20 July 2019
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Ross writes...

‘There is always a calm after the storm, you just have to wait for the clouds to clear’

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After battling depression for nine years, brave postman Ross Hunt, from South Wales, is urging colleagues with untreated mental health issues to ask for help.

Ross’s problems began when he witnessed a traumatic incident at the age of 17, which led to low moods that continued to worsen.

While he has finally reached a point where he feels well, the father-of-one from Abercarn says he wishes he’d acted sooner.

‘It took me seven years to go to the doctor and ask for help,’ he said. ‘Taking that first step is the hardest, but once you’ve done it, it’s so much easier to do it again.

‘Even before I started with Royal Mail I had my battles with depression. I was around 17 years old when I first felt it; I know how it started, but maybe this isn't the best time to bring that up. But when I began as a postman two years later, I can safely say that I didn't want to be there.

‘In fact, I didn't want to be anywhere. I didn't like being at home, I didn't like being out, and there was no chance that I wanted to start my first job with new people and all the social anxieties that would inevitably follow.

‘As you can imagine, right from the beginning I wanted to quit. But my partner, now wife, convinced me to stay. And so I did. I put on a face every day and turned up. I've always been rather functional with my depression; I may feel awful, but I almost always show up when needed and keep going.

‘When I got further into the job, and got more comfortable with my surroundings, I actually started to like it. I could feel self-loathing, deeply melancholy, guilt-ridden and have no desire to do anything, but once I was out and about, the haze would often start to lift. The combination of solitudinal exercise with the occasional, if not brief, social interaction made for the perfect blend to help ease whatever it was I was feeling.

‘Breaking it down, exercise has to be an obvious factor for why this job is so beneficial. Walking around for 3-5 hours a day, depending on the day, and the round for that matter, can help release endorphins and neurotransmitters to alleviate the symptoms of depression. Combine that with brief social encounters, which have been shown to reduce the risks of depression, and you have a pretty good mix, and it's one that works wonders for me, and I feel can work wonders for others.

‘Don't get me wrong, there have been times where this job hasn't helped. When I've been at my worst, there's nothing other than my wife that can make any difference. But that's when depression has a real hold, and when you're in that state there isn't a lot that can really help.

‘As you might be able to guess, I'm not exactly what you would call a people person. I'm much better now than I ever used to be, but even now, I still find it very difficult not to slip into rumination amidst prolonged interaction with people other than my wife. If I was stuck in a 9-5 office job, with a constant, banter-based atmosphere, there's no way I would manage to cope as much as I currently do. But being a postman is something that I can do, and the majority of the time it's something that I love doing.

‘Let me be clear though, there are times where this job is very difficult. There is very little worse than walking around in the howling winds and torrential rain, with ice-cold, wet hands, all the while trying to write out cards that disintegrate as you put pen to paper. But sometimes a small amount of short-lived struggle can be a good thing. In times like this, I just think of the fact that before the day is out, I'll be back home, showered and changed with a hot drink in a warm house. The hard part always comes to an end. These moments help me look at my depression in a different way.

‘Just like when you're stuck out in the weather; sometimes your mind can be in a similar place. But behind that chaos and bleak downpour, is the same clear mind that's always there. You just have to keep pushing on through, and know eventually you'll be back in the warmth of your comfort zone. There is always a calm after the storm, you just have to wait for the clouds to clear.’

Keep an eye on myroyalmail.com where Ross will share his progress in the coming months. You can also visit his website www.isablog.co.uk.