Men Tell 2 : This Time, It's Personal
Before I was aware of the Men Tell Health site, I started generating my own site in response to the number of men friends / acquaintances I met recently who 'confessed' to having had some experience of mind illness. When I spoke to them about why I was unwell. My site is very much in development and is/was meant for local men I know to talk anonymously. Not a great success to date.
This aside I thought I'd share my story, if it helps someone else. I am very 'out' about my mind illness, some might say perhaps too 'out', but I don't belief in such a thing. I think there needs to be a 'Gay Pride' equivalent for mind heath issues.
Celebrities and royals are all very well for raising awareness, but this does little to assist the chronic shortage of support, treatment and advice, which costs money the already underfunded NHS does not have. Fortunately there is a burgeoning mental health industry of private counsellors and therapists, which is alright for those who can afford it.
I've had four main episodes of anxiety / stress / sadness fuelled depressions over 20 years and recovered relatively quickly from the first three. I was unwell for over a year before I was diagnosed after three doctors 'opinions'. Doctors are fallible too, they after all human.
The very recent, fourth episode, is proving a bit more stubborn to shift. I'm putting this down to a much more complex and severe set of life circumstances that put me into a tail spin over the past 4 years. The main drivers were divorce and redundancy and related financial and housing issues. My then wife of 14 years, left me for someone else and then 2 years later made me redundant from her business, me having given up my work to help her in the business. I forgive her.
The details are largely immaterial, but suffice to say I was a 'brave soldier' for 3 years before the events, some of which carried on during the 3 years, caught up with me. I had told myself for many months that it is not what happens to you in life, but how you react.
A bit like post traumatic stress disorder, but not from horrific circumstances, just a set of circumstances and related emotions that I could no longer carry. So at the end of December - a bad time of year for me anyway, what with lack of light and a loathing for the materialism of Christmas, and the false hope of New Year.
My biggest issue is getting more sleep and dealing with anxiety inducing severe rumination almost as soon as I wake and due to lack of sleep not having the energy, emotional or physical to get up and distract myself by 'letting go' of it (how) or 'going out'.
I have an appointment with psychiatrist this week (as this is published). I've waited 10 weeks for that following referral by my CBT counsellor, with who I had only had 3 sessions. These sessions were stopped as could not be with one part of 'service' whilst being referred to another. So I've been without support for 10 weeks, except my GP, whom only has the prescription pad for help!!!
When it comes to illnesses of the mind, we are still in the dark ages as well as societally in denial.
Fantastic stuff from James, we're sure you'll agree. Do you recognise anything in your life in what James has been through? How did you cope with it? Let us know in the comments below. If you're in Skipton, let James know and help him, help the men of the area.
You can read more from James on his own website, which is coincidentally also called Men Tell (no relation) over at mentellblog.wordpress.com. You can also follow him on Twitter where he's @JamesJohnPaton1