I woke up early. I had my coffee in the kitchen. I showered and dressed myself without outside encouragement. I left the house and took the bus alone. I went about my day, had lunch in Costa, met friends and came home. Enjoyed dinner with my family. I sat in the lounge and enjoyed some television before going to bed and falling asleep soon after. Today was a good day. I was able to take part in life.
My name is Harry and I have suffered from Depression and Social Anxiety Disorder since I was 21. I am also a recovering alcoholic.
The good day I started off describing might seem average and nothing special to someone who has never suffered the crippling effects of poor mental health. But for years, even the smallest mundane task was quite literally unobtainable. Day’s would be spent feeling suicidal. Longing to get out of bed but quite literally lacking the energy and mental capacity to do so. Too frightened to end it all but also too frightened to go outside, seek help and socialise, I withdrew in to a state of isolation.
For years, I suffered in silence. Finding short-lived relief through self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. This cycle continued and I found myself suffering not only from poor mental health but now also in the throes of addiction. Sadly, since I have begun my journey to getting well have I found this is a commonly walked path. I became unable to tell where my addiction ended and my mental health illness began.
Eventually after many interventions, I sought help for my addiction. My GP agreed that firstly, I had to get sober. I was admitted to a detox facility where I engaged in group therapy and was safely withdrawn under medical supervision. Upon leaving I decided to join a 12-Step fellowship to deal with my substance addition and find a way to live with that daily. Though I have had a couple of relapses in my early days, I have generally remained sober and take things day by day practising the 12 Steps.
I was then referred to a NHS Psychiatrist who I have worked with to identify where my depression stems from. I take anti-depressants each day and attend therapy once a week. Through a combination of therapy, 12 step work and medication I now have a more stable way of living day to day. It’s been a tough road (and I could spend all day writing about it) but I can genuinely say once I sought help things quickly improved.
I now have a fantastic group of like-minded friends, with whom I can speak honestly and comfortably with. Meditation and mindfulness have been a massive help in calming my mind, particularly at night when my mind seems to become most erratic.
Best of all, I approached The Princes Trust with a business idea in 2015. I was open about my past and found them overwhelmingly supportive and was placed on their Enterprise Program. I never thought I would ever work again…and now? I own my very own Retro Sweets & Gift Shop (where I also blog from time to time). I don’t yet work full time- but it’s something that is looking more likely in the next 12 months.
Mental Health needs not be a barrier against living a full and happy life is what I hope at least one person gets from reading my story. Dealing with it alone is like fighting a losing battle. Speak out. Ask for help. Together WE can.