I understand depression is not a subject easily discussed, to be honest if you haven’t really lived with or suffered from depression it’s hard for anyone to comprehend what it feels like, hence many dismiss the idea of depression as an illness.
My depression over the last few years was due to feeling of no purpose and the mounting debt that was destroying my life, I coped with my depression by drinking to remove me from it, I used alcohol to try to feel better, to take away all the bad dreams and stress, it didn’t work all the time and I was a complete bastard to live with at the best of times, especially during times when I had no work or karate to get up and out for, I was a real mess who lost all sense of self worth and purpose.
These moments I have discussed in many of my previous posts, but I understand that not all depression presents itself in the same way and I’m sure mine was not as bad as many others suffering, it’s hard to comprehend anyone else’s depression, but I can sympathise.
I have lived with depression and previous to the point when my life started to fall apart I had brushed with depression myself once before.
My first experience with depression was early in my relationship with Victoria, she suffered from depression for a number of years, stemming from many things, including a miscarriage, bullying from her school days and her parents marriage break up. The miscarriage we suffered together, it wasn’t easy to take, although the pregnancy wasn’t planned we were happy to go along with it, but it seemed no sooner did we find out she was pregnant, it was all gone. It hit Victoria harder than me, she was devastated as any young woman would be, she was soon on Prozac to deal with it all.
They weren’t easy times, I felt many a time I was treading on eggshells, not knowing what to say or how to react to things, having to bite my tongue on many an occasion, knowing it wouldn’t help to argue or stand my ground, I just had to swallow my words and try to offer some comfort or sympathy, they certainly weren’t the easiest times, but with Counselling she got through and out relationship stood the test.
My first personal experience with depression happened back in 2007, it started with just one of my karate student who pushed the boundaries, in the strangest of circumstances.
A few years before one of my female students asked if a friend of hers could join the class, the only problem was that she was partially blind, I though it would be a challenge and agreed that we would give it a trial and see how it went, I hadn’t taught anyone who was partially sighted and she had never done karate, so it would be a learning experience for both of us, so she tried a few classes, we worked out a way to deal with it and she joined my club. I won’t use her real name here so we’ll call her Linda, I don’t think I’ve ever taught a Linda before.
She trained with us for a number of years, she became very friendly with the other members, she and her husband would join us for social events and a drink a the pub after training on occasion, she passed her gradings and even took a bronze medal at a national competition against other fully sighted females of her own grade, she was doing well.
But it all changed in mid 2007, earlier that year she passed her black belt, then things got strange, very strange. There were a number of things that were happening that didn’t seem right, there were the odd clashes with other students and odd tales about her personal life, in particular how husband had slept with her sister at a family do, but she had took him back anyway, but the relationship wasn’t right, it seemed he was the jealous one who was causing problems for her.
Then I started to receive odd text messages from her, text messages not actually meant for me, apparently sent to her son, but I was getting them, these messages always started with an hello to her son and his name at the start of the message, it didn’t occur to me at the time, but as it was pointed out later, would you put your sons name at the top of every text, when you have his name stored in your phone? These were odd messages about things that were going on between her and her husband, things bordering on abuse, but if I rang her back she denied it, it was a mistake and the text wasn’t for me, she didn’t know how I got it, but everything was alright. These texts became more frequent and even worse I started to get them in the middle of the night, I would get woken by the phone in the early hours of the morning, they were all very strange. She came to karate with the odd bruise, but blamed it on bumping into things, after all she was partially sighted.
One day in front of a group of the club seniors she showed Carol, her closest friend at the club and one of my assistance instructors, her phone, it showed her sons phone number under my name and vice versa. I had often phoned Carol after receiving these texts and she would call Linda to see if she was okay, because it was all getting a bit odd. She made a very public display of showing everyone her phone and the mixed up numbers, stating she didn’t know how it had happened, claiming it must have been her husband, but Carol put it right for her, but it continued to happen even after that.
Then one night I got a text message about one in the morning, this one pushed me over the edge, the message said her husband had locked her in the garden shed, but she had her phone, again the message was meant for her son, but it came to me instead, I just didn’t know what to do, by this time I wasn’t sure if this was a game or real, I didn’t sleep that night due to the indecision, so the first thing the next morning I called Carol and told her what had transpired, she said she would ring her and find out what was going on.
Carol rang me back later, she had spoke to Linda, she was at home with her son and husband, everything was fine and there was nothing to worry about, she laughed it off basically. I told Carol everything that had been happening and she agreed it was all a bit strange, as she was her closest friend and spent more time with her than anyone else, but had not seen or heard anything that backed any of this up. Carol agreed to speak with her privately about it all, as I was beginning to get to the end of my tether.
Eventually I couldn’t take anymore, I was mentally exhausted by it all, it was affecting my karate, my teaching, my work and my home life. If I got one of these odd messages at work, it would just play on my mind, I couldn’t think or concentrate because I just didn’t know whether to get involved, phone the Police or just leave it. I would get home and wouldn’t be able to just sit with Victoria or the kids, I would actually go a play with the dog before really speaking to anyone. Wylie didn’t care what mood I was in, I would get down on all fours with him, wrestle, play tug, whatever it was he cheered me up every time, then I would be able to handle being with the family without blowing up and losing it with them.
But I got to the point where I was empty, I decided to take time off karate, I asked Steve, my assistant, to cover for me, which he did for nearly six weeks, I had never had so much time off karate, but I needed it. I broke down in tears at work one day, I just couldn’t cope, I remember crying and telling my boss, saying “I didn’t feel normal”. She let me use her holiday cottage in Whitby for the August bank holiday, so I took the family and went away from it all for a few days, it seemed to do the trick.
I return to the club in early September and things seemed okay, I hadn’t had any texts whilst I was away, Carol had warned Linda that it was affecting me and they had to stop and they did or a while, but within a week or so of being back it all started again, the dreaded texts were back.
This time I was absolutely livid, I had been at an all time low for the previous few months, I really came to realise what it must be like to feel depressed, to not be able to cope with anything around you, to feel simply empty with nothing left to give, I was beginning to get passed that, now it was all starting again.
So one Tuesday night I got to karate after another text the night before, I took her aside and laid down the law, these texts had to stop, she claimed she had lost her phone the previous weekend, then that her husband must have it and sent the text, anyway I told her it would stop now, she had to sort it or I would go to the police, as I felt it was now at the point of harassment, the message seemed to hit, as I wasn’t polite, I had gone far beyond that point, I was down right angry and let her know it.
She trained over the next few weeks, but things weren’t right, she was causing problems with other students, disrespecting me and generally causing problems, so eventually after I discussed it again with Carol, it was suggested she took some time off herself, to let the dust settle, which she did thankfully and the texts stopped.
I had never thrown anyone out the club before and I never wanted too, but I called a meeting of the senior members of the club and told them everything, I showed them all the texts, which were still stored on my phone, they couldn’t believe it, they knew I was struggling with something but didn’t know what, they were all in disbelief. I put it to them to make a decision what to do, whether to let her back in after she served a number of weeks away from the club or to expel her from the club immediately.
The stumbling block here though, was that her husband managed the website at the time for the club, he held the domain, the webspace and the content.
But they decided to expel her, they had lost respect for her and even discussed that she may have been playing us for sometime, as they were sure she wasn’t as badly sighted as she suggested, she always said she could only see rough shapes and shadows, but not colours or definition, it was odd that stories of how she commented on the colour of people’s clothes now began to emerge. But the long and the short of it Carol agreed to tell her the decision, which she did, Linda left the club and texts stopped altogether.
It wasn’t the end though, her husband removed the web content and put up a picture of someone being stabbed in the back, so Carol called a senior member our association who was also I high ranked police officer in London, who called him and asked him to remove it immediately, which thankfully he did.
It was at that point in my life the lowest I have ever felt and at that time I started to drink wine heavily, before I would just have cans of cider or lager, but I started on the wine at that point, this was the start of a steady decline, which would gather pace just a few year later.
I saw Linda in town a few months after this, she was across the street, whether she saw me or not I don’t know, I took a detour and stayed well away from her, I didn’t know what I would say to her. I have never cut anyone out of my life, I am someone who would be polite with anyone, even if they have done me wrong or I don’t like them, but she was the one and only person I never wanted anything else to do with, I would never give her time of day again, she played a very strange game with me, she played with my emotions and pushed the boundaries of friendship, with strange tales that seemed to have no substance, just elaborate little charades.
So how would I handle seeing her now, well I think I would at least say hello, hope I would anyway, I can forgive her now, I have to, I have been forgiven through Christ’s sacrifice for my sins and my errors, so I can’t withhold my forgiveness from her, but I wouldn’t go as far as letting her back in the club.
I only brushed with depression, prior to becoming hooked by the dependency on alcohol, to hide my depression resulting from the mess my life had become, I know that many have suffered more.
Indeed there are many that probably have had greater problems with alcohol than I have, suffered deeper depressions than I could ever dream of and even attempted suicide on one or more occasion, not just contemplated it, but actually tried to end there own life.
I know I am not the worst case scenario, many have been in a far worse state and have been saved, they have made it through, but the key here is my story, my testimony of being saved and redeemed through Christ, it would all be a waste if I just hid it and carried on with my life quietly, I was challenged by the Lord to start this blog and not to be afraid to speak out, “whatever the cost, whether it works out or not”, to be honest about my trail and my problems, not to hide them or the way I was saved and he subsequent stories of my journey with Christ in my life.
I may not be proud of a lot the things I have done in my past, but I am proud of where I am now, my story stands as a testament as to what can be achieved if you put your trust in God and chose to live a life with Christ, in the hope that others may find inspiration to deal with their own struggles.
Waking up before the sun came up, was a fight that I would lose
To fall in love without a heart must be the hardest part for you
If I could change anything I’d change everything but you
Please promise me you won’t change a thing
(Don’t Change A Thing by Seabird)