I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a bit of an exhibitionist; whenever the circumstances allow you'll find me sprawling bollock naked on a beach in the sun, I’m very much at ease. I’m fortunate that I’ve never really had what you might call body issues.
I’m no Adonis, by any means; I’m a 47 year old, slightly balding, more than slightly greying, former rugby player who enjoyed the social side of his sport (rugby was strictly amateur in my playing days) probably even more than the sporting side, and one who, when forced into retirement through injury, promptly exchanged his 6-pack for a keg.
That’s not to say there aren’t bits of me I wouldn’t change. I never did make it to 6′ (I’m, 5’9½ – and ask any guy, that ½” makes all the difference, and not just when it comes to height), I could probably do with shedding a few pounds (I’m about 196lbs – the UK version). And, since I’m a bloke, and I’m being honest, I wouldn’t complain if my cock was a little bit longer, but I digress.
But physical body image is only part of the story. No discussion on self-image is complete without pausing on a person’s mental reflection of themselves. That’s where things take a massive downhill plunge for me.
If you follow me on Twitter, then you you will probably know me as someone who is (I hope) witty, smutty, flirty and generally friendly. Someone who is fiercely protective and loyal to his friends. Someone who has a dry, wry, sardonic and frequently self-deprecating sense of humour. I am also someone prone to bouts of black depression.
In real life, I have battled depression for nearly 30 years. My exhibitionist streak aside, I am not overly blessed with self-confidence, I am socially awkward, I am, believe it or not, painfully, almost delbilitatingly shy around strangers and I am often given to prolonged periods of self-loathing. In work, and indeed out of it, I have developed a mask of easy-going, self confidence and competence that is completely at odds with how I view myself. I am constantly waiting to be found out. Pretty much every day is a struggle; first to get out of bed, then to leave the house, then to make it into work. I come home at the end of the day exhausted from the effort of keeping the mask in place.
Inevitably, sometimes the mask slips. This, naturally, only makes me feel worse. It makes me feel a kind of nakedness that I never feel simply from not having any clothes on.
And yet, I am completely open about my illness. I believe it’s only fair that family, friends and colleagues should know so that they can identify the signs (even sometimes when I’m ignoring them) and take account. I don’t want people make special allowances for my illness, that would only make me feel worse, and I never hide behind it, but I do believe that it’s better to be open about it. Nobody likes being the elephant in the room after all (unless that’s a complimentary comment directed at the size of my cock).