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Depression and Me – Ian Smith

They say when one door shuts, another one opens, but for Ian Smith – an artist who attends our PSS Wellbeing Centre services – a new front door was the marking of a very troubling time.

Here Ian talks to Upbeat Liverpool about how he powered through a very mentally – and physically – challenging point in his life, where he searched for the strength to get him through his lowest ebb.

Disclaimer: The following contains descriptions of suicidal thoughts which may be triggering.


 The year 2012


The year 2012 started off with me feeling a little low from time to time - but nothing I couldn't cope with. My partner and I were looking for another house because our current Landlord kept putting the house up for sale.


 Before the move I was feeling quite happy and bright in myself. I remember how the weather was nice; I had sold a painting and was also going to the Isle of Man…


I thought this new home would hopefully continue that feeling of contentment, I never thought for one minute how bad things would get.


Me and my son went to look at the house again and I will always remember how dark and dull the kitchen was. I felt so vulnerable around the house, it just didn’t feel like a home to me. To add, the house was rumoured to be haunted, as were many of the other houses on the street. However, due to our circumstances, we felt we didn’t have much choice and therefore we reluctantly went for it.

On the day of the move I had no heart to go. I felt totally drained of energy as we went back and forth moving everything. I always remember locking the door to our old home for the last time. The door seemed to slam shut on me and the key fell to the floor. It felt like a bad omen.


Moving into this new home I felt completely depleted of energy. At this point of my life I was struggling badly with problems with my jaw and teeth and my addiction to Codeine became far worse, due to the amount of dental pain I was experiencing. This in turn resulted to an incredible amount of weight loss, where I was struggling to eat every day.


The misery of it all made every day feel like Groundhog Day. I would get up at 5am or 6am in morning, go to the dental hospital complaining of tooth pain, then only having perhaps a banana milkshake for an evening meal.

To add to the dental pain, I experienced very bad constipation and bladder problems. I ended up confined to the bedroom, a total recluse, afraid of what was happening to me mentally and physically. I even felt like I was losing all common sense and reasoning. I didn't even know how to clean my teeth anymore or cut my toenails. I felt totally vulnerable and lost. Even washing became a problem. My wife also had to go most places with me. My life just didn't seem worth living.


I thought about ways to end this torture. I even went to the railway with thoughts about jumping in front of a train. I had people coming out to see me from a mental health ward, with staff encouraging me to stay in hospital.


 My hospital stay – however helpful it may be to some – wasn’t helpful to me.


Nights were most unpleasant at the hospital, I always remember going to bed and waking up in the early hours soaking in a cold sweat, shaking as there were rubber sheets on the bed. I got involved in the activities as I knew it would improve my chances of getting better and returning home. However, when you are mentally and physically feeling very low it is hard work.


For my family coming into see me it was painful for them. On my release I still had people from the hospital coming to check on me. I recall the physiatrist saying that at some point he would see me again at the hospital as he thought I would go downhill again! This was not very encouraging of him but so far I've proved him wrong - touch wood!

 I always remember through this bad time certain music I listened too. I couldn't listen to these songs for a very long time as it brought back painful memories. I did even try to do art through this dark time but of course it didn't work out as my mind was too concerned with my mental and physical problems.


The thoughts were still there wanting to end my life, but although my faith was non-existent and my will to live was very low, I kept on going. Where do we find that strength at out lowest ebb?


I've never felt so vulnerable and small but over time things improved, I found there is hope after all.


I will say to anyone, although at the time it may not feel like it, things can get better. Even through our deepest pain. Depression can make us feel like a prisoner within ourselves. I do feel for everyone who is suffering and I must say a big thank you to my loving family who stuck by me through this dark time as my pain was theirs as well.


 2013 and onwards 


Finally, we got to move away from that wretched house on the haunted street that didn’t hold any fond memories for me. I always wondered, when we were there, did people look up at our building, knowing more about our house’s haunted history than what we did?


Thankfully, moving on to a better home, I moved on to a better place mentally too.

This took time but I managed to motivate myself to do more. I found establishing myself a routine helped and immersed myself in things that I enjoyed and found pleasurable. Hobbies, exercise, getting out for a walk… going to a park nearby just sitting on a bench. I felt so much more soothed when I was out in nature, drinking in all the sights and sounds around you.

Taking the time to really appreciate the sky, the scenery, anything that will block the negative thoughts. cycling I feel is a good way to feeling free with in our minds.

I feel looking after my metal heath is so very important to me. It is the one thing that stops me from relapsing, it’s all about liking myself. Having a more positive attitude and looking forward. 

The PSS Wellbeing Centres have really helped me over the years. It has been so very important to me I'm so very grateful to Nicky when I first met her at an anxiety group on Prince Alfred Rd in 2005.

It has been a very slow process to get where I'm today. I guess depression will always be a part of my life but I made sure I didn't give up and I tried to look after myself as best as possible. Art, for me, has been big factor between 2014 and onwards. I always say art is my light in the darkness, it keeps the mind positive and having lots of creativity to do is a good thing for me. 

I now feel more self-aware and more capable of looking after myself. Self-care is optimal when dealing with darkness and depression and that’s what I do now on a regular basis.

Do you want to share your own story about dealing with depression? Then email Claire at:


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