For Mental Health Awareness Week, one of our programme participants has spoken about their personal journey with mental health. You can read the first installment of their mental health journey below.
I started to self-harm when I was around 13-14 years old, I remember it vividly. My friends at the time as all young teenagers like to do was think it was fun to ignore me completely and since then I have never spoken to them, while in my head I have forgiven them. This started a journey of over 20 years of mental health that I call the Darkness.
Stumbling but 1 foot on the pedal
Through to the age of 19-20, this pattern of issues continued through self-harm and anger. I was alone at the beginning but soon made new friends who I hold dear to this day. This aside every little thing or problem I had, would become the apocalypse in my head and started me down a path of wide ranging emotions. School/college/Uni was tough I fought, made wrong choices, acted out the wrong way and simply got in trouble. Looking back on it now I was not a great person, even though at the simplest point I cared about everyone and wished no real harm, I was just lost and did not know how to handle what was going on.
So I took the leap and went looking for help………
Riding with stabilisers
Speaking to the doctor and counsellors was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, who likes to admit that they hurt themselves and need help. Luckily the nurse was kind and understood the troubles and helped me get back on the bike. I left as I could not deal with so much pressure and decided it was time to travel, I went on my own round the world seeing sites and scenes as I believed this was the first step in my recovery and journey.
So here I was riding the bike, it was tough but I managed to ride it out.
Stabilisers are gone! I stumbled
Over the next few years I worked and the darkness returned every so often, but I had my ways and means to control it and battle without needing to worry. I hadn’t hurt myself badly in a long time so I was proud and tried to get on with my life, the odd fall was not serious enough to cause a problem. The next hurdle though was fracturing my leg, this changed my world forever. For 2 years I battled with physio, frustration and pure rage at the injustice but again I came through the darkness a different person and took everything in my stride.
Yes, I was limited but still young the world was my oyster.
The year following my final rehab, was the year I first joined Harlequins only as a part time coach but this was a dream come true. To work for the club, I supported what a feat, what an adventure and what an opportunity.
Things were looking up again and off I went into the world.
You never forget how to ride
As the years went by I grew older and had many experiences and opportunities in my life that I will never forget and will hold with pride. Unfortunately, this was not to last the Darkness was returning……The last couple of years have been tough through personal bereavement, injury and many other reasons. There was no end this time, all my strategies had not worked, I was lost again, what do I do and again after 20 or so years I finally went back to the Doctor. THIS WAS THE END OF THE DARKNESS, IT WONT CONTROL ME THIS TIME.
I have been regularly going to see help for the Darkness and I happy to say it’s helping, the journey is not over, I stumbled recently and self-harmed but I this was a hurdle not a brick wall, I had to keep going whatever it took. At this moment I have so many channels, methods, techniques and observations to keep myself from falling into the dark and with the recent climate it’s hard not to.
Why am I writing this, well to say to you all keep strong, keep safe and fight! Everyone at this moment is feeling all kinds of emotions and unfortunately this is a tough time for the world, but you make your own destiny, create your future and support one another. The Darkness always beckons to us, I have had it for over 20 years but It has never stopped me caring for everyone and trying to be the best person I can. In 20 years we will look back on this time and remember all the good that was done, it’s the same as riding a bike, you learn, you stumble, you fall but in the end your riding and nothing can stop you!
This is my story in brief and please remember you never forget how to ride a bike!