So why have I decided now to talk about my issues with mental health? There are a number of reasons I suppose. Maybe it is the fact that I have finally accepted what happened to me? Come to terms with it after twenty years and actually made sense of what occurred?
Coming to terms with my mental health struggles
It could be that as someone who is happily married, relatively settled and no longer in a career where reputation should be worried about? Perhaps I feel that I don’t have anything to lose? It could be that I am looking for some greater purpose in life? Or is it just the fact that I have something to talk about as a relative expert? Up until this point, there have been scant few things upon which I could really talk with any comparable authenticity or expertise?
In all honesty I think it is a combination of all of the above and more…
It’s the ‘more’ that makes me pause. Makes me sigh, ponder, and then struggle to articulate the words needed to capture it. Please bear with me.
The ‘more’ I talk about here, is me, the frightened teenager. Not really understanding what is happening, alone and confused. Unable to understand whether he is physically or mentally ill. Someone convinced that he is broken beyond all repair. Too afraid, ashamed and embarrassed to seek help. Everyone else seemingly ‘normal’, happy and carefree, getting on with things and him there with his dark little secret.
Pretending that everything is ok. Putting on a mask that conceals a reality where everything really is not ok, it’s far from ok. Where the simplest of things, eating, going out, or being in a crowd of people is traumatic and panic-inducing. Unseen and unbeknownst to anyone else he is plagued by some malignant entity that is in total control of his life.
It pains me to write these words but what I am talking about here, albeit on an unconscious, less rational level, is me crying out from twenty years ago, asking for help. It is me wishing there was someone there who could have understood and not judged me; frustrated and sad that there just wasn’t anyone. I was all alone back then and that was really tough, too much at times for me to bear. So I suppose by openly talking about my experiences now, I am in some way trying to reach out to that frightened teenager and saying to them, it’s OK you are really not alone.
I know that I am not unique in what I have been through; I know that as I write these words there are countless people out there who are suffering just as intensely as I once did. They may not share many things with the person I was, they may not be teenagers, they could be of any age, leading any type of life or in any career. However they all share certain characteristics; notably that they feel like they are suffering alone and are too afraid, embarrassed, ashamed or unsure to ask for help.
It is I suppose my hope that one of those people could read this or see a video that I have posted on Instagram and perhaps feel at least a little less alone and/or with time feel that they could make that seemingly insurmountable decision and ask for help. If just one person is able to do that, then all the effort I am making will be worth it.
Though it hurts, I cannot answer the call of my former self, I cannot turn back the clocks to jump in and make everything better but I can help others. I don’t want them to experience what I went through; I want to let them know they don’t have to.
That is why I have made my decision to speak up now.