Each day during Mental Health Awareness Week, we will be posting a story from someone with personal experience of anxiety. Meet Tom, who has experience of anxiety.
Anxiety and depression have a been a part of me for almost all of my life. I suffered in silence for many years thinking that it was ‘just me’ and muddled through life experiencing acute episodes of both anxiety and depression. I always felt unable to talk about my thoughts and feelings because I believed that as a man I was unable to do so.
As I matured and unfortunately my symptoms became more acute, I found myself slowly losing my grip of reality. After contemplating taking my own life as the only escape from my spiralling madness I decided that I had to get help. I was hospitalised for a short period which gave me the time to think and receive some much needed medication. This followed with a number of years of treatment, which continues to this day, and I began to slowly accept my illness as a part of who I am. That was approximately 15 years ago and although I do continue to experience ‘bad episodes’ to this day I am able to learn more about myself and my illness each time.
I have accepted that whilst I have a mental illness I am able to live the best life that I can. I have made a career for myself as a Probation Officer and it is a job that I love. I have a loving partner who is always there for me and my family and friends have helped me unconditionally throughout the good and bad times.
There are so many lessons that I have learnt over the years and it is hard to pick out the most poignant. I suppose the ones that mean the most to me are the simplest…..
1. Accept who you are.
2. Talking about your thoughts and feelings makes you MORE of a man.
3. Embrace the love that is been offered to you.
4. Even in the depths of despair there is always a positive light waiting to come out..
I hope that my story is able to help anyone who is going through the pain and trauma that anxiety and depression causes.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, while 2.6% of the population experience depression and 4.7% have anxiety problems, as many as 9.7% suffer mixed depression and anxiety, making it the most prevalent mental health problem in the population as a whole.
If you, like Tom, have experienced anxiety and want to help support us provide essential services to thousands of people affected by anxiety every year, please text ANUK13 followed by the amount you’d like to donate (i.e. £1, £5, £25) to 70070. Any amount, no matter how small, really will make a difference to those affected by anxiety.