Its cloudy here in our part of Essex and so we haven’t been able to see anything of the eclipse.
However on August 11th 1999 we had an amazing view of the total eclipse and its something that me and my family will never forget, my daughters were aged 7 and 5 and were playing in the garden, my wife was sat on the back doorstep, but I wasn’t there.
Mental health is rarely talked about, people are hesitant to admit they they have suffered with poor mental health, maybe because it makes them seem weaker or maybe because of the stereotype mental health patient. Its a shame because if more people spoke up then it might not be such an ordeal when it happens to us and maybe we might get help sooner because it’s not then so shameful and secretive.
I had been physically unwell for three years in 1999, ill health had taken its toll and I had tried to push on and in true man style I refused to believe there was a problem mentally and my depression manifested into anger, that is not fair on a wife and daughters, its not fair on anyone. I would like to say that at no point have I ever physically harmed my family, but having a 6′ 4″ man raging must be quite scary for a family.
My wife wanted me to get help but I kept refusing because I didn’t think there was a problem, so she needed to do something to make me realise how bad things were. She went to stay with my auntie for a few days and said that if I didn’t get help, then I would lose my family and it worked!
So during the eclipse in August 1999 I was at a day stay mental health unit, it was just down the road to us and actually a very nice place. I watched the eclipse from the small garden at the centre, it was eerie and everyone describes it that way. However a few very unwell people at the centre were sat under a table, they believed that the eclipse was the end of our world, that somehow this event was the trigger for armageddon. It made me realise that I was actually very fortunate, that my breakdown was just a slip and that things can be a lot more serious for some people.
So it’s weird that today is a partial eclipse and once more because of the burden of ill health, I’m struggling mentally. I’m not angry, I’m not curled up crying but I know I’m not okay. Luckily I’m under the pain management team and so I called them and said I was struggling to cope with the pain and the team therapist contacted me. As I have said before the panic attacks that were mildly affecting my life are now more problematic and being in pain every second of every day slowly wears you down, but I know that because of what happened in 1999 I’m more able to deal with it.
Until next time!