Managing my mental health by myself

This blog post is part of a series on men’s mental health for Movember. In this series, different men give their perspective on male mental health. What does it mean to deal with mental health as a man?

In certain cases as with the interview below, people have had the courage to reveal their identity. This is both brave and vulnerable, congratulations to them!

What made you want to share your story? Please introduce yourself

In certain cases as with the interview below, people have had the courage to reveal their identity. This is both brave and vulnerable, congratulations to them!

I’m Adrian, 48, broke and living on the kindness of others. I’ve had a lifelong battle with my mental health of which there are many diagnoses. I want to share, in order to let people know that they are not alone – as I have felt for most of my life. 


Have you ever experienced a mental health or wellbeing issue? If so, when was the first time you became aware of it or experienced it? 

My mental health issues started as a young child where I experienced horrific scenes of poverty growing up in Asia, which left an indelible impression on me . Back in England I was bullied physically, to the point where I had suicidal fantasies and I became ill – causing me to be away from school for such a long time that it negatively impacted my education. As an only child being brought up with tough Victorian values, I never fit into modern society, and I was a recluse, living a fantasy life in my head. Then as a teen attending a new school, I reinvented myself as a rebellious, comedic alpha male. I’ve been living this double character ever since. 

What did you experience that made you aware of it, and what did you do about it?

I always knew that I had a problem – suicidal fantasies – deep bouts of depression – desperately seeking purpose in my life and kindness and finding neither. In my 30s I sought professional help from a psychiatrist and they treated me like I was a child. It affected how I feel about so called professionals and experts in any form of business – mainly that people are only ever interested in money before their fellow humans.

I sought my own advice – I read other people’s experiences online and discovered the clinical names for my conditions. Then I decided to consciously fight each one – using my own inner strength  – challenging myself every day to find the solution from within. I tried different, simple methods; exercise, healthy eating, reducing technology, connecting with nature, and talking with others going through similar or worse experiences.

How did taking those steps make you feel, and have they helped?

They have helped a lot – not cured me, but helped on the path to controlling my behaviour and drastically reducing my depression.

What are your lessons learned with regards to taking care of your mental health? Did you experience any challenges throughout your journey that you felt might have been more specifically “male”?

I am not the typical male. But that’s because society has yet to mature from the Neanderthal stereotype that defines what male is. I was a lonely effeminate, timid, book loving child that grew to pander to the stereotype in order to “get on” in life. I became a proficient kick-boxer, I would engage in riskier behaviours with drugs, alcohol and women and became loud and arrogant but always with my eyes and ears open searching for signs of someone like the real me.

As I got older I wondered if a lot of men who we dismiss as being arrogant, heartless oafs are really playing a part as I did. Men who were never vulnerable as children and only experienced trauma late in life find it harder to deal with. My trauma was early and based a lot on my effeminate behaviours – one of which is that I am not afraid to tell anyone anything to their face. My entire life has been about seeking and sharing truth. 

What are your next steps for your own mental health?

At my age, I’m slowing down – I’m not picking a fight with everyone like I would 20 years ago. Age, in its own way, has helped my mental health. I still have a long way to go with anger management, resentment, loneliness, perfectionism, and exclusion, but I’ve made great strides through being grateful for what I have and enjoying the small victories in my life.  

Can you talk a bit about society’s perception of male mental health, do you think this affected your own perception and your ability to deal with your problems?

As said before, I personally have no issue talking. My alter ego (stress the word ego) excels with that, but ironically it brought about another crushing problem: most men groups don’t want to hear what I have to say – I talk too deeply about the origins of my trauma which they have yet to find the courage to open their Pandora’s Box of hurt. The men’s groups I’ve been to are often numbingly boring – simply discussing exercise regimes, or planning holidays, or looking for advice about changing jobs and updating CVs. Men hide behind logic and systems (left side of the brain) instead of tapping into emotion (the right). This leads me to another controversial debate: the role of women in their lives. Until we broach this highly volatile subject, we are not going to even start to answer the question as to why men suffer exponentially more than women.  

In a word, relationships: family, personal, physical and sexual. In all the men groups that I participate in, we never once talked about the opposite sex. Mothers, sisters, lovers, wives, friends… all have an important part to play in men’s mental health and yet we seem too afraid to talk about how we are impacted (positively and negatively) by them. I have a lot of female friendships and I spend a lot of time fielding questions about issues they have with men.
Men are still reluctant to openly share their problems about relationships and this is just one factor in their suffering. My suicidal tendencies were initiated by my relationship with my mother which then affected my relationships and attitude toward all other women. A domino effect which can be stopped if men would recognise, talk about, and then take steps to alter behaviour.

According to you, why is it important for men to speak up about their mental health, and for society to address it as a whole? 

Men need to talk, precisely because this is a major part in addressing some of the ills that affect our world as a whole. War, hatred, anger, jealousy, greed – these are human detriments  – both experienced and caused by women and men – but if only women are talking (and addressing) their problems, then 50% of the world’s issues aren’t being questioned and dissected. I was a Police Officer for 12 years: I saw the very worst that society is capable of. I left the career realising that every single one of the crimes committed was as a direct result of mental health issues – most of which were caused by another damaged person. It’s like a perpetual line of falling dominoes. It won’t stop until we learn that it has to stop with us and start passing on forgiveness the same way we pass on hatred. 

What would you like to say to other men who might be suffering in silence from a mental health issue?

  • You are not alone in experiencing your mental health issue.
  • Talk to someone. Go online across any social media platform there is a myriad of organisations and groups that exist just to listen and show companionship – so you don’t have to suffer alone. 
  • Find your purpose in life. What do you think you might like to do that could alter your outlook on life? A vocation or a calling as opposed to just a job. A few starting points:
    • (Re)discover your gifts: what do you naturally enjoy doing?
    • Maybe you can do some rewarding voluntary work (helping a local youth football club / forestry services in your local area/ starting a self-help group)
    • Maybe it could shape the basis of a business model (advertise your services on local social media).

Where can people find you?

If you want a confidential 1 to 1 Zoom just contact me through either of these. My credentials are that I used to listen to victims of rape, paedophilia and families left behind after a suicide. I am used to hearing harrowing, emotional, accounts. I don’t judge. I don’t give advice. But we can share our stories and build each other up from the ground.

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Currently working in marketing and comms in Amsterdam. Passionate about all things digital, writing, dancing, travelling and much more. Mental health blogger and advocate.

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