I suffer from anxiety and depression. I have had this condition for many years and it affected me in a way as I had to give up my job. I worked for a local authority at the time which had become stressful. Yes, working for the local authority at the time, the money was good, the holidays were good, but the job I was doing, a telephonist, had been phased out. I had been given another role, in admin, but somehow, I could not or would not, come to terms with it my new role. It got to the point at the end, where I thought my health was more important than any material gain.
So I left the job and survived on benefits, this period was the early part of the 21st Century. Also, at the time I had a daughter of primary school age and had recently split with my daughter’s mother. It’s not something I wanted to be a single father, but never the less, there I was. I had very supportive parents, who were there for me, in the background.
Meanwhile, I found voluntary work in my local primary school (the one my daughter attended) as a ‘Ready Buddy’. I also, became a paid cleaner, for my elderly parents. Yes, they were elderly but were still capable of many things, however, by my doing their cleaning chores, I helped them out and was paid a little money for it. I also did some gardening for them.
Sadly, as I sit here, writing this article, in 2020, in a world pandemic, my parents have passed on. I miss them to my core, for me there is no such thing as closure, for me, you simply learn to live with their absence. When they were alive, I could talk to them about anything, anything that stressed or worried me. Now, to a certain extent, I have had to learn to be self-sufficient in such matters. Self-sufficient, to the point where I meditate, in silence, giving all of my worries, to God. Yes, God, I am a Christian, I have been since 1984.
Later on, I met a girl from Blackpool, and this is where I now live. I bought a house up here, where I live with my wife. My in-laws currently reside with us and have been living with us since March last year. Believe me, having in-laws co-habiting can be wonderful, but it can also, be hell. Suffering from depression and anxiety as I do, my wife, in-laws, etc, have found it hard to understand my condition. It has caused conflicts, misunderstandings, etc, but, I must forgive them. Many people do not understand mental illness, many say “Pull your finger out” or “Pull yourself together”. As if by some magic, you can simply, snap out of suffering from whatever mental condition, you have. In my experience of having this condition, the above statements, are the worst thing you can ever say, to someone like me. At the end, of course, mental illness, unlike, a physical condition, cannot be understood by those unfamiliar with it. This is why, unlike those with physical conditions, those suffering from mental illness, will always in a way, be playing second fiddle. Yes, things have got better in the medical profession and in societies understanding of mental illness. However, there is still rank discrimination and vast misunderstanding of the subject, with much work still to be done.
My wife works, earns more than me, so to all intents and purposes, she is the main earner. I work from home, as a blogger and writer. It doesn’t pay well, but for me, at least I am making some contribution. For me, as I have gone on in my life, I have realized materialism allows you to have a more comfortable life, but there is more to life. For me, walking my dog in green spaces, hearing the birds sing, gardening, the simple things in life, are more important. I like my own space, but I also, like to socialize, especially, with people of a like-minded mind, like mine.
As a young person, a child and growing up, I came from a working-class background, but I was lucky I guess. My dad was a painter and decorator, while my mum, worked in an office. However, I was privileged enough, to be the apple of their eye, I never really went short of anything. I had a holiday every year and had all the material things my parents could afford. In some ways, I grew up a right little snob, judging everyone, on the way they dressed, how they spoke, where they lived. It was largely, my father’s influence, that made me like this, correcting my speech, etc. Many of my father’s families would be best be described as middle class. Whereas my mother’s family would be described as working class. I lived between the two worlds, however, I preferred my father’s side, which, influenced me as I grew up.
However, since moving to Blackpool, I worked for a charity called ‘Redeeming Our Communities’ which did a lot of work for deprived communities. This opened my eyes to the worth and value of people, not built on materialism or their class. But built on common humanity, we all suffer, regardless of how many materials possessions we may or may not have. This change of mind has made me a more grounded person, looking at the things all humans, have in common.
Finally, I am a better person, for all of my life experiences, am I still the flawed human being I always was? Yes of course, like anyone else. However, I feel, so far for all my 54 years, I have a worth of experience I can call on, in any situation, I may find myself in and I am thankful for it.