Case study: John*, 55, Wales
*name has been changed
“My first marriage was very difficult; we’d argue a lot, but a number of years into the marriage we had two children. Later I found out that one of the children wasn’t actually mine which put a huge strain on the relationship, everything deteriorated and eventually we started a divorce.
“The divorce was long and drawn out, there were many years of hell. I had to stand there and fight for custody of my kids, which for a man on his own, was extremely stressful. I’d built up my own business, but fighting for my kids took up all my energy and I had to sell it.
“During this time, stress made me have terrible headaches and I started having strobe lights flashing in my head, like white bright lights. But doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me. Eventually, my ex-wife and I came to a custody agreement, but after a while, my kids chose to live with her permanently. This tore me apart.
“The pain of my headaches was getting worse and I couldn’t get my answers from the doctors. I was crying all day and couldn’t understand it, why was I like this? I went rapidly downhill and even considered killing myself, I just couldn’t see another way out, but I stopped myself.
“I eventually got the diagnosis I needed and the doctors said I’d had some kind of breakdown from all the years of stress.
“I’m now happily married to my second wife, but I know that my depression can still sneak up on me. I can go up and down. Three years ago I again considered taking my own life. Even though I now get on reasonably well with my ex-wife. I still have problems sleeping and things can come back to me.
I think men like me can hide their problems really well, so those around you don’t realise how much you’re struggling.
“Through therapy and medication my headaches have improved and the courses I’ve been on to help me manage my stress levels are really useful. I think men like me can hide their problems really well, so those around you don’t realise how much you’re struggling. I don’t think GPs really understand either, they don’t know much about depression.
“I would say to other people to get help and talk to someone about your problems before they get out of control, like they did for me.”