Blogger, author and journalist Joshua Fox recently came to terms with the fact he was living with depression. Here, he explains how he has addressed his situation and is keen to make the point that his mental state has nothing to do with his sexuality.
You know what the worst thing about depression is? Well, other than being depressed. The fact that there is no answer.
‘What’s wrong?’ the confused colleague asks with genuine concern. ‘You’re not yourself these days,’ the friend states as you cancel further plans. ‘But… you have a great life?’ the family then question, as you finally find the strength to tell them your struggles.
But the truth is, anybody can have a great life on the surface.
A faked smile, staged social media update and cleverly constructed excuse to excuse yourself from some form of social obligation. This is what I’ve spent the majority of my life doing, and if I say so myself, I’ve become bloody good at it. An Oscar worthy performance of a boy living a life of perfection. But I suppose there’s only so long you can try and hide from the feelings dragging you down from the inside.
‘Is it because you’re gay?’ the parents then whisper, unable to comprehend my show and tell of the two tablets I now have to take daily. My own personal stash of prescribed happiness, brightening my life one morning at a time. Sadly no, though, my dearest mother; I’m gay and depressed, not depressed because I’m gay.
I can’t blame our Christine for jumping to that easy conclusion though. I, myself, thought that coming out at the grand old age of 21 may be the end of my dark days. The world would accept me and glitter would rain from the sky. But it wasn’t. As mother opened her 50th birthday present (my sexuality wrapped in a box), no particular weight was lifted.
I still felt alone, isolated and often unworthy of my place in the human race.
The only added bonus of this gesture of good will was my lack of expenditure on her turning point age. The gift of information beats a bit of Argos jewellery, right? Well for my bank balance it does. Try it yourself. Gay? Pregnant? Decided to live your life as the opposite gender and want the world to now call you Caitlyn? Save it for a special occasion and gift it the people you call your nearest and dearest.
Moving away from cost-cutting exercises and back to my point… we live our life in fear until we build up the courage to share with the world our sexual orientation and seek self-acceptance; but when you’re still hiding a secret, what does this even achieve? My family and friends called me brave once my mother read that letter, my followers on the internet called me inspirational when I shared my news with them; and inside I felt like a fraud.
For me people knowing I prefer penis to vagina is more of an inconvenience than anything of importance, where as people knowing I often wake up wishing I hadn’t woke up at all seems far more significant.
After years of living under a grey cloud, it was only as I ‘came out’ again, this time as depressed, that I started to feel I was finally found.
There’s no reason why I spend a lot of my life feeling down, just like there’s no reason I was born attracted to the same gender; but all I can say is, the second you’re brave enough to face the world with nothing but honesty is the second your struggles are that little bit lighter.
We’ve reached a time where gay is okay, queer is no longer a fear and mental illness should be talked about and treated like a physical one… so get talking you beautiful people.
To hear more about how Josh dealt with his depression in his moving video post!
Joshua’s book 140 Characters of truth is available now at www.joshuafox.co.uk
If you’re affected by depression or know some who is, visit you GP. Or to start with get in touch with these helpful organisations