Time To Talk: Jason’s Story
Time to Talk Day on 3rd February invites us all to start talking openly about mental health.
We all have mental health, and one in four of us will experience a mental health problem, so Bath Mind would like everyone to be able to feel comfortable talking about mental health, which can help support both ourselves and others.
Artist and photographer Jason Dorley-Brown takes Time to Talk and shares his story, encouraging us all to start conversations about mental health:
As I have aged, I have become much more aware that my mental health, good and bad, is very much a part of what makes me ‘me’ and it is as important to work on as my physical health. Neither should ever be taken for granted.
It was in 2011 that I first realised and admitted to myself, that I had been struggling with depression. For many years, I had experienced a couple of days during each year when I would hide away. I would spend that time under my duvet, not answering the phone, not wanting to interact with anyone, not having the energy to get up, unable to function normally. I told myself I just needed to ‘man up’ and I would eventually come out the other side and re-join society. However, the once a year became once a month, then once a week…
What I experienced during these periods of depression was for me, almost like having a panic attack; an out of body experience. I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed, I would feel incredible self-loathing, a total lack of confidence and self-belief; it was as if I was floating above my body looking at myself, not understanding why I felt that way. I soon realised that I needed to seek professional help.
My GP suggested I see a counsellor. I realised that living in New York and experiencing 9/11 had been a catalyst for my depression; I had wanted to discuss this, but my counsellor had disagreed. So, rightly or wrongly, I didn’t return after two sessions.
9/11 also became a catalyst for me to grieve the passing of my beloved grandmother, Lola, the year before. I didn’t have a close relationship with my parents and she was the one adult that showed me true love and seemed to ‘see me’. When she died, I didn’t grieve, I didn’t feel any true sense of loss. However, four days after 9/11 I was in my apartment in NYC and I burst into tears. I cried for hours. My tears were for my grandmother. Looking back, I now realise that the loss of my grandmother and the events of 9/11 made the protective wall that I had built around my emotions crumble. Up to that point in time I had felt bombproof, now I felt an oversensitivity. This still exists in me today.
Despite making lifestyle changes, my depression continued. I went back to my GP and decided to start on medication. After two or three days of taking a pill daily, it was as if I had a firewall protecting me from the debilitating effects of my depression. I was able to consider my challenges rationally. I was no longer crippled by huge self-doubt and self-loathing. I could see paths out of my challenges and I could see the potential in myself.
If sharing my story results in one person realising that they are not alone in their struggles and they feel comfortable enough to reach out and seek help, then it is worth it. I know that by sharing my story I am not admitting to a weakness or a failure, rather that I am discussing my humanity.
I have found great solace and joy in my art practice and I soon understood that my creative outlet has incredibly beneficial effects on my mental wellbeing. The relationship with my creativity is an incredible tool for achieving positive mental health.
I have never been more happy with who I am than I am today and that is due to my increasingly positive mental health. I put that down to a mixture of my art practice, and the incredible support network of friends. Those two things are inextricably linked in providing me with a foundation to live a positive, creative and fulfilling life.
I believe that feeling loved, supported and safe are incredibly important and integral to a truly happy and rewarding life. That, for me, is the greatest gift you can share.
A huge thank you to Jason for your honest and open account of your experiences – it is wonderful to hear how medication, alongside your art and support network have helped your mental health.
For advice on how to start a conversation about your mental health, or someone else’s, read our blog, Time to Talk – 10 Tips for Talking About Mental Health.
Posted on: 26th January 2022