And grow some facial hair, I guess. But first, some explanations.
(note: This might be a bit challenging or upsetting for some readers, which is why I’m throwing it behind a “more” link. If you just want to donate and not get stressed out, just click here.)
It’s rather tough to miss the core mission behind Movember, and anyone who read my blog last year would have a good idea that it’s to benefit men’s health charities. Specifically the Prostate Cancer foundation and BeyondBlue, which deals with mental health issues.
Now quite often when someone gets keen on a particular charitable cause (and there’s no shortage of good charitable causes) it’ll be in memory of someone they’ve known who’s suffered through whatever ailment the charity is centered around.
In the case of Movember that person would be me.
Not that I’ve had prostate problems per se, although I am in the unusual position for a bloke my age of having had a prostate examination. Not exactly a walk in the park, I grant you.
Still, I’ve not made much of a secret of the fact that I’ve suffered with depression issues for some time now, and that was the spur for me to take part in Movember last year.
The return trip is a little harder, however, as it’s always tougher to get people to donate the second time around once the novelty of “hey! He’s growing a Mo’!” has worn off.
So while I will be doing the daily facial hair updates and dodgy webcam pics that seemed to get so much traffic last year, I’m also doing something different.
A little honesty.
In terms of my mental health, I can’t deny that this year has been a tough one. Very tough, and at one point I hit a particular depression nadir I’d never quite hit before. So bad, in fact, that I actively contemplated ending it all.
(note: I didn’t. Rather obvious really. Also, and I can’t state this firmly enough THIS IS A GOOD THING.)
The more worrying aspect of that is that at the time, it seemed to my admittedly unwell brain that this was a sensible course of action. And outside about half a dozen people (all members of my family), I’m pretty sure nobody else would have known this was going on. It’s tough to see what’s inside somebody’s head except your own, and sometimes your own head can be deceptive too.
That’s in no way a sane way of thinking, but it’s a good indication of the grip depression can have on you. It certainly did on me. From an external perspective, I was getting on with getting on, but I wasn’t mentally well at all.
Thankfully with some solid family support and some hard work with a very good therapist, that’s behind me now. In fact, in terms of mental health I’m healthier than I’ve been in decades, and certainly stable enough to realise how particularly depressed I was this year, as well as where my peaks and troughs in previous years have been, and why.
I should also point out that while a therapy path worked for me, I can’t discount any other path to mental health per se. All of our psyches are subtly different, and what worked for me might not for you. I’m not fond of a medication route, for example — it was tried many years ago and turned me not into a stable member of society, but more like an antisocial zombie — but I do know people for whom it’s been the best possible choice.
So really, there’s two reasons for writing this. Obviously, I’d like you to donate, and I’d love to beat my total last year of just over $1,000 raised.
At the same time, Movember’s also about awareness of men’s health issues. It’s very easy to dismiss people suffering from depression as just needing to “pull themselves together”, but it’s rarely that simple. It’s also rather too easy to ignore it as somebody else’s problem — after all, it’s going on inside someone else’s head. Ignoring it until it’s too late could be a very bad idea indeed.
Also, while it might sound trite, but if you’re depressed right now and not particularly seeing a way out right now, take it from me. There is a way out, and not a terminal one. Help is available in a variety of forms, and it is possible to overcome anything. Anything at all.
Normal photos of my face and Mo’ progress with odd funny quips will resume from tomorrow. In the meantime, if you haven’t clicked on any of the other links on the page, then why not click on this one to donate?