By Craig Owen
I have suffered with problems such as depression since my teenage years. I would bottle everything up and not tell anyone what was going on for fear of ridicule, and shame. Harbouring all this pain would then cause me to lash out when it got too much. I would become a completely different person. When this happened, the overwhelming guilt I would feel would then put me in a vicious circle that only fuelled the root cause of my issues. I had lost friends over it, and I still didn’t feel like I could speak out.
Eventually, after a particularly bad period, I decided enough was enough. I still remember my first text to a friend, talking about my mental health. It was such a relief to see how positive and supportive he was. I felt a weight starting to lift. I sought counselling, which to this day is the best decision I’ve ever made. Being able to speak about things to an impartial person let me get right to the root of my issues. It’s helped me to this day. American football also became a big part of my life and works as a great way to keep me “level”. Being able to focus on something away from my problems during hard times makes a huge difference, whilst being on the field during a tough period allows me to shut off for a while, and focus any frustration and aggression in a positive way.
I know that I may never truly rid myself of this battle, but I now know how to deal with things when it arises and feel much more confident telling people when I’m just not ok. I’ve learnt to avoid situations which may aggravate me when I’m not myself and this puts me more at ease looking at the road ahead. Speaking out about your issues is truly important, but equally so is being able to listen to someone in their time of need. If we judge each other less, and help one another more, we can all make someones battle that little bit easier for them to win.