Not many people will know this about me, but I have suffered hugely with mental health issues over the past decade and probably longer, and to be honest I didn’t recognise it for many years.
There was in my mind always a stigma attached to discussing mental health as a male, running a successful business, having a great family, externally appearing ok and with everything I’ve ever needed but breaking inside. Discussing mental health was a sign of weakness, failure and fault. I couldn’t be further from the truth. Just writing this allows me to put it out there.
I found running in 2013 and although this has helped my mental health getting out in nature, much of the damage was done in my early years. A relentless expectation, not being good enough from my first 11 plus, to doing a degree, playing the violin to the highest level from the age of 6, struggling with weight and bullying, being dyslexic and the list can go on. People didn’t expect me to crack or show signs of damage. Then COVID came and that significantly impacted my mental health, the not knowing, the reliance of people on me to make the right decisions for my company, the stress of home schooling, working 24/7 and then what would happen at the end.
In the summer of 2021 this came to a head, and I partially broke mentally, I pushed myself to a limit. However rather than accepting it I decided to push my body further and ran a marathon with a 15kg weights vest to raise money for Cardiac Risk in the Young in memory of my cousin. Then in May 2022 I fully broke, the realisation that I can’t switch off, that mentally I was breaking, energy levels were very low and that I was turning away from those who could support me and drinking heavily (again).
Just like the body needs training for physical challenges of marathon running, Ironman racing or walking mountains, the mind also needs training to provide clarity of thought, resilience and stamina. This is the part I forgot about, and it created stress, depression, anxiety and a sense of failure.
So, what have I learnt, speak to people friends, family or professionals, realise it is not a failure and the actual failing is thinking there is something wrong with you, do daily exercise, remove things you are in control of such as phone notifications, email alerts etc. Last of all do not feel embarrassed, as if you are alone, as currently if you are standing or sitting with 4 people, at least one of you has suffered from mental health issues and possibly it’s being bottled up. Find your coping mechanism so that you can look in the mirror and say “I’m ok”.
Thank you for reading this and if it resonates with you, please speak to someone as you are not alone.