Video blogging saved my life

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I have suffered from depression and anxiety, on and off, for ten years. Although these feelings have been dormant for almost a year, they returned with full force only two months ago. Things got very difficult for me and I started to become a threat to myself. The only way I could imagine being free from such horrendous pain and suffering was to end it all. It was at this point that I suddenly figured I had nothing to lose. I was angry. I was sick of always putting on a smile. So as a possible final farewell, I recorded a video of myself and posted it online - a genuine and honest cry for help. That’s when things finally started to change.

At the time of recording my first video, I felt like I didn’t know what else to do but I knew I couldn’t go another minute feeling like I was entirely on my own. Immediately after uploading it, I began to convince myself that I had done the wrong thing. But there was no hiding it anymore. People were going to find out what I was really going through and that might make them turn, run and never look back. How wrong I was…

Never underestimate human kindness. Within minutes, I was flooded with support from so many people. Not just the people that I hoped would be there for me, but from people I hadn’t heard from in years. It was just a start but it helped me to see that the fear that I was feeling was irrational. It didn’t mean everything was fine from there onwards - it still isn’t - but I’d made the first and most difficult step. I’d stopped hiding.

After my video confession, I began to write about it to try and shed a little bit of light on the catastrophic effects of a greatly underestimated illness. By this time, I no longer worried whether people’s opinions of me would change. I had suffered in silence long enough. Writing it down, for anyone to read, helped me. Opening up and telling the truth was a blessing that lifted a huge amount of weight from my shoulders. Then, something special happened. I started to hear from people just like me.  People who told me how much I had helped them see they were not on their own. Some of the people who contacted me, I’d known for years, and had no idea of their suffering. I realised then, how widespread mental illness is. So many people are affected but because of how the illness works, because of the fear of how people will react, they may be too scared to speak out.

I want to show some of the thousands of people who suffer silently that they’re not alone and I want to make other people aware of the devastation that can be caused by mental illness.

Sam is a primary school teacher living in Devon. He enjoys writing children's stories, performing at poetry events, rapping with his brother and singing along to the Ukulele.

Watch Sam’s YouTube video for I Wear A Smile 

Visit Sam’s Tumblr page I am Sam Walker