Hi, I'm Drew
I'm a 32 year old man and I've suffered with anxiety and depression for most of my adult life. I was always a bit of a misfit when I was a lad, I never felt passionate about anything, I didn't think about the future, I was smart, but I found no reason to apply myself. I drank and did drugs to feel something but of course the void remained. I think the depression was always in me, but my youthful energy disguised it as a kind of quirkiness. Later in life I would find I was always headed for disaster.
I spent most of my 20's in a few similar jobs, I thought there might be a career in it but despite my best efforts I was surrounded by people that kept me down, and only saw my shortcomings despite the huge amount that I did contribute. I'd done so well to overcome the fear and sadness I'd hidden from the world but in my mid to late twenties it all came flooding out. I would break out in hives, suffer panic attacks, lose my train of thought, my heart would thump at the slightest worry. I'd wake up in the morning and feel as though I hadn't slept, everyday I felt this, I'd drag my feet and yawn over coffee after coffee. My mind suffered and my body began giving up on me, I was trapped in serious anxiety and depression.
I had a falling out with my boss, it was too much to bear at this point and I took leave for stress. I used that time to go for counselling because I knew I needed help facing my colleagues again. I summoned the courage to return to work, but in a flash the reality set in. They resented me, they sniggered at a distance, my only real friend at work -a dear friend I thought- was clearly on their little team as well. It was devastating. I handed in my resignation and that was that.
A few years passed by and I'd barely worked. I did the odd spell of agency work but I felt like a withered old man, I couldn't bear the workload any longer. My parents housed me but I had no money, my savings were all gone. I feared the stigma of claiming benefits but the time had come, I was penniless and I needed help, I figured they would also help me find work but unfortunately they would not care a bit for my circumstances. At first they agreed to send me on courses, I relished that. To be in a classroom as an adult was such a joy, I felt like I was righting the wrongs of my childhood, I kept my head down and worked hard, the old me was brought back to life for a time. Unfortunately it seemed that I would have to face up to the now lengthy period I'd been claiming benefits and accept whatever work was being proposed. It was too much, but I agreed to the first job they offered. The work was intense, I was in serious pain all over but I couldn't give up, I'd come home in the evening and sit in a chair until bedtime, I had nothing left at the end of the day and I'd just pray to heal overnight. I was berated by my work advisor for quitting, and I was berated for not accepting similar work despite my obvious inability to carry it out. All of my requests for part-time employment were dismissed. I had to do something I was ashamed to be getting used to, I had to walk away again.
Another year passed and that brings us to today. I'm now in touch with an advisor who's job it is to find work for people with problems like ours. She told me about something called Employment Support Allowance which pays so long as you have a note from the doctor, my doctor and I agreed that I would carry out part-time work until my fitness levels improve - but I'm still eligible for financial support. I now have motivation and incentive to return to work, so many times I have tried to better myself but I needed help that wasn't there, I'm hoping my fortunes will change now. I aim to begin part-time work while I work on my health - mental and physical. Then return to work full time.
I still don't know exactly what I'm on this earth for, but I do know that I have the tools to fix myself and find out. I've been doing some soul searching and one of the biggest motivations I have for getting well is using that knowledge to help others who have suffered the same. I've learned a lot about depression, like many of you I'm something of an expert. But we do need help, we do need to share.
I'm here to tell my story and learn from others, and maybe they can learn a little from me too.
Thanks for reading.