So my deteriorating mental health was a shock to all of those around me but most of all it was a massive surprise to me. I was a seemingly confident 30 year old with a loving family, big group of friends, my own place and a good career. One of my friends’ quipped ‘Adam you’ve got the perfect life’ little did he know that inside I was dying from over thinking and what later transpired to be post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Up until this point, I thought that I always had a good grip of my thoughts, ever since I studied psychology at A-Level. However, a couple of life events had shook me to the point where I was second guessing every thought and I couldn’t turn off the ‘internal critic’. It was always there most frustratingly when I was just about to drop off to sleep, go on a date, submit a big piece of work or go to a job interview and it felt that the more I did to silence it, the more it was there. I started to seek other ways to quiet the voice/ punish myself for not being able to stop the voices. These included alcohol and gambling which ultimately led to more self-loathing and more internal criticism and more destructive behaviour. What a mess? Anyway, I was giving a great impression of being ‘normal’ to everyone around me and I kept smiling and laughing through different relationships until one night drinking with friends the thoughts had gone too far and I felt that the only way to end the voices was to end me. My best friend sensed this and that night he stayed on my settee despite living over the road from me. He confronted me and asked what was going on. I broke down and cried and he thankfully encouraged me to contact a couple of counsellors. He even wrote the email for me and asked if it was how I was feeling, I tweaked it and sent it. Bizarrely, I felt better because I’d shared my thoughts and made a step to getting some help. I began seeing one of the counsellors that responded to that email but I also contacted my GP as I had heard from someone at work that drugs were working for them with intrusive thoughts.
The drugs didn’t agree with me (they didn’t work, Richard Ashcroft was right!) but the counselling continued, at first I was disappointed because they didn’t go straight into solution mode but I continued to go and they eventually started working after about 6 months, where I’d started to trust my counsellor enough to open up and admit the destructive nature of the thoughts, the alcohol and the gambling and how they were negatively impacting my relationships. It was around this time that I was going to be a dad for the first time, and this spurred me on even more to get well and solve my problems. By the time he was born I had given up the most negative activities, I still enjoyed a drink with my friends. Looking back, I think the issue was that because I ‘owned’ all of the thoughts I was having and not letting them go, giving myself time to be calm by filling my time with drinking and gambling to quiet the voices it became a vicious circle/ cycle. Fast forward to now and I’d be lying if I said I never had a dark thought but I now meditate, undertake mindfulness and acknowledge that I don’t have to agree with the thoughts that I’m having, and like bad weather I can wait for the rain to clear and a new thought to arrive if one doesn’t suit. I’m married and have just recently my wife Claire gave to a little brother for Finley called Dylan. Last year I managed to write a book which I would never have been able to do while the thoughts were filling my mind and I am just starting a new book about appreciating your life and living it to the fullest, it’s emotively titled; ‘You’re Going to Fucking Die’. I owe my life to my best friend, without him I fear I may not have tried to get help and the voices would have got the better of me. Please don’t suffer in silence, seek help from someone you can trust or visit the website I did and reach out to a counsellor at Counsellors And Psychotherapists Directory – Find, Connect and Review Trusted Counsellors And Psychotherapists , there is not shame in this. Lots of love AJ1 x