‘Matthew, you’ve changed…’
Yes, that’s right, I’ve changed. A lot. Depression and divorce will do that to a man, you see.
Well, I say that, but that’s not necessarily true is it? Sometimes life has to keep throwing the same old shit at us time, and time, and time again, until we finally get the point: maybe I’ve got something to do with this. Maybe it’s not so much that things have to change, but that I have to change. And when that happens, when we make the changes in ourselves that life, in its infinite wisdom, demands of us, then the way that life shapes itself around us changes too.
Which all sounds very well and good, in a modern, hippy-dippy, pseudo-cod-philosophizing bullshit kind of way. But actually, it happens to be true. I can prove it.
Breakdown and breakups
In 2006 I had a severe mental breakdown. A lot of people don’t like that term but, having gone through what I went through, that description seems very apt. I was broken inside. I was suffering from severe depression and was off work for five months, and then, after medication, counselling and support, I recovered.
Life was beautiful, I had a wife, two beautiful children. And then, in 2013, depression knocked me to the floor again, determined to keep me there for good this time. Somehow, someway, I climbed back up. Then things really got interesting.
In 2014 my wife told me our marriage was over. Everything I knew, everything we had built, was gone. Just like that.
That day in August 2014 something changed, and life would never, ever be the same again.
Suddenly, life was nothing but change. Moving house, moving house again, and moving house again. Making new arrangements for how best to co-parent our children. Going through the legal process of divorce. Dating. Bloody hell, dating! Meeting people and never seeing them again, starting new relationships only for them to end almost as soon as they had started, new hopes swelling and subsiding as predictably as the tides.
Changes to myself too. New haircut. New clothes. New tattoos. All of these were important changes, but they were surface changes. The real changes were much, much deeper.
December 2015. Something changed. I sat down at my tablet and I wrote. I didn’t know what I was writing but I knew I’d never written anything quite like it before. But I knew, I just knew, that I had to write it. And I had to share it. And so, that night I became a blogger. I became a writer.
As the weeks went on, I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote some more. Since that day I haven’t stopped writing. Because of that compulsion, that strange compulsion that came from nowhere, in that single moment, I began to change. And life began to change around me.
I wrote about divorce, about being a single parent, about dating, about rejection, about depression, and suicide, and counselling. About hope, and faith, and the lessons that life had set out ahead of me that I knew I had to learn. About transformation.
Answering the call
Through writing I discovered my voice, my unique talent, my gift and my blessing, through which I could build a new life with a greater sense of purpose, and a greater sense of myself, than I had ever felt before.
In the past five years my life has changed beyond all recognition. And through it all, I have changed. I have transformed. Not because I wanted to, but because life demanded that I had to. Because when everything I knew had been lost, I needed to find out just who I was and just who I was going to be. I didn’t choose to change, I didn’t want to change, but life demanded that I must.
I answered life’s call. I wrote, and through writing I have made the greatest transformation. Through these significant, formative years, I have created a permanent record of the lessons that I have learned and the changes that I have made.
In 2013 I was Matthew Williams, mentally ill, broken. Now, because of those changes that life forced upon me, I am Matthew Williams, published, bestselling author, and mental health champion.
Answer life’s call to change, and who knows what you may become?