MSP considered ‘ultimate escape’ as he describes battle with depression

April 20 2017, 9.05pmUpdated: April 21 2017, 11.11am
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A Member of the Scottish Parliament has written about his battle with depression in an article for a mental health organisation.

James Dornan said he even briefly considered “the ultimate escape” while he was in the darkest depths of the illness.

He said that going to see a therapist was the bravest thing he has ever done, and urged other people to seek help if they have symptoms of depression.

The Glasgow Cathcart MSP has described his experiences in an article for See Me, Scotland’s programme to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination.

In the piece, posted online, he wrote: “I’m a 64-year-old west of Scotland male, we’re tough, macho and don’t recognise ‘girly’ stuff like depression, keep a front at all times, never show emotion, unless it’s anger of course, and never let on we’re not totally in control.

“That was exactly how I was for the first 40 plus years of my life. Never admit you feel bad, let it fester inside and drown it if necessary.”

He said that he had always been a worrier, but that matters came to a head after a few things happened in a fairly short period of time.

He wrote: “I decided to stop drinking, good thing, and within a couple of years my first grandchild was born, best thing ever, and shortly after my dad died, worst thing ever.

“Together they made me re-evaluate where I was going and how to face up to the heavy load I had carried since I was a young teenager.

“But even then I had to get worse before I got better. My darkness became pitch black, I couldn’t see any point in anything and even considered, briefly and I don’t believe seriously, the ultimate escape.

“Even so it was two years after the death of my dad before I plucked up the courage to get help, and take it from me that was the bravest thing I had ever done; when your self-esteem was as low as mine the last thing you want to face is the truth, as you have no idea what you’re going to find out about yourself.”

The father of two said that if he had not gone to see the therapist he would have “continued spiralling deeper down into the depths of where I was already heading” and would never have gone on to become a politician.

The SNP MSP also said he owes his family a huge apology, as depression impacts on those closest to you and his moods must have made life miserable for his family.

Mr Dornan urged people to seek help if they need it, saying: “Depression is an illness and like other illnesses it can be treated. There is no shame in being ill, the shame is in not taking the opportunity of making your life and the lives of those around you better if you have the opportunity.”

He added: “The Black Dog is a fearsome animal, it can come and bite you again and again, sometimes when you least expect it. However with the right support it can and will be tamed.”

See Me is funded by the Scottish Government and Comic Relief and managed by the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and The Mental Health Foundation.

Other politicians tweeted their support after Mr Dornan put a link to the article on his @glasgowcathcart Twitter account.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: ” Proud of you @glasgowcathcart – a brave piece of writing that will help others facing same situation realise they are not alone.”

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson tweeted: ” Superb from @glasgowcathcart” and added: ” It’s a really powerful piece.”

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