As I look out of the window at the trees and blue sky, I see my garden spring up from the winter bleakness, I realise as I rapidly approach my fiftieth birthday, that I am in late summer/early autumn of my, most of the time, wonderful life.
A lot has passed since my teenage years, which I hated so much. I can’t think of a single day I enjoyed in those times. I wanted to die every day and had nobody that I could talk to about it. I had family, but I couldn’t open up to them to them, I felt that I was the loneliest person on the planet.
Meeting my wife, Anna, changed my life. She helped me so much and I love being together with our family, as well as running our family business. I have chosen to be the chairman of Waddesdon Cricket Club, run two charities and help run a local football club. Also, I am a local politician.
I have everything, yet I still have poor mental health. I want to be the strong one for my family and my friends, I still have days when I feel like I can’t cope. I work constantly to try to distract myself from my mental health struggles. I think that’s how I cope. I can get very paranoid and uptight, which can feel lonely. It just shows that mental health doesn’t discriminate. We can all experience low mental health at some point in our lives.
I have spoken openly in public about my childhood and my journey to why I feel that I have suffered with the illness that I kept secret throughout my earlier life. Despite this, I still find myself trying to cover up my low mental health by hiding behind a mask.
When I start to feel overwhelmed, I go outside and garden or play music, and it helps. I also love playing sport, and being in a team helps me to feel a sense of belonging. Also, being with my family and going on trips in our caravan helps to lessen the pressure I put on myself to achieve.
There are still times in my life when I feel desperately lonely, even though I have two wonderful children, an extended family and a wife who I love more than life itself. I have more friends than I truly deserve, but I can still feel lonely. Now that I am able to open up and talk about how I feel, the good days far outweigh the bad days, and I am feeling the best I ever have.
To anyone reading this who might have similar feelings to me, please seek help sooner than I did. I wasn’t able to speak up as a teenager because of the mental health stigma and not wanting to appear ‘weak’. Talk to people you trust about how you feel, or speak to professionals who can help you. Since speaking up about my own experiences, I couldn’t believe how many others related with my story. I was overwhelmed by the support I received.