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Over the last eleven years, I have been on a journey through mental health services.

I’ve supported my partner on her journey, and I have accessed services after I experienced a major breakdown and suicide attempt. Today, I work in mental health services myself, trying to give back to those that supported me through my own recovery.

My road to recovery didn’t begin until I began to open up to others about what I was experiencing and ask for help.

In addition to suffering with depression and anxiety, I have lived with epilepsy since I was 11, which for a number of years prevented me from studying or maintaining work. This often left me feeling inadequate, as I watched my friends and my peers from school go to university and develop careers.

Although I knew it wasn’t my fault that I had this condition, I would often feel that I wasn’t good enough and compared myself unfavourably to my family, friends and peers.  It was during my teenage years when my epilepsy a suddenly increased in intensity that I began to feel alienated and set apart from everyone… this is when I first began experiencing what I now realise was depression. At this time I also started experiencing suicidal thoughts but was unable to bring myself to tell anyone about this until many years later.

Eventually my epilepsy settled down. I was able to start studying at university, make plans for the future and I met the person who would later become my fiancée. Just as I was starting to feel like my life was finally going somewhere and I was moving forward, I lost my fiancée to suicide.

The loss understandably had a serious impact on my wellbeing. I began working in mental health services myself in 2012, but I realised I wasn’t truly ready as I hadn’t sought help myself.

I was worried I’d be judged for being weak. I thought I’d be told to just “man up” and get on with things.

Instead, I hit rock bottom in 2014 after a suicide attempt. Once I did ask for help, the local mental health services were amazing and saved my life. With their support, I am now in the happiest place I have been for years and am using my experiences to give back and support others.

I learned the hard way that the most important step is being open, honest and reach out for help when you need it. I like many men took longer than needed to ask for help.

We don’t win any prizes for suffering in silence.

Suicide is still the biggest killer of men under 45. By working together to create an environment where men can feel comfortable sharing their feelings and being open about their difficulties, we can work towards changing this.

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