As you know, this column invariably takes a sideways look at life in Doncaster.
This week, I make no apologies that it doesn’t.
I was going to write about something entirely different, but recent events have made me rethink.
And that’s because terms such as mental health, stress, depression and anxiety are all phrases I’ve seen in messages from friends over the last week or so.
Not so long ago, anyone dealing with any of the above would have been told to “pull themselves together,” or in the case of us blokes, “man up.”
Thankfully, those “stiff upper lip” days are gone and people can talk more openly about their battles.
And it is a battle.
I’m not ashamed to admit there are several periods in my life where I’ve struggled with depression, most recently as last year.
I’ve had spells when I’ve been prescribed anti-depressants, long, sleepless, restless nights, tears, despair, misery, not wanting to get up in the morning or going to work and doing the things I normally enjoy.
But say these things out loud and people automatically think you are mad and ready to throw yourself off the nearest bridge.
Thankfully, I’ve never experienced those kind of feelings and my heart goes out to the ones who have. But I have experienced some extremely difficult and challenging times in my life, as we all have where simple tasks like getting dressed or talking to people has been a struggle.
Unless you’ve been there, its hard to explain the emptiness and loneliness as your mind tries to unfurl its problems, You can find yourself in a never-ending cycle of tears, anxiety and a general feeling of being very much alone in the world.
I was in such a space last year. But through support of friends and family, I pulled myself around and slowly rebuilt.
And all that was done by talking and realising that I wasn’t alone and that there are plenty of others in the same boat. The messages I’ve received from several good friends are testament to that.
Depression, moods, stress, whatever you want to call them, can take different forms. People deal with things in their own way.
I became very adept at hiding my woes behind smiles and a jokey personality - then going home and just wanting to sleep or hibernate, away from the world and with only music for company, daring not to breathe of my issues for fear of being judged or labelled.
Now, I’ve learned not to become a closed book and am happy again. Bottling things up for your own brain to try and decipher is dangerous.
So, if a friend reaches out to you, listen to them. You might not be able to wave a magic wand and cure their problems overnight but don’t dismiss them and brush the issue under the carpet.
You might just be helping to save someone’s life.