Where do I start???

Where do I start???

Where do I start???

Dave (right) with wife Eileen and son Matthew after completing the annual walk for dementia in South Shields in memory of his father in law.

At the age of 15 my father died from Cancer, 2 weeks after feeling a pain in his stomach he was dead, leaving my mum and three boys behind with me being the youngest. I spent the next few years rebelling against every form of authority. Fortunately, the police were never involved, more importantly; I had a supportive mother who the more I rebelled the more she supported me. Looking back was I being selfish. This was the second time my mum had been widowed. I should have been supporting her. I left school without a qualification to my name, again my mum had to pay for the exams that I had been entered into. With my mum pushing me, I gained an apprenticeship in welding but during this time, I spent time in Durham County Hospital where on one occasion I was told that there wasn’t anything wrong with me and that I just had to get on with it.

Over the years I blamed the death of my father at such a young age for my issues, later in life I decided that this was wrong, and I had been an idiot during those years.

At the age of 24, I married Eileen, a fantastic woman and 36yrs later, we are still together. I am just now beginning to appreciate how fantastic she is. Still throughout my adult life, I have had issues where I felt that I could not cope, I have felt worthless, suicidal, my get up and go, got up and left, my motivation disappeared. Over the years, only two constants helped to keep me focused to a small degree, that being my children Nic and Matt, who I am proud to say are both very successful. During the recurring bad times, Eileen and my Mum were always there for me. Unfortunately, my Mum passed away when I was 42.

Throughout my life and still to this day my love of sport is undiminished. I have played/competed in Football, Rugby, Cricket and Martial Arts. I’ve also swam, climbed mountains and also completed the Lyke Wake walk. As well as playing I’ve also coached football, cricket and rugby and during some of the down times, I had to push myself to do any of this. I’ve met with MIND on numerous occasions and they are good, I have sort treatment from a number of sources.

Over the years, the only thing that has always been with me apart from my Wife and Mother is Anxiety and Depression. More recently, the times when I have received treatment, I always feel good but as soon as the treatment ends, I start to go downhill. The last few years have been hard especially in my personal life, Last year was a bad one, again the Anxiety and Depression were diagnosed, and then Shingles decided to pop in for a visit, Fibro Myalgia was mentioned. Then to cap it all, during a routine visit to my doctors to discuss a recurring chest infection, I was sent directly to hospital and diagnosed with Heart Failure, Atrial Fibrillation and an ectopic heartbeat. The specialist said that this recurring chest infection had been the straw that broke the camel’s back and brought on at least one heart issue. As well as this I also needed shoulder surgery.

Having completed a Mental Health Awareness course last year, I think this made me realise many of the issues I had, whether this was a good thing or a bad thing I am yet to decide. Shortly after I completed the course, I went downhill fast. Struggling with several things during the year, I went to see a councillor. I’ve seen several different councillors over the years, this particular councillor was brilliant, we chatted on a weekly basis with no pressure. I laughed with him, cried with him. During one session my son called me, I apologised and took the call. My councillor said he has never had a patient who broke down crying at the news that his son had just passed his driving test.

A smile has always been with me hence this poem, which I composed and entitled “I wore your smile”

Masqueraded as a hero. 
All I felt was ———Zero. But I wore your smile. 
Hid behind booze. Had nothing to lose. You did not approve. 
But I wore your smile. 
Near, —– so distant, —– in an instant. Like a shooting star.
I wore your smile. 

I’ve no idea where this poem came from. The line I wore your smile popped into my head at 5:30am as I lay awake.

I’ve hidden behind a smile, which was not my smile. People have stated that they cannot believe that I suffer from Anxiety and Depression, as I always look so confident. I now believe my father’s death could have possibly been the catalyst to a lot of my issues. Whilst I cannot say I am proud to suffer from this illness, I am by no means ashamed of it. I feel more confident than I have in years, learning more about my issues have enabled me to control them and knowing when a bout is raising its head means that I have learnt to control it.

Mental Health treatment has improved over the years and has been a genuine benefit to me. Don’t hide behind a smile confront it share your feelings.


If you would like to contact Fine and Dandi in regard to Dave’s journey, would like to get involved with Fine and Dandi or would like to share your own journey then please contact us.