Dan Arthur

Dan Arthur

While I work out what I want to do next, I am working in a library. As I put the books back on the shelves, I am reminded of all the stories I read as a child. I loved reading. Disappearing into another world. This is the start of a new chapter for me. Away from home, from my family, and my past. Building a life with my girlfriend.

I fancied her for two years at university before she finally spoke to me! I am learning now what it means to be in a healthy and happy relationship. Sometimes we will be doing a lovely activity together, and I will suddenly feel guilty or sad, as I find myself thinking back. As a child I was happy, despite things being messed up around me. But as an adult, I understood that these things were not okay. It was hard after that, to hold onto the lightness, or to be the same again.

It comes in waves. There will be periods where I think I am through it, and then three months of just being in the pits. It wasn’t until university that I received the diagnosis. Before that, I didn’t know what it was. I would just feel incredibly low. Like whatever I was doing was pointless. A total absence of motivation. This meant I made less effort and invested less in relationships. It fed itself. Becoming a cycle.

If I had to pick a colour, I would say red. There was a lot of anger. Anger towards my parents. Anger at life. I had to stop playing football because I kept getting sent off. I just didn’t care, and it became this place where I allowed myself to lash out.

I hardly left my room, for the whole first year. But gradually I started to emerge. To make some friends. I started to sense that maybe, just maybe, there were some people that I could be myself with. If you ask my girlfriend, she’ll tell you that I can be pretty wacky, but it takes a long time for me to feel safe enough to be like that. These same people are still my best friends today. I know that they have my back.

Both my girlfriend and I have joined a netball team. Sport gives me a voice. When I am on the pitch, and in a game, I can direct and shout. This competitive edge takes over. As soon as the whistle goes though, I will be back at the back of the group, quiet and calm.

She encouraged me to put myself forward. I struggle with saying ‘why.’ But I think the process of writing rather than speaking helped me. I have been stung by people’s reactions in the past. Some friends couldn’t handle it and stopped coming round. I was emotional as I wrote the application. Stopping, and returning. But it felt good to do it. To share. That is why I went back to finish it. When Lois rang, I was sure it would be ‘thanks but no thanks.’ In that moment I thought ‘maybe someone heard.’

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