***Trigger warning: this blog mentions suicide***
Ten years ago, I tried several times to end my life. I'd been hit by one huge loss after another, at a time when my state of mind was already troubled.
My best mate had died, My Mum had died, I'd split up from my wife and at work I'd been made redundant.
Things got so bad that I spent several weeks in a mental hospital. There was no-one to talk to, even when I asked. The staff kept saying they'd be with me soon but it never happened, so I just wanted to leave.
When I did get out, I decided to stop taking the drugs they'd given me. They kept me calm but I didn’t feel like they solved the problem. I'm not suggesting that anyone else should do this but for me, it worked.
Rebuilding my life
I saw that I could rebuild my life and decided I had to get out of my empty apartment during the day. This would stop me sitting there, with my mind inventing all sorts of stories that weren't true and then multiplying them.
What really helped was taking up a hobby. I turned my garage into a man cave with a sauna, hot tub, TV and a gym. This was the start of my recovery. I also got into more social dancing - jive and salsa.
Then I got back into work and was determined to move forward. I had almost no time to think crazy thoughts. Don't get me wrong - I still think silly things sometimes but now I control it, because I know it's not real.
Several years later, I met Tracey, the amazing woman who would become my wife.
My life has since gone from strength to strength. I reached the point where I wanted to tell my story and help other people who might be struggling, or worried about others who are.
Making a difference at car shows
A tax rebate last year, plus trading in my old car, enabled me to buy an eye-catching vehicle that I knew I could use to get people talking. Now I take the Bentley, plus a banner telling my story, to car shows around England.
Lots of people come and look at my car and stop to read the banner. Their faces show they are really moved by my story.
It feels great to see that I can help them to open up, in a way they would not normally do. I can see the relief on the faces of the people who talk to me - relief that someone is there listening to them at a car show. It's not what they were expecting from the show, or from me.
It's good to talk
I don't try to hide the fact I tried to take my life, from colleagues or anyone. I don't feel ashamed about it because many other people go though it, too.
It's good to talk. You don't realise how many other people are going through the same thing until you talk.
I am planning to show my amazing car and banner at the NEC classic car show and at London Build Expo in November, to help raise awareness about mental health and to help raise money for the Mental Health Foundation.
I hope that reading this encourages you to talk about whatever you're going through. I hope it encourages you to take care. And to Start Living The Dream. Life is Worth Living.
Seek help for yourself
If you yourself are feeling like ending your life, please call 999 or go to A&E and ask for the contact of the nearest crisis resolution team. These are teams of mental health care professionals who work with people in severe distress.
Other sources of help include:
- Samaritans offer a 24-hours a day, 7 days a week support service. Call them FREE on 116 123. You can also email [email protected]
- Papyrus is a dedicated service for people up to the age of 35 who are worried about how they are feeling or anyone concerned about a young person. You can call the HOPElineUK number on 0800 068 4141, text 07786 209697 or email [email protected]
- NHS Choices: 24-hour national helpline providing health advice and information. Call them free on 111.
- C.A.L.M.: National helpline for men to talk about any troubles they are feeling. Call 0800 58 58 58.
- Support After Suicide Partnership offers practical and emotional support on their website for people bereaved and affected by suicide
Suicide prevention: how you can make a difference
Read about why the need for suicide prevention is as great as ever. In this blog there are also practical suggestions about how you can support others and get help for yourself.