I'm a 39 year old father of two, music producer and I’ve worked in many areas of the entertainment industry for the last 20 years. Although I’ve only just properly understood what mental health is, I've experienced anxiety and depression my entire life it seems, which has been further complicated by the suspected Asperger’s (high functioning autism) and ADHD that I'm halfway through diagnosis for. I’ve lived a very confused existence, not truly knowing who I am and being very insecure about why I feel and act the way I do.
I've been addicted to most drugs and alcohol, I’ve also had problems with over eating and binging whether it be with substances or food. I have physical health problems caused by my binge drinking and unhealthy lifestyle. I'm now totally free of these addictions and my liver has started to reverse. Over the years I've had serious accidents, fights, lost jobs, fallen out with countless people and had problems integrating into society and dealing with life as a whole. Throughout most of my existence I’ve always preferred to be isolated and away from society, as a coping mechanism for my insecurities and mainly because I tend not to get into misunderstandings when I’m on my own – life seems to be much more settled for me this way.
In 2014 I started a painful journey to the present day which ultimately ended in destruction of everything I cared about. It affected my family, I lost my partner of 24 years and ended up significantly in debt, all fuelled by my complications understanding the world and impulsive behaviour. I made a bad business decision which took away my structure, income and stability, culminating in me becoming very depressed and full of anxiety.
During this time I had several breakdowns and became unable to communicate, which resulted in self-referring myself to my GP for help to find out why I wasn’t coping. This then led me on the path to the present day with over 30 hours of counselling and 12 separate consultations later, I'm finally starting to get the answers to what has been going on in my life and giving me closure on many things I’ve lived a life of confusion about.
Ironically, I now feel the best I've ever felt about myself but have been left with a total mess of a life to look back and reflect on, with plenty of confusion and an inability to function some days. This didn't need to be the way it is, but I can understand that society is still in its infancy of being able to accept differences and that public knowledge has been very limited for the complications I've suffered.
Since getting the right support, making massive strides to better myself and understand my problems, in March 2017, I walked 200 miles throughout the month for Cancer Research. This was part of my rehabilitation, if you like, and it was a great way to mentally reflect on all the things that had happened in my life. Since December 2016, I have totally transformed my life in many areas that were causing me serious struggles before.
Talking is key – I cannot emphasise this enough. If I'd been able to talk years ago I wouldn't have needed to suffer and nor would the people around me. I believe that society as a whole was to blame in not understanding and treating metal illness as a second rate health problem. It feels like you should just get on with it and expect no support unless you became sectioned. As a teenager and young adult in the 90’s and 00’s, we never had discussions about depression or anxiety and I only really knew what they were properly last year, once I started the process of getting support for my problems.
For me, not having closure or the ability to discuss my problems with anyone created a world of pure confusion and deep insecurity about why my mind works the way it does and why I cannot connect with the emotions of others. It forced me to stay quiet and suffer in silence. If, as a society, we are all armed with important knowledge about how our emotions can affect us day to day, I believe that there would be far fewer people lost and turning to substances to create a world they feel normal in.
I’ve made it through a serious amount of challenges and I've not stopped fighting to get to a better place, despite continuous battles and problems always there to stop me. It’s a really hard place to be in where you have loads of friends and family but no one to talk to. That’s the biggest challenge in getting answers to your struggles, trying to get other people to understand and relate to the world you live in or have lived in your entire life.
I now talk loads about my emotions, but up until last year I hadn't spoken to a single person my entire life and naturally I was a ticking time bomb waiting to happen.
I signed up to become a Champion a couple of months back and intend to do as much as I can over the coming years to raise the volume on mental health awareness to try help people like myself get the answers and get them sooner.