Five years ago I was around half-way through my therapy journey that started in the aftermath of my mental breakdown. A lot has changed since then, and almost all of the changes have had a positive impact on my mental health.
I am a man who spent a few years hiding my depression from everyone I knew. I was embarrassed by the whole situation. I did the worst thing any of us can do when suffering and bottled it up, treated it as if it wasn’t there. Suffering in silence.
Eventually, I had a mental break down and the therapy process began. During therapy, I took a risk and booked my 2015 round the world trip, something I had wanted to do for years.
A week before I left England for three months I had my final therapy session and the parting advice was: “This trip isn’t me heading off into the sunset for a happy ending. Life and my mental health will still be there while I’m away and when I’m back.”
I took so much positivity from that trip as well as my others, from making new friends around the world to catching up with one I hadn’t seen in 13 years as well as all the fun moments in between that made the memories I’ll remember forever.
To come back from that and think that nothing negative will happen to me ever again would have been ever so naive.
Happiness isn’t something that lasts forever. Negativity will always resurface.
It seems obvious to say but it’s true, and it goes way beyond travelling or a great holiday.
It can be applied to anything and everything. West Ham started the season pretty well but lost their last game. Obviously, that’s not going to make you depressed but you get the point.
Another example is how I very recently opted to go back to education and pursue a career change instead of chasing a paycheque.
Whether I’m applying for jobs or sitting in an interview I always get into the habit of picturing my life if I got to job I was focused on at that point and the one big issue with what I was looking at over the summer was that it would lead to a life that wasn’t the one I wanted.
So instead I found myself in a very intense Sports Journalism course and I’m loving every second of it.
I’ve spoken in previous blog posts over the Summer about how I felt the working side of my life was holding my mental health in a fixed position, now that has changed I would argue that I can’t think of a time where I’ve been happier – that’s how big an impact a positive career change has had on me mentally.
That said, I am fully aware that negativity will occur again, for no other reason than that’s life.
Negativity can hit in any way shape or form, ranging from the mild like failing an exam (Shorthand…) to the extreme like losing a loved one and the grief that would follow and everything in between. It’s unavoidable.
What matters is how I respond to it. Over the past five years, I’ve learnt how to move forward with positivity when something negative happens, and I’m still learning to this day.
Whereas when I was depressed and hiding my crippling insecurities from everyone and anyone I was living in that state of negativity because to me that was life, I didn’t know any different.
When a day like mental health awareness day comes around I try to remind myself that although I’m a lucky person who got the appropriate help and has been able to slowly build a life that I wanted for myself, I am fully aware that there is still a very vulnerable version of me on the inside.
And it’s the self-care that comes with knowing that which keeps me moving in such a positive direction all the time.