I am a male, aged 62. I haven't had any contact with the mental health industry for that have seen me diagnosed as having a particular condition, but I identify with many of the experiences noted in people's stories. I am concerned enough by it to write here.
I had a good upbringing from my parents, and life's experiences were probably much the same as most. I was teased a lot at primary school and withdrew into my own world a bit, having only a very few good friends. I did okay at high school, but never developed socially. It was always the other kids that were popular, that had girlfriends; did stuff together. So I learned to be good at practical things. Eventually I started a career of 26 years with what was then a Government department. The job was good, the training was excellent; I rose to a senior technical position and ended up in a support job that was unique in the company.
Things started to unravel a bit in the mid 1980's. My dad passed away, just six months before his 60th birthday. I missed him very much, as a friend and mentor, and I had hoped to share with him the interests that I was developing in my career. I was single, still didn't have a girlfriend, and lived on my own. I joined a club, to meet people and learn a new skill or two.
In 2002, after five restructures, the beancounters that were running my workplace decided that they didn't want to employ me any more. So I was made redundant, the work that I was doing still there, needing to be done. I decided to set up my own business to consult back, to ensure that the service work could continue. This work has dwindled almost to nothing since, and I have had to supplement it with local domestic repair work. I am not particularly good at running a business, and it has not made money for ages. People would like things repaired, but they don't want to pay a skilled tradesman’s rate.
Two years ago, I reached the age of 60. While there was no medical history that would suggest that I might die young like my father did, I put myself through considerable worry thinking about the possibility. I had a couple of medical incidents that year which, while not major, did leave me a little worse off than I was in terms of fitness. The business was starting to look shaky, and I was beginning to resent having to go to work. Life had become just a series of days of effort, trying to do stuff to feel that I was contributing to society, without being aware of much in the way of "reward" or appreciation.
In the past year, "manopause" has begun, to add to my woes. I did eventually find a lady who took enough interest in me for us to get married 18 years ago. While it is not possible for us to have children, that wasn't the focus of getting married. I had hoped that I would be able to discuss my problems with her, but she is of the "life is tough - everyone has problems - get over it" brigade. I feel trivialised and don't want to raise the issue again.
The things that I hold dear to my heart just seem old-fashioned by today's society. I wanted to be able to express my creativity, enjoy social things, do work that would be appreciated by those commissioning it, but it all seems to be to no avail, as no-one wants to know. Society has lowered its standards, or is simply uninterested in the things that I used to enjoy.
I take responsibility for my life. I know many of my decisions have been made out of a fear of stepping forward. I am always asking: "am I good enough?" This seems to always be answered in the negative, as I explore different avenues. In the privacy of my bedroom I have often cried, as I wonder if this is all that life has to offer.
I don't know what the answer is. I have got to the point where I will probably wind up my business this year as the interest in keeping it going has dwindled away. The organisations I belong to no longer hold much joy either. One or two people have suggested other avenues of employment that I could investigate, but I don't see that I have skills or an interest that I could share in the areas suggested.
The reason for this long ramble is to pose a question: is the problem of depression - that so many people are suffering from - a condition which has been brought on by the society we now live in? Where profits are more important than nurturing the workforce that enables the profit to be generated? Where skills are lost because cheap imports have created a new value system which effectively "prices out" the efforts of local workers?
Or is it just my problem, stuck away in a small community, not changing with the times, and being left behind as a result?
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