I’m f-f-f

“My head is a clutter,”

A whisper, a mutter.

“I’m f-f-f-

Fucked!” I stutter.

“My thoughts are a jumble,”

Barely heard, a mumble.

“I’m f-f-f-

Fucked!” I stumble.

“My nut needs a hammer,”

Spoken low, no clamour.

“I’m f-f-f-

Fucked!” I stammer.

I’m f-f-f

Getting through the day

Getting through the day is hard. Really hard. Like, constant battle not to take your own life hard.

It seems like everyday I wake up with the same thought, “I hate myself. I should just kill myself and die”. I hate myself even more for thinking like that. I’ve been trained to tell somebody how I’m feeling at moments like this, so I let my wife know.

But that just brings more self hatred. I hate myself for being a distraction when she’s at work. She shouldn’t have to deal with this all the time.

So my despair deepens. I should just do it. Get it over with. I’m fed up with feeling this way.

The same thing stops me as it always does. She would be the one to find me. I don’t want her to have to experience that.  It’s not fair to heap that misery on her. To increase her burden.

So I drift through the day instead. Unable to concentrate. Unable to complete the simplest of tasks. My head spins. There’s a thunderstorm inside.

I realise I’d be dead if it wasn’t for the missus. If it wasn’t for the pain I know it would cause her, I’d have finished it a long time ago.

How do the people who have nobody to care for them, cope? I guess they don’t.

I do have someone to care for me. I’m not sure if that makes me or less fortunate. Maybe it just prolongs my suffering? Either way, I couldn’t do that to her. I’ve put her through enough.

Maybe there is hope. Maybe I’m not completely worthless. There’s still some shred of me that tries to put her first.

Until tomorrow. When I wake up and I think, “I hate myself. I should just kill myself and die”.

Getting through the day


When I was first diagnosed with depression and an anxiety disorder, the following excerpt was brought to my attention. It’s taken from ‘Depressive Illness: The Curse of the Strong’ a book by Dr Tim Cantopher:

“What happens if you put a whole lot of stresses on to someone who is weak, cynical or lazy? The answer is that they will immediately give up, so they will never get stressed enough to become ill. The strong person on the other hand reacts to stress by redoubling their efforts, pushing themselves way beyond the limits for which their body is designed. When they start getting the symptoms of depression they still keep going, with the inevitable result that eventually their limbic system gives way. If you put 18 amps through a 13 amp fuse there is only one possible result.”

Dr Cantopher’s observations are backed up by scientific theory. “When a part of our brain called the limbic system malfunctions it manifests as depression. Our limbic system is a complex system of nerve fibres configured like a computers circuit board, controlling numerous systems around our body including our moods. It copes with our everyday life stresses very well, but it does have a limit. When pushed beyond breaking point (usually, but not exclusively, by a traumatic event) it will effectively blow a fuse. This ‘fuse’ is our transmitter chemicals, seratonin and noradrenaline, and their levels drop rapidly when the circuit blows. Without the correct levels of these two chemicals the electrical impulses that our brains nerve fibres need also drop, which in turn causes our ‘circuit board’ to abruptly stop working i.e. depression.”

In those early days, I took great comfort from those words. Because they resonated with me. I’d always been considered mentally ‘strong.’ Exams and performing under pressure didn’t bother me, I was great in a crisis, I never got too high or too low in my emotions, and I was superb at helping other people through their own troubles. So it all made sense.

I was also aware that emotions and reactions to mental inputs didn’t just materialise in thin air. They were caused by chemical reactions in the brain. So once again, it made sense. I had overworked the physical functions that moderate emotions and now I was paying the price.

Time passed, and I got worse. My anxiety rendered me unable to speak, my hands shook uncontrollably, and physical ticks presented themselves. Depression led me to self harm and suicidal thoughts. I had the worst time of my life. The worst time I’ll probably ever have. I tried different medications, extensive therapy. Eventually, I came out of it, and today I find myself in a relatively good place.

A little while back, I made the conscious decision to approach my life as if anxiety and depression no longer affected me. They were conditions that I used to have, and may occasionally relapse into, but they were no longer my present. They no longer defined me. And then a couple of weeks ago my medication was changed (in the hopes of leaving me feeling like less of a zombie in the mornings) and I went to shit.

Once again, I was wreck. Just when I’d seemed to be getting myself together, I fell apart. The stammer came back, the ticks and twitches reappeared and I locked myself away, afraid of the world. I was advised to stop the new medication and go back onto my old medication. I worried that I’d set myself way back. It had taken me the best part of 18 months to get to where I was. How long was it going to take to get back there this time? Miraculously, it took just over a week.

Somehow, I managed to retain the lessons I’d learnt and the thought processes I’d implemented. I’m back to feeling pretty straight again. When I went to therapy today, my therapist was surprised at how well I’d done to bounce back in this fashion. She mentioned my “resilience.” She said that I’d been through an incredibly tough time, faced another battle, and yet here I stood, having overcome it all.

I disagreed. I didn’t feel resilient. I saw it like this. I wasn’t resilient, because I was weak for succumbing to all of this in the first place. It was self imposed. The suffering I’d caused myself and the people around me, was all my fault. It’s not like somebody had told me to be anxious or depressed. I’d come up with that myself. I was the cause. I was to blame. Nobody told me at 16 to become borderline emotionless and bottle everything up, I’d done that, even if it was subconscious, it was me. Nobody told me to develop IBS either. I caused it.

Quite rightly, my therapist told me that I was wrong. A common theme in our sessions has been her belief that I’m too hard on myself. I set these rules and expectations upon how I should act and feel, and I pass harsh judgement on myself if I think I’m not up to scratch.

So I think it’s time that I accept what she’s saying and acknowledge the truth. She is right. I am resilient. And I shouldn’t be ashamed to feel that way. I’ve faced battles that have killed other people, that have nearly killed me, but I’m still standing. It wasn’t weakness that got me through it, it was strength. And despite it all, I’m here and i’m looking toward the future.  A couple of close friends of mine have got Crohn’s Disease. I wouldn’t tell them they’ve done it to themselves. It’s something that has appeared within their body, over which they had no control. My illness was no different.

My depression and anxiety were the result of environmental factors, of chemical reactions. I didn’t choose depression. I didn’t choose anxiety. When I was 16 and my parents split up, I wasn’t equipped to deal with the emotions I was experiencing. I thought that being strong and not falling apart was the right thing to do. When I was new to the police and being bullied for the first time in my life, I didn’t choose to become anxious. I tried to keep my head down and persevere. By ploughing on forwards and not letting myself fall, I wasn’t being weak; just ignorant about what I was doing to myself.

Now when I look back, I won’t see myself as being weak for having had depression and anxiety. I’ll see myself as being strong and resilient for overcoming them.


Self loathing


Some days I am consumed with self loathing. There are countless reasons that I feel this way. For example, I hate myself for putting my wife through this. She doesn’t just have to get herself through the day, she has to get me through it as well. I have to be coaxed into going anywhere. It’s never a simple “yes I’d like to go”. It’s a whirlwind of anxiety. Where am I going? How am I getting there? Who is going to be there? What if I’m in a bad way in front of them? Can I get home if I want to just leave? Plans and arrangements are constantly changed, tailored to my needs. Everybody else has to work around me. By trying not to draw attention to myself and my problems, I only end up doing the opposite. It’s hard work being married to me.

Yet I still can’t find the words to express how grateful I am. For sticking with me through this, for picking me up, for moving to a completely different country. Just to make me happy. For not giving up on me when any other sane person would have. To say more than just “I love you” and that I think I’d probably be dead without you. But I can’t find the words.

I hate myself for continuing to put me through this too. Nearly two years on and I still have days where I just want to give up. Why can’t this be like any other illness? Why can’t it be cured or just kill me? It lingers. I work myself into a frenzy and my brain feels like it’s going to explode. I see stars. Seriously, my head spins so much I see stars and lose my balance. I’m tired. Why do I have to keep experiencing this? Why won’t it stop? Why won’t I stop doing it to myself? And then I hate myself for feeling sorry for myself.

I’ve quit my job, moved to another country and tried to carve a out new career. But the slightest setback sees me crumbling. Giving up. I can’t do it. I’m not capable. This isn’t going to work. I lose focus. I don’t achieve anything, my brain gets stuck on repeat. I think over and over about something that doesn’t even matter. I’m useless. So I hate myself for being useless.

There’s no happy ending to this. I just hope that putting the words on a page and out of my head, will help clear it. I fear that it won’t. I think today is a day where I’m irredeemable. Because I hate myself for being self indulgent enough to write about hating myself.

Self loathing

It’s okay to ask for help


I lay in bed, wide awake, sleep nothing more than a forlorn hope. Then it struck me, I have no interest in enduring another day of this. End it. End it all. Stop the suffering. For the first time in my life I plotted a way to kill myself. And I mean plotted. My plan was specific, calculated, it was achievable. No vague ideas for me.

Unfortunately, my first thoughts of suicide were not my last and had it not been for timely/lucky intervention at various points in the preceding months, I may well not be here today. So how did I find myself at the point of suicide? How did I get that far along? Primarily, by not telling anybody that I was on the way there. Sure, I was having therapy, trying my best to confront issues I’d never dealt with before, but that was with a stranger. My words and feelings were left behind, confined within the four walls where I spilled them. I wasn’t sharing them with my friends or family, to them I remained a closed book.

Maybe it was my upbringing? Maybe it was my job? Whatever it was, I was a man who did his best to avoid any show of weakness. Weakness was dangerous. Weakness could get you hurt. I believed that displaying my emotions was the biggest weakness, so I bottled them, pushed them aside and left them to be dealt with another day. Eventually though, the time came that I ran out of bottles. My emotions ran free, overwhelming me, drowning me from within.

I would suspect that there are many men out there just like me. Men unable, unwilling or simply too afraid to show emotion. Men do not want the stigma of terms like ‘mental illness’ or ‘depression’ hanging over their head. Men are strong. Men keep it together, they are providers, warriors. Men are misguided. Men commit suicide.

The latest figures released in 2015 by the Office for National Statistics show that 78% of suicides in the UK are men. That’s over three quarters of all suicides. That’s staggering. Suicide is also the leading cause of death for men my age. In England and Wales, 24% of all deaths for men aged 20 – 34 years old is suicide. Otherwise healthy men, are being cut down in their prime by suicide – and therefore issues with their mental health. Yet nobody really seems to be talking about it.

If you listen to the typical conversation of any group of men, you are likely to hear discussion about general health; exercise and healthy eating, or illness; flu and stomach bugs, or even sporting injuries; muscle tears, sprains, broken limbs… yet you wont hear talk of mental health or illness. There will be talk of death by cancer, disease or road traffic accidents… but no mention of suicide.

So how do we begin to address this problem, this epidemic? Firstly, we talk about it. If we have problems, we share them. If we know somebody going through a tough time, we ask them how they’re feeling. And if they tell us they’re depressed or anxious, we don’t baulk at the subject, we confront it. I know that can be difficult for men, it doesn’t appeal to our sense of machismo, but it’s time to step up guys.

Let me appeal to the logical, grizzly, manly man side of your brain. Imagine that you are shipwrecked on a desert island with a group of people. You’ve got a nice collection of firewood, but it’s starting to rain. The hut you’ve built to house the firewood is beginning to flood. You look strong, so the group asks you to hold the firewood to keep it dry. They start to pile it on… and on… and on. Until you begin to realise that you can’t hold any more, you’ve reached the limit of your strength and any second now you are going to drop it all onto the floor to get soaked. What would you do? Would you ask them to stop loading you up? Would you explain that for the benefit of the group, you need others to share the load? You would. So why should your mental health be any different? Why should you allow yourself to be loaded up until you break? Speak up, for your own sake and that of others around you.

The next step is to raise the message within the public consciousness, we do that by supporting charities like Mind, by fundraising or sharing blogs like this. By breaking down the stigma attached to suicide and mental health, we make it easier for people to open up about their problems. We also help support and expand the services offered to those who are suffering. The more help available, the more people who can be helped.

I say all of this from a position of experience, because the best thing that I did for myself was to open up. Only when I shared my emotions, did I begin to feel the load lighten and in turn spy a light at the end of the tunnel. Now, I realise that it was the strongest act I’ve ever performed.

*This blog was written for Mind and also published here (with some slight amendments for the Mind website)*

Please check out my blog at: https://stevensaysblog.wordpress.com
I am raising money for Mind, please find out more and sponsor me at: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/MindTeam6
Twitter: @TheStevieE

It’s okay to ask for help



I feel exhausted. It seems silly to say now, but I never expected to be ill for this long. My initial estimation was a couple of months of regular therapy and I’d be ‘ready’ to go back to normal. I didn’t expect ‘ready’ to take so long. Like a cowboy builder, I was way out on my first guess. Before I knew it, a couple of months became six months… then six months became nine… and nine became today.

My wife, Frankie, has never pushed me to be ‘ready’. Her priority has always been to make me feel better, no matter what it takes. She never set a date and neither did my GP. A system of continuous and regular assessment was implemented. My line managers have also been fantastic, to the point that I almost feel guilty about it. Everyone just wants to see me get better.

But not everyone understands. You’d be forgiven for thinking, why are you exhausted? You’ve not been physically ill, you’ve not had surgery, what’s the deal? The deal is that I find myself here, a year down the line, completely exhausted by my emotions. Every passing day becomes a self contained hell. It doesn’t matter where I am, or what I’m doing, my brain quite often does what it wants. And what it wants, is to over analyse every single interaction that I have, replaying incidents from my past, making it expressly clear when I fucked it up and letting me know how I should have done better.

It doesn’t feel obliged to stick the to the past, there is plenty of thinking to be done about the future too. Making plans. Double checking them. Triple checking them. Checking to infinity. Nor does it restrict itself to complicated tasks. It worries about the little things, the mundane. Such as… Should I have that cereal bar before I walk the dog? Instantly, that question leads on to… Should I save it for when I get back, because it’s the last one? When I get back, am I going to be hungry for more than a cereal bar? Should I get some food to eat after? As I can’t take the dog into a food shop, should I walk her, bring her back and then get food? Should I go out and get food first? Will she need to pee soon though? Maybe I should just give her a quick walk, then go get food? Will she need a proper walk as she hasn’t had one yet today? Am I going to be really hungry by the time I get back? How long will it be until I eat? What can I get that’s quick to prepare? Where can I go that’s quick and easy? Should I get something healthy? Will I want to eat chicken and salad considering I had that for dinner yesterday? Have I decided to walk the dog and then buy food? And what about this cereal bar? And so on and so forth.

That is not an exaggeration. It’s a whole lot of questions without any answers, and I still don’t know if I’m going to eat the fucking cereal bar! Try to imagine having that train of thought, for every little decision. Beginning to see why I might feel exhausted? I used to feel blessed. I was always two steps ahead of the person who was two steps ahead, able to make a decision and foresee the consequences. I was aware of everything that was going on around me, I was the most aware person in any room that I stepped into. The King of seeing everything, able to explain miscommunications and settle disputes. Those abilities, are now a curse. I ruminate about rumination.

I’m currently at the police rehabilitation centre for a two week stint, taking part in group therapy sessions and one-two-one’s (I’m glad that back when I was able to make a decision, I made the correct one in choosing to pay into the fund that covers this place). The grounds are beautiful, there is a gym, a swimming pool, a bar (which I don’t use) for an evening tipple and a TV room for watching sport. You also get three decent meals a day. Surely I should be recharging my batteries? Unfortunately not.

During a recent group session, my explanation of how my brain works was greeted by a miffed response of “Wow, that’s a lot of thinking” – and that’s by people with similar experiences to myself. The self exploration and confrontation of issues, whilst beneficial, can be exhausting. Just getting dinner is exhausting – you walk into the dining room, desperately searching for a friendly face to sit with. Then you have to think of small talk. And nothing on this earth is more exhausting than small talk.

How then, do I go about preventing this exhaustion? Firstly, I need to retrain my brain to relax. Relaxation, or switching off, is a skill. A skill that I desperately need to learn. Much of what I’ll be practicing is grounded in mindfulness. Simply put, mindfulness is ‘a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment’. I’ve heard many positive stories from people that have practiced mindfulness, and although it’s clearly going to be difficult for me, I’m determined to give it my best shot. It’s time to live in the now.

I’m also looking to implement ‘go-to’ behaviours to utilise when my anxiety starts to build. For example, when the speed of my speech begins to increase, I’ll stop, take a big breath in through my nose, reset my brain and speak in a more considered manner to help prevent myself from stuttering. When my hands start to twitch, it’s very obvious to those around me and I can become embarrassed – which only serves to increase my anxiety. Instead I’ll focus my energy on something a little less obvious, like twisting my wedding ring. If things continue to escalate, I’ll excuse myself from a situation and find somewhere that I feel comfortable, where I shall stand still, close my eyes and listen. I’ll find a sound and bring my attention to it (I’ve chosen to focus on sound because I can choose what my eyes see, but I can’t choose what my ears hear!).

Will this all work? I don’t know, but you can be sure I’m going to try. Because putting in the effort and taming my anxiety, has got to be a lot less exhausting than the year I’ve just had.


*If you haven’t already, please sponsor me via the below link as I’m raising money for Mind, the mental health charity. Thanks!




Lessons learnt.


I felt that it was time that I wrote something positive, which in itself is a positive thing as it means that I am starting to open my mind to positive thinking (even if it is only on a sporadic basis).

So here are some of the things that I have learnt, from therapy, reading and life experiences.

I have learnt that; I should open up to people about how I’m feeling, instead of bottling up my thoughts and feelings and allowing them to fester. If I’m anxious, I should tell somebody.

… I shouldn’t make a snap judgement about somebody based upon their outward appearance, I don’t know what’s going on inside until I ask.

… the people who truly care about you will move heaven and earth to help you.

… asking for help is not weakness.

… being upset sometimes is okay.

… there are lots of people who are experiencing – or have experienced – what I’m going through.

… exercise, healthy eating and physical wellbeing have a huge effect on my mental wellbeing.

… opening up about my own problems, encourages others to do the same.

… there is help available, I just needed to know where to find it.

… hurting myself is a quick fix, not a long term measure.

… there is no quick fix for anything.

… having an achievable goal to work towards gives my life meaning.

… I need to open my eyes to the world around me and take it in, instead of ploughing on through with the blinkers on. Sometimes I need to stop, take a look around and listen.

… having setbacks is normal. There will be bumps along the way.

… life is balance.

… I shouldn’t be ashamed about what I’m experiencing.

… I should write as often as possible because it is one of the few things in life that provides me a true mental challenge.

… writing is a career I should at least attempt to pursue. It allows me to express myself in a way that I couldn’t ever do verbally, it gives me fulfilment and shows me that I do have at least one talent!

… I shouldn’t feel embarrassed to be myself.

… Each day is a new day, treat it as such.

… I am strong.

Lessons learnt.