For World Mental Health Day, Jack began sailing around the world...
I was terrified of speaking about my mental health problems. I was advised of the risks of writing about them. But talking and writing about these things that happened to me was the best thing that I have done for a long time. It allowed me to accept my problems and start dealing with them.
I think of my mental health problems like any other illness or injury. You take time to heal, you have a "new you" that you need time to adjust to. By making the decision to tell people, I no longer worry about how others will react. By making my telling as public as possible, I cannot be "found out" for a secret that I haven't hidden. That's a whole lot of pressure that I took off myself. I was also strongly motivated to talk about my mental health problems so that anyone else, when they faced the same problems as me, would be able to say: Jack had the same issues - I am not alone.
The unanticipated benefit that I have had is the enormous amount of support that I have had. People that know me, and those that don't, only wish me well and both sympathise and empathise with me. Of course, these conversations can be tricky - no one wants to cause anyone else pain and others are sometimes reticent - but these experiences are part of my now and cause me less trouble each time. Each conversation helps me heal a little more.
My main motivation in talking about depression was to get better. In this I have spectacularly succeeded. I feel better that I have for a long, long time. I have long since passed the point of worrying about slipping back into depression, of being unable to cope. Of course, I think of myself as being in remission from depression and anxiety. I will always be vigilant. But I no longer carry around an emergency supply of Xanax.
These days I am looking forward to the future. I have all sorts of plans of what to do next. Problems that would have left me helpless in the past no longer worry me.
But October 10 for me will always be special. Not only does October 10 mark World Mental Health Day but it is also the day I began to race across the Atlantic with 18 other crew, and 11 other boats across from Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town in the Clipper Round the World Race. I would never have thought that possible 18 months ago.