By Thomas Westmoreland
Key Themes: Mental Health, Anxiety, Depression
Tom was told that he had suffered a breakdown. He had experienced anxiety beforehand and subsequent depression. His book, The Agony Within, is about his breakdown, the anxiety he felt and his experience of depression, which he sees as a combined issue, due to the fact that he experienced them at the same time. For Tom, the term breakdown is very apt. It is a time when both the body and the brain come to a halt. His experience of anxiety saw him unsure of how to handle life; which affected both work and pleasure and here he allows an insight into these issues. For Tom depression is the easy part to explain, as it was the result of the breakdown and anxiety, and a time when he was coming to terms with what he had experienced, in an attempt to understand why he was at that place, at that time. For Tom it was possibly coming to terms with life as he saw it.
About the Author
Tom was born in 1956; he is married and a father of two from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England. Tom believes that what he had experienced can be very destructive not only to the person, but to the family unit. Luckily for Tom his family understood and he had good friends. However Tom is aware that not everyone is this lucky and it could have been very different. Tom started to make notes about the way he felt, when he feel better than he had, for some time. The notes were edited, into this book to give an insight to the reader into what Tom calls ĎThe Agony Withiní. The aim is to help a wider audience to appreciate the issues, which are not always discussed openly. Tom did find the writing of notes quite invigorating, as at the time, it made him feel better about himself and it started to give him the confidence to move forward. As he was writing it allowed him some refection of his life as he saw it, which he now wishes to share.
Chapter Four: Dad
Love or hate the working menís clubs, but on the estate where I grew up, there were two of them. As I grew older I began to hate the place. One was situated only a few hundred yards behind the house, over a short copse. It played a big part in my dadís life, but then it was the place for all the miners to meet. It was quite funny, you had all the locals in one spot, the Geordies in another, which my dad was one, and then the Scottish in another. We went there with Mum and Dad and were given a bottle of pop and a bag of crisps, which was quite a novelty at first. Then there were the Christmas parties, what child would not be happy with that? There were some good acts on the stage, but then again that was the era when the working menís club were a big interest, according to Dad.
I have a couple of photographs of Dad, one of him playing football for the club and the other when he was a club committee member and thus captured during their ritual photograph. Dad filled all the posts: treasurer, committee man, secretary, although treasurer was his favourite, as maths was his best subject. He would not let anyone deceive him. In my teenage years, I remember some chap complaining to me because I said that if you have a boss who pays a fair wage, then he deserves the profits that he makes, because he was the one taking the risk; for some reason this was not well received.
I think the club did take over my dadís life to our detriment, but I am not sure. As a child I saw that my dad went to the club Saturday lunch time, back for dinner which we always had at two, then he went to bed until about five thirty, then he returned to the club. He did the same on Sunday. I am not sure if this happened every Sunday, but it seemed like it did.
I think Dad was at home for Saturday tea but we always knew that he would be going out that night. However, Saturday tea used to be great. Mum would make pies, such as egg and bacon and I loved them. We sometimes had crusty batches with bacon that you have never tasted before, not like the spit and water filled type you get today. We also had pints of milk which had the cream at the top. Then there would be the chap in the van that would come up the street selling fresh bread and cakes. The cakes would be on a shelf, which would be pulled from the side of the van, not that we had one all the time. The ice cream seller would also come up the street and on a rare occasion we would be sent out to get a dish of ice cream.
Regarding the club, I and a few mates were collecting around Bonfire Night asking people if they had a Ďpenny for the guyí. We had made a stuffed guy and would ask people that passed by, if they would chuck a penny in. We would sing something like remember, remember the fifth of November, if you have not got a penny, a half penny will do, if you have not got a half penny then God bless you. We were stood between the shop and the club, but when Dad came out of the club he was absolutely furious. He said we were begging and there was no place for it. I had never seen him so annoyed. We think someone in the club must have wound him up about it. We scarpered, and I went home and waited for Dad to come back from the pub. I was sure I would be told off, but nothing happened. I cannot say that the club was bad; it just was not for me. The thought of seeing the same people, sitting in the same seats at the same time, on the same days, conjures the word boring. Towards the end of my dadís life, I asked him if he had any regrets in anything that he had been involved with. He said he wished that he had not got involved with the club so much. However I feel it is perhaps no good looking back. Someone once told me, that it must have seemed that it was the right thing to do, at the time.
I loved my dad, but I think that I missed him because of his work and the time that he spent at the club. There was no doubt that he worked hard to provide for us all, but sometimes I think we needed more. My granddad, Dadís father was a nice chap, although Dad never spoke too much about him. I would go to Granddadís house at dinner, probably because Mum and Dad could not afford the school dinner money. He never really talked that much. The one thing that I do remember about him was the size of his hands, they where massive. I never felt that close to him, but then I was never close to either of my grandparents. However, I was to learn that at times, he was not always as nice as I thought. He was a miner; he worked hard and drank hard, sometimes losing his wages at the pub. He turned up at our house once on a Sunday afternoon in a taxi; Dad and Mum were not happy. What the relationship was, I am not sure, Dad always said he did not want a family life for us like he had, but he would not say any more about it.
I occasionally wish that Dad had spent a bit more time with me, as we did not talk that much, not until later in his life. However the blame cannot rest with one person. Should I have spoken to Dad more? I think it was a cycle in those days, where you went to school, you left to acquire a job and then got married. If anything has shown more in life, then I was quite normal. It is perhaps the actions taken to acquire them. In terms of Ďthe agony withiní, I suppose I always felt that others were doing better than me and perhaps it was not quite like that.
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