Standing In My Own Shadow
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This is my autobiography, the story of a life not unlike many others, except that I have carried within me from my earliest days a mental illness which at its worst is terrifying and debilitating, and at its best is a dark cloud which spreads its shadow over every aspect of my life. I have been for most of my life in the grip of Depression. More
I never thought that I’d one day write the story of my life. Though it’s been interesting enough to me, I can't see why anybody else would ever want to read it. I started out as the dirt poor son of a soldier in a mining village in Yorkshire at the beginning of the second world war and ended my working life as a Senior Executive in Canada’s Civil Service, and the trip from there to here has had all the twists and turns of a Harlequin Romance. My kids might be interested in reading it one day, but why should you?
What makes my story of more general interest is that I carried with me from my earliest days a mental illness which at its worst is terrifying and debilitating, and at its best is a dark cloud which spreads its shadow over every aspect of my life. I have been for most of my life in the grip of Depression.
From what I’ve read Depression is, like cancer, difficult to avoid completely. Millions suffer from it, millions more struggle along from day to day undiagnosed, untreated and unsuspecting. Then there are those who stand by our sides, who have to watch loved ones, friends or family, battle this illness. I think that it has been as hard for my wife to watch as it has been for me to bear. And how can I explain it to her? How do you explain to someone what it is like to be trapped inside your own body, listening to terrible things coming out of your own mouth and yet unable to intervene?
Perhaps this book can help. It was, in fact, my wife’s idea. Write the book, she said, and tell how it felt. Tell it from the first signs to the time you were diagnosed and started treatment. Trace its development along with your life story. Explain how it affected your personal life and, especially important, how you managed to keep it from interfering with your career -- people will especially want to know that! And it will have advantages for you, she said, to put this down on (virtual) paper; it will give you a chance to step back from yourself and look at the illness objectively.
She was right. She almost always is. So here it is. Depression from the inside looking out. The story of my rags to riches career is in here, too, in parallel, but if you find my life story too boring, skip it or speed read those parts; I won’t be offended.
If you’re looking for a learned dissertation on the subject of mental illness, don’t download this book. If you want to know how a serotonin uptake inhibitor works, there are books which will tell you that, but this is not one of them.
If you are a fellow sufferer, or a family member, or a close friend of someone who suffers from depression I have written this book for you as much as for me. Hopefully it will bring us both to a better under¬standing of mental disease in general and Depression in particular.
To fellow depressives let me add this: We suffer from a disease like any other; it is not of our making; nothing we did, or didn’t do, brought this down on us. We have no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed. We should not allow a bell to be hung around our necks; those days are past. There is no stigma involved in being mentally ill unless we allow it. We must not allow it.
May we all find peace of mind.
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