We were on the motorway on our way to a holiday with friends. In the back of the car were my two sons. I felt like I had my hand in a plug socket and a powerful electric current was flowing through my body. Nothing would take it away. I was so desperate for it to go, to feel normal, to feel well.
But it wouldn’t go away. It was with me from the moment I woke in the morning to the moment I fell asleep. As soon as I opened my eyes it was there, wave upon wave of anxiety. Even completing the simplest of tasks took a herculean effort. I understood why depression and anxiety drove people to drink or drugs; all I wanted was a momentary escape.
I hadn’t expected to have a relapse. Things were going well, I had felt fine. The antidepressants had worked and I was ready to come off them, or so I thought.
What I didn’t do was speak to my Doctor. I had been on antidepressants for about four months and I thought I was better. Instead of asking for medical advice, I literally stopped taking them.
All was well for a couple of months and then I began to feel a knot in my chest. That knot began to spread, until I felt my chest getting tighter and tighter. It took me a couple of days to realise that the anxiety had returned.
I called the Doctor and got an appointment and a new prescription and started taking the tablets again, but they don’t start working overnight and I was back to square one. Except this time it felt worse, much worse. What if I would never get better? What if I would have mental illness for the rest of my life? What if the tablets didn’t work this time?
I had always wondered what Hell would be like and here I was feeling like I had arrived, with no escape.
And that’s why I nearly opened the car door. It was so tempting to end it all. But of course I knew that I couldn’t do that, to myself, to my family and friends.
In that moment I chose. I chose to have hope, to believe that I could and would get better.
As I write this I want you to believe that too. That you can get better, you can recover from mental illness, that death is not your friend; it is your enemy. You are here to have life, and life in all its fullness. Look around you at the signs of spring. Of the daffodils and crocuses in bud. They are there and I am here to show you that there is hope that you can recover and life can get better. Grasp it with both hands.