The pit of despair
Words fail me
Trying to put your feelings on paper is one of the most challenging things that you can do. For some people it comes natural, for some it’s slightly more difficult.
How to express yourself with a handful of words. Can you make sense of the thoughts you have, will it be coherent or will it just be a mish-mash of random words
What makes it even harder is the fact that you realise that maybe a couple of thousand people may read it and know more about you,
you know what’s worse than that the fact that no one may read it at all. And you’ll be that person no one noticed.
That’s the same kind of emptiness that depression makes you feel that your invisible no one can see you, no one can hear you, or better still no one is listening.
Writing all this kind of makes you feel naked baring your soul to Tom Dick and Harry. Not knowing what they are thinking. In your depressive mind thinking every thought, you think someone else may have had added 2 + 2 and came up with 22, not 4 ( trust me it’s a formula I came up with, and I’m never wrong lol ) ( I need to stop the loling, curse you internet )
Sharing things that are profoundly personal but at the same time doing so gives you freedom, a release from the shackles that are binding you.
A great deal of this may end up sounding like the Ramblings of a demented loon ( don’t judge me lol ) ( oh and I apologise in advance for excessive use of the term lol )
Trying to focus and give clarity to my thoughts when they are all over the place is extremely difficult. It’s like swimming against a current
I suppose if I first explained what I’m babbling about then added mitigating circumstances, you may be able to understand why it’s so difficult
Then you can better understand the mind of a misunderstood underachieving genius ( you’ll know why I used that term later if you keep reading …. sarcastic irony I love it )
The pit of eternal despair
A lot of people see depression as a mental illness. Something that’s not spoken about for fear of the stigma tied to it
Some people brush it off with heartwarming words like “ pull yourself together “ or “ this isn’t you “ or “ get a grip “
All constructive, caring words I’m sure, in the minds of people who don’t have a clue or lack empathy
Depression is viewed as something vulgar in our society because of the daily demands put on us peer pressure, family pressure, society pressure. That just the pressures of society add to that work pressure school pressure exam pressure. I could keep going on as it’s everywhere you look, even in the simplest things, what should I wear what should I eat. This can go on and on
Each person gives you advice on how to deal with it. Every one of them is an expert and love to tell you how to “fix” yourself. As if you were broken, to begin with
They all “ know where you’re coming from “
they’ve all “ been there done that and ”know what it’s like “
Here have a glass of wine that will relax you. Keep your wine I’ll have a Wray and nephews ( Jamaican white rum ). No seriously alcohol and depression is not a good mix.
Each of us possesses some form of trigger that affects us in different ways, sometimes one thing, sometimes a combination of all things
Personally, I’ve struggled with depression most of my life, but I’m incredibly adept at hiding it… I’m that guy that’s sarcastic, witty laughs a lot makes everyone relaxed. I’m always told “ don’t you take anything seriously. “
If I were to take this world seriously, I would be a raving madman. War, famine, using manipulative, self-centred, egotistical, narcissistic people. Yes I know I seem to bump into the worst elements of society
This world isn’t kind if you break it down, you may have a handful of people who are honest straightforward but an ever-increasing amount is self-self self.
Hence the laughing-joking Steve, the eternal optimist forever trying to believe in humankind, forever seeking the truth, forever being proved wrong
This partly ties into my depression, continually observing the evil of humankind against humankind. We as people grow in tech and science but can’t grow in soul and spirit.
What I’m doing now is trying to give you an insight into the things that trigger my depression. As I write, it releases part of me and makes me more relaxed.
Or could that be because I’m sitting in the park on a rare sunny day in London
“ Hey focus “
Anyway the more I write, the more you’ll get to learn about me and my triggers.
Flashback (queue wavy lines)
I’m black (omg plot twist), bet you never saw that one coming. Historically black people seem like they are super cool, black men don’t cry syndrome ( reference boyz in the hood and the scene where Cuba Goding Jnr’s character breaks down ) ( Awww so sad “ pull yourself together “ omg I just used that term lol )
I came from West Indians roots specifically Jamaican but I was born in London. To go even deeper I come from a big family, six brothers and one sister.
I’m going to break it down for you, and then you can understand better if you’re not from the same background.
Jamaicans don’t do weak, don’t do crying, don’t do huggy touchy-feely. At least not in my family
We take afflictions and make comic references out of them.
If you lose a leg, you give a nickname like stumpy or bumps on your face Bumpy joe.
Me I had two nicknames “Shorty “ because I was short ( obviously ) and “Budgie” because I have this annoyance no habit of talking incessantly ( haha see I didn’t lol then )
If your not from that culture, you will find it cruel, but in fact, it’s seen as a term of endearment. Many Caribbean people find it hard to show affection because they grew up living a harder life, we’re showing any feelings was seen as a form of weakness to friends, family or people in general.
In my childhood, I never once heard the words “ I love you “
If you fell and cut yourself, then you were an idiot, you received rough triage, which consisted of Dettol applied to the injury.
We didn’t do hugs or any of that crap.
I’ll demonstrate to you how hardcore my family was. My first day of school my dad said to me “ if someone troubles you and you come home crying I’m going to beat you do you see this? “ He showed me a half brick he found on the ground “ you find a brick break it in half and fling it in their head “ sage advice, but one that has caused me to bury my feelings inside and not share them.
On reflection now I think to myself why break the brick in half, regardless of the size it would do the same amount of damage.
I digress, where was I?
Oh yes, my childhood.
Awwww, poor me, what a harsh childhood.
Wait, hold that thought it gets worst remember the six brothers and one sister all Jamaican
Yes, right you guessed it, it was like a madhouse. Words cannot convey the things that we did to each other. Of course, there were reasons we were “ toughening “ each other up. Yeah, that was it ( lol I knew there was a reason ) Yeah, right, we just loved torturing each other, morning noon and night. No sympathy, no pause
I know everyone’s thinking my poor sister without realising she was worse than all of us.
Oh, I should take this time to add that my sister and one of my brothers are now deceased.
Early school years I went to an excellent primary school, a church school holding hands skipping down the road to church services.
Then reality kicked in for secondary school. I wanted to go Woodberry down a mixed school but alas I was thrown to the wolves.
When I heard which school I was going to, I cried Brooke House Nooooooo! Built on the site of an old Victorian mental hospital or was it in fact still a madhouse but no one told us
The worst school in Hackney, when people said what school you went to you mentioned the name and watched the fear in their eyes.
I remember a funny incident when I went to see a girlfriend of mine at a school way out of the area. The guys in the school didn’t like it, and I was told by my friend that if I came back, they were going to “ do something to me.“ In them days I was fearless, and no one told me what to do. I went back the next day alone a group of guys came up to me about 10 of them and asked me what I wanted there. I told them I’m here to see my friend Doreen. Then one said what school you from; I said Brooke House why. I’ve never in my life seen people scatter so fast
The point I’m trying to make is what the school was like
Bully or be bullied
Me I’m not going to lie I’ve bullied people, and it’s weighed on my conscious in later life
I’ve also been bullied, I was or still am that geeky tech nerd and that didn’t go down well in my school.
I should have worn glasses at 11 but not in my school; I would have got a pounding.
I didn’t wear them to school until I was 15
To counter bullying, I developed a very sharp sarcastic wit, which I still have.
I used to insult bully’s with my sarcasm which went over their heads “ your funny Lewis you got jokes ) They didn’t get the joke as it was a reference to their minuscule Neanderthal brains. Of course, sometimes it backfired, and I had to rely on my short little legs to get me away ( quite difficult when you had asthma lol )
So far I’ve talked about my “ terrible” childhood (I’m sitting here laughing my head off because I hear that all the time )
So what would I have to be depressed about, how did these childhood traumas leave me mentally scarred, the reply is simple they didn’t
I look at it as life, they taught me life lessons, made me who I am ( that’s so cliche )
There is one aspect of my childhood that I haven’t touched on. One that I think has more bearing on my lifelong bouts of depression. That’s my intelligence; it’s funny saying that as it’s something I like to play down. It’s part of the reason I play the clown a lot of the time, so people won’t see that I’m smarter than they think.
When I was in school anything, I studied bored me, except Vikings. What I would do for an axe, a horned helmet, a tankard of mead, for glory for the honour of Asgard. Sorry, that’s what Vikings do to me.
Like I was saying my big brain was part of my problem. In school, I was bored to tears. I would read chapters ahead of everyone else then question the teachers teaching methods based on the fact I was ahead of what he was showing. It was why I was always getting detention or kicked out of the class.
Suffice to say I ended up in a group called the 5 set bombers who were not going to take any exams They were deemed to be failures before their lives had even begun.
You know where this is going, don’t you?
On the day of my exams, I turned up ( they can’t stop you), sat all my exams and passed all of them. That’s the thing about me I’m an anomaly. I’m not nervous; exams don’t scare me, life situations don’t phase me. nothing actually bothers me
In my family, I was the smart one if something needed doing “ ask Steve “ It’s the same now something needs sorting “ask Steve “
I was always put up as the shining example of the one destined to achieve. Destined to succeed but that success was based on they’re perceived view of what success is.
For me, it was entirely different. Success to me was helping people, providing comfort, giving aid. These are the things that make me happy
So what’s my trigger?
Simple my giant brain ( said sarcastically)
See the thing is I thrive on normal pressure, stress gives me a buzz nothing like that bothers me. The computer breaks down I spend a day taking it apart. Testing every circuit, running diagnostic programs pulling my none existent hair out. I love it but the pressure put on me to succeed is different. I honestly hate it and it always makes me spiral out of control into bouts of depression
I used to refer to my self as Spock pure logic.
I understand that my way of thinking when I’m getting depressed isn’t logical. I can feel it when it’s happening.
I’m not someone who is interested in money, I’m not interested in personal gain for myself, but all my life I’ve had people telling me “Steve will do this, Steve can do this, Steve’s the one with brains “ putting pressure on me to fit in their constricting box.
When in fact I’m not interested in success. Do you know I sometimes sabotage my opportunities when I hear someone talking about what I should accomplish? That’s the thing that triggers my depression and always has. If I don’t achieve something, I feel like a failure but the goals set are not mine so the logic would be I have nothing to feel sorry about nothing to feel guilty about.
In a logical mind that makes sense, but in the psyche of someone prone to depression, it becomes broken logic. Then all ridiculous anxieties open up ones that never existed, second-guessing myself, losing confidence.
Remember the episode of Star Trek the original series when Spock was forced to feel emotions, and it started tearing him apart.
That’s me with depression
Usually, I don’t give a “ toss “ about anything, never phased, never stressed, never worried, but then people come along, friends and family, with they’re dumb questions
“ how are you doing? “
“ what you up to? “
“ you working? “
“ what you doing? “
It may not be said, but I feel like I have to report on the progress of my life to date. In reality that may be in my head maybe the question is innocent but in a depressive mind, the simplest thing is a trigger.
In my life, I have always done the things that have made me happy. I used to be a martial artist and live my life on a ying and yang principle where everything is balanced, that balance is always disturbed by people who think their way is the right way. What you should do is their way, or it’s wrong.
Return to the Pit of eternal despair
Like I said earlier I used to do martial arts, bodybuilding. At that time I thought I was invincible nothing could hurt me.
This was me then at 40
I’d always had asthma as a child, apart from that I’d always been healthy, then my world imploded. The unthinkable happened, I had a heart attack that was world-altering, rocked me to my core.
I could handle the heart attack, but it was the repercussions that affected me.
My time in hospital I cracked nothing but one-liners the fact I nearly died didn’t affect me. A test later found I was a type two diabetic; I had gastro-reflux, diverticular disease ( yeah I know to look it up I didn’t have a clue either ). And last but not least vestibular migraine ( a type of vertigo ), it’s not nice you continually think that you’re going to pass out even if you’re sitting down
Even with all that “Steve” was still cool, my outlook was there are so many people worse off than me in the world who am I to complain I’m alive.
Then the medication kicked in.
Nine tablets every morning three every evening. I started to get bloated, or as I referred to myself, I turned into a “ porker. “
Check the photo, yes it’s me lol
That was when I indeed entered the pit of despair, the more massive I became, the more depressed I became.why me? , I’m a failure the words from people coming back to me, what I should be where I should be in life
I used to refer to myself as the phantom ( yes like the phantom of the opera )
I wore a big black coat, wore prescription sunglasses, hoodie up and a hat if I went out so people couldn’t see me properly if I went out it was early or late. I became one of the undead up late at night hardly slept through illness and depression
I destroyed most of the pictures of me when I was in shape. I couldn’t bear to see what I’d become but through all that the people around me saw nothing because I have classic “ tears of a clown syndrome, “ they always saw a smiling wise-cracking person.
No one once said you alright, and I never shared
My face developed skin tags ( that was the worse), yet still, I joked about being Quasimodo and “ ‘‘Twas the bells that made me deaf “
I had a lovely flat in an affluent part of Crouch End. That all changed when I got ill, I couldn’t make my payments as id stopped receiving sick pay from work. At that time I knew nothing about claiming social security. And I didn’t know they would have made the payments for me. Suffice to say I lost my home and ended up moving back to my parents ( don’t even look at me like that, they asked me to )
Now, this is where it gets interesting my father has Alzheimer’s I’m currently his carer, and my mother is 95. so added to my problems and illness I also have this to contend with. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not something I regret as it’s just life as I see it. Cards get dealt, and we don’t have a choice in the hand we’re given. We do however have a choice in how we play the game.
This doesn’t deter the people behind me telling me, what I should do, where I should be in life. As if they have walked in my shoes
Don’t get me wrong I’m my harshest critic, I can find flaws in myself better than anyone, and no I don’t lack confidence. If someone else tries to put me down, I rip them to shreds.
This period in the pit of despair lasted 14 years.
14 years of hating everything that was happening to me, I stayed away from people, I stayed away from women ( yes single for 14 years ), I hated leaving the house as I have to walk past the mirror in the hallway. It was not a good time, and I was not in a good place. The jokes never stopped coming if anything I think I became more comical to hide the depression
I ordered everything online; the delivery driver thought I was a mad scientist because I had boxes of goods every day. He you to ask me ”what do you do?”
During my self-imposed exile, I got my self-qualified as a computer tech, taught myself video editing and web page design. I even started an open university course, but that bored me to tears. I had to continually find ”projects” as I called them or my mind would have consumed itself.
Then about four years ago in 2014, I had an epiphany. I thought I was going to die; I couldn’t walk 50 yards, I was like old Father Time. Being me, I wasn’t going out like that, in my head, it was a joke I didn’t want to be that guy that 20 people had to carry my coffin and say “ good Steve was a fat f**k. “
The willpower it took to join the active for life program was unbelievable. I had to fight my depression; I had to fight my anxiety about people looking at me, I had to cope with the fact I couldn’t walk or breathe properly.
I started walking in the park as a prelude to joining the program. A smile every day at first then within two weeks I work up to 5 miles per day I joined active for life.
Active for life is a program run by the NHS that gave you two days a week in the gym free for 12 weeks.
As this was happening, I didn’t notice that I was slowly climbing out of the pit of despair. My mood was changing my self-worth was growing. I can’t stress enough how much exercise or being more active helped to balance my moods
It’s why I always say to people healthy body healthy mind.
The exercises helped to sweat out the excess medication which was making me lethargic. As I got fitter, they reevaluated my medication and began reduced it
I started volunteering with Tottenham active helping people get more active. The London borough of Haringey provides various activities for people to adopt a more active lifestyle
So my mojo was back I knew what I wanted to get back to my fitness roots and I wanted to help people who had similar medical problems
Before I got ill, I was on the verge of becoming a qualified instructor.
During my return to the gym, I realised that a lot of instructors didn’t have a clue about training people with medical problems. I even heard instructors and gym users body shame people who were overweight, which is wrong.
I remember meeting a lady while I was going to the gym, who I used to see every day. I told her I admired the way she came regularly
She told me she was thinking of stopping the gym. Did I ask her why? She told me about how conscious she felt while in there. I showed her my picture from 4 years ago and told her this was me and the story of what I had been through.
A few weeks later I saw her again she thanked me for the pep talk and said it had helped her gain confidence, motivation and drive.
That is what does it for me, the feeling of helping someone. I don’t care if it’s one person
We are who we are and should be treated as such. This is why I’ve taken and passed my level 3 personal trainer exam. Next, it’s on to the exercise referrals, so I’m qualified to train people who have medical problems. So I can fill that gap, created by instructors that don’t understand/ care about persons illnesses
This is my thing it’s what I do I’m not interested in working for anyone. I’ve found flaws with people or companies when you work for them.
A classic example is a job I took with Nuffield Health. My perfect job and it would lead me to exactly what I wanted to do, or so I thought, but unfortunately, their health and safety practise left a lot to be desired.I can’t say anymore as a legal case is ongoing
I’m not going to say that I don’t suffer from depression anymore. As depression is a permanent thing, I have good days, and I have bad days. The slightest thing can trigger an episode ( where I spiral out of control )
Take now for example when I started this article about five days ago. I got depressed over something stupid
I have a dream my dream is to set up a gym of my own and be able to provide free training for people that need it. The fitness industry is about money the thing that people who have medical problems need they charge you more for as they know that you’re desperate. Look at health food the better something is for you, the more it costs well to exercise, gyms, classes are the same. The people who can’t afford it are forced to pay through the nose for is
My dream is to set up a gym with free membership for people with medical problems or similar.
No, I’m not rich I live on a pension. I plan to try to monetise this blog hence the adverts on the site. If someone clicks and buys or sign up for a trial, I will make something which I can then use to take clients to the gym until I can afford to buy my own gym and equip it
And to show you how depression can strike at anytime
I’ve been busy concentrating on doing this and tried to get support from my friends on Facebook telling them what I was doing and asking them to click and buy through my link and do you know only one person did that.
It made me stop and think why bother; I’m the guy who you ask to do anything and it’s done. I do it there and then. You don’t have to ask me twice I’ve got your back
Now when I ask friends for something they can’t even be bothered.
To show the ease of depressions grasp
I could feel myself spiralling back into the pit of despair, drinking beers and wine, yeah I know I’m not a drinker. Word of advice alcohol and depression are not a good fit
Then I switched and looked at the positive, thinking at least one person supported me
The question I always ask myself when I feel myself slipping is where is the centre of the universe
Answer it’s me, we are all the centres of our universe. Everything you touch explore taste every action you take affects the people around you.
It’s why I smile and laugh all the time regardless of problems. What radiates from you touches the people around you.
Things that we do that are negative can be corrected if we catch them in time. I have a book in my audible library that I listen to a lot ” the chimp paradox ” excellent book.
It explains why we can be so irrational and how to control it ( yeah I know it’s a work in progress )
Always remember if we are unable to change then just like dinosaurs we will become extinct
Yes I get depressed, but I try not to let it define me or stop me moving forward
I still have my dream and still want to open my free training for people with medical problems
I do have a long way to go and hope people click my links and support my ambition.
I try to fight my depression every day and try not to make knockbacks throw me back into the pit of despair
I hope reading this helps you to believe more in yourself
Always remember the means to escape the pit of despair is within you
This is me now
Just as a footnote I want to add some more about what I’m trying to achieve with this blog.
At the moment I am writing everything myself which is very slow going. I’m hoping in the future that people will submit inspirational stories of how they coped with depression and how they turned their life around
And please remember I’m not a fancy writer, I’m just an average guy trying to tell my story and make a difference to the people I meet