Today is World Mental Health Day – By Simon Wellavize


Today is World Mental Health Day – By Simon Wellavize

Today is World Mental Health Day, and I would like to stand up and state that I have struggled with my mental health for many years.

My story began with a litany of armed robberies in my previous employment as a betting office manager. Security features in store were absent or ineffectual, and desperate people assumed that betting offices carry large amounts of cash. I have been at the point of a gun more than once, held on a floor with a knife at my throat and an iron bar poised above my arm(that is a sentence I couldn't even think 5 years ago.)

I sank into PTSD. Unable to talk about it. Unable to cope with the flashbacks, nightmares and depression it brings in it's wake. My coping mechanisms in those years before an attempted suicide forced me to confront those demons and talk, were to hide. Put a smile on my face to hide the pain and then be selfish, gamble, spend money, anything to get a small buzz, to stop the hurt inside.

My treatment once diagnosed, took time to access, far too long. Mental health budgets are stretched, mental health teams want to do more, but can't because of tightened budgets. I won't go into a political rant here, but to say that austerity is not an economic necessity but a political choice. When it came my treatment was wonderful, I had a great and understanding psychotherapist who put me at ease and enabled me to finally put the worst times of my life into context, and into a place where I can pick them up from shelf of my memories and look at them and not break into cold sweats or spend nights awake in fear.

Do I still struggle? Daily. The primary problem has gone. But it has left me at times struggling with depression and loneliness. I can still sit in bed for whole days, only getting up to urinate. I can still lie awake in to the wee small hours, desperate for sleep to come, but thoughts of my unlikeability, my failures as a man, as a father, as a son, driving me to distraction. I am relatively eloquent, able to articulate my thoughts and ideas, but with my mental health I struggle to do so. To explain to someone how you "feel" is hard. To explain that "getting up" can feel like running a marathon. To explain that looking for a reason to smile can take longer than reading War and Peace. To explain that I can't just "pull myself together", that today is hard and tomorrow maybe harder, that just because you can't see the wounds in my head like you see a broken leg doesn't mean I'm not ill. It doesn't mean that I don't need help, sympathy and support.

So today, as you go about your daily business, think of a friend or a family member who may be hiding their mental health issues. If you know someone who always says they're ok, but you feel they are lying, take time to dig deeper. YOU may be the help they need.

To all my fellow sufferers, may your day be brighter than the one before, may you get the help and support YOU need to feel some hope when hope seems a long way away.


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