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World Mental Health Day – My Story By Sam Gray

This post isn’t easy for me to put out to the masses; however, I feel it is important for me to share my mental health struggles in the hope it resonates with one person – last year I was diagnosed with & still am dealing with, Mixed Anxiety and Depressive Disorder.

Unfortunately, mental health is still considered by many as a taboo subject and is very much second fiddle in priority ranking to physical health – a fact I have lived first-hand.

This is still quite hard for me to admit publicly. From the outside looking in everything should be great – this year I got married, have been on a wonderful honeymoon and welcomed my beautiful daughter into the world – all things that should make you very happy – and of course they have – but mental health isn’t that simple which made me feel like a terrible person.

Quite often I was asking myself ‘why am I not happy’, ‘why am I not the person I used to be’ which creates internal irritability and frustration. Mental Health is a core component of overall wellness, but I was dismissing it – it will get better, I must be strong for myself, and family, so just get on with it Sam. I saw all the signs, researched and sought help, which has meant that today I can admit and be open about the fact – I was severely depressed – I am still coming to terms with it and dealing with it now – but at least now I can be honest with myself about it.

I have found with Mental Health – there are a lot of factors that contribute, work, family, friends, homelife – it all has an effect one way or another. Mental Health in the workplace is still something that isn’t truly understood – with many people sat their suffering in silence – me included.

The societal norms of gender conformity put pressure on men to be ‘tough’ and ‘strong’ which leaves many afraid to admit their struggles in public and hesitant to get help – in my case I knew I was struggling but didn’t want to admit it to anyone – it was obvious now I look back.

Burying your feelings, not knowing how to communicate them & living the ‘stiff upper lip’ persona – trust me makes it so much worse! It was eating me up inside and made my life very difficult. I should have spoken up and sought out help at least 6 months before I did – but it just isn’t that easy.

Mental Health across the board is important – in men, women, and children – however as a man that has struggled and seeing the devastating statistics, I am mainly aiming this post at men. Suicide has officially become the biggest cause of death for men under the age of 35 in the UK – and globally, every minute – a man dies from suicide which is utterly tragic.

It is of the upmost importance we break the stigma if we are going to have any chance of reducing this excruciating statistic. It’s important we all educate ourselves on the signs of poor mental health and encourage everyone, especially men, to speak out about how they are feeling and to seek help. This must start in the workplace.

To enlighten those who aren’t as aware, below are stats for men:

- 40% of men don’t talk about their mental health.

- Three times as many men as women die by suicide.

- Nearly 1 in 10 men experience some form of depression or anxiety but less than half seek treatment.

Feeling depressed or anxious is not unusual or shameful. Luckily for me I have had a fantastic core network around me – family, friends, and my wife. I spoke to my GP, and they referred me to Healthy Minds - who have been fantastic – I have been having 1 on 1 therapy sessions for the last 2 months – trying to understand how I can better myself and making sure I don’t go backwards.

Things are better now – I am on medication, having regular therapy and most importantly recently moved to a company who truly appreciate where I am & they take the time to understand. Work was having a major impact on my mental state, I needed total change to better myself – it was a hard decision, but I am so glad I did – I didn’t realise until I made the move just how unhappy I was.

Today, is World Mental Health Day, a platform to talk about mental health in general, how we need to look after it, and talk about things highlighting how and where to get help if you are struggling.

It is critical though, to remember, this is not just about today. Mental Health needs to be discussed all the time.

Today is a day that I wanted to share my story. Hopefully, just hopefully, someone will read this and realise you too have been struggling. Realise there are professional people and people around you who care. If anyone wants to reach out, I am here to listen, share my experiences.

Remember your mental health is a priority, speak to me, your friends and family & see some of the links below to the wonderful services that WILL help you:

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