Virgin Radio UK's Eddy Temple-Morris on overcoming depression
Mental illness will affect one in four people at some point in their life. Eddy Temple-Morris, DJ at Virgin Radio UK, shares his story of how he found out at first-hand the value of the help offered by the charity CALM…
In 2010 my friend and colleague killed himself at a music festival. At his wake, Jane Powell, the incredible lady who started the mental health charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) opened my eyes to a few shocking facts: that suicide was the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK; that I was five times more likely to kill myself than she was; and that CALM had no office and virtually no income, and she was about to give up, because nobody wanted to talk about it.
So I started working with her, fundraising, using social media to raise awareness about the issue, talking publicly, openly and honestly.
One day I got a message from Stephen Manderson, aka Professor Green, whom I’d supported when he first started and who by now had millions of followers on Twitter. He told me that he found my talking online about suicide and mental health inspiring and that he wanted to become involved, because his father had taken his own life.
Stephen ended up making a game-changing TV documentary in which he faced up to this personal tragedy and we saw #Suicide trend on Twitter for the very first time. I did everything I could to get suicide talked about, written about, addressed in any way, but I could only go so far, because at that point in my life I’d been the happiest bugger you could ever hope to meet.
Add one catastrophically abusive relationship, and before I knew it, I was in my car, barely able to see through the tears in my eyes, driving towards the Severn Bridge, with the intention of throwing myself off it.
In those many months, I slept for eight to 12 hours a week. The chronic insomnia was so crippling that I had to learn how to meditate, and had cognitive behavioural therapy, then traditional analysis for months.
But now I’m glad I experienced all that. Now I understand so much better how people behave when they are in that awful, dark place. You don’t want to talk, you don’t want to be a burden to your friends, you don’t want to bring them down, so you suffer alone, and one day death seems like an attractive option compared to your life.
I’m here to tell you that it’s not. Because I know, from the most profound experience, that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Depression is something that most of us will have gone through, or will go through at least once in our lives – and the key phrase there is ‘go through’. It’s something transitory. We arrive at the other side, stronger, wiser, rounder, and certainly more interesting. Much like fine wine, if the vine is allowed to struggle, the wine it produces will be better and more noble for it.
Now Professor Green is the patron of CALM; we have an office and employees; Princes William and Harry made us part of their Heads Together campaign; and, at last, people are talking about it.
You’re one of these people. Just keep talking.