Cathartic Interview: Matthew Williams, Depression, Recovery & Blogging.

 

At Cathartic, we believe in the benefit of sharing stories and experiences, not only for self expression but also to help raise awareness of the number of normal people struggling with Mental Health Issues.

Today we are pleased to be speaking to Matthew Williams, a single father of two, from the North East of England. Matthew writes about his life and experiences of Mental Health issues on his blog, http://4d74.blogspot.co.uk/

 

“Hi, my name is Matthew Williams and I am a single father of two wonderful young children. I live in the North East of England and am blessed with a job I love, great friends and great family. I'm a lover of good books, good music, good food, good conversation and a good quote!”

 

When did you realise you suffered from Mental Health Issues?

I've always been a worrier for as long as I can remember - I think I'm finally beginning to crack that one in my early forties.. but never thought that I would ever suffer from mental health issues. In my early thirties within the space of one month I got married, found out I was going to be a Dad and then had to face the loss of the baby through miscarriage.

For a few months I was pretty numb but I then started to feel really low before spiralling downwards pretty quickly, to the point I was terrified of what was happening to me. I knew nothing about depression at this point but knew there was something very wrong with me and that I couldn't shake it off.

 

What was the catalyst for you reaching out for help?

I realised that it wasn't something that was going to pass on its own. I went to see my GP and was prescribed antidepressants but I was afraid to take them. It was a few months later that I hit rock bottom and I didn't believe that I could ever recover.

My illness put a huge strain on my relationships and especially on my relationship with my then-wife. I agreed to see a psychologist more for my wife than for me as I didn't believe that anybody could help me by that point.

 

What challenges do you face on a day to day basis? How do you overcome them?

I have had two severe bouts of depression in the last 10 years and one shorter spell late last year. Outside of these I function fine and don't consider myself to be mentally ill. I've finally accepted that, although I have learned a lot about the illness and about myself, I can't be complacent about it being totally behind me.

I know that depression exists within me so I try to live more mindfully and to consciously monitor and address my thoughts. I have a good support network around me and fortunately I am able to speak to people should I feel myself sliding. I also continue to see a psychologist every few months.

 

What motivated you to reach out to others through a creative medium to raise awareness of the issues you are passionate about?

In the last 18 months I have experienced a lot of changes in my life, following a divorce from my wife who I had been with for 19 years (9 married). I felt I had managed these changes as well as could be expected in the circumstances and didn't consider myself to be at risk of succumbing to depression again.

Late last year, following a subsequent relationship breakdown and the approach of Christmas I felt myself sliding again and reached a pretty bad place. I felt compelled to write about what I was going through and still can't really explain what it was that compelled me.

On each occasion that I have been ill I have found some comfort in being able to relate to the experiences of others that have been through what I was experiencing. I am pretty open by nature and I like to help people so it felt right that I should use my ability to articulate my thoughts and feelings through writing to help others.

 

How has the reaction been to your creative efforts to raise awareness of Mental Health issues? Has the reaction to your story helped your recovery on a personal level?

The reaction has been tremendous, way beyond anything I could have expected. I have had so much support - it has been pretty overwhelming at times. One of the most rewarding things has been the comments from others that have found my writing to be a source of comfort and support in difficult times; that means an awful lot to me.

I have begun to contribute to an online magazine for people going through divorce, I recently became a leader in the #imnotashamed campaign to end stigma around mental illness and my blog has received nearly 11,000 visits in just under 2 months. I could never have imagined this from the bad place I found myself in two months ago when I started writing.

On a personal level, it has been very satisfying that through my experiences I have been able to discover an ability to connect with and help others. I have also found writing to be very cathartic; it helps me to make sense of what I experience and to deal with thoughts that otherwise would swirl around my head. And once my posts have been written I can read them back almost as advice to myself! It's strange but when I do this it kind of feels as though they were written by someone else and that helps me to look at things more objectively.

 

Do you have any advice for those who think they may be suffering alone with Mental Health Issues?

Talk to somebody; don't suffer in silence and don't think you have to beat it on your own. It's easy to fear the worst and there are people that will find it hard to deal with the fact that you are mentally ill but you will also see the very best in people and their support can be invaluable. Also, never, ever, give up hope. Things do improve, nothing is permanent.

You can learn and grow through mental illness. It isn't easy but the rewards of coming through the other side are worth it.

 

“I would like to say thank you to everybody that has offered their support and kind words in response to my writing and to everybody that has been there for me when I have been at my lowest. I really don't know where I would be without them.”

 

If you would like to read more of Matthew’s story or follow him on his journey through life, you can find him in the following places:

Blog: http://4d74.blogspot.co.uk/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/3DMathW

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mwlovelaughtertruth/

 

At Cathartic, we are happy to be highlighting Matthew’s story and wish him all the best with his work raising awareness in the future.  Sharing stories and experiences is an act that we believe has great value to individuals, readers and society as a whole, to help break free from the stigma surrounding Mental Health issues.


If you have been inspired by Matthew’s story and would like to share your own experiences on Cathartic, feel free to click on the “Your Story” button and share anything that you need to in total anonymity.