As a young child, I was living in fear each day and would suffer physical and mental abuse by my parents at an early age. On regular occasions, I would witness domestic/mental abuse and even suicide attempts by my parents, together with neglect.
I would deeply suffer from this in my head, resulting in me developing low self-esteem, low confidence, confusion and even triggers which lead me to have a poor understanding of my world.
Developing into a teenager was slow and painful. This resulted in me being severely bullied at school for being the ‘quiet one’ in the corner.
My parents were unable to care for me. How does a child 'cope' with this? Yet I was falsely assured that I was 'doing well' as I wouldn't be allowed to tell anyone of my upbringing at home. However, one night, everything would change in my life.
I was chased out of the house by my parents one evening, which resulted in being locked out of my home, sporting rather large bruises and deep wounds on the way. Thankfully, my neighbour was in his garden saw me in distress and kindly took me in for the night. I was never used to this comfort or someone treating me in this way. From then on I knew I had an escape, a chance to talk, a chance to break free.
I was referred to social services within a few days of being homeless effectively. Ironically, It was from then on, I would begin to blossom as a young boy, living in a loving and caring foster family who took me in.
My new family would invest time in me, on how to clean myself properly, for example, how to eat food with cutlery, and my education at school and all the other important ingredients and gave me the tools I needed to develop in the important stages of my teenage life.
I was never given hope at school by my teachers; in fact, I was labelled as a 'troubled child' with no hope in life. I have, however, proven the teachers wrong and went on to gain 6 GCSEs.
My foster parents would invest their evenings with me encouraging/helping me study, revise and complete all my homework tasks. It was hell, I won’t lie, but I reaped the rewards and proven to myself as well as school teachers that I am not a failure and I can achieve things, the things that many people didn't believe or expect of me, from my school teachers and the bullies.
My time had come with being care (social services procedure) and I was then offered to move into a supportive lodgings house, living in semi-independence. I would benefit from this transition and would kick on again in life once more, learning yet more new skills, including cooking, budgeting and education/job guidance.
Richard was the landlord, who I gained a real trust and friendship with. He was truly amazing and another guardian angel I have met on my life journey.
I lived in semi-independent living for three years, until a council flat became available to me via Social Services. I was ready, ready to be independent, ready to live in the big wide world and make a deal with myself.
My flat would be kitted out with cheap charity shop purchases to start me out, which did me proud. I never looked back from full independence, as I gained a secure job on my own doing, working in an office job role for nearly 14 years. Life at the time was ok.
I would be stable but also feel, at times, stressed, depressed and confused in my attitude and behaviours. However, after a build-up of events, whilst living alone in full independence, I had a serious breakdown at the age of 32. This would change everything; my future, my health and even my reputation. I lost friends by shutting them away and not admitting to having depression or asking for any help.
I tried to take my life and planned to achieve this without telling anyone. Why I made this choice was for various reasons. I was being bullied at my workplace, I struggled to hold down relationships and more importantly, not admitting I had a problem and tried to carry on with life as normal.
Depression was eating me inside. I couldn't interact, I couldn't socialise anymore and struggled to have any self-esteem. I certainly didn't love myself.
These behaviours were a build-up over the course of a few years living alone and that's when I decided on the suicide attempt.
It was hard, but I started to seek help and started to reach out. I attended counselling, AA meetings and started on some long-term medication. I finally admitted that there was a problem with myself and I started to heal naturally.
I write this blog today and I understood why there were issues. I think the root of the problems as a child were never tackled and those triggers in my life would appear far too often and set me off. I decided to take action.
I completed a counselling course, achieving a Level 3 qualification. I volunteered with the local council and became a Youth Worker, which made me realise that this was for me. I loved helping others, maybe I could do it as a career. I found inner strength, that I’ve never had before.
I felt like a caged animal waiting to be unleashed, and help others with disadvantaged backgrounds with passion and desire.
As I am writing this to you now, it is the 19th July 2018. I am in a secure and safe place in life. I have a home that is safe and warm, a stable and loving long-term relationship and a son that I am committed too and love dearly also.
I am in a position to give back, a position now where I want to share my experiences in helping others in need. I work full-time now in two roles that I am helping others, which has made me realise in myself that this is more my comfort zone and my ‘bread-n-butter’ in helping people naturally.
The video link I have attached below via Facebook illustrates on my desire to help and reach out to people now who are currently suffering in silence. I've been there, I know how it feels. Men, in particular, are more reluctant to shout for help.
I have so much energy and awareness to invest in helping others with mental health issues and I am now liaising with charities and organisations to gain more awareness and support for the projects I have planned with mental health in my community.
Already the video I have shared on Facebook has generated interest far and wide and I have people suffering in silence coming forward and seeking help with me and now organisations/charities.
As described in my video also, I witnessed seeing a gentleman on the Tamar Bridge this year and luckily enough there were people in public around him to comfort and reassure him.
After seeing this situation of a potential suicide from the other side in my own eyes, I am kicking on now to raise awareness in mental health (hence the video and blog I am writing now). The blog I am writing to you is from the heart, but also a feel for people to relate to me, see me in a different light for those who don’t know me or not and to come forward and break their silence
Please, GUYS, reach out. I hope this blog I've invested in and written will give guys out there an understanding and opportunity to come forward.
Anyone can turn their lives around and conquer their mental health issues, but this can only be achieved if you reach out. Accepting you have the issues and wanting to get better is the start of the journey to recover, but it will be completed, trust me I have completed the journey myself.
Trauma in childhood creates physical changes in the body; it makes us more likely to develop serious illnesses and increases the odds of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder later in life. Adverse childhood experiences can have complex, long-term effects on psychological health and wellbeing.
It’s never too late to recover – when I reached my early 30's I finally took the step to get support. I have learned that, for me, recovery is hard, long-term work. It’s also massively empowering. I started writing, blogging and connecting with care-experienced people through various organisations/charities.
I hope this blog can reflect in parallel to my Facebook video and the reasons why I am making such a big fuss in making awareness grow and grow.
Remember guys, “it’s ok not to be ok”. Thank you for reading this blog.
A huge thank you to Paul for writing so openly and honestly about his experiences. All credit to him for wanting to help others despite the difficulties he's been through. Does any of Paul's journey ring any bells for you? Can you relate to the things he's seen and been through? How did you manage? Let us know in the comments below.
You can keep up-to-date with Paul and all the fantastic work he's doing to raising awareness via Twitter, where he's @malesallowed1