Passionate About... Good Mental Health
Well the subject of mental health is rapidly gaining more awareness, but there’s still a long way to go before the majority of people feel comfortable talking about their own experiences. Depression and anxiety (and every other negative feeling in between) can ruin lives, even take lives, and my heart goes out to the countless people who are going about their everyday lives, suffering in silence.
In short, my story is this…
I reckon I was born depressed. I don’t say that flippantly and it’s no refection whatsoever on my family, but as a very young child I remember constantly wrestling with the age old question, “What’s life all about and why am I here?” In adult life this developed into full-blown Existential Depression and it’s only over the last 12 months that I have found the right treatment to be released from its dark and dreadful clutches.
Aside from this I experienced two major traumas in my childhood (just to add Clinical Depression into the mix for good measure!)…. My beloved sister died when I was 11, and as a teenager I became trapped in a violent and mentally abusive relationship. Years later, and after some excellent counselling from Dr Beechy Colclough, I was prescribed antidepressant medication which I have been on ever since. It was a complete lifesaver at the time, but life can throw more shit at you than you realised you’d signed up for, and in recent years I found myself taking the maximum daily dose of tablets yet still feeling severely depressed. It seemed like there was no way out. A good friend suggested counselling and it’s this recent programme of one-to-one therapy which has given me the mental tools and capability to find a happy and positive way forward. Whilst I was on this therapy course I went into hospital with Covid and pneumonia and I spent a frightening two weeks wondering if I would recover or if my time was up. Not only did I live to tell the tale, but I experienced something called Post Traumatic Growth (which is the opposite of Post Traumatic Distress Syndrome) and I returned home with a whole new attitude to my life and how it will be going forward. It seems that even Long Covid cannot take that PTG phenomenon from me; in a bizarre way Covid nearly killed me, but then it saved my life.
In light of that it pains me even more to know that people are suffering and not getting access to the resources they need – firstly to be able to admit that there is a problem and secondly to get the tailored help required to start the road to recovery. The local council ‘Self-Referral’ system can be a postcode lottery but it’s definitely worth exploring. I was lucky to get such an amazing IAPT therapy package so I know there are some good systems out there….
Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)
IAPT is an NHS programme offering talking therapies for mental health problems and you can often refer yourself instead of having to go via your GP. For IAPT services near you, go to the online IAPT service finder on the NHS website.
Both Gary and I are proud to be Ambassadors of the charity Silence of Suicide, founded and run by our good friends Michael Mansfield QC and his wife Yvette Greenway-Mansfield, both of whom have been deeply affected by the subject and want to lift the cloak of silence. For help and support and to read about how the charity came into being, please visit www.SOSSilenceofSuicide.org
A new SKY TV commercial to recruit volunteers: https://youtu.be/Z6T-tESHjFk
Gary’s message on behalf of SOS: https://www.facebook.com/SOSSilenceOfSuicide/videos/gary-webster-on-depression-mental-health-and-reaching-out/219989526494616/