“Mental Health” We hear or see these words pretty much every day in 2019, whether it be on social media, newspaper or TV. If I had to describe what a person with a mental health illness looked like as a teenager back in 2003 Id have described a person in a straight jacket being held down by nurses in an asylum. Thankfully a lot has changed since 2003 and cultural attitudes are different and more understanding due to education and media coverage in the last few years. At the age of 25 I knew I had depression, I never took it seriously I just had ‘’bad days’’ I was placed on medication but again never took it seriously and was almost embarrassed that I had to take tablets to feel normal.
I rarely took my medication and began turning to alcohol at the weekends as a coping mechanism over a period of about 5 years I binge drank at weekends as a way to dull my emotions, however, this is a short term fix to a long term problem. Mondays became harder and harder, my patience with people became less tolerant and I began to alienate myself from friends and family until I had a drink in my hand of course. The mask I wore became heavier and heavier, I became tired of my thoughts and then I began to question the point of my existence.
Turning 30 was a huge turning point, I began comparing my life to others, I felt I hadn’t achieved anything in my life and I was only happy when I was drunk, I couldn’t go on any longer and decided I was going to end my life, I planned every last detail and kept going over it in my head over and over, I was completely numb. I drove to a graveyard to see my grandfather’s grave where I found my dad laying flowers; the thought of never seeing him again consumed me and I completely broke down and told him everything. This is the day my life changed this is the day I took my illness seriously. Thankfully my friends and family gave me a great support network and I was able to get through my depression with support from counselling, medication and loved ones. When I look back to those dark times I remember telling myself “no one cares” or “people don’t want to hear my problems” I said it so many times I believed it, however, this could not be further from the truth.
I set Brotectors up originally because when I was trying to overcome depression I found nothing online I could take inspiration from. The information on websites out there didn’t really strike a chord with myself and inspire me to seek help. The websites all felt generic and just say “go and see a GP”, but for a lot of guys, that’s not an option because guys struggle to talk about their feelings and emotions.
A lot has changed since I set up Brotectors nearly 3 years ago, the support that’s available for people is more available and the stigma around mental health is changing for the better. The reason I created the Brotectors website was to raise awareness and try to inspire people to seek help or to inspire them to have that conversation with someone. Whether it’s with friends, family or going to see a GP, just to get over that stage of trying to hide away from people and put on a brave face is a big step.
Since starting the campaign, I’ve had thousands of messages from people in the same boat. I’ve had messages from guys in America, Australia and New Zealand - that’s the power of social media! My initial goal was to help one person so to have the response I had was amazing and overwhelming. Fast forward 3 years and now I deliver wellbeing workshops to companies and their staff on my journey and how we can support each other in the workplace.
A lot of guys struggle with asking for support, they think by asking for help it’s a sign of weakness, but asking for help is a sign of strength. Unfortunately, we are still losing men to suicide every day, so if somebody has the courage to ask for help then I believe that person needs to have the best support network around them and as a community, we can provide that. This is why I am excited to be working with Mesoa who have an online community where men can talk openly about anything to other like-minded men.
My Journey has been a long one, I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t have support from my family and friends. Don’t be afraid to have that conversation, you could potentially save a life.