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I’ve heard many say that ‘no’ is the most difficult word in the English Language to say to someone else. In my experience, the most difficult word in the English Language, especially for a man, is… ‘help’.

As in… ‘I’m a 60 year old male alcoholic suffering from severe depression and severe anxiety. I’m lost, I’m alone, I’ve lost everything. Everything I had has gone, everything is black. I don’t know who I am any more, I’m scared… please help.’

That’s where I was six years ago. All I had was a bag of clothes and a stark room in a homeless hostel, with a twelve day detox behind me. That was my life.

‘Help’ may be one of the most difficult words in the English Language but it is also one of the most important. Because walking into a Solent Mind Wellbeing Centre and simply saying ‘help’ changed my life… in fact it saved my life. It was my first step from despair to hope, from darkness to light, from a dark eternal void… to life.

But too many men don’t say ‘help’, they don’t reach out. Why? Men are human, too. We all have emotions, feelings, fears… and tears.

Keeping a ‘stiff upper lip’ is just building a dam that goes higher, higher and higher.

The higher it grows the more the damage done when it finally bursts. Is macho pride really worth the pain of that? Not only to ourselves but also to all those close to us. Is suffering emotional and mental agony in silence really so manly, so macho? It takes more courage to face emotional and mental pain, to embrace it, to cry, than it ever does to bottle everything up or run away from the pain. It’s courageous to turn and face the demons, to cry and to be human.

When I said ‘help’ and reached out, I found others reaching back.

They were helping, encouraging, supporting, caring… and loving. Hands reached out and gave me reassurance… and hope. And I worked… and I prayed.. and I cried… and I recovered… and I became a human being again. Once broken now restored.

Recovery is not possible alone. No one can do it alone. Saying ‘help’ is not a weakness… it is, I believe, a massive strength. By recovering from chronic alcoholism, from severe anxiety and severe depression, I grew strong. Strong enough to help others on their recovery journey. I have been doing this for over five years now. Can that be a weakness? Of course not.

One of my favourite recovery expressions is ‘you have to feel it to heal it’.

No one can do that without the strength and determination to see it through. Recovery is mainly hard work and determination, but the rewards are amazing. I spent forty years of my life battling anxiety, depression and eventually alcoholism. My recovery came from strength; strength to seek help, strength to accept help, to eventually be there for others. To grow. Can any man call that a weakness?

To men everywhere please… reach out, talk. Do not feel ashamed, guilty or weak. Recognise that reaching out as a strength; strength to change your life, to change other’s lives. Many men suffer with mental health issues but when they show the courage to reach out and simply say ‘help’ they remove their suffering. That is recovery… that is strength.

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