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As a young man, I was naive about mental health struggles

During November, I took part in the men’s health campaign Movember for the first time. I find it hard to grow a decent beard or moustache, but I was determined to do it! I’ve always liked what Movember represents. I have reached breaking point on some mental health issues in my life that I realised were bubbling under the surface for a few years.

I want to make two simple points about this. First, I’m in my 20s and I’m male. I am not afraid to admit that I had problems with my mental health, it happened, I grew from it and I learnt from it. It’s nothing to be ashamed off.

My second point is about the warning signs. I can now look back and notice some key indicators where something wasn’t going quite right. Reaching out and getting some help would have been a great thing to do.

 

The ‘warning signs’

 

Not alone but lonely

Have you ever been in a room full of people, but feel like you’re miles away? You might start to feel disconnected from everyone and everything around you. This could manifest itself into isolating yourself, ignoring messages from friends, or replying with simple answers and making excuses for not going to social gatherings.

 

Motivation to be demotivated

Do your hobbies not feel like hobbies anymore? Instead, you feel like it takes a lot of effort to do tasks you once looked forward to. For me, I didn’t pick up my guitar for months, compared to playing it at least every other day.

 

Overthinking

When you are presented with a situation do you analyse or worry about every possible outcome before proceeding? This can make you anxious as you overthink things in the hopes of removing this anxiety. This was the most crippling aspect for me.

 

Breaking point

I would walk around thinking ‘I’m just a little down, I’ll get over it’. I said this to myself more and more, and I believed it. One night, I came across an infographic on social media that visualised what certain mental health issues were, and it all made sense. It looked very similar to the one below.

That was my lightbulb moment. I realised I had some problems with my mental health and I needed help.

 

Getting to the other side

Talking, in my opinion, is the best thing you can do. It doesn’t matter if it’s a friend, a colleague or a professional. One of the reasons it works is because you’ll find that when you speak your feelings out loud, you realise that they don’t seem as confusing as when they were in your head.

Having someone else as a voice of reason can help you take a different perspective on your thoughts and feelings, and more often than not, it’s the overthinking that has put you in an anxiety pit. Talking is a great way to get you out of it and make some great strides in the right direction.

 

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