I’ve learned to live with hope, even a bit of joy.

“Looking back now, I’d been feeling like crap for years. But I just thought, this is normal. This is what it means to be a grown-up, you’ve just got to keep going.”

But one morning, Michael (not his real name) couldn’t ‘keep going’. “I was about to drive off for work. I just sat there, looking at myself in the mirror, noticing the tears pouring down my face.”

My wife knew immediately that something was very, very wrong. Eventually, I went to see my doctor and I was diagnosed with depression.”

After a course of anti-depressants, Michael started thinking about counselling. “At the beginning, I wasn’t convinced that counselling was right for me. I was brought up in a family that believed in keeping your emotions in check.

“It felt a bit awkward at first, talking to a stranger. But she seemed genuinely interested. I found it difficult at first to express how I was feeling, searching for the right words. But my counsellor never rushed me or put words into my mouth.

“Together we explored my thinking too. I started to look more objectively at the ‘inner voice’ that was telling me I was useless. Over time, I developed a different attitude to myself.

“I wouldn’t say counselling’s a miracle cure. I still have days when I feel low. But at these times, I’m no longer hard on myself. I’ll put some time aside for me, to do something that makes me feel better. You could say that by understanding myself a whole lot better, I’ve learned to live with hope and even a bit of joy. And that feels good.”