Depression and Wargaming

2

October 5, 2018 by Lee

This is an unusual post from me, but I thought I would write about a condition that I have been diagnosed to have had all my life to my surprise. I don’t know where this post will take us as I’m probably going to ramble on and go off tangent from time to time. The one thing I will say straight off the bat is that depression will affect people differently and that’s to say that my depression will be different to someone else who unfortunately suffers from the condition. I don’t have the answers to the condition but all I can do is speak from the heart to let anyone who is also suffering from this to say, “hey, you’re not alone and it’s okay to talk about it”.

Depression is on the increase here in the U.K. and especially in men. For a long time now, men like me have refused to acknowledge the signs and symptoms they are suffering in fear of speaking out and feeling weak and a failure. Now I know that is not true and people wouldn’t think that way, especially those who suffer from this condition. But, I am an old-fashioned type of guy with modern thinking when it comes to equality and fairness etc, but as for speaking about myself in a personal sense, I am a man and I shouldn’t do that. More to the point, I should suck it up, put it to one side and move on. After all, men are meant to be strong and we shouldn’t show our true feelings in fear of showing signs of weakness at the expense of being vulnerable.

When did I get diagnosed?
It was back in early 2016 when I had just finished a night shift, (I work for the railway as a signalling technician doing maintenance and fixing signalling faults). I don’t remember much of the 7-mile journey home, only that it took me nearly an hour to do instead of the 15mins. When I got home my wife was getting ready for work and she asked me if I was ok, as to her I probably didn’t look to special. I think I remember saying that I didn’t feel to good and that I was shaking. She said that I should see a doctor, but as I said to her I don’t do things like that. I went to bed and my wife went to work. We spoke again at lunchtime where I must have displayed very out of character communication that worried her and she came straight home and dragged me to the doctors. To be honest it was all a blur at the time, the doctor done some tests, asked me to fill out a questionnaire to which the results came back saying that I was having an anxiety attack, but the underline was I was also suffering from depression. On further questions from the doctor he could deduce that I had been suffering from depression for most of my known life but didn’t know in that short visit why these two things classed together. He put me on a course of tablets which was designed to suppress my thoughts, help me relax, sleep and signed me up to therapy.

So, while taking the course of tablets in which I was taking for over a year, I had some therapy sessions. Now remember what I had said, I’m and old-fashioned guy when it comes to talking about my feelings and so to talk to a young lady about what I saw as a weakness was a very hard thing to do. I can remember breaking down in front of her a couple of times and feeling ashamed of doing so, she said that it was all part of the healing.

During our sessions we talked about a lot of things from family, work and hobbies. As you can imagine without a balance in these something was going to go wrong.

Work was getting on top of me for various reasons from my team being under staffed, pressure from upper management about making sure we don’t have train delays due to faults (which is mostly impossible) and generally an over amount of paperwork / politics.

As for my family life, I thought this was out of the three the best, I was wrong. It turned out that my mood swings would be that Mel and Jamie would never know how to act around me, as one minute I would be ok and the next I would fly off the handle (never in a violent way though). This had and has still upset me the most as I only ever want the best for them.

As for my wargaming, this had suffered massively, I have not picked up a paint brush now for well over 6 years (might even be longer) and is still the same now. The reason for this is that my concentration level was shot to pieces and still is, so, when I sit to do something I start to shake, my mind races and I can’t focus. Anyone who knows me reading this would say “no way, that’s not true, he has always got a rulebook in his hand” or “that can’t be right as Lee is always enthusiastic about doing the next project etc”. Sadly though, it’s all true.

Fast forward to now October 2018 and How does living with depression make me feel?
That is a very difficult question to answer. There are days even now when I’m on my rest days from work, Mel is at work and Jamie is at school that I will just cry over nothing. I have no answer as to why I do this but all I can say is that I will either phone Mel or text her to say I love her very much. I think this is because part of my brain is saying that in the past I might have failed to say it or let her know that I’m still thinking of her and Jamie.

I have also discovered in the last two years is that I have become frightened of going out and mixing with people, I don’t know what it is or why. Perhaps it’s the volume of noise, the feeling of being claustrophobic or people make me feel very nervous. I don’t know the answer, I would love to go away and join in Barry Hiltons League of Augsburg weekends and go along the meet up with Mark Freeth and play in some games at the Wargames Holiday Centre. Both are excellent, as both Barry and Mark are a great couple of guys and I’m sure they would make me feel welcome and part of it at my own pace. But here is the problem I face, let’s say I spot an event at the Wargames Holiday Centre I fancy taking part in. For example, that an event is we will say 2 or 3 months away, plenty of time and I would sign up for it but nearer the time I would get very nervous, withdrawn and wonder if I would be okay around people during the weekend. I would then probably cancel and not attend in the fear I would let myself down and in turn let others down.

It’s funny that wargaming is a very social hobby and I have always beat the drum saying that, I’ve also said many times in the past that the actual game for me is the anti-climax and it was more about getting together with friends and family and having a laugh (normally at Richards expense for being consistent at rolling crap dice). But, even going to a wargame show no matter the size of the show from my small local event at Devizes to going to Salute at the Excel centre in London, all the same feelings still exist.

Where do I go from here?
I don’t really know to be honest. I started writing this post to help bring the subject to the attention of others who may be in the same situation. I’ve had to learn that I am not alone in this and I want others to know the same.

Please can I ask anyone who does not suffer from this condition not to judge us or more importantly when we say we are struggling with our depression, be patient and don’t ever say that we will be okay as we are only feeling a little under the weather. The fact that I constantly feel lethargic, exhausted, tired and unsettled all mixed together is not feeling under the weather. I do not want to go back on the tablets as they do not fix the problem, they only mask it.

Summary
If you have got this far I thank you for listening and taking the time out of your day to listen to my ramblings. Like I said at the start I don’t know where this is going as I could ramble on and on, but I think this is enough for me to cope with for now.

If you know anyone who suffers from this condition, then please share this post to them and tell them they are not alone.

If you would like to know more then please do not hesitate to ask me any questions below and I will do my best to answer your question.

Thanks again for reading this post……please don’t forget to like, comment and share.

2 thoughts on “Depression and Wargaming

  1. barry hilton says:

    Lee, a very brave post and I commend you for taking the time and being so open. I am sure many people reading it will relate to your experience even if only for short periods of their lives.
    People can be a lot more accommodating than you might imagine. I have a few friends who suffer in a similar way to your description. Draw some comfort from the fact that it is no longer perceived as some kind of weakness. Better understanding across the population can only make it easier to talk about and I hope, cope.
    Very best to you.

    Barry

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lee says:

      Thanks for your response Barry I appreciate it. I know I’m not the only one to suffer from this condition and yes it was very hard for me to talk about it. Like you said if we can talk about it openly then we may begin to understand it. I’ve had a relaps recently and dug deep to write about it to hopefully tell people who suffer that they are not alone. The industry should appreciate that this happens to anyone and that at shows etc there may be gamers, customers, traders who are having a bad time. We all need a little patience and understanding.

      Like

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