didn’t answer the door to him, but I took his arrival as a sign that I could keep fighting.

Source: Shutterstock/Yolanda Alemany

That night was a turning point for me. The next day I visited the GP. I was reluctant to try therapy because I’d seen a counsellor before and it hadn’t gone well, but I knew I needed help in some way.

He mentioned Pieta House, and even though I’d have to travel over two hours each way from Wexford to Dublin every week for a one-hour therapy session, I agreed to give it a go. I was willing to try anything at that stage to get out of that dark fog.

Feeling strong again

The atmosphere at Pieta House immediately made me feel at ease. In the end, the long journey there and back became something of a blessing: I was able to mentally prepare for the sessions during the drive.

Week on week I began to feel better. Initially I worried that once the sessions ended, I’d slip right back into depression and suicidal thoughts, but instead I began to feel strong again and like I could cope with what life threw at me. A lot of the guilt and negativity that had been weighing me down just lifted.

These days, my life is happy. I still have problems like anyone else but I’m better equipped to handle them. I owe so much to those therapy sessions. Without them, I wouldn’t have lived to see the last four years, to see my kids growing up. I have learnt to love life again.

*Name has been changed

Join the thousands walking from Darkness Into Light on May 6th to raise funds and awareness for Pieta House. You’ll find more information online here and here.

Helplines:

  • Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email mary@pieta.ie – (suicide, self-harm)
  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

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Anonymous

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