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First off, I just wanted to say, publicly, what a pleasure it was to meet you all today, and thank you for your time listening to me rambling on about my experiences with depression, anxiety, and lets not forget gout.
As I said at the time, I am truly passionate about helping people have a greater understanding of what it is like to suffer from depression. Feeling a bit down, or a bit grumpy is really not the same. I really do admire people like yourselves who take the path in life to try and help others, however sometimes feel that the theoretical education somehow lacks enough depth to truly grasp some conditions.

I hope today was helpful for you all, and that in amongst some of my tales and analogies, there was some clarity there too. I am grateful for the feedback you all gave at the end, and hope you took as much away from the session as I did. Thank you to Dr Paul for having the foresight to suggest the session in the first place.

There are of course many other matters we did not get to discuss, compacting a few years of depression, the rises and falls, is of course impossible for a 90 minute session. Hopefully in amongst the rest of this blog (Nov 2015- Mid 2016) there is more information on the subjects which may be of interest. There are also entries from way back too which reflect on the depression. My journey through CBT is also in there somewhere.

If you have any further questions about the issues we discussed today, please feel free to contact me via the blog, or emailing me with any questions on Also, feel free to share this blog with anyone you choose to, there are no secrets, especially on the internet.

Getting back to the main part of the blog here. I just wanted to add that physical training, cycling, writing, and believe it or not, being tattooed, all play their part in the maintenance of my well-being, as well of course as having the love and support of my close friends, who keep me grounded.

Today for me was a stepping stone, a step in the right direction for me, with getting involved in something I am very passionate about. The understanding, from a first person perspective, of what depression is, how people cope, and what can be done to help them on their journey.

For many, depression and anxiety is not a life long issue, but a journey taken within our lives, more for some than others. Seeing people convinced that they must live by the pill is quite sad, and also worrying. Not to mention the lifestyle choice that people make when they are convinced this is them for life now.  Talking with people who understand and can genuinely empathise with what you are going through is a massive step, certainly for the people I have had the pleasure in helping in my past.
However not all cases are the same, and the idea of getting involved is in no way a pipe dream of a one size fits all fit.

For me, the idea of being able to play a part in other peoples recovery is huge. I don't expect every encounter to be perfect, and am aware that my personality may not be suitable for all. But nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that.
If actually being involved directly is not a reality, then the next best thing would be to continue to give my time to enable those who will one day be at the frontline of things. Using every day analogies to make sense of how the depressed mind works. I was pleased that my "it's like" approach finally made some sense today.

After speaking with Dr Paul following the session, I am going to try and get my head around how I can get more involved. Organisations such as MIND are a good starting point, my only concern is how to explain my intentions, with absolutely no academic background whatsoever. We shall see how that goes, I will be sure to update the blog with any progress I make, as well as Dr Paul.

Any thoughts on this venture are welcomed.

Today once and for all clarified for me that I am in the right place mentally now, to start reducing my medication, clear the mind fog which sometimes presents itself, and get on with doing something constructive with my time.
If a legacy were possible for someone like myself, it would be wonderful to think that my efforts and words could be carried forward, and make a difference for even a handful of people. Especially those who are not as fortunate as myself, and have no immediate outlet or support network.

I know I said some pretty damning things both on here, and today about the services offered to those suffering mental health issues. I hope I struck the balance of both grateful and understanding of what is deemed possible from an academic level, whilst highlighting the short falling, and no mans land between what is written and understood, and what actually works for people struggling. There is a balance to be found, and hopefully one day, maybe with input from me and others, it will be achieved.

The message to take is quite simply, the input from the NHS and other health services is instrumental in building the foundations for a recovery from such an experience in life. However theoretical empathy only goes so far. Understanding, and experience bridges the gap which is left. There is nothing quite like being on the level with someone who truly gets where you are coming from.
Building baselines for all to understand, and be able to empathise with is key here, so expect to hear "it's like" quite a lot from me.

Now I shall take some time to reflect on today, and formulate a way which I can try and create this baseline. The input from the students today has been key in building my understanding of what is in place, and what is missing from the current structure. Although I would love to build my knowledge on the academic side of things more for my own benefit and understanding.

Key words from today, baseline, empathy, analogy and understanding.

Just as a final note, I want to sincerely thank Dr Paul for her time for me since we first met. That first blog entry following the consultation was a pivotal moment for me, as has been the continued support from you. To have been given the opportunity to carry out todays exercise has been very special for me, especially on what turned out to be World Mental Health Day. Imagine that.

Here's to the future. For us all 🙂

Thanks for reading as ever.

I'm sure everyone has a song, or 'their jam' that invokes strong emotional feeling, for others there is a whole catalogue of music which fits almost their whole life story. The song that was playing the first time you met, the first dance, or indeed a song which sums up a persons whole existence in one go.
There is music which I am very passionate about, and certain pieces can really touch my soul and take me to a place only I seem to know. Ludovico Einaudi wrote one such piece. Shortly after hearing it, and realising its power to me, it appeared in an advert, which ever so slightly diluted its power. But it still stays with me today as a truly passionate piece.

For others, me included in this, the moment is the important part. The song can be the cheesiest song ever, but the memory it relates to totally trumps the poor quality of the song, and it too becomes a powerful mental stimulant for people.

Then there are the other ones. Easy to understand why they provoke emotions, its the lyrics. From time to time, the release of a track, and the arrival of a moment or person in your life go hand in hand. Hard to comprehend how it happens, the moment is so profound that you ignore the fact the track was playing for 3 weeks before it happened, and suddenly it was fate which brought the two moments in sync with each other.

Powerful lyrics can make you feel empowered. The great feeling to know someone wrote a song relating to your exact situation, and somehow it seals the deal that this is for real. Doesn't have to be love, or sex. Can simply be a track describing freedom, a clean start or a fight against oppression. But somehow the connection is made, and the feeling gets stronger and stronger.

For me, I get almost obsessed with a track, and can listen to it over and over and over. My track of the moment out of interest is David Guetta, Dangerous. Without too much depth to the lyrics, but the message of not understanding a situation, yet plunging into it, is really quite profound and fitting. For me as a whole really, as its something I do far too easily, and far too often.

There are a few other tracks which strike a chord with me recently too, but without a doubt this one is THE one of the moment. I wouldn't go as far as to say its particularly emotional for me. More motivational and ironic. But I like it all the same. Listening to it somehow gives me energy, and usually I'm smiling listening to it.
Another favourite of mine is Butterfly by Crazy Town. Maybe a little more of a deep track for me, but for its style of music, a well written and profound song all the same. Many messages within it, some of which I relate to well.

I have to say that it has taken me tears to realise how powerful music is to me, but now I know, when I look back over younger years, the penny drops and I realise how much I have used music to strengthen or break moods, as well as reflect my feelings at a particular time.

So how about you.... What are your songs?