Over the last 6 months I’ve written quite a bit about Action Cures.
It is/they are my answer to the depression, anxiety, and imposter syndrome I’ve dealt with over the last ten years.
I know that I’m not the only person that has to cope with these things — pretty much everyone appears to have their challenges.
They might be momentary, they might be long term, they might mean mild discomfort, they might be acutely hideous.
The fact is that everyone who suffers is generally surrounded by other people — family, friends, colleagues — going through their own struggle s too.
But that is the exact opposite of how you feel. It’s isolating, lonely and it can be utterly selfish.
On occasions I’ve felt like I relish or wallow in my own self-pity. As if in some way it makes me feel special. The more miserable I feel, the more unique I must be.
Like a child acting out to get attention, I think I egged on my low mood to get the attention I wanted at home.
I always knew that my mood must have impacted my family. I’ve often worried about the effect of a low, grumpy and sometimes shouty Dad on my children.
But I learned this week just how rough that was on Cate (my best friend, mother of our children and wife).
In a conversation that was at times hard to have, she reminded me of some of the moments over the last ten years when she was genuinely worried for us, for our family and for me because of my behaviour.
The time when, with a friend over for dinner, I just had to sit in a different room because my head felt like it was imploding and I couldn’t talk to him.
The moment of deep paranoia when I thought all our savings were being embezzled.
And when, with passport in hand, I declared I was leaving to get away from everything.
Such scary stuff for Cate to deal with — it breaks my heart that I would do that to her. I didn’t know how to deal with it or what to tell her about it.
Like a child, my depression was acting out.
And I was so slow to do anything about it too. That’s the worst bit.
We’re all going to have tough times, that’s life, but I think it took me several years to do anything. And that’s too long.
I’ve got my defence of course. It’s hard to do anything when you feel like your brain is being squeezed and squeezed.
The combined effect of sleep deprivation after my daughter was born, with the most mentally draining job I’ve ever had, my father dying, and a lack of focus on diet or exercise meant that I was a mess.
Cate’s since realised that my erratic and selfish behaviour (combined with her tough job and own sleep deprivation) meant she too was depressed for a good chunk of this period.
Did I notice?
On reflection, all I saw was how together she seemed to have it. She was on fire at work and she was holding our family together. It was a constant reminder of how shit I had become.
If I had noticed I think I would have probably just projected my frustration with my own inability to act on her. I would have told her to run, to see someone, to do something. All the things I wasn’t doing.
I’ve always thought I was a kind, caring, empathetic person. I’ve always thought I put Cate and the children needs before mine.
But I didn’t.
On reflection, it’s all so obvious. But when I was in it, I couldn’t see it.
That is why I’m going to keep talking about and doing Action Cures.
Action Cures is the duty I have to Cate and to my children.
Action Cures is the duty I have to look after myself and to keep as mentally fit as possible.
Action Cures is the duty I have to teach my children skills of resilience so that when they get a bout of poor mental health, they’ll spot it, they’ll know what to do and they can figure out how live with it.
And, Cate, I promise I will do my best not to let this happen again. I love you.