The following article has been written by an attendee from the ‘For Men To Talk’ group sessions. We can not thank them enough for their honesty and bravery in sharing their story.
‘For Men To Talk’ has been a shining light for me in real times of darkness. I was ‘one of those men’ that didn’t talk. I didn’t want to admit to myself and others that I wasn’t ok. I got to a point in my life where I hit rock bottom, which resulted in a mental health crisis that nearly ended my life.
This was the start of my recovery journey. For whatever reason, that to this day I still don’t know why I reached out, I knew I couldn’t carry on in a continuing cycle of deep depression and anxiety.
The anxiety came after my crisis. I had never really experienced it before or understood how crippling it can be.
I sought help to start with via The Samaritans and 999. From this point now looking back, was the most important choice I have ever made. I will be eternally grateful to those that came to me in my moment of need and this is where the recovery starts.
After a spell in the mental health unit at Peterborough Hospital for assessment, I was discharged to the care of the Crisis at Home Team. This only lasts for 7 days and this is where the struggle begins. I was put under the care of my General Practitioner (GP) and found that access to mental health support for men is hard to find.
I made contact with CPSL Mind and some local services via my GP. The issue I found that all the support was during the day, between the hours of 9am and 5pm, unless you needed that emergency support via 111 option 2.
Then the global Covid-19 pandemic hit. Everything was cancelled, I found that no support via face-to-face or online was immediately unavailable. This is where I personally feel that mental health services in the UK fail to catch those that need help when they need it the most.
The struggle for self-help is real, you really must fight with yourself and ‘the system’ to get help. You have to be strong to help yourself, but when you are just coming to terms with a mental health crisis the world is a very, very lonely place. I felt isolated and alone. I felt that I was the only person going through this and nobody else would understand.
I will never forget the day that I heard an interview on my local radio station. Luke Newman was talking about a group he had founded called ‘For Men To Talk’. All of a sudden I was not alone. Listening to Luke talking about his own experiences with depression and anxiety gave me hope that help was available. I contacted Luke straight after the interview and attended the next group meeting on Zoom.
My life has changed from this moment. I had found a place where I feel safe and secure. talking and listening with other men who have been or are going through a journey. ‘For Men To Talk’ has been an integral part of my recovery. With a recovery from a mental health crisis, it’s all about the cogs coming together. I have support from my GP in the form of medication, I’ve been lucky to find a great therapist and to have support from my family, but the one constant is ‘For Men To Talk’.
It’s not just the weekly chat on Zoom, it’s the support network it has formed for me. We all chip in to be a sounding board, to offer tips of things that have worked for each other.
I think it’s important to understand that it’s not a counselling session. It’s a place to feel safe, to feel secure and to have the freedom to talk or just to listen.