When Michael was in his twenties he realised he wasn’t enjoying life in the way he felt he should be.
He was often low, emotional, lacking energy, struggling to find much interest in anything.
A trip to the GP and Michael was prescribed medication for depression, which helped him manage it.
Then two years ago Michael split up with his partner and his depression hit rock bottom.
Michael was drinking more and more, and it got to the point where he was struggling to manage it. He was signed off work, and his doctor tried to get him further help, but Michael felt stuck in limbo.
“A few months passed, and I just felt like I needed to get my life back. I wasn’t getting paid, I have a mortgage, a child. It was all just piling on top. So I started self-harming.
“Then, one night after a heavy drinking session I overdosed on my medication. I was done caring. I didn’t want to do it anymore.”
Luckily, Michael’s friend called an ambulance. He ended up in hospital for three days.
“I was ready to die, basically; but did I want to…? I don’t know what I hoped to achieve from it. Maybe it was just wanting to have some sort of reaction from something I guess, or to feel something, or maybe for somebody to say, look at this guy, he needs help.
“I’ll always remember realising, jeez, I’m going to have to explain this to my family. Seeing my mum and dad walk in to the hospital – their faces… it just really rang a bell with me. They were so worried, and I just thought, if I can’t do it for me, I can do it for them, and for my daughter. They don’t need this.”
With the support of his parents, Michael stopped drinking, and the depression lifted.
“They marry together, don’t they. I was using alcohol to hide, to run away, which obviously doesn’t work because alcohol is a depressant.”
After five months, he was ready to return to work.
“I’ve been sober a year now. My mood is amazing. I feel so much better. I have days where the anxiety and depression are still there, but it’s so much more manageable. I’m out doing things, new hobbies. Just enjoying life really, getting my buzz from elsewhere.”
Michael recognises that his recovery wasn’t down to just one thing, but a combination of factors.
“You hope there will be a quick fix – the doctor will prescribe you something, and that’s it, but of course that’s not the case. I was finding the anti-depressants on their own did nothing – I had to bring it all together. Eat a bit better, sleep a bit better, exercise more; and then I saw an improvement. Everyone is different, and you just need to try and hope that you find your way out of it. I know it’s tough but you can get there – if you want to help yourself.”
Michael’s support network was important to him. His parents, his friends, and his daughter.
“My daughter is great. She’s seen a big difference in me. I’ve got so much more energy to do stuff with her, and I’m a better person to be around.
“At some point I’ll talk to her about it all. It’s not something I want to hide from. I’m not ashamed. I’m proud of how far I’ve come.”