I’ve got a new Wednesday night routine.
It involves my vain attempt to get fit you see. I have a small gym in my house that is collecting dust because I make any excuse I can not to venture in there. I’m on my period, I’m tired, it’s too hot, I haven’t got time are just some of the excuses I mentally recite to myself.
Something that has helped me get over my sheer bloody laziness and place my backside on the exercise bike and pedal for dear life is taking my laptop into the gym and catching up on some of my TV favourites.
First Dates is a show I have a huge amount of affection for. It’s a programme that I can’t help but smile throughout the duration of watching. So warm, so addictive and at times utterly hilarious, it puts me in such a good mood after watching it and at an hour in length, is the perfect amount of time for me to whip my arse into shape and pretend I’m Victoria Pendleton training for the Olympics.
Last night I remembered I hadn’t watched the first episode of the new series yet (I never do things in the correct order) so stuck that on, as well as my hugely uncomfortable cycling shorts and got pedalling (there will never be a visual aid of that, no one needs to see such a thing).
Taking their turn in one of the most famous restaurants in the UK were 2 men, one called Damian; a Mental Health nurse from Ireland and Kai; a part-time model from Manchester. Their date was particularly heart-warming as they really bonded while opening up to each other regarding each of their own personal struggles. One had struggled to come to terms with his Tourette’s Syndrome which resulted in a breakdown while the other had suffered from depression on and off since a child.
Watching Kai discuss his depression with Damian resonated with me. The way he described it was like a light bulb going off in my head and immediately I was transported back to 2014, the year I struggled with Post Natal Depression.
Damian opened up to Kai about his own experiences which in turn this led Kai to discuss his own depression battle.
Talking off camera to who I guess are the producers, Kai explained how he was very, very good at hiding it. Something I think many sufferers of depression can relate to. Often through fear of judgment, shame, or perhaps not understanding it themselves.
All of the above is something I can identify with entirely.
Likening it to the weather, Kai described how he’d wake up one day and realise a black cloud had descended. This was true for me too.
During the first half of 2014 the black cloud was an occasional thing, my main struggle being anxiety. However, towards the latter part of that year, the black cloud was an ever present familiarity. My thoughts overwhelmed me. Sadness overwhelmed me. Life overwhelmed me. Heck, everything overwhelmed me. Anger, frustration, confusion and grief were commonplace. The sun rarely seemed to peep behind the black cloud, any lust for life was a thing of the past.
Discussing his mental illness further with Damian, Kai touched on how he would blame how he was feeling on everything else.
Woah, I thought. So did I.
I went to the Doctors a few times during 2014. Blaming my feelings on contraception. Begging my GP to let me go back on to a previous form of contraceptive pill that I knew he wasn’t keen to prescribe. I’d tell myself that all I needed was to get my hormones right and all would be fine with again. I’d wake up one morning and the black cloud would be nowhere in sight.
I’d blame others. People around me were the reason I was feeling like this. They don’t understand me. They’re out to personally hurt me. Even people who cared for me immensely.
I remember I didn’t speak to my own Dad for weeks around the time I was at my absolute worst. Only reconciling when my cat was killed and he hugged me as I cried the most painful tears.
Kai said acceptance was key in his recovery. And when it comes to my recovery, I would concur.
Realising that I was seriously depressed and needed help was when things began to turn around. Admitting to my family I was unwell and how I was truly feeling signalled the turning point. Realising I had nothing to feel ashamed of helped me understand my illness.
As I’ve previously written, with the help of medication and therapy I’m in a much better place now. Of course, over the last 18 months or so I get my days where I feel low. Where that black cloud could potentially darken my doorstep disallowing the sun to shine. However, I no longer fear my feelings like I once did. I acknowledge it and draw on the tools I’ve learnt to confront it. I have conversations about how I’m feeling, which helps no end.
Watching Kai and Damien discuss mental health was such an insight, I found myself constantly nodding throughout, and it was a conversation that resonated with me undoubtedly.
Regressing back to 2014 reminded me of how I far I had come and I am so pleased these 2 lovely guys opened up to each other on their televised date. Raising awareness of mental illness is essential and I’m sure it’s not just me who took something away from their conversations.
I was so pleased to see this flash up at the end.