Following the 5th anniversary of Dan’s passing, here is the original blog I wrote about him that was when the seeds were planted of trying to raise awareness in his memory. I was already blogging about mental health but the events of 19 January 2014 changed everything. Even though it doesn’t always help my own mental wellbeing, the fight goes on and we’ll continue to try and raise awareness and reach more people through the Dan Rhodes Foundation. Dan is someone who left a large impression on my life and there is a hole in it without him but he will never be forgotten.
Without further ado, here it is…
A Special Friend
(originally published on 27 January 2014 on Stuart’s Journey To Happiness (my original blog site)
Last Sunday night I sat at home and was starting to write a post about my aims for the year and what I wanted to achieve in 2014. It had mentioned that the year hadn’t got off to a particularly good start after a car accident and problems at work. What I didn’t know at the time was that at the same time someone who will always have a special place in my life was taking his own life. He had struggled with anxiety and depression for 15 years but you would never have known if you met him. On the outside he was always seemed happy and was one of the friendliest people that you could ever wish to meet but on the inside he was battling with his mental health.
Depression and anxiety is such a hidden illness as from the outside you wouldn’t know that someone is struggling with it and they get particularly good at hiding it especially from those close to them. When someone can’t see what you are suffering from they tend to have difficulty in understanding it. The other 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 always struggle to express how I feel and this is particularly the case when I am suffering. Some of things may seem trivial to outsiders but 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. I have been very lucky in that I have a very understanding wife and some good friends who have been very supportive through this and are there if I ever need them. I also seem to have found a treatment that is currently working for me and it has helped writing this blog as it has helped me express some of what I’ve been feeling. I still feel sad and the last couple of weeks has been difficult but I’m in a better place than I have been for a while despite everything that is going on at the moment.
The news of Dan’s suicide came as a surprise to everyone. The last time I had spoken to him he seemed happy and we were looking forward to seeing Pearl Jam at Leeds arena later in the year as I’d just managed to get us tickets. When I spoke to other friends who knew him they were shocked as they didn’t even know he had been having problems. I just wish there was something I could have done to help him through it and I feel terrible for the wife and son that he has left behind. He was such a special person that he left a mark with anyone he met as you can tell from the number of tributes he has had. I feel privileged to have been able to call him my friend and will always remember all the good times that we had together. He was the sort of person that you would aspire to be as he had so many good qualities and he always made you feel happy when you saw him. Time with Dan was always fun and he could always make you laugh and smile. I was honoured to be best man at his wedding and seeing how happy he was that day would have brought a smile to anyones face.
He was so excited when I told him that Elaine was pregnant and got even more excited when we found out it was triplets. He couldn’t wait to see them and was thrilled to do their first photo shoot which left us with some fantastic pictures. He was always asking how they were and could never turn down a cuddle. I’m glad now that we decided to name our little boy after him as it means the memory of him can always live on with us. I’ll never forget how happy he looked the last time I saw him and he was playing with the triplets. It’s a shame that they’ll never get to know the man that I knew who would have enriched their lives just like he did for me. I can only hope that our Daniel grows up to be even half of the man that I knew as then we’ll have done a good job. It still hasn’t really sunk in that I’ll never see him again but even though he’s gone he’ll never be forgotten. I just hope that he has finally found his peace and I’ll count myself as one of the lucky ones who got to spend so much time with him.
Rest in peace Dan