‘I’m fine, thanks’: Chris Doveton shares his lived experience with depression
So often, we just cannot open up and share our innermost feelings with anyone.
Bath-based author, Chris Doveton, would like to share his experience of depression in the hope of helping others who may be suffering from this debilitating disorder, particularly men of a certain generation who were taught from an early age that showing emotions was a sign of weakness.
Chris’ recent memoir, I’m fine, thanks, tells the story of how his life changed forever when his wife was diagnosed with the rare and fatal genetic disease, Friedreich’s Ataxia (similar to motor neurons disease). For ten years, Chris and Anne endure this terrible secret alone. After Anne’s death, Chris, ravaged by crippling grief, realises that he must get to grips with his clinical depression and rid himself of his stiff upper lip in order to survive. Now in his 80s, Chris pulls back the veil on the stages of depression he experienced, how this impacted his family, friends and life choices, and how he overcame depression to live a meaningful life.
Chris shares his thoughts:
I felt compelled to write I’m Fine, Thanks and share the traumas of my life with anyone who might be suffering from bereavement, loneliness, depression, sickness, the breakdown of a relationship or is simply bewildered in this fragile world. I hope readers will be interested to learn from my experiences, and that I can help others to find solace from opening up and dropping the shackles of the stiff upper lip. Perhaps one of the most-used responses when asked ‘how are you?’ is a simple ‘I’m fine, thanks’. This ends any conversation and avoids talking about the one thing that should be discussed – how we’re really feeling. So often, we just cannot open up and share our innermost feelings with anyone.
The hardest part for me to cover in the book was without a doubt when Anne, my wife, was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia at the age of 50 and told by the consultant there was no cure for her illness. Reliving the experience of this challenging part of my life was not easy, but something that was so vital to understand just how far I’ve come.
My road to recovery from depression was a long one. After the death of my wife, I felt isolated and useless. My behaviour became impulsive, I bought expensive clothes and even second homes on a whim. I found it hard to connect with people. Through regular counselling and a renewed faith, I was able to break down barriers and rebuild my life.
I’m fine, thanks takes readers on a difficult journey of self-discovery but it ends with a message of hope and finding love again: however dark things are, life can become worth living again. Never give up, even in your darkest moments; there is always hope, and nothing is impossible.
Chris Doveton was born in India just before WW2, later moving to South Africa and then to the UK. Chris joined the Royal Navy and became a commissioned officer in HMS Ark Royal and after leaving the military, started his own company, the Doveton Press. He is also the author of The Spanish Dream and In the World’s Shadows. Chris lives in Bath with his second wife, Pauline.
Posted on: 23rd September 2020