I’m not alone …. Inverurie JAC member Duncan Maclennan

Duncan Maclellan

Inverurie JAC

Living with depression…….

My struggles started back in June 2017 when my father sadly passed away, although looking back on it now I would say the seeds of depression were planted back in 2009 when my parents split up.

I didn’t have a relationship with my father after that, and at the time of his passing I hadn’t seen him for 5 years. I had been living in New Zealand for 2 years at the time, and after flying back for the funeral, I returned back to New Zealand to a hope of getting back to “normality”. From the night of hearing the devastating news, my lack of sleep was the first thing to become an issue. As I was busy at work all day, my mind was kept busy. But as soon as I got into bed my mind would go into overdrive, with all the “what if”. What if I had tried to reconnect with my father, what if I had tried more as a son to repair things with him. All this resulted in me having no more than 2-3 hours sleep a night.

After moving back home a year later, I was naïve in thinking that being back with family and friends would solve everything. I kept a smile on my face when I was out, still going to all our young farmers meetings and social events, which when I think about it was one thing that kept me going, albeit masking how I was really feeling. I didn’t want to burden my family or friends with my problems. Everyday was becoming a challenge, going to work was a challenge, struggling not to think everything was my fault. During harvest and sowing, the long hours and lack of sleep meant I was sinking even further into a dark hole, with what seemed like no way out.

In the space of around 8 months, I had lost several friends to suicide both here at home and in New Zealand, all of whom seemed happy as larry on the outside, always joking and you would have never known the troubles they were facing on the inside. After hearing of my last friends passing, something snapped in my mind that I didn’t want to let myself fall into such a dark hole that the only way out was suicide. I didn’t want to be another statistic.

I had finally admitted to myself I needed help. I spoke to my family and closest friends, admitting to them, and along with writing a status on social media letting the wider community know that I had taken the first step in getting my life back on track, with a feeling of this huge weight ever so slightly lifted off my shoulders.

What followed brought me to tears. Hundreds of messages of support from family, friends, and people I didn’t even know, sharing stories of personal experiences with mental health issues. Over the next couple of months, I took a break from social media, which in today’s world, can be faulted for piling on more and more pressure on young peoples lives. I took the step of going to see a counsellor. This was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but I knew it was key to helping me on my road to recovery.

I have come along way from that moment I admitted it to myself. I still have plenty bad days, but now the good days have overtaken. Running has been my escape when I’m having a bad day, when my headphones go on, my troubles seem to briefly disappear. Covid-19 has posed its own challenges, and even though I count myself very lucky to still be able to get out on the farm everyday, life without my friends and family members has been tough.

If I have one piece of advice for anyone currently suffering from any form of mental health issues, it would be to talk to someone about it. Whether that be family, friends, or a professional. A small problem can spiral out of control if you keep things bottled up. A problem shared is a problem halved. My door is always open for anyone who would like a chat.