To be in a dark place is very lonely
William - 53, from a small village in Scotland. Married with 2 grown up children. Works as a mechanic.
How are you?
I am feeling stimulated. I’m in a good place; mentally, physically and emotionally. As long as I'm happy in my marriage and with my two lovely kids then my needs are satisfied. I’ve never had any expectations. As long as I can keep a roof over my head and food on the table then I am content. I would sweep the streets and cleans loos if need be - I’ll do anything to keep things going.
How do you feel about the weather?
The weather is just a part of life, especially living here. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong country. I like the Artic and Iceland - there’s something romantic and beautiful about those places. When it’s chucking down with snow - there’s no sound.
The weather does have an effect on you eventually. If it’s been miserable for days on end I have to watch what's happening to me just in case I feel a depression coming on.
Can you talk to me about your depression?
Before I was diagnosed with depression if anyone told me they felt suicidal, I’d say ‘I couldn’t work for the Samaritans because I’d say “‘well go on then jump” - don't waste my time’. I used to think committing suicide was a selfish act but having gone through depression I realised that for someone to commit suicide, it’s a really big deal. It takes a lot to end your own life - there's a thought process going on there. If you're going to slit your wrists you have to take the knife and do it. You must be going through a hellish place. To be in a dark place is very lonely. I’ve realised you need someone to talk to, someone to give you a hug and to show you some support.
When I got signed off for depression I would sit on the sofa all day and watch telly. Don't ask me what I watched or what it was about I couldn't tell you. I did that for 3 weeks, that was my routine. I was absolutely exhausted - from doing nothing.
My wife doesn't understand because depression is very difficult to understand, even people with depression find it hard to understand. I’d take the dog out for a walk and find a place to sit - he’d lie next to me with his head on my knee and I’d start talking to him. He knows more about me than anyone else does. If anyone could get into his head - he'd spill the beans. He can’t cast an opinion, it felt safe - he knew there was something wrong. He was my saviour. He’s loyal and knows when I'm not quite right. He has some sort of 6th sense, he knows even before I do that I might be on the edge. I don't know how I will cope when he goes.
Having been on the receiving end of a paedophile I made a personal choice not to be like my dad. There was no way I was going to hit kids, no way I was going to sexually abuse kids, there was no way I was going to be abusive physically, mentally or anything else to my kids, I was not going to turn into my father. I made that decision at an early age, if I hadn't how would I have turned out?
What happened to me was wrong. At the time I didn't understand why it was wrong. I was "Daddy's little secret!" It isn't right that kids are abused by anyone let alone by their parents. I couldn’t have told anyone - it would have been my word over his and he was the adult, it was different in those days. He’d say ‘It's our little secret and that’s the way it should stay’. I couldn’t grass on my own dad because at the end of the day he was family and you don’t do that to family but then he shouldn't have been doing what he was doing.
He should have realised early on what was going on and walked away. He got married for the right reasons in the 60s because you couldn't be seen to be gay whereas nowadays he could have gone off and lead the life he wanted to. We would have had more respect for him had he moved to Brighton and lived the gay lifestyle he always wanted. My parents should have split up but mum was all about the vows - ‘for better for worse, richer for poorer til death do us part’.
Twenty years later when I opened the can of worms it exploded in my face. I had to deal with it, if I’d have kept it locked away, it’s a bit like Pandoras box, as soon as you let the top off - whoosh - it eats away at you!
I use my work with wood as therapy for my depression. Sometimes the creative mind is part of the problem - a day can be a very long time if you’re depressed.
What brings you down?
My father, apart from what I’ve told you about the abuse I suffered I was never good enough. I was a failure. When I got my O’levels he said ‘Is that the best you can do?’ I was a disappointment to my parents. I remember my 18th birthday, I had to pay for my own beer because my dad wouldn't put his hand in his own pocket.
What you you think about marriage?
It's an institution, and who wants to live in one of them? (laughing) It's not for everyone. I’m lucky, I’m in a happy marriage. It’s not always been - we've had our ups and downs. We've been married for 28 years - it’s a long time.
How many kids would be in a better place if their parents had spent time listening to each other? Marriage gives stability to your children. If you have children you have to be committed to each other in order to be committed to you kids.
When you look at all the people out there who've managed just 2 or 3 years, who’ve fallen out over an argument and never seen each other again. We live in such a throw away society, you can walk away anytime from your marriage but you should be a unit. Life’s too short to split up over silly disagreements, surely it’s worth sorting out and saving? Ok some are irreparable and fall by the wayside and there’s no way you can get around that but if people spent more time being with each other then possibly divorce rates would be lower.
Who or what inspires you?
I am a wood turner. I get most my inspiration from nature. When I am out walking in the fells I see the trees and the shapes they form. I go home, take a piece of wood, put it on my lathe and something develops - my ideas are in my head and in nature. I once won a piece of cone shaped timber in a raffle at my wood turning club, (yes, I know!) I thought - I can do something with that.
What's your first memory?
I don't know - I tend to block out a lot of my early years. In fact I cant remember a lot of what happened before my dad abused me. I do remember when I was about 12, my mum went into hospital to have a hysterectomy so I'd stay at my mates - they were probably more parents to me than my own parents. Their house was a bolt hole, I felt safe - nothing would happen to me there.
What do you think about death?
When my wife's dad died (crying) he was such a good friend to me - he had a heart attack in the night and just like that - he died. It was a massive shock. I had a total melt down after that which triggered something and then depression kicked in. I was signed off work and that's when the world changed - probably for the better. I started to acknowledge what happened to me. I can show my emotions far better now than I could back then. I can cry, I can let go.
When my dad died, there was no love lost. I was very rude and flippant when talking to the undertaker about my dad. There was no sense of loss. I was there to support my mother - keeping up appearances. I did the right thing.
I think people don't like the fact of nothingness, there has to be something better - let’s convince ourselves there is. So, lets take a virgin and a carpenter, off they go to Bethlehem and have a white child - what's that about? Then you've got 4 blokes - Mathew, Mark, Luke and John who have written varying accounts of the same story - if Jeremy Kyle was about back then - he would have had a field day.
Why do we consider ourselves to be so superior? There are probably far more superior planets than us out there. We could be a tiny atom in a table leg in some weird universe. You can look at life in so many different ways.
What would you like to leave for the next generation?
I hope my kids can learn from things I've done. It's not always what's going on at the time that’s important, sometimes you have to go a bit deeper and take some time to process what’s happening, to understand what’s going on inside people’s minds. It's all well and good saying - 'Oh he's a nutter' but you have to ask the question 'why are they a nutter, why are they like they are?' There has to be something that's made them like they are.
Paying attention is very important - sit back, take a step back before casting an opinion. We can all be too quick to judge and one comment can imprint itself on someones psyche and leave something negative.
What have you taken from doing this today?
It’s been an absolute amazing experience and I feel a lot lighter inside. I have been able to talk to someone really freely, someone who isn't a medical professional. I’ve talked to medical people in the past and psychologists who’ve listened in a practitioner sort of way but you’ve sat there as a total outsider who doesn’t know me from Adam - it’s a breath of fresh air - I’m breathing easier. I don’t feel so heavy, something has been lifted. Whether the lid will fall back down in a few weeks or it’s the start of the lid being totally lifted - time will tell. It’s been a cleansing experience.
I didn’t know what to expect, one question leads into other questions. Each question can form another 10 questions. I’ve never actually sat and spoken to some one for 4 hours. I don't feel like I’ve been talking for all this time - where did the time go? It’s not boring.
This process seems to be almost an exorcising process for me. I do feel better. I need to exorcise that devil somehow and I think this process has helped. I feel like I've known you for years which is weird as I don't normally let people in. I have felt a comfort and ease with you. It's been really good.