Gary- Dad, husband, son, brother
"So Whats your story?" The question I was asked sitting in a Perthshire pub with a group of people I had only recently met and who were starting a journey to become a See Me mental health community champion. in the Perth, pub chat and bantering with my fellow champions and new friends I listened to their stories about how mental health had affected their live's but when asked what my story was my mind went blank
In the Perth, pub chat and bantering with my fellow champions and new friends I listened to their stories about how mental health had affected their live's but when asked what my story was my mind went blank
Some had spoken so openly about their experience with mental health, some with emotion, some with humour but all with honesty and openness. This was bloody weird, strange and uncomfortable.
1. Nobody had ever asked me about my mental health story and
2. I'd be damned if I was going to share it!
I had volunteered for this new adventure because I was wanting to help others it wasn't about me. I soon realised it was.
Let me take you back 2 years and I am standing on top of Ben Nevis having taken part in a climb with my lifetime hero Mike Peters of the band The Alarm, raising money for his Love Hope and Strength cancer charity. What led me to the peak was turning 45.
45 was the age my mum was when she had died and it got me thinking ( years of thinking, not much talking) that it seemed like the right time to do a significant commemoration. On the mountain on the descent, Mike asked me "what's your story?" Fighting back the tears I told him about my Mum, he listened and I felt instantly better. At this point, I still hadn't connected the pieces, hadn't figured out why for 25 years I had at times felt alone and in a dark place that I thought no one else visited.
Back in the Perth pub chat and bantering with my fellow champions and new friends I listened to their stories about how mental health had affected their live's but when asked what my story was my mind went blank, the shutters came down and I diverted the conversation probably to football or something! It wasn't until I got home and was telling my wife the highlights of my time away.
I kept thinking about these blokes I'd met, some were dads, husbands, sons, and brothers like me but unlike me, they had figured out the puzzle and had realised their story. My wife listened and started to explain what she thought my story was. It was about trying to cope with my mum's death alone, not sharing how I was feeling, feeling angry or weak if I got upset.
25 years ago counselling was an alien concept. Sure I'd spoken to my brother, sister, and dad at times but it was never enough and none of us really knew what to say. There was also probably when I think about it now, a feeling that I just had to get on with it, I was a son, oldest brother and now husband and father no one wants to hear me and I needed to be strong, I was wrong.
The jigsaw was now complete and with now knowing my story, I also knew one simple thing. Talking and sharing is good. The chat with Mike on the mountain, the open and honest conversations with the See Me champions who all had a lived experience of mental ill health and most importantly my wife who found the missing pieces and put them together for me.
So that's my story. If your still looking for yours then please talk to someone it will help and you will feel better but do it now,
don't wait 25 years.