James, May 17, 2019

The incredible understanding and support from my family made me feel safe and comfortable, somthing I had not felt in such a long time.

Leading up to the day I opened up about my mental health I had struggled with anxiety for many years. It affected me in many ways and eventually opened the door for depression to come in, which would then take hold of my life for over a year. Throughout that time trying to deal with my anxiety and depression brought with it a lot of negative habits. The build-up of these bad habits would eventually get me to the point where the thought of doing something I used to enjoy would set off negative feelings about myself and my life. Now because this would repeatedly happen, I became too scared to even try and be happy for such a long time.

I lost all interest in the hobbies I would have enjoyed in the past. And this was because of that internal tug of war that I was having to go through every day. On one side I would know that I had stopped doing what I enjoyed, and it would make me feel so ashamed and angry that I was letting this get the better of me. But on the other end, if I did try to push myself to something, it would be met with immediate anxiety because I knew those feelings of guilt would soon follow.

Either way, I couldn’t win so I would be losing days and weeks due to this internal battle and by the time this had been going on for so long, I had eventually convinced myself that I didn’t deserve to be happy anymore. If I wasn’t at work, I would just spend my time stuck in this tug of war. Never giving myself the time to relax and feel truly happy.

The internal hatred I had for myself had reached what felt like a peak, but somehow still felt like it would continue to get worse. I felt lost, scared and that the potential for me to have a good life was over.

Throughout all of this, I was able to hide it from the people in my life. I would do this because I did not want to push these negative feelings on anyone else because I didn’t think anyone would take it seriously, and they have their own lives to deal with so why care about this.

The day I opened up about my mental illness

However, the day I did find the courage to open up I had not planned on doing it. I was on my way to see a movie with my girlfriend. On the way there the guard I'd had up for so long to hide my internal struggles just crumbled out of the exhaustion of it all and I couldn’t hide it anymore. My girlfriend noticed something was wrong with me and I realised that I had to tell her what was going on, so a little later this is what I did.

It was very scary, and it was one of those times where I just couldn’t find the words to describe how I felt and what had been going on. I’ll admit that the guilt of passing this on to my girlfriend and my parents the next day was there. It was scary, but their incredible understanding and support made me feel safe and comfortable, something I had not felt in such a long time. Opening up to them and then my GP would be a great help for me. I am forever grateful for the overwhelming support they gave and continue to give me.

If I had not expressed how I was feeling I don’t like to think about what could have happened. But they guided me in the right direction to find myself again and experience real happiness again. It’s still a work in progress, I’m not perfect and I will sometimes make the mistakes I would do in the past. But when all is said and done, the gratitude I have for the continued support will always trump those bad days!

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