The title of this piece is something of a misnomer. I don’t know Nate, or Jesus for that matter, but I’m pretty sure the two are different kind of guys. One has thousands of followers around the world, and Jesus only had twelve like some kind of novice. The reason I’ve titled this the way I have is to illustrate a point that I hope to make throughout the ramblings I am now sitting down to type.
For as long as I can remember, depression has been a big part of my life. I wouldn’t say that it’s who I am, but it has certainly been a strong influence on the way I have developed and the roads I have taken. And that’s where the three points in the title come in. But more on that shortly.
In my rather insignificant opinion, the most challenging part of depression is feeling alone. Whether you’re surrounded by good, loving people, or whether you’re holed up by yourself, you feel like you’re the only one in the world who feels the way you do. Obviously we all know that this isn’t the case. A quick google search will tell you that 25% of people in the UK experience a mental illness at any one time, a figure that drops slightly to 20% in Canada and 19% in the USA, but is nonetheless a pretty significant portion of a sizeable chunk of world’s population.
Despite this, some estimates (again, a quick google search is all you need) suggest that up to 50% of sufferers go untreated.
And this is what has brought me to writing this, in April 2015. As I said before, depression has been a big part of my life for a big part of my life. I’m 25 now, and, although I didn’t recognise it as such back then, I can now reflect and see the symptoms of the illness from my early teens. Despite this, my official diagnosis (that’s right, I’m a card carrying member now) only came in January this year. In March I began counselling, and in April I began medication.
I spoke to my counsellor about the idea of expressing myself and my feelings, and we agreed that writing something would be beneficial. Maybe it would be shared somewhere, maybe it would just be therapeutic to write it down. I guess if you’re reading this and you aren’t me, I must have shared it.
Anyway, I’m digressing slightly from the point I set out to make. So I’ll call it Chapter One: Jesus Christ.
Chapter One: Jesus Christ
Without going into too much detail being 15 was difficult for me. I was a kind of insular guy, pretty lonely I suppose, and (as I now look back upon it) depression was a big issue for me. Like a lot of teens do, I expressed my emotion through self-harm and late night MySpace sessions with strangers who shared my mindset. It was at this point in my life that I reached out for something new, somewhere to belong, something to plug the gap in me.
Some family friends were going to an evangelical Christian camp in Nottingham, so I went with them, and it changed my life, for a while.
I should point out, I never welcomed Jesus in as my saviour. I’ve always found the idea of that religion pretty farfetched and, to be honest, kind of dumb. But, regardless of my inner scepticism, I spend the next couple of years going to church, telling people about the good lord, and generally immersing myself in the church.
This was probably the first time in my adolescent life that I felt a sense of belonging. I had an identity. Lots of people didn’t understand it, but that was okay, because it was me. That’s who I was, and I was happy with that.
Through that church, I made some wonderful friends, none of whom I know today, but all of whom made me welcome, set me on the path to where I am now, and eased the pain of loneliness.
That said, I was still a cutter, and I still had a sense of emptiness in me.
Chapter Two: Marriage
When I was 17, I quit going to church. I made friends with a couple of sisters there who were equally sceptical, and, very long story very short, I ended up spending 90% of my waking hours in a local pub instead of at school. That was a glorious time, but I’ve called this section Chapter Two: Marriage, because that’s the second important part of this scribbling.
During that period of time, I met a wonderful person. This month will be our eighth year anniversary, and it will also be the eighth year anniversary of the last time I self-harmed, which is kind of nice too. Anyway.
We fell in love, we got married four years ago. This was the second time in my life I’ve felt a part of something. Something that has plugged the gap deep within me. The loneliness that aches as part of depression was thawed as our lives entwined.
Then, in 2012, a terrible thing happened. My poor mum, went and had a bloody stroke, at the ripe old age of 46. At the time, I felt that I had coped marvellously. I was a rock for my dad, I looked out for my brothers, I looked after the family. On reflection, I did not cope. I remember the Coca-Cola advert coming on one Christmas, you know, “holidays are comin’, holidays are comin’” and I burst into tears on the sofa like a right lemon.
From then, I pretty much stopped dealing with my emotions. I buried stuff deep, I didn’t talk about things, just got on with it. My doctor thinks this wasn’t good for me. My wife said the same about two years ago, but I didn’t really listen.
Something about that experience led me to search for something new to belong to.
Chapter Three: @THENATEWOLF
In 2012, I started playing football for a local team (soccer, not that other “sport”). I’d hoped it would give me something to belong to. A comradery, I guess. I didn’t give me what I wanted, and I quit after about 18 months.
Then, in January this year, I discovered twitter. Now, I’ve been on twitter since 2010 under a personal account, but in January, I really discovered it.
Jumping back slightly, I remember reading a blog a long time ago about what had happened to that sweet little girl from the Matilda movie, Mara Wilson. I started following her on twitter. She retweeted the likes of Anna Drezen, Louis Peitzman, and Nate. I followed the lot and thought nothing of it. I followed more and more as time went on, and became a big fan of this corner of the internet.
Back to this year, January. I was doing some washing up, and I decided “fuck it” why not listen to this podcast I kept hearing about, Borderline. So I listened, and I listened, and I listened. And something struck a chord with me. I remember listening to @McSwtrvst and realising that these people who made me laugh weren’t comedians, they were just normal people. And it got me thinking.
So, in January, on the day of my official diagnosis, the day I started to really seek help for myself, I also started a new account. I messaged a lovely man named @SaulKewl who gave me some advice, and I made a couple of shitty jokes.
And now I get to the point I wanted to make when I sat down to type this a couple of hours ago.
I’ve only been a part of this for a couple of months now, like 10 weeks or so. But in that time, the sense of community has astounded me. I’ve spoken to a handful of you a handful of times, and you have treated me so kindly.
I spoke to my councillor this week and I told her that I have always been searching for something to belong to. Something that made me welcome, that I could be a part of, that would give me an identity. I told her that twitter had become that for me.
And that’s what has brought me to writing this. I will probably always have an illness (I’m not a doctor I don’t know how that shit works) but the sense of belonging I feel, to a group of anonymous people, under an anonymous name and fucking wizard gorilla instead of my face, has given me some light, in what has been a pretty difficult year.
I guess to conclude, there are two things I want to say. Thank you, and please don’t stop.
@trojansauce. Or, to end this rather personal 1,500 words on a personal note, Tom.