Throughout my adult life I have suffered from infrequent and mercifully short periods of clinical depression. When they have struck they are severe and debilitating. Depression is such a physically painful condition and I can best describe it as a feeling of intense grief without anybody having actually died. Although the majority of people with depression pull though and come out the other side, suicide is an all too common outcome. Unfortunately in 2015 my identical twin brother Dan took his life whilst in the grip of a severe bout himself. He was my best friend and business partner and it was a very difficult time for me and my family although the event itself didn’t trigger a depressive episode in me.
In macro terms, I regard myself as extremely lucky and fortunate to have, by and large, lived a happy and successful life. However, everybody goes through extreme highs and lows as part of the rollercoaster of the human condition. In some ways, having the propensity to infrequent bouts of depression is part of who I am and makes me re-double my efforts to get the most out of my life.
One thing I do know is that being able to confide in close family and friends and to be able to talk about how you are feeling is a very important factor in staying well. It’s ok to talk and also ok to ask our friends how they are if we feel they might be struggling. If you’re close to somebody, asking them how they feel is most definitely not prying and has been proven to be enormously helpful so don’t be afraid to have the conversation. I co-founded The Photography Movement www.thephotographymovement.com which seeks to foster a community spirit where people of all ages can discuss mental wellbeing through the medium of photography. This has been a therapy of sorts for me and I can see the difference that The Photography Movement is making by some of the inbound correspondence we receive. It’s actually been very humbling. If you are struggling, I can absolutely guarantee you that you are not alone. Please engage your nearest and dearest in conversation about how you are feeling and accept that you need help. For me, a combination of medication and talking to those close to me when I am feeling low is of enormous benefit. Attitudes around mental wellbeing are changing fast and it’s no longer a taboo subject which is great news.