Every night I would check my alarm clock 10, 15 times to make sure that I'd set it to 'on'. Every morning I'd wake with a feeling of dread about the walk to work, and I'd get on my knees to ask for strength. Relief that the working day was over would quickly be overtaken by anxiety about the next day waiting round the corner. Once on the way back from work I stopped in at the local co-op corner shop for some food. I just stood there, unable to choose what to take off the shelves, overwhelmed by the choice. I put the basket down and left without buying anything.
A few years later I sat in the corner of our front room in tears, trying to explain to the kids why daddy was sad. It took a couple of other work colleagues to notice I was looking rough and to sit me down for coffee and help me to talk about why I wasn't my usual self.
I'm blessed, I've not had any deep or longstanding issues with depression, anxiety, or other forms of mental illness. I've had the mental equivalent of bruising or a small crack. But I know that talking to people about what was going on was a massive part of helping me to get through it.
Today is Time to Talk day, 24 hours in which to start conversations about mental health, raise awareness and share the message that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, neither is talking about it.
Is there someone you know who's been looking more down and upset lately. Who's taken to avoiding church, the school playground, their usual circle of friends. Who struggles with the greeting 'how are you'? Maybe they could do with a coffee too.
Because mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something we don't talk about enough.