Many of you reading this maybe already aware that I’ve had my own struggles with mental health. At the age of 28 I had to retire from football due to injury. It was a lot to deal with and it took its toll on me.
1 in 8 men in the past week alone will have experienced a common mental health problem
For many men they may not even realise they’re suffering from depression. I certainly didn’t, I felt down, and I felt low but I just thought that it was just me. It was when I started having more bad days than good and that I realised this had been going on for a while I knew I needed help. It was starting to affect people around me and I knew I couldn’t go on like this.
Anxiety and depression can be triggered at any time and can affect anyone regardless of their age, their job, their status in life, sexuality, anything. It’s a huge issue that needs to be addressed.
1 in 8 men in the past week alone will have experienced a common mental health problem. That’s staggering in itself.
Mental illness can have wide reaching impact. It was only when I started to come out of it I realised then that it had been affecting my wife, my kids, my whole family. It can cause sadness and chaos all around and at the time you don’t realise it. I was so lost in my own head, I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. It sounds quite selfish, but you just get so immersed in your own thoughts you can’t think about anything or anyone else. That’s how it was for me.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt – things do improve
Thankfully I was able to get that help and I find myself in a much better place now. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that things do improve. At the time you think there’s no way out but give it time, things do change, you will get better. You learn over time with different help how to deal with different situations and you manage it.
There’s no fast cure to mental ill health, anyone would tell you that. If you’ve suffered in the past from anxiety and depression, you’ll know that it doesn’t simply go away. More that you just learn how to deal with it, you start to recognise the signs of another episode and can draw on your own tools to help you manage it.
Being rurally isolated can make things seem even harder and can quickly lead to suicidal thoughts when already feeling in a low mood. In fact, the rate of suicide in Norfolk is higher than the national rate. During 2015-2017 there were 251 suicides in Norfolk, with male suicides accounting for 76% of all suicides. One of the reasons for Norfolk having higher than average rates of suicide is partly down to the rural isolation in the county.
Most people don’t realise that everybody has a story to tell. As a bloke it’s easy to put on a face to show it’s ok and pretend everything’s alright. We all have times when things aren’t going so well for us, and that’s when we need to sit, open up and talk things through. Just by talking about how you’re feeling will make you realise that it isn’t as horrible as you think it is. Sharing your thoughts will make you feel much better – it doesn’t have to be a specialist, it could be with a mate or, your partner or family member, you just need to let somebody in.
There’s lots of different support groups across Norfolk specifically for men. MenShed is a brilliant initiative offering practical leisure activities whether it’s woodworking, metalworking or doing up old cars it’s a great way to socialise with other men in your area. Find out more at menssheds.org.uk
Five Ways to wellbeing
"You might be fooled in thinking my go to cure all is to keep active but actually for me it’s all about connecting with those around me. It’s crucial just to talk. Have that first conversation about how you’re feeling, and you’ll find it gets easier after that."
Visit the NHS site at www.norfolk.gov.uk/5ways for more information.
Don’t keep it all in - talk to people and try to think positively
To sum up I would simply say open up, please don’t keep it all in, talk to people and above all try to think positively. I’m not an expert but I have gone through this myself, if anyone wants to get in touch and ask me questions please do so via Twitter - message me at @eadie11. - speak soon!
If you feel you are at risk of suicide or know somebody who might be please visit our resource centre at www.norfolk.gov.uk/iamokay
In an emergency - ring 999 for emergency services or call 116123 for Samaritans.
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