Inspirational stories of people sharing their mental health journey.
Nick from Redditch shares how becoming a father impacted his mental health and how, after struggling for 2 years, he managed to reach out for help.
In my early 20 twenties, amongst my friends, I was classed as the ‘Bubbly One’, the one that was happy go lucky and positive. The least likely to become low and depressed. My friends were so wrong.
My mental health started to deteriorate not long before I became a parent for the first time. I became a big worrier, always questioning situations - ‘what if I do it wrong?’ ‘what if something bad happens?’ The constant questions led to increased anxiety. This destroyed my relationship with my child’s mom and I became a single parent raising my child on my own.
I felt so lost and scared for such a long time, I didn’t want to talk to anyone for the fear of being judged. As a single dad there was an element of judgment already, those self-doubting questions continued to reappear, I didn’t want people thinking I was an unfit parent.
After a constant battle for over 2 years, one day I took the plunge and went to my local GP. I explained how I was feeling and how long I had felt this way. He later offered me medication. I was unsure about taking medication, I had never taken anything like it before. After a lot of thought and consideration, I chose not to take it. I didn’t want to suppress the feelings, for me I felt there was another way that I could cope with these different emotions.
I started looking into ways of how to maintain my mental health and kept coming across articles about how running can help. So, I did just that. I started running and found it a therapeutic way of getting away from the hustle and bustle that life can throw at you. My passion for running was so much so I set up a running club with the help of the local authority, called Run Talk Run, for those who also struggle with mental health difficulties and need a space to chat.
Another coping mechanism that helped me was to create the character of my former self, someone who was not anxious who didn’t worry about the day-to-day troubles, going back to that person I was in my 20s. The character I became was positive and helped me do all the things I wanted to do with my child. I still have bad days, but the majority are good days.
I urge anyone who is struggling with mental health issues to please talk to someone. There are so many amazing groups out there locally that can support you, the Now We’re Talking team have a huge number of resources that could help you.
If you want to talk to someone about your emotional wellbeing but don’t feel comfortable reaching out to your GP, help is available through our Healthy Minds service.
The online service Qwell also offers free, safe, and anonymous mental health support across Herefordshire and Worcestershire. On Qwell you can talk to a professional, engage in community support and access self-help articles – all for free.
Sara from Herefordshire shares her journey of being suicidal to recovering a sense of hope and passion for life. Please note - this article references suicide. Please look after yourself if this is a difficult topic for you to read about.
In 2005 I was bullied at work by a new boss. I was doing well in my career, working hard and ready for promotion. She made life hell for me, it was intolerable and I resigned without another job to go to. It wasn’t the first time; I’d been there before.
Thinking I could escape and recover to a new life, I moved to Herefordshire with my family on the back of a job offer which promised everything but in fact turned out to be a disaster; ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’ was how I saw it. I was the breadwinner, so there was no easy way out this time. My partner was pursuing new professional avenues, was very busy earning little or no money, and was having an enjoyable time, which felt like it was at my expense, financially and emotionally. I felt used and disregarded, and taken for granted by my partner and by my employer.
Reeling from the shock of leaving a job, moving to a new area and finding myself in a low place led to a tsunami of emotion which took me from depth to depth. I wanted to escape everything but running away had not worked before. Nothing was worthwhile anymore, and I felt worthless. Everyone was out to get me and no-one seemed to care about me, least of all me. I had no enthusiasm to live any kind of life. What had I done to deserve this?
I harmed myself because I felt that I didn’t deserve a good life, like I had done something to deserve to be abused, so I might as well abuse myself. I ate for comfort, I ate rubbish but didn’t care what it was doing to me. I didn’t care if I lifted my blood pressure or promoted the cardiac issues which run in my family, or that I could give myself a heart attack. I gained 5 stone and felt even worse about myself but I felt it was all I deserved. I didn’t care any more about anything. I didn’t want to be at work, I didn’t want to be at home. I found myself driving to work and thinking that it would be an idea to just let go of the steering wheel and leave the road at the next bend….
I didn’t let go of the steering wheel. I somehow knew that it wasn’t an option. I felt that I wouldn’t change anything and that probably I would be badly injured rather than be outright dead. And I didn’t want that.
I took advantage of free counselling through work. It gave me the space to voice everything to someone who ‘got’ what I was saying and feeling. I got help from my doctor too. Eventually, it helped me to get myself back to a place where I could start to turn things around.
Time has passed and I live to tell this tale. It took a long time to work out and come to terms with living with anxiety and depression which I hadn’t grasped earlier in my life; it kind of seeped into my being. I got the help I needed to regain a sense of self-worth and made some major changes to my health, my life and my career. I am doing well now and have the strategies to help when I find things could be sinking again. I think people who know me now would be shocked to know my identity as I am really shining in life now.
Always, though, is carried with me that sense of knowing that this can happen to anyone, and that it is a desolate place to be unless you take that first step and just talk to someone about it.
If you do nothing else, talk to someone.
You don’t have to struggle with thoughts of suicide alone. Trained staff are available 24/7 on Herefordshire and Worcestershire’s urgent metal health helpline. Call 0808 196 9127.
In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Andy from Worcestershire reflects about a friend he lost to suicide in 2021 and some of the feelings it left him with. Please note - this article references suicide and bereavement by suicide. Please look after yourself if this is a difficult topic for you to read about.
Last week I went to the funeral of a friend. He was 53 and took his own life. It was incredibly sad and frustrating. My friend was one of most sociable people you could ever meet, he would have a conversation with anyone and find something they had in common however small or random. We all meet thousands of people in our life and a few them just ‘stick’ with us, I can’t explain why that happens. He was just a good bloke.
I was talking to another friend who was at the funeral and he said ‘…He once said to me, he knew loads of people but didn’t have many real friends…’. I guess we don’t realise the significance of what people say in passing until things make us reflect on them much later.
He was all about how he could give people opportunities in their lives through improving where they lived. He believed that giving people the chance to experience things that they thought weren’t for them through art, music, fashion and culture would change the world. Someone described him as a man with a headful of ideas, most of them terrible but some brilliant.
Although I’ll never know why, he must have been deeply, deeply unhappy. Along with the sadness, the feeling of frustration keeps coming back to me. Could anyone have done anything? Should we have noticed? – though everyone is busy with whatever they’re doing and battling in their own lives.
Men in particular, we need to speak up and ask for help. Whatever it is, expectation, failure, money, debt, relationships, loneliness, unhappiness. The hardest thing can be talking to family and friends, but there are people who can help.
You don’t have to struggle with thoughts of suicide alone – trained staff are available 24/7 on the urgent metal health helpline on 0808 196 9127.