For Men’s Health Week (12th – 17th June 2017) we asked men at Leeds Mind to share their thoughts on Mental Health. This is Jon’s story.
“The perception was we were out to have a laugh, to have a good time and I certainly didn’t want to be the one bringing that down.”
The biggest puzzle of all was putting into words what was happening inside. Trying to create a language that firstly I could understand let alone anyone else. Then there was finding ways of communicating this. As a young man in my early to mid twenties a lads night out wasn’t the place to do it, come to think of it a lads night in wasn’t either. The perception was we were out to have a laugh, to have a good time and I certainly didn’t want to be the one bringing that down. Don’t get me wrong, my friends were brilliant when things went awry – breakdown of relationships, not passing a job interview, family bereavements – they were always there for me as I was for them but something they couldn’t see, something that wasn’t tangible, something I was yet to understand myself was a far more difficult conversation. Especially when you don’t know the words yourself.
“See this not as a breakdown but a breakthrough”
So I pretended everything was fine, I went out on every night I could, everything was fine in a place of denial until it wasn’t. Until the wheels came off in 2007 and I was hospitalised having broken down. I was referred to a mental health day unit where I began peer support and creative therapy. I started 1:1 therapy and on my first appointment the therapist said “See this not as a breakdown but a breakthrough” that was something that really stuck with me. I didn’t see it at the time but he was right. I began opening up about my feelings in the peer support sessions, I used the art groups to express myself and through this combination I was gradually able to put it all into a language I could understand. It took a year of attending the day centre to reach a point of recovery that I could look at the next part of my life. I saw my friends who were shocked at my decent as they had no idea how I was feeling. They also wished that I had said something and it started a discussion where I explained why I couldn’t but also what had happened to me, consequently a few others in the group talked about having similar feelings and were looking to get help. We’re still a close knit bunch and I feel lucky to have plenty of people who I can turn to when I know I’m going downhill.
“…the most important thing I can do is talk about how I’m feeling”
Learning about my own mental health is a continual process and I try to do things that support my wellbeing like run, paint and see people as much as possible but the most important thing I can do is talk about how I’m feeling.
Be in Your Mate’s Corner – Time to Change Campaign
#oktosay #itsokaytotalk #MensHealthWeek