Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Men-tal Health with Noel Wolfe

I am a man who suffers from depression. Sadly, that’s something that is hard to admit. There’s a stigma attached to mental health issues and unfortunately it seems to be more difficult for men to admit their problems.

So why am I writing this? Well, Cheryl has very generously given me this space to talk so I figured I’d talk about something important. Hopefully, in telling my story, I will inspire others, male or female.

“Why are you always so down?” “What have you got to be sad about?” If you have ever had depression, you have probably been asked these questions. Many times. I know from experience that it’s incredibly difficult to resist the urge to punch anyone that asks these questions in the face. But I think it’s more of an indication of just how ignorant society still is about mental health issues.

We all know the stereotypical image of a depressed person sitting alone in darkness feeling sorry for themselves and listening to Morrissey. But enough about my teenage years. But not everybody reacts like this. You may be reading this in work. Your workmate at the next desk could be going through hell on the inside but smiling on the outside. I know myself that I try to hide when I’m depressed. The happier I seem, the more miserable I tend to feel inside. And this, in turn, makes me feel even more depressed.

It’s a vicious circle, but the alternative is to tell people I am depressed and have to deal with whispers behind my back. And this has happened. I am very selective about who I tell about my depression. Only a very small few know. And now you do as well. Welcome to a very exclusive club. Help yourself to cake.

I have been depressed from an early age. I was never a particularly happy child, though I wasn’t particularly unhappy either. I have always been a loner. Truth be told, I don’t really like being around people for extended periods of time. Some people think I’m just being moody or miserable but I’m happier sitting at home with a book than being around people.

My teenage years brought with them a storm of depression. The storm crept in slowly from the time I was thirteen, with a period of severe turbulence starting when I was fifteen. And man where the next few years turbulent. Anxiety, self-doubt, self-hatred and a little self-harming. I have a very low pain threshold so I always brought myself back from that. On the outside, I did not show this. I got good grades in school and as far as anyone knew I was emotionally stable.

This culminated one night where I made a half-hearted suicide attempt. Spoiler- I survived. I am not going to go into what I did but I am glad it didn’t go to plan. Looking back, I don’t know if I really did want to die or if it was a cry for help. I am pleased to say that this was the only time I have ever actually attempted suicide. I have felt like it many times over the years and have been very close on a few occasions, but something always pulls me back in. For that, I am grateful.

Depression gave me a break for a few years until my mid-twenties. This coincides with me joining the rat race. I don’t know if you have ever worked in an office but in my experiences they can be nasty, toxic atmospheres which stifle and smother you until you become a robot. But they also give you money. It’s up to you whether you think it’s worth it.

This depression just would not lift. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months and I was getting deeper and deeper into that hole.

Eventually, for the first time, I went to a doctor about how I was feeling. Now I don’t want to put people off going to see a doctor but my experiences with doctors have not been great. Each doctor I have gone to has been more concerned with putting me on a cocktail of different medications. Some have turned me into a barely functional zombie. Maybe I’m just going to the wrong doctors. I did go to counselling but I found that the counselor wasn’t really engaging with what I was saying and ignoring some things I brought up. That’s not to say all counselors are like that. Again, I probably just got a bad one.

Thankfully, my employers were very understanding about what I was going through and adjusted my workload, offered support and helped me through a tough time in my life. Sorry, I thought it was opposite day for a second. My employers at the time were ignorant at best and downright nasty at worst. I am not going to go into it here but they made things a lot worse for me. Again, to me, this highlights the lack of knowledge about how to treat people with mental health problems. If I had a physical illness, things would have been different. If you have two broken arms, you can’t be expected to use a computer. You’re depressed and have a job which requires full concentration and mental sharpness? Tough- you’re just going to have to get on with it. Your performance is slipping because of this illness we know about? Get well soon, also, we are going to launch disciplinary procedures against you. Thankfully, I don’t work for that company anymore.

Since then, I have learned to live with my depression. I know that my depression is a part of me. I have learned to recognize when a bout of depression is going to strike and take measures to try and get through. I have had a number of deep depressions over the years. There have been times when I feel that this is the depression that’s finally going to pull me under. This is the depression that’s going to beat me. But I know that I am going to get through. Somehow. Eventually. There’s a lot of bad things going on and a lot that can bring us down. We need to focus our minds on the positive side. Think of the good times we have had and the good things to come. Sometimes, I question if my life will ever get better or would I be better just ending it all. I know that if I end it all my life won’t get any better. But if I keep going…maybe…only one way to find out.

I hope you have got something from this. If you are going through depression or any mental health issues, know that you are not alone. There are others going through the same thing. Reach out. If anyone wants to contact me to discuss this or anything at all, tweet me @CalmStormCalm

Thanks to Cheryl for giving me the opportunity to speak about this on her blog. I suggest you continue to check out her blog- it’s awesome. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to my room to pull the curtains and listen to some Morrissey.


Noel Wolfe always wanted to be a rock star. Unfortunately, he was never a great musician and doesn’t work well with others. After numerous failed bands, he tried to launch a solo project, which soon broke up due to musical differences.

He started writing poetry and short stories at an early age. He can currently be found under two decades’worth of writing, editing the good and shaking his head at the bad. He has finally started submitting his work, maybe someday you will get to read it.

You can find him on Twitter @CalmStormCalm

I would like to thank Noel Wolfe for sharing his story and I encourage others to do the same. Together we can fight to #EndStigma and join us while we shout out loud #MentalHealthMatters.

You can check out my story---> Let's Talk About Mental Health #ItAffectsMe

If you or someone you know needs help, please don't be afraid to reach out.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline

"Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind...Always!" Hope you have a lovely week my friends. xoxo-Cheryl