The bio on my personal website sounds pretty impressive even if I do say so myself.
Here is a short snippet -
I started my career in the City where, at the age of 22, I had all the trappings of success - a six-figure salary, fast cars, and a beautiful penthouse; on paper I was a hugely successful City high-flyer, but despite everything I had achieved, there was something missing.
The pivotal moment in my life came when I decided to quit my job, sell everything I owned and backpacked my way around the world. While embarking on my adventure, I starred in a Bollywood movie, practiced yoga in the foothills of Rishikesh, and meditated in the mountains of Nepal...
Sounds pretty impressive right?
All of the above is totally true. In fact, I underplayed it somewhat because, I’ve actually travelled around the world twice, years at a time in fact, and set up multiple businesses. Basically, I have followed my dreams and had a crazy time along the way. I don't say it to boast, I say it in the hope that it might inspire others to quit a job they hate, pursue their dreams and to be not held back in life.
You’ll see photos of me busting out moves in front of the Taj Mahal, running around naked at pool parties in Thailand and trekking in the mountains of Nepal. I was living the dream in every way possible.
But what my bio doesn't tell you, is that after I returned to the UK from my travels in 2014, I started to suffer from depression. I don’t mean ‘post-holiday blues’, I mean depression that took over my life. And, by 2015, I had lost absolutely everything. When I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING! My fiancée, my home, my business and nearly my life. My apparent idyllic life of travel, adventure and business success had suddenly turned into a living nightmare. One that would haunt me on a daily basis for a significant period of time.
Top tip - Don’t attempt to start a new business or invest significant sums of money whilst suffering from severe depression.
The stress of starting a new business was unbearable. I wasn't sleeping well or thinking straight. I still look back now at that period of my life and it still seems somewhat hazy. I made bad decision after bad decision, which ended up costing me well over £150,000. The more money I threw at a problem, hoping for it to go away, the more problems it caused in other areas of my life.
The pressure became unbearable. I never told a soul and kept not only my financial woes to myself, but also my emotional suffering and pain.
I was lonely and afraid, I had no one to turn to
I had been treading water and trying to keep afloat for such a long time, I was becoming tired. Exhausted of pretending everything was OK. The reality was I was a complete mess and I was so tired. I felt numb. Life simply happened around me. At least that’s what I thought at the time.
I went from being a super confident and successful alpha male, with a big house in a leafy part of London, to renting a shitty room on an industrial estate in a dodgy part of South London. I had exactly £11.16 in my bank account. I was well and truly flat on my arse, without a proverbial pot to piss in.
Now, this post isn’t about my rags to riches story. How I clawed my way through adversity and rebuilt my empire. Nor is it to highlight my story and what caused me to succumb to depression in the first place. In fact, I’ve been so reluctant to disclose my mental health issues because of the stigma attached to depression. I was fearful of how it would affect my career, future business dealings and relationships.
I always played down my illness, steering attention towards people who I thought were suffering with it worse than I was. What did I have to be depressed about?
There are people who had suffered far more in life than I had. I hadn’t seen my family blown up before my eyes in a war-torn country. I hadn’t been a victim of a criminal injustice or wrongdoing. Yes, I had shitty parents who were abusive, but it wasn’t the worse childhood. I needed to stop being such a drama queen, I’d tell myself.
Having sought professional guidance for my illness, I now recognise that a lack of self-worth is a common symptom of depression. As is overthinking and second guessing yourself. I’d drive myself mad with worry over the most trivial thing. Maybe that’s why depression is linked with madness, at least in the public eye anyhow.
Jumping on the bandwagon
I see so many people in the public eye jumping on the bandwagon of “being depressed & suicidal”. Their intention is, let’s just say, less than sincere. They have a new record coming out, Big Brother didn’t go as they had hoped, or they have a career to resurrect. It sickens me to think that some people will stoop to such lows, simply to get exposure in the media. It undermines the severity of depression and could potentially deter those who are genuinely suffering from speaking out about their struggle.
Depression isn’t about being down because you cant afford the latest Gucci loafers, or you’ve spunked all your money and it’s another week before payday. That's called life, and nine times out of ten it’s a result of your own actions.
For me, depression is wanting to go back to bed the very moment you wake up. Not because you're hungover, but because you don’t want to exist anymore. Depression is not being able to look friends or loved ones in the face because you feel fake. Depression leads you to do things you know are wrong and yet you continue to do them, regardless of the consciousness - drink, drugs, food and self harm. Yet, we continue to do the things we know are wrong for that split second of release. The incredibly short escape from our current reality. The reality that haunts us and plagues us to despair. Driving us to desperation, exposure and vulnerability.
What I do want to highlight, is that mental health issues, such as depression, are not something to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
It could happen to anyone, and does for the best part. The major issue is that as men, we tend not to be open about it, we brush it under the carpet and pretend everything is OK. I believe, it’s referred to as male bravado. Well, this needs to change, and change is what I’m hellbent on making.
There appears to be a stigma attached to mental health issues. Any other part of the body and it’s perfectly acceptable to seek professional help. But the sheer mention of depression or anxiety and it’s met with cynical looks and whispers about one's sanity.
The brain is the most complex of muscles which makes it one of the hardest to fully understand. But, it pays to remember that depression is very rarely caused by the most obvious and apparent reason you think it is. It is often linked to any number of past experiences and emotions that can lead as far back as childhood. Which is why, seeking the help of a professional is imperative.
It’s a long road to recovery
I’m not sure if we ever fully overcome depression. So far, in my experience, I feel there is still something that lingers deep within me. I just know how to recognise the signs much better. I know the things that have the potential to allow depression to creep back into my life. So, I work on myself each day and undertake activities that help to keep it at bay. A good diet, exercise, mindfulness and simply the appreciation of life. Basic things like nature, friendships and the opportunities that present themselves.
That said, wouldn’t we all enjoy life more if we adhered to doing the things that make us happy? Warding off the stresses and strains we put on ourselves throughout our lifetime?
One of the biggest eye openers I have found with depression is that it made me doubt myself. Doubt myself in every way possible. I call it my “who am I…?” syndrome. Who am I to start a business in personal development? Who am I to launch a personal website and have the audacity to offer advice to others? Who am I to talk openly about depression, anxiety and other mental health issues?
But, I look at it from a different perspective, and maybe it’s a sign that it was my path all along. I’ve certainly become a better person for the experience. I’m much more humble and understanding of others. Less bullish in my approach to business success. I feel somewhat more at peace with myself having worked through issues surrounding the abuse I endured as a child. Working with a therapist was a game changer for me and I would strongly advise anyone else to make this your first port of call. It isn't always easy but, over time, I felt like a weight had been lifted and I started to lessen the burden of blame I had been carrying around since my childhood.
I’m still a long way off from stating “I wouldn’t change a thing” when referring to my past. The whole experience is still a little too raw at the moment to make that claim, but I’m working on it. They say that time is a healer and I’m inclined to agree. But, you have got to want to heal and, for that to happen, you have to take action and face your fears. Easier said than done I’ll admit. Yet, for me, the fear of waking up one more day not wanting to exist was worse than facing up to the cause of my depression. Seeking help was the lesser of two evils of having to live another day of such pain and stress.
I’ll tell you who I am!
I am one of the incredibly fortunate people who doesn’t count towards the scarily high statistic of over 800,000 people who commit suicide each year. Of which, over two-thirds are male. I honestly count myself lucky that I was exposed to personal development back in 2003. Without exposure to such impactful teachings and content, I’m not entirely convinced I’d be here writing this blog post. So, I’m taking that as my sign that I am worthy. Worthy to share my story, in the hope that it might just save someone from making the same mistakes I made. In the most extreme case, it might just save someone from taking the 'easy route' and making a huge mistake.
I am not qualified to offer you advice. Nor do I claim to have the solution that is going to work for you. But, what I am qualified to do is share my experience. The lifestyle changes I made, which allowed me to overcome depression and get my life back on track, allowing me to rebuild the business I am so passionate about.
Forget all the life coaching and positive thinking shit. I am talking about the impactful stuff that is proven to work consistently over time. Willpower only gets you so far in life before it runs out and leaves you high and dry. It’s the cognitive exercises, the habitual routines that condition you for future change that excites me.
My goal is to merely facilitate the findings of experts and deliver it in a way that is easily digested by the average guy, just like me. But I’m also happy to share my story along the way, in the hope it might just save someone the nightmare I endured.
Reality v Delusion
It has taken me so long to actually publish a blog post about my battle with depression. I’ve written countless posts, uploaded them and even published one or two, which I then delete due to the fear of a reprisal, whatever that may have looked like. But, I thought the time was right as it's mental health awareness week. It’s time to share my story, be vulnerable and open about the journey I’ve been on - am still on.
If you’re suffering from depression, anxiety or any other form of mental health issue, my advice would be to seek the help of a professional. Now the cats out the bag, I dare say I’ll publish additional content which may be of use to people who are struggling in life.
If you are struggling with depression or any other mentil heath illness then feel free to drop me an email. I would be happy to share any of knowledge and infoformation I have discovered. firstname.lastname@example.org
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