It was a Monday morning, 20 January 2014 and I was about to start the getting ready for work when I had received some news that I didn’t want to believe. The tears had started to flow and as I went to tell Elaine what had happened I was struggling to get my words out. I had just found out that the previous night, my best friend had lost his battle with anxiety and depression and had taken his own life. He had been struggling for 15 years with his mental health and had reached the point where he couldn’t fight it any more. Dan was one of the friendliest people that you could ever hope to meet and he left an impression on anyone he crossed paths with. On the outside he always seemed happy and full of life but on the inside he was struggling with his mental health.
I first met Dan at school when we were 13 as we sat opposite each other in Chemistry. We immediately got on and became friends. He was the sort of person that you would be glad was our friend. He was always kind, considerate, loyal and was always there if you needed him. Dan was the sort of person that you would hope to be. We had many good times together and I’ll always consider myself lucky that he was my friend. I was honoured to be his best man when he got married and I’ll never forget how happy he looked that day. Even though the years passed, our friendship never really changed and it was always like we’d never been apart when we met up. When I told him that Elaine was pregnant with triplets he was over the moon and couldn’t wait to see them. He always loved giving them a cuddle and we have some fantastic pictures from the photo shoot that he did with them when we brought them home. The biggest tribute I can pay to Dan is that we named our little boy Daniel after him and I’m glad we did so that we can always have a part of him in our lives.
Depression and anxiety are hidden illnesses so you wouldn’t know that someone is struggling and they get particularly good at hiding it especially from those close to them. As people on the outside can’t see what you are suffering from they tend to have difficulty in understanding it. Another issue with depression is that it’s often very difficult for those who suffer with it to get across just how bad things can get. I have had my own struggles with depression and even though some things may seem trivial to outsiders when the dark cloud comes over it can be very difficult to see a way forward. There is also still an issue with the stigma that goes with mental health issues and it’s not something many people feel comfortable talking about. Putting this with the lack of understanding there is about mental health problems doesn’t make it easy for anyone who is suffering as it’s difficult to know who to talk to about it. One of things that I wanted to come out of this as well as raising some money is to be more open about mental health issues and to try and start breaking down the stigma that is attached to them. There are so many people that are suffering from these terrible diseases in silence that it is time to start bringing these issues into the open so that people will feel more comfortable talking about their mental health and reducing the stigma.
I decided to try and raise funds for Blurt and Mind as a fitting tribute to one of the best friends that you could ever ask for and also to try and raise awareness about mental health issues so that no one is afraid to talk about it.