1. ITV Report

The farmer ploughing a lonely furrow in his battle with depression

Watch David's story above.

Stories about young women with eating disorders or mothers with postnatal depression may not seem so shocking these days.

And once we reach those more settled stages of our lives, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking mental illness is less of a risk.

But is that because we still don't talk about it enough?

David Ottley was a happily married father living with his family on their own farm in north Norfolk.

Business was good - but the work was isolated and he began to struggle.

Now two and a half years into his battle with depression, he has decided to tell his story during Mental Health Awareness Week.

David Ottley. Credit: ITV News Anglia.

"I love being outside. I don't think there's a better thing to see than a piglet running across a field or a lamb being born.

"And when it's going lovely, it's really lovely. And when it's not, normally it's fine, but just all of a sudden it wasn't."

– David Ottley, farmer.

After a couple of setbacks on the farm - including a bad lambing season and some family illness - David found himself struggling to keep going.

It became increasingly difficult to get up in the mornings and, having gone from looking several years ahead in his business, he suddenly found getting through the day was difficult.

David turned to alcohol to make the days easier. Other people noticed but focused on the drinking rather than the reasons behind it.

His wife Elizabeth Ottley said the farming community often found it difficult to talk about mental health.

Elizabeth Ottley, David's wife. Credit: ITV News Anglia.

"Farmers are a very unique lot. They tend to be, not grumpy, but if you ask them how their day is it's 'well, alright could be better' and that's the standard response regardless of whether it's been a good year or a bad year.

"Nobody talks about the business. Nobody talks about whether they're having a good time or a bad time. Nobody talks about money.

"A lot of it is just carried on themselves. They don't discuss it."

– Elizabeth Ottley, David's wife.

It was during spring 2016 that David really broke down - freezing as he tried to lamb a ewe because he could not remember what to do.

He turned to his wife in tears and asked her to call the doctor.

Since then, David has been on medication to help his depression and has been given mindfulness exercises to cope with the anxiety he felt about leaving the house.

He has also had counselling through Yana, which stands for You Are Not Alone - a charity set up to help the farming community in Norfolk and Suffolk who are struggling with stress and depression.

Although aware his recovery will take some time, the couple say they finally feel like they have the real David back with them.

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