This week's blog comes in the form of content of an email our Founder Terry received this after the writer saw an Instagram post. Terry felt the story was powerful enough that he gained permission to share it.
I'am writing to you by email because what I have to say is a bit too long for an Instagram message and because I am taking a cautious first step and what I have to say is very private at this stage.
I agree with Stephen's comment in your Instagram post of last Thursday. But I would add one thing to it. If you are the kind and noble friend of someone that has depression or possibly some other form of mental illness, very gently try to encourage them to seek medical help. Definitely don't say you need medication - that can be one of the most offensive and upsetting things to hear.
But that first step of helping someone to realise, or standing beside them as they start the journey of accepting within themselves that they may have an illness, is the most important step they will take in their lives and it is the start of their journey towards recovery and a better life.
I know this because I have had first hand experience with mental illness. In late 2003 I had PTSD and was having a nervous breakdown. I didn't get help with that, you know typical Aussie bloke,father to two boys and a husband - who just put his head down and soldiered on. I then had another nervous breakdown in mid 2005 but this time I got help. I was then diagnosed with Depression and have been treated for this with reasonable success since then.
But for me, there was still some other problem. I gradually became a very quiet person. I had trouble communicating my ideas verbally. I also had trouble holding my thoughts together, it was as though my mind and thoughts were shaking. I had trouble focusing on the things I needed to do and completing them. I thought this may have been the effects of PTSD.
But I did think that it may have been something else, some other illness, and so did someone close to me. I went to see a specialist in late February this year. She fired questions at me for an hour and a half, and at the end of it she said. Matthew, you know it usually takes me two or three consultations to finalise my diagnosis. But I can tell you now that you have ADD.
I started taking Ritalin in the second week of March and slowly since then parts of my brain that have never been active have started to function. Gradually over the last six months I have developed the capacity to do things that I have never been able to do before.
And now in my mid-fifties, I have gone from being someone who was withdrawn, and afraid to speak for fear of stumbling over my words, someone who had difficulty finishing things and achieving their goals, someone who had difficulty holding their thoughts together because my mind & thoughts were constantly shaking. To someone who is now reasonably articulate and can plan and achieve things consistently.
The most important message from that is, that at this age, I am now a man that believes in himself and that is a very powerful feeling.
The last thing I want to let you know is that the only reason I am still here is because our Creator, whoever he, she or they are, sent an Angel to look after me. And that Angel is my wife. She is a primary school teacher, and as result of her training she was able to identify some of the problems I had and gently lead me to medical help.
Terry, I do want to help people by telling my story and supporting people that are going through hard times. But I will have to take this slowly initially, ie if you think I might be able to help. I need to take it slowly at the moment because my wife has been through a lot over the last 20 years, and as my carer, she has been deeply affected by what we have been through - to be honest she needs a rest and not more exposure to mental illness. At this stage she doesn't know I have contacted you and anything I do going forward would be me doing it on my own.
If you want to tell your story please email firstname.lastname@example.org - all communications are completely confidential.