My name is Tim Etherington-Judge and for more than half of my life I have suffered from clinical depression.
Recently I started a Facebook post with these words.
I had been papering over the cracks for a while, pretending that I was ok, that life was supposed to be like this and if I could just get through this difficult phase, all would be well. The pressure had been building for a while and I hadn't dealt with it. Whilst on a work event in Athens, alone in a characterless hotel room, the bottle finally exploded and it all came crashing down.
I was first diagnosed with depression when I was 18. My teenage years were filled with frustration, anger and a struggle to deal with explosions of violence. My family home, down in Cornwall, still bears the scars of my outbursts. Our family GP, who I would eventually discover was far too involved in my family, true to the modern medical system of treating the symptom's without exploring the cause, prescribed a simple course of Prozac. 3 years of pill popping, which levelled out the extremes but let me feeling numb, disconnected to life, often nauseous and always tired. Eventually I realised that I couldn't live the rest of my life like this.
I took myself off the pills, against the advice of my doctor and began a journey of self healing. I did my own research, read as many books and studies that I could find and adjusted my life. I focused on nutrition, stopped eating meat, exercised regularly and tried to
For the next 15 years I managed to live a full and exciting life. I've developed a number of strategies and tactics to keep my head above water. The dark brain eating depression zombies never truly went away, but I managed to keep them the other side of the fence protecting the compound of my brain.
I have devoted the past 6 years of my life to chasing success in the corporate world, getting caught up in the race to the top yet forgetting that no one can succeed in any race without being fit and strong. I have a job where I travel the world, training people on whiskey, cocktails and the bar industry in general. When I tell people what I do, I'm often told 'Wow, you're so lucky', 'That sounds like an amazing job', 'You have the best job in the world'. In many ways they are right, but for many the grass always seems greener. I am blessed that my work has taken me all over the world, to 60 countries to date and I've met so many incredible, inspirational people and made so many friends along the way. It's not all rock and roll tho.
Travelling for work is lonely. This year I've spent at least 250days away from home. Over 100 flights, 35 countries, countless early morning trips to faceless airports. I live for the trainings, I love sharing what I've been fortunate enough to learn, but in between those trainings I've become an emotionally numb loner on autopilot from hotel to taxi to airport to plane to airport to taxi to hotel. It's 5% doing what I love and 95% an empty, incredibly lonely life.
Lately the battle has become more and more difficult. The zombies have become stronger and more numerous and my defences have weakened. Changes at work have dismantled whatever resemblance of what team I was a part of, the upward career path has ground to a halt and any kind of ownership I had over my job has vanished.
Then in Athens, I broke. Alone in the hotel room, in a city filled with friends I felt a crushing loneliness, a claustrophobic choking like the walls were closing in and for the first time since my teenage years the thoughts of ending it all returned. If you've never suffered from depression it's so hard to find the words to make you understand what it feel likes, like how a man will never understand the pain a woman experiences in childbirth. Beyond the debilitating loneliness and claustrophobia, there's a fear that the future, or perhaps this plane of reality in which we live, doesn't exist, that no one would even notice if you disappeared or that they don't really notice you at all. It overwhelms everything, every waking moment, every thought, every action.
I was scared, deeply scared. In that moment of fear I called out for help, not personally to a close friend or family, but through the safety of Facebook. I was scared of opening up to someone personally, but there is a feeling of some sort of safety net from hiding behind a screen and tapping away at keys. I could always delete the post couldn't I.
So know the world knows. I'm off work on sick leave for the rest of the year and I'm know writing this blog telling you all about my deeply personal issues. I'm just beginning the journey to heal myself and find my true path. It won't be easy and the journey life long. I'm nervous and excited to see where it takes me.