Breaking my Mental Health Silence


A Journey of Self-Discovery and Healing through Sharing

A month ago I had to rush myself to hospital as I had a high fever, I was shivering, shaking and I felt exhausted and I had pain in my lymph glands in my groin. My injured leg was bright red, swollen and boiling hot.

The receptionist at A&E could hardly understand what I was saying through my tears. I was promptly rushed through the waiting room and into a wheelchair through the magic curtains where help and support was at hand.

Five days later, as I’m still in hospital lying in my bed now able to think clearly I started wondering what the hell had happened and analysing the situation of how I’d got into such a bad infection.

The week before, I’d had a virus which I thought I had shaken off over six days with paracetamol and rest, but now I’m thinking this was actually just the start. I couldn’t work out how I’d got a virus, and even more how I’d manage to get an infection. I had no scratches and I’d not been bitten by a rabid bunny rabbit or anything. It was like my immune system had just crashed out!

Why would my immune system shutdown?

Was I in a low place?

Was I feeling rundown?

The more I thought about it, the more the penny dropped and the realisation of what had happened. I realised that the route cause was very probably due to my bad state of mental health, let me explain.

Over the last year, my life has been challenging, but we all have challenges in life, right?

For me I’ve had problems within my relationship with my partner which finally ended in separation in January after 7 1/2 years. As a business owner, we know that they’re highs and lows, but I seem to hit a low followed by another low, followed by another low. My resilience is strong but there’s just so many times that I can get knocked down before I struggle to pick myself up again. Consequently, money’s getting tight and I’, watching my bank account figure going down like the countdown of a ticking bomb. Plus lots of other things which seem small or insignificant but actually build up to be a big weight on my shoulders.

But we all have challenges in life, and for me, I know that I’ve been through a lot worse, so why has this had such a big impact on me?

“You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to what happens to you.”

I was fit and healthy, my hobbies, including swimming, cycling and running. My sleep was good as was my diet and my weight. I took care of my wellness I had breaks and got fresh air and did all of the things that you read about and that you hear wellness gurus talk about. So what was missing, what was I not doing!

Again, the more I thought about it, as I lay there in my hospital gown the more I analysed as to why! Eventually bit by bit, the jigsaw pieces, slotted together and I suddenly realised what is was.

“A problem shared is a problem halved”

I’d not been sharing what I’ve been going through, truthfully with anybody….and I mean anybody!

I’d not shared with my family 

I’d not shared with my friends 

I’d not shared fully with my partner (not really).

I’d not been sharing with my coach.

I’d not been sharing with my work colleagues.

I’d done the typical thing of when somebody asked me. “How are you Steve?” I’d replied. “I’m fine, how are you?”

But at which point do we ask for help?

I still struggle with the fact that something like bad mental health can affect me physically, but now I have the proof, justification and the evidence to convince myself.

The good news for me, is that now that I’d found the answer, I can do something about it, I could take action and mitigate the risk, however this was not going to be easy.

Soon after I came out of hospital, I met up with my mastermind group. There are six of us who meet up every couple of months. We share what’s good and what’s bad and what we need help with in our business. When it came to my turn to share what was good, I struggled, and my voice broke, and my lip trembled, and the tears flowed.

And this is how it’s been going forward. The more I talk and open up the bigger the cracks open in the dam that I’ve created in my mind. The dam that I’ve built to protect or even hide myself. But now, the more I share, the more that is released, the more the pressure is lifted.

So what’s next?

I promptly made a list of all the people that I need to talk to.

My mum, my sister, my brother.

My best friends

Work friends and colleagues and certain people I’d met along the way.

But I’ve come to accept and appreciate that this is not a quick fix. I can’t spend one week telling people about what’s going on and then go back to how it used to be, I understand that persistence is key and I need to make changes in my life.

Now in one-to-one meetings when somebody asks me how I am I tell them that I’m not so good. This then follows a five minute explanation from me as to why I’m not so good at the moment, and in the back of my mind I’m thinking: ‘It would be a lot easier just to say I’m fine and then we can just move on’. I now know that this is wrong and I do not want to end up back in hospital with another physical consequence from my poor action.

New habits and routines

I was going to meet up with my best friend the other day but then I thought that they would be busy so I’ll leave it until maybe next week. I then laughed at myself for what I was doing. I was almost, already slipping into my old ways and so I messaged my mate and said ‘I’m coming over to see you this evening what time is best?’

Even when I was running the 5K Parkrun at the weekend, I was overtaking someone that I knew (his name was Steve!) and they said. “Eyup Steve, how’s it going?” I replied through sweat and panting breath. “To be honest, not so good, but I tell you about it later.” Which I did after we’d finished the run.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I don’t share, like when I pass someone I know in the street and they casually say “Hi Steve, how’s it going?” as they continue to walk away from me. Or when the postwomen says “morning, how are you today?”

On these occasions I do just reply with. “I’m fine thanks, how are you?”

The point is, I’m opening up to a lot more people and it’s helping, bit by bit. I’d say it’s helping but it’s taking ages…and I’m impatient…haha

“Each tear shed  is a little bit of pain dissolved”

Through this rehabilitation phase I’ve cried every day about something. It’s usually when someone has sent me a really nice and supportive message, or they share that they are praying for me or they’ve done something really nice for me. So if you’re thinking about doing anything like that after reading this blog just be aware of my potential tearful consequences.

What positives come from all of this?

With this new awareness and attitude comes a gift in that I can now help others. I have a new mental health keynote which I’m sharing from the stage that’s helping the audience in many ways. Not just sharing what I’ve been through, but more about what I’m doing to alleviate the problem. Mental health is real and we all have the ability to look after it actively and proactively.

Keeping fit and healthy and looking after your wellness is all very important, but finding the right people that you can talk to and share with is crucial.

Your Golden Gang

I’m always talking about having the right people around you, your golden gang as I call it, and now I realise that this branches out to all sectors of your life.

People that will help and motivate you.

People that will Challenge you in a good way 

People that can guide you and support you.

People that you can talk to openly.

So who’s in your ‘golden gang’ when it comes to mental health?

Who is in your network that you could share with so that you don’t keep it bottled up inside you where it festers and eventually affects you physically?

 As british Telecom once said: “It’s good to talk” but the addition to this is to be more open, more authentic and share. I’ve learn’t the hard way and I don’t want to end up back in hospital and I don’t want anybody else to either.

Please share this blog with anybody you think it may help, feel free to reach out and get in contact and thanks for listening. (See, I’m really getting into this sharing thing)

Recent Posts

Motivation, inspiration and more, straight to your inbox!