Epic Hope

Unsilenced 1:John

Unsilenced 1:John

In our very first interview for our UNSILENCED series, meet John (name changed), who’s not just survived the darkest depths of mental health but emerged to tell the tale in a candid chat with Steph.

In this interview, he lays bare the truth about mental health in the modern world and offers up some hard-earned wisdom for those walking a similar path.

‘UNSILENCED’

Where voices will be heard and lived experience speaks louder than stigma.

“Hi John, it’s good to see you and thanks so much for your time. Can you share with us a bit about your journey with mental health and what led you to seek help or support?”

“Well, it’s been a proper rollercoaster, to be honest. I’ve had ups and downs like anybody else, but a few years back, things just started to feel heavier than usual. I couldn’t shake the cloud over my head, and it started affecting work and my relationships. It took a lot for me to admit I needed help, but eventually, I talked to my doctor, and that kind of set me on a path to getting the support I needed.”

“Many people find it difficult to talk about their mental health struggles. How did you find the courage to open up about your experiences, and what was the reaction from those around you?”

“Oh, it wasn’t easy. I feel like us blokes feel there’s a bit of a tough exterior you’re expected to keep up, especially where I’m from. But I hit a point where I couldn’t keep it bottled up anymore. I first told one of the lads over a pint, and his reaction was better than I expected, different, I felt more supported from him to be honest than I expected to feel. That gave me a bit more confidence to seek proper help.”

“What have been some of the most significant challenges or misconceptions you’ve faced regarding your mental health, and how have you navigated them?”

“I think it’s the way people think that because you can’t always see mental health problems, they’re not as serious as physical ones. I’ve had to explain that it’s not just something you can snap out of. Misconceptions like that can make you feel a bit isolated, but I’ve learned to surround myself with people who understand, or at least are willing to try to. I’ve actually met some really good folk and yeah, it’s been a relief to be honest. There’s more people out there struggling than you think.”

“In times of crisis or overwhelming thoughts, what coping strategies or sources of support have you found most helpful?”

“Well, I do have my dog and on the worst days, even when I couldn’t get out of bed, I did ‘cause he needs to get out. It does help to clear your head a bit, walking. I think the biggest help for me was talking to a therapist every week and now most of my mates know how bad I was, and my mum and brother know the score, I suppose I do feel a lot more supported. I started going to one of the Harbour’s that you lot run and that’s fine ‘cause there’s always someone to lend an ear. It’s good to talk as they say. But it is! And I do like a lot of them who go, and I’ve actually been able to listen and support others. Didn’t think I’d ever be helping someone else! But everyone’s gone through something. It’s a nice place to be to chill to be honest.”

“How do you think society’s understanding of mental health and suicide prevention has evolved, and where do you feel there is still room for improvement, even in our own town?”

“There’s more awareness than there used to be, isn’t there? Like public figures talking about it. But there’s still a ways to go, especially for men. We need to get to a place where it’s as normal to talk about seeing someone, like a counsellor or a therapist, as it is to talk about going to the rugby. I don’t know about our town really. I suppose they are trying. You’re always telling me about stuff going on! I think it’s making sure people actually know how many groups and stuff there is in Wigan. There’s a lot of help out there you just have to know about it. Getting the word out more I suppose would help.”

“What message would you like to share with others who might be experiencing similar struggles and might be feeling alone or hopeless?”

“You’re not alone, even if it feels like it. Bravest thing you can do is reach out. I know it sounds like that’s all anyone says but when you do it, it does help. There are people out there who care and can help you through it. I’ve said it before, and I tell people all the time, the Harbour’s that you lot run, they’re priceless and it doesn’t make you weak if you’re having a rough time with your mental health. It takes guts to face it head-on.”

“Looking back on your experiences, what advice would you give to friends, family, or caregivers who want to support someone going through mental health challenges?”

“I’d say just being there can make a massive difference. You can’t fix everything, but you can listen and don’t be getting stressed or upset with them. I think going with someone to the doctor’s or like with me, when my brother came with me to that Harbour for the first time, it does help, it’s very supportive. And don’t rush someone. Sometimes just a brew and a chat can go a long way.”

“We’re so grateful to you for sharing your thoughts with us on our very first UNSILENCED series! Thank you so much John and take care.”

If you would like to share your story on UNSILENCED, get in touch with us on help@epichope.org.uk

You can share anonymously if you prefer.

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