Guest blog: Mental Health and Anxiety from a Male Perspective
I love Twitter for the way that it allows us to connect with people whom we wouldn’t otherwise connect with. During my quest for true happiness and self-love, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a piece that discusses my anxiety, but I wasn’t sure how to go about this. It allows me to be vulnerable. That’s scary! It’s also very personal. I know I blog a lot about the more personal corners of my life, but writing about mental health, in particular my struggles with anxiety, is something altogether different.
Then I met Josh from United As 1 Voice (contact details at the end of his guest post). He’s an inspirational young man who is using Twitter to show that it’s normal to talk about our mental health, and that it’s actually necessary to open up this dialogue. People shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about mental health. We should help each other and make the conversation no longer a taboo subject.
Allow me to thank Josh for his honesty and openness, and to introduce you all to this wonderful man…
United As 1 Voice: A mental health blogger
Before I start I want to say thank to ‘Fabulous and Us’ for allowing me to have the opportunity of telling my story…
A little bit about me
My name is Josh. I am 22 and I live in the UK. For work, I am a digital marketer and part time projectionist. My family life is full as I am an older brother of seven. I hate cheese. I’m proud to say that I come from a really modern family; my parents split and I have seven (now six) siblings which are all half-siblings. There are three dads and two mums in our families! Don’t ask! The term “half-siblings” doesn’t mean anything to me. To me they are my full brothers and sisters, end of story.
My story: Anxiety and mental health
In honesty, I believe I have been suffering from anxiety for ten years now, however I only realised I had it in 2016. I have never been what they call ‘manly’. I liked all music, I liked to dance, act and most of my best friends were female. This meant a lot of people would call me names and push me around; I pretended I didn’t care but the truth is I did. I never had fights, I cried instead.
When the pressure was on I used to break down and cry. My parents are very supportive but for some reason I never wanted to open up to them, so I preferred to just keep myself closed. For years teachers and lecturers would ask me to see a counsellor but I never wanted to. I was too scared I guess, scared of something being diagnosed. Counselling would make it all real then.
However, in 2016 it became very real.
My two-year-old sister, who was one at the time, was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She had a seizure. Thankfully we caught it early, however we were then told that the tumour was cancerous. This tore me apart, my sister having cancer before her life had even begun. I kept thinking ‘it should have been me’. Still, I held on to hope whilst she faced a year of chemotherapy.
Meanwhile there was another life changing event around the corner.
Life-changing events: how my anxiety spiralled
My mum was pregnant with my 7th sibling. Sadly when my mum went into the labour, her uterus erupted and the baby died. This was the hospital’s fault. I found out at 3am one morning when mum rang me about the baby. My initial feelings were that I felt like I was dead and I cried for hours, and felt hollow. I went to see her body, held her, kissed her and said goodbye.
A few months later I went to her funeral, my own sister’s funeral. This was and is the most tragic thing of all time. This affected my work life: I kept picturing her body when I was sleep. This caused me to have panic attacks before and at work. I would constantly break down in tears so I decided to take the big step… It was time that I started counselling. This was hard; it felt like defeat when in fact it was the complete opposite. It helped so much. However a few months later my other sister’s tumour came back.
They operated on her again and it was successful. However, doctors decided that they needed to try something different, so the hospital decided to send my sister and my family to America for two months to have proton therapy, which has a 70% success rate. The hospital funded her treatment, their flights and accommodation. This was crazy but wonderful. Meanwhile another life changing event was heading my way…
Heartbreak and heartache
My girlfriend (whom I was with for five years and shared a mortgage with) decided to leave me for a guy that she works with. Whilst I was going through the toughest time of my life, she left me for another man! I moved back in with my family. This hurt because losing a girlfriend to another guy made me question myself as to whether I was good enough. Was I too fat, too emotional? The truth was simple though: it wasn’t my fault.
Living with anxiety
All these events made me wake up and realise that I needed to take control of my life, find out who I was, manage my anxiety. I wanted to know if there were more people out there with anxiety, and how did they deal with it? Is it just me? So I started a twitter profile where I search for anxiety in the search term and I would talk to people, help people. I receive great responses and decided that I can make a difference, I could help the world. That twitter profile developed into a Youtube channel and now it’s a blog. This allows me to channel my anxiety, my thoughts and feelings to help other people. To help make a difference.
As far as I know my sister is cleared but she goes for scans every three months so it’s about keeping my fingers crossed. Ultimately, I hope to do better in my job, I am hoping to get my own place, pass my driving test and continue blogging to help people. I am not going to let anxiety rule my life; it can never be cured but I can use it to help people.
To summarise: I am male, I am emotional at times, I have anxiety, however I am stronger than ever before.
I want to thank Josh for this honest and emotive piece. Whether you’re going through something similar or not, check out Josh’s various social media platforms and show your support…
YouTube: United As One Voice