An anonymous blog post about how a grieving father, also struggling with depression and anxiety, dealt with the 'spiralling and the climbing' of his mental health with a new focus...
In 2007 my wife died. We had three kids together and youngest was four when it happened. I had already been experiencing depression and anxiety before that. My wife hadn’t been very well for about two years before she died and I’d had to give up my job to look after the kids. All this meant my mental health was quite hard to keep on track.
"It felt like I was trapped under water and unable to breathe..."
After I lost my wife I spent a long time in a state of bereavement. Knowing that you’re not getting them back … it felt like I was trapped under water and unable to breathe. Anyone that’s lost a loved one may recognise that feeling. It was at this time that it was when I began to fear my depression would get out of control.
Before she died my wife had been in touch with her local Mind, and, when she passed away, they called me and said there was an opportunity to join Boxercise classes ran by Duke McKenzie. This came at an amazing time – it was an act of prevention as well as a way to learn to manage my mental health going forward.
"Something for me and just me."
I started the classes before my depression and anxiety hit its worst and it gave me something that I could do that I realise I had a technique for, something for me and just me. It was also a chance to socialise, and a breather away from the house - a bit of time for me. My connection with Mind in Croydon saw me qualify as a personal trainer and volunteer to help people back in to employment.
Raising three young kids on your own isn’t easy. For the last ten years my focus has been on the everyday stuff – the washing, cooking and cleaning for my kids. Living with your mental health at the same time means you have to make sure you’re that little bit stronger.
"I try and do the littlest things first."
My kids were always the most important thing for me, but sometimes you can’t predict the cycles - the spiralling and the climbing back up, the dips. If I’m in the midst of it, I try and do the littlest things first – putting some fresh clothes on and taking a walk through my local park or sitting in a coffee shop really helps. I now focus on exercise which helps me feel good about myself. I also get a lot of my positive feelings from time with my family - and time with my kids.
My children are in their teens now. I’m extremely proud of them. All three are in the air cadets now and the oldest is planning to join the RAF when he leaves school next year. it’s exciting to see them with that ambition. They all have their own focuses, and I have mine. Keeping well is important.
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