YOUR STORIES: Many Years To Recognise The Black Dog

Band manager Andy Ayres shares his story battling depression in his teenage years and how two very important people in his life helped towards his recovery.

It took me many years and a brilliant GP to recognise my anxiety and clinical depression. I had grown up in my school years as so many kids today are, on the bad end of bullying. While I won’t name that person, it is safe to say they were supposed to be a person I should have been able to trust.

It’s easy to link this to my behaviour back then now, but it wasn’t at the time. I was just the bad apple, the black sheep. ‘Andy in trouble with the police/school again? Not surprised’ that was the usual comments. As back then not one person understood the mental toll bullying was taking on me. As I said I was just a bad egg. So, I developed a sense of who cares what I do, actually wishing for someone to understand and help me express my troubles.

At about 15 there was a life event that pushed me over the edge. I slashed my wrist hoping for the end. Luckily my brother was on hand to act fast. Although even to this day there is a little part of me that wishes he hadn’t. After A&E and stitches I was sent on my way. No advice for counselling, Nada, and to compound the problem there were no conversations had in the family.

Of course, at that time 87/88 mental health was the nutter down the road that no one talks to but laughs at. I can honestly say through years 16 to say late 20s early 30s, I spent either stoned or drunk or both. It was very rare for me to be in a clean headed state. Which was great because it meant the dark was locked away.

Skip forward I met Karen, my absolute saviour. That is the only way I can describe this amazing person. Up until August 2017; there had been many complete meltdowns for me with no explanation for Karen, but she held on. She did not give up on me. It wasn’t until I had reached a place where I was ready, enough was enough. I had my plan and I wasn’t scared; I was at peace with my decision.

Karen had noticed a definite change in me and somehow, I honestly don’t know, she encouraged me to see my GP. I duly went and the floodgates were opened. My GP was very precise and took no time with my diagnosis. As everybody that suffers and those close to them, they will tell you that they had no idea of the severity.

But that’s what we do isn’t it. We hide it because we don’t want to burden people, especially those we love. And don’t get me started on the stigma part. One of the crisis team counsellors amazingly said ‘we all have our down days’ WTF!!!! Then there are the ‘keep ya chin up’ F*@$ off!!!

I can honestly say in the last two years with Karen, Alex and some brilliant counselling with talking therapies, I have explored a lot. I am learning to have the black dog at my side. Times she still gets a bit strong for me and she makes me break my routine, but as time goes on Karen and I are understanding how to keep her calm.

It’s good to talk is a much-underestimated phrase, I am living proof. I also think there could be better support for loved ones.

Words: Andy Ayres

If you or someone you know is affected by depression, here are some websites that provide help and support:

Depression UK –  A National Self-Help Organisation that helps people cope with their depression.

Samaritans – 24-hour emotional support for anyone who needs to talk. Calls are free from all providers and do not appear on bills.

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