Hiding behind the Laugh (written by Guy)
BLOG TAKE OVER
I am so glad that I have opened up my blog for you to contribute. Writing has helped me massively with my mental health and this gives others the opportunity to write and share their journey from a different perspective. I am truly inspired and encouraged by what I have read. I have no doubt you will too.
**Please remember local and national support services are available if help is required**
Thank you Guy for your openness in ‘take over 3’
This is me, stripped of the armour and the mask that I put on every day to face the world. Stripped of all of things that outwardly make me, me.
The bravado, the laugh and the big show of confidence, silent.
If you asked those who know me to ‘describe Guy’, most would at some point mention my laugh – it is a ridiculously loud (like really, really loud) belly laugh that fills a room. At a company management training session a year or so ago we were asked to share something about ourselves that no one else in the room knew. This is what I shared;
“Everyone knows me for my laugh, sometimes people call it fake and I guess in someway it is. I suffered from depression for the most part of my 20’s. As a way to deal with it, I created a mask to hide behind so no one would know I was hurting. I wanted to be and appear to be happy and so I created the laugh. I got the help I needed but the laugh stayed and I guess like the depression it’s just part of who I am now”.
As I said, in my late teens I found myself struggling, struggling to be at ease with myself, my body and my place in the world. I lacked confidence and I was wracked with self-doubt, insecurity and anxiety. I didn’t know what I was feeling or why and as such I didn’t know how to talk about it. I simply learnt to bury and hide it. I forced myself to be an extrovert, a clown, an optimist and the life of the party to prove to everyone I was ok. I hoped I would simply become ok as a result, but being something I was not was killing me. I felt like I was moving through water and on the worst days I felt engulfed by feelings of hate, anger, frustration, disappointment and a deep hurt that made it hard to breath. I survived that way for a long time. Alcohol ‘helped’, it became a crutch and I used it to obliterate all of the nasty internal voices and thoughts. The problem with alcohol is the next day – the hangover and the feelings of regret, shame and so you end up repeating the cycle to the point where its not longer a crutch.
I needed help and I just couldn’t ask for it – I knew I wanted and needed it but I just couldn’t ask. I know this is a strange a thing to say, and it is, but depression created a cloudy bubble and I couldn’t see out of it.
For years I suffered and buried all of that blackness deeper and deeper inside. One day, drunk and at a low ebb, I crashed. My life got to the point where I stood at the edge of something and I could only see one path laid out in front of me. But I am lucky, my lowest point was the point at which I was caught, pulled back from that edge and was forced, and if I am honest, shamed in to getting the help I so desperately needed.
Fingers weren’t clicked and things didn’t magically change, it took time and it was hard. But I wanted to change and that I think is the most important thing. I will be forever grateful to the NHS and to Bournemouth University, for the individuals who were there for me at my lowest point. The people who gave me the tools and the confidence to change.
Please, do not underestimate the power of a conversation. Counselling. Having someone with whom I could entrust all of the bleurgh to, helped me so much. Looking back, had I had a conversation earlier with someone I loved I may never have got so low. Who knows.
Back to my laugh – I am who I am because of depression – I am stronger, more self-aware and more confident. I haven’t beaten it but I have learnt to live with my ‘black dog’, so I know the low days and I can manage them. I don’t regret or begrudge my journey because in my heart I know that when I laugh, its for the right reason.
Its not easy, but remember that I am here if you ever want to talk. Guy x