This is how it feels to be lonely

For those of you who are fans of the Manchester music scene, you will recognise the title of this blog as
lyrics from the Inspiral Carpets. And it was listening to this song (and actually paying attention to the lyrics)
whilst on my commute home in 2018 that I began to realise that something wasn’t quite right. Breaking
down in tears in my car listening to a song that bore no particular significance to me probably should have
told me then and there that I was depressed, but I tried to convince myself that it was my 17-mile commute
taking over hours again, that was getting me down.

Fast forward a few weeks from the Inspiral Carpets incident and one Monday morning I woke up and I just
couldn’t face going into work, so I called in sick. Sat on my sofa being a bit teary I decided that now might
be the time to call the doctor. Thankfully they could tell things weren’t quite right and squeezed me in at
short notice that day and I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and signed off work for 6 weeks. 
Before I was signed off and after I was a little bit of a recluse at times. If I wasn’t looking after my son over a
weekend I might find that I didn’t actually see or speak to anyone from leaving work on a Friday night to
arriving back at work on a Monday morning. I once read a string on Twitter called something like “The
hardest task” which focused on symptoms of depression and the hardest task for me at times was getting
off my sofa. I knew that getting up and out my flat would be a massive benefit but I just couldn’t motivate
myself to do anything.

To add a little context, I am a single parent and I live where I live to be near my son so I can see him as
much as possible and do the school run mid-week as well as see him at weekends. Moving out into a flat in
a village where I didn’t really know anyone meant I had to forge a new life and it turns out that I wasn’t very
good at it. 

One of the first things I did was join my local cricket club. It is a great club with a fantastic junior section and
really helped me establish some sense of being part of a community. Because I was a bit of a recluse I
think I tried a bit too hard at times and tried to force it meaning I probably didn’t make the best impression
but now a year or two later I can see that and feel a lot more comfortable in myself. 

What I have found since being diagnosed is that when I do feel particularly down that i become distracted,
unable to focus or concentrate. I have become forgetful, my lowest point was not realising that I had to pick
my son up from school. If i don’t plan something I find it very hard to be spontaneous. The number of times
I’d forget a work social was planned and drive into work instead of taking the train was ridiculous. 
I was very lucky at the time and had access to counselling, meaning that I was able to recognise these
things and put plans in place to deal with them. Some things as simple as buying a diary so that I can write
important dates down. 

Exercise is a massive help. The camaraderie of playing cricket again after a 7 year gap has really helped
as has getting involved in junior coaching and running the U9 team my son now plays for. I have a
love/hate relationship with the gym but initially found one that I had to sign on to meaning I couldn’t miss
the classes, forcing me to go. Lockdown didn’t help, nor did 2 operations in the last 6 months resulting in 3
1/2 of those 6 months off work stuck at home. So to ease my boredom and help my mental health during
lockdown I turned to cricket, well, bat restoration to try and help me practice some mindfulness and to learn
a new skill. That has presented me with a number of new challenges which I have enjoyed trying to
overcome, for the most part (removing a scuff sheet or toe guard is rarely fun). I may not be the best bat
restorer in the world but it I find it very satisfying and most of my customers (team mates) have been happy
with the work I have done.

A lot of what I have described took place 4 years ago now and I have come a long way since then. Mainly
due to meeting my amazing partner who is incredibly understanding and helps me cope. 
I still have my down times and whilst I cope a lot better my resilience isn’t what I would want it to be. The
smallest things can have a real impact on me and knock me for days. I’m actually due to start CBT next
week which I hope will help me with my coping mechanisms. 

So why am I telling you all this? I guess to say, if you recognise any of the above in you or there are other
things that seem to inexplicably get you down, then do reach out to friends and family or if you don’t feel
comfortable doing that, organisations like Opening up Cricket, the Samaritans, CALM etc. Talking really is
the best therapy.