At the tender age of 44, I first discovered I was suffering from depression. I’ve had numerous challenges throughout my life, many of them self-made, and some were put upon me. I always understood at the time, or in the immediate aftermath, what factors had led to these difficulties. Knowing what the problem was and how it came to be, gave me a pathway, an understanding of how to overcome them or at the very least, come to terms with them.
This time however, it was very different. I didn’t see what was happening, there was no specific or obvious instance that immediately caught my attention. The slow breakdown of my confidence, my comfort in life, my understanding of how to move forward and pursue happiness, came over the course of the COVID era.
I’m still struggling with this today but through the good grace of my wife, family and friends, I’ve learned to speak up, even open up about the fact that I am struggling and I’m not invincible, like us men so easily try to convince ourselves.
I’ve written this poem, based on my experiences and on some of the familiar stories I’ve listened to, since opening up.
Can they see me, do they hear, my mind is full of fear?
I must be strong, take them on, but how, if I am wrong?
I must protect, as they expect, despite that I am wrecked.
I can’t explain, I’m in pain, my troubles are in vain.
They don’t want to hear me, they just laugh, my problems are my path.
I’m so lonely, I feel weak, but I just turn the other cheek.
Now I’m broken, I am sore, I can’t fight through that last door.
If I run, if I hide, they’ll never know I lied.
I am nothing, I’m no help, do you think they’ll hear me yelp?
I wish they saw me, one last time, how I was, when in my prime.
That time’s passed now, I must go, it’s the only way they’ll know.
I truly love them, I wish them well, but my life is a living hell.
Please forgive me for what I’ve done, especially my Mum.
Had I told her, she would fight, she would keep me in the light.
It’s too late now, I am bones, and my mother’s all alone.
She’s surrounded by her peers, her family, her fears.
I can’t believe what I’ve done, I’ve always loved my Mum.
I never hurt her, I always helped, I reacted when she yelped.
Her light has changed now, it’s so dim, I’ve hurt her from within.
I can’t go back, I wish I could, so I could rise up from the mud.
Stand by her side, full of pride, get back on this one-time ride.
Yes it’s challenging, yes it’s tough, it’s often very rough.
But don’t you worry, you are strong, just talk and you’ll plod along.
It won’t be easy, it will hurt, but that’s how you find worth.
Just remember it takes time, you’ve got to put it on the line.
Good people love you, they are wise, you can see it in their eyes.
They will support you, they will fight, they will show you how you’re right.
They will lift you, they will try, they will cuddle you when you cry.
It’s not too late for you to decide, choose life, not suicide.
This poem is by Luke Duffy.
Don’t forget that we’re here for you. If you’re experiencing depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety or related mood conditions, or are concerned about a loved one, we can offer you a safe and accepting space to receive support, compassion and guidance. Visit aware.ie/support.