The main reason for starting this website, and my vision for starting the mental health company ‘Our Mental Health Matters’ (that we operate in tandem with Bodyshots Boxing Academy) was because of how mental health (and various illnesses attributed to mental health) have affected me in my life up to today, how I have tried to deal with these with the help of physical education and how they will always be prominent in my life moving forward.
A big step in producing this website was down to my acceptance that illnesses such as Stress, Anxiety , OCD and Depression will always be a part of my life. However by recognising them, and understanding why they are happening to me and how best to deal with them, means I can try to help others and move forward with my life.
My earliest recollection of when my issues started was when I was 14, and following an bereavement to a family member, a fear and trepidation filled my whole body that I never wanted it to happen to anyone else that I loved. At the time my mother had been called in to hospital regarding a potential scare they had uncovered and I remember the moment that my body filled with a ‘I can’t breathe feeling’ and a willingness to do whatever my mind would tell me in order to try and reassure myself that in doing so, I could make the ‘miraculous’ situations my thoughts had created, disappear forever.
At the time I was convinced that in doing things a certain amount of times, and in a certain way, meant that I could influence the world and what was going to happen to people in my world.
Now some 25 years later, I understand I can’t influence the course of certain aspects of both mine and other people’s lives, and that’s been through years of educating myself on the ‘Why’ that these things happen. If you’re reading this, then potentially you too have at some stage been in this position, or currently maybe going through the same thing or have someone you care for living like this. I’m here to help you understand that its ok to have been here or in fact be in this position now, your not different to most people except that our brains, and our thought processes mean that we react in a different way to those that don’t suffer as we do.
Are we ill? To some yes, but too many, we are experiencing certain patterns that mean we have traits of mental health issues… and that is ok. In the years of educating myself and living with the issues that I have, I’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions that you too may have been on many , many times and in doing so, have learnt to understand just why things have happened, or are still happening to me daily.
For the record until recently I have been in Full Time Employment from the age of 16, I have held high profile job roles and in addition have been responsible for influencing the careers and guidance of many young athletes that are involved in sport. How have I done this while suffering from mental health? God only knows, however I have and I remain doing so still today. What people see when looking at me is not the person that my family, my wife and children have seen when behind closed doors.
Don’t judge a book by its cover is so true, because they have seen the tears, the fears, the irrational thoughts, the mood swings, the anxiety, the depression that others don’t believe I could ever have suffered. Yet it’s all part of a journey that has led me to be brave enough to tell my story. It’s embarrassing sometimes admitting what I have done and what I have gone through, but the journey is building the character that we all hopefully become which is more educated about mental health and the person that is happy to talk about it without fear of being ‘Stigmatised’.
Its ok to talk is not just a ‘slogan’ to me, it’s a fact that we should all be comfortable in understanding that our makes up are different and we should be comfortable in who we are.
I have spoken to so many people and in many different walks of life, which have also experienced the various issues described as ‘Mental Health’. These people range from CEO’s to Managing Directors, from Paramedics to Cancer Nurses, from School Teachers to Politicians, who have all suppressed their struggles for fear of being labelled. These people affect the lives of so, so many, yet have often never understood their own downfalls while trying to manage other peoples. These people are fantastic in that like many of us, they too go to work every day with a smile and a ‘I haven’t got a care in the world’ complexion when deep down they are fighting a battle that at all too many times we are scared we could lose.
I’ve feared losing loved ones, I’ve feared driving, I’ve feared flying, I’ve feared car journeys, I’ve repeatedly switched lights on and off, to excessive amounts of numbers. I’ve prayed religiously for certain amount of hours in a day and before bed at night. I’ve dreaded going out for meals, I’ve dreaded going in to local shops, I’ve even drove back to certain places that are miles and miles away to double check that I have not hit anyone while in my car that could cause me further problems in life moving forward. All of the above have mentally drained me, both physically and emotionally, and rather than asking for help I just hoped I would get better. I can assure you that it doesn’t just go away and not helping yourself will only lead to more wasted time that could be better spent when understanding exactly why we feel like we do.
I’m here to help, as a sufferer, and also someone that loves to Ask Why? Not in an antagonising way, but as somebody that truly believes that in asking why, we learn things that we often may have taken for granted.
Having irrational thoughts means we believe things that are often not there. Seeking reassurance at the time feels great to know that were not being irrational however in the long run only heightens the problem. The key is education and understanding what is taking place in our brains. I hope between this website and the various platforms available to the many, that we can make an impact on the future generations so they don’t suffer in silence for fear of being ‘not the norm’. My aim is to teach people, both ‘young an old’ that understanding why we feel as we do, can in fact help us to accept the situation and in fact help others who may be struggling also.
Do schools do enough to promote ‘Mental Health’?
Do Employees do enough to promote ‘Mental Health’?
As a society are we scared to talk about it for fear of not being able to understand, or because in not having the answers we may feel inferior.
Everybody’s story is different yet is similar in so many ways. Similar in that whatever we are going through, the feelings that take over us are consistent with others. Similar in that we can deal with it when we understand how too. I hope my story helps others understand that I no longer fear my issues.
I have taken tablets to help me ease my panic or anxious feelings. I saw it as a weakness, an easy way of fighting my problem. The reality is it’s a start in helping me get better. When another person takes a tablet to help their angina, or another person takes a tablet to help with their psoriasis, it’s not a weakness but a solution to their existing issue. The list for medication, herbal tablets, creams, or vapours goes on; however each person has a problem that needs addressing. Were no different, yet we tell ourselves we are as we create the persona that it’s a weakness. It’s not and it’s far from it.
My story will not be too dissimilar from many others apart from that mine is written now in black and white for others to see. My fear was once how people would judge me on my issues, that they wouldn’t understand (or choose not to understand) however in reality that’s their issue and not mine. I can’t help how others think, or how others behave, however I can only affect my life.
For too long I let how others looked at me, or spoke about me (or too me) affect me in a negative way. In educating myself on what was happening to me (in my head) I also learnt to understand that other people have issues that have affected them or their choices. Have I judged them.. No.. so why let their reactions or looks judge me. They never meant to antagonise me, in fact they didn’t, as it was my fear and trepidation and thoughts based on my understanding (or lack of) that meant I too often quickly looked for a reason to go back in my shell. The start of fighting back was educating myself just how mental health affects me and so many others.
Here’s to a future of acceptance and understanding of what was once known as ‘the silent killer’. While I believe others (schools, workplaces, organisations) can do more to raise acceptance of the subject, the most important place to start is ones self, and understanding why we feel as we do…..