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I have been diagnosed and struggled with mental illness from my teens all through my adult life.

I have anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and body dismorphic disorder (BDD). Up until a year ago, I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I suffered with mental illness. My life was controlled and dictated by feeling like I was not worthy to be happy, and restrict me from having what others take for granted.

The turning point came after a suicide attempt, in which from that moment on I vowed to make a change and no longer live feeling isolated.

I started to attend classes at the Wellbeing Centre and courses at the Solent Recovery College. When I was being honest and opening up to people, I realised there is nothing to be ashamed of, lots of people care with help available.

With hard work and commitment came reward and huge fulfilment.

I was on a personal journey of recovery, in which I began to embrace my mental illness to a positive effect.

In January, I’ll be starting as a Casual Peer Trainer at the Solent Recovery College and plan to have the same impact that others had on me and my mental wellbeing. It’s so important that men do not feel it’s a weakness or shouldn’t seek support just because of their gender.

To admit there is a problem and get help actually takes far more courage and strength than to stay silent.

I would encourage all men to speak about mental health and break down barriers and the stigma still sadly attached.

I felt inspired by my time at the Solent Recovery College I started writing poetry, which I’ve found really useful to my recovery.  My poem below is about how much myself and other men hide their feelings and suffer as a result.  It’s about the positive experience I had from being honest about my own mental illness, though still recognising the struggle I faced to get to where I am today.

 

You know we’re no good at showing emotion

Let it sink inside of you like a stone in the ocean

Men must be men till the end, a stiff upper lip to pretend

Feelings are abandoned, let’s not comprehend

Stay silent forever, as It’s the English way,

To cry those tears, a nation betrayed.

Though Its part of being human, the rich tapestry of our existence,

Repression breeds depression, let us not go missing

Cherish the beauty of the things money can’t buy

or watch as one by one by one fall by the wayside.

What’s on the outside is seen to be of most importance.

Sensitivity in a man, mocked, ridiculed and taunted.

Feel no shame to open up, a problem shared is a problem halved.

Still a burden carried on your shoulders that weighs too large.

Old habits die hard when you’re strange, living deranged, a vicious cycle messing up your brain.

The cycle that saw no beginning or an end, a broken part of your body which cannot mend.

Ruminations, rituals and routines, when all said and done what does any of them mean?

Take one step forward then two steps back

Retreat to despair, another anxiety attack.

Can’t stop the one thing that’s hurting you,

Confined to your room, feeling so blue.

When does it end? Why did it start?

Cast a shadow in a place too dark to part.

Searching for a sanctuary, to find peace

The one that you need, is always too distant to see.

I’m not religious but I’m on my knees praying

For a saviour, salvation, a haven I can lay in

Just keep going around in circles

When all you want is a straight line

Never gets any better though pretend it’s all fine.

A lot easier said than done

When actions speak louder than words

I once had a voice but now it can’t be heard.

What’s there to live for? Still too young to die.

The Question remains unanswered,

what is the meaning of life?

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