Gary Mutimer – “Lost”

Gary Mutimer – “Lost”

In 2016, I was a very carefree individual with no financial or physical health worries and life with my partner Sarah was what I would consider to be perfect.  We were happy and very much looking forward to the future. 

The year spun round to September, I was living in my hometown of Sunderland. I was 39 years old and extremely fit for my age – in fact I was carrying 15st with only 16% body fat! I’d felt great & this showed in my mental health… I was happy and planning for the future. 

I’ve kick boxed to a high standard and was at the Virgin Active gym in Doxford, in Sunderland, sparring with my best friend Richie Duggan (Richie is an ex semi pro boxer). The session had been a standard training, weights, cardio and sparring session. Whilst doing pad work in the sparring session, I was caught on my left side next to my kidneys; I instantly fell to my knees with the pain. 

Later that night, I passed blood in my urine; I initially assumed that in were kidney stones as this was something that I had experienced before. The next day I made an appointment with my GP, he referred me straight away to urology for scans. 

The scans picked up a mass & appointment was made to have a CT scan, which I had. I had a preview appointment with a Professor Green the day before – an old-ish fella who didn’t fill me with much confidence (He told me to expect ‘bad news’) our meeting was a one to one, with no family there. The next day, which was a Friday, I received a call from a ‘Specialist Nurse’ asking me to come in on the Tuesday, to see the Consultant at Sunderland General Hospital, to talk about my results.  I alluded to the fact that it is possibly cancer but I instantly played it down, especially when Sarah talked about it. She knew a lot about cancer, cancer staging and what the NHS guidelines were around treatment, Sarah is a Clinical Psychologist who had previously worked in cancer services.  

Tuesday came and I went to the appointment with both Sarah & my Dad.  My back was instantly put up when we entered the room and was met by Register & Macmillan Nurse. The Reg seemed uninterested and there were patient’s notes facing upwards, with their names on full display. 

The Reg delivered the news that I had Kidney Cancer & a heart condition called Aortic Stenosis.

This was the trigger for my mental health battle! 

Focusing purely on my physical health, meant I neglected my mental health, I wasn’t aware that I was poorly for sometime. I was sleeping loads but thought this was purely because of my physical recovery, I was eating loads & assumed this was just greed and I became isolated, but it was because people didn’t understand. 

It was a January; a Sunday afternoon and we were at Tynemouth beach for a walk. Things came to head when I released that I wasn’t coping with being around people. I ‘lost’ it with a large bloke, ranting at him to unfairly get out of my way. I’d developed an unhealthily despise for ‘overweight’ people or people who smoked, because I felt it was unfair that I was fit, worked out & had never smoked, yet I still came down with Cancer and a Heart Condition……I was raging inside. 

That afternoon, Sarah headed to Glasgow, where she was studying a Diploma…. I was alone both physically and mentally for the week, I was erratic and not thinking straight and found myself being extremely on edge.  I recall, being awake at 3am and getting dressed, heading to Sunrise Park for a walk, I was cold, raining bit also quiet… I’d needed to get away and was out walking/wandering until it was sunrise.  The year that followed bore witness to a further decline in my state, I was withdrawn, argumentative and feeling a lone as ever. I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone, nor did I want too. December, seen me have Open Heart Surgery for a valve replacement for the Aortic Stenosis but also for Cardiomyopathy & Aortic Aneurism (I was given just 10 days left to live)….

My surgery was at the James Cook Hospital in Middleborough, where I had previously admitted to Cramlington Hospital.  My Mental Health took an even further turn for the worse while I admitted into their care.  I really wasn’t well both physically and mentally.

It was the complete sense that I had no control over my body or what was happening to me and the lack of control over anything…. I was a failure. The operation was a success though. 

January arrived and I was deep into recovery. Sarah was away again, I don’t recall the build or actually doing it…its all still a blur but I woke up fully dressed & surrounded by all my tablets (Codeine, Ramapril & my Betablocka) with a horrendous hangover but lucky to be alive. 

I was gutted; I had failed to kill myself, I was a failure at even killing myself. As the days followed, so did the suicidal thoughts, I thought of walking in front of lorry, disappearing & hanging myself. This was daily, hourly and all the time. 18 months before, I had rung ‘Talking Therapies’ to tell them I was had feelings of ending it all but was told I was not a huge risk, now I was over the edge and in dark place…. screaming for the pain to end! I was desperate to end my life. 

It continued into March, I hit a brick wall and was in complete black place. This is when I came clean to Sarah about my attempt to end it all. She was clearly very upset but this just made me worse. I agreed against my will to head to the GP, but I felt ignored. I was placed on anti-depressants and given the number ‘Talking Therapies’, I had just a silent sigh!

In the April, I had a follow up appointment a Cardiac Nurse, I nice guy called Steve. He asked how have been? I said fine…But he replied, “I’m not on about your chest, I am on about your mind” & with that I unloaded. He got me an appointment with a Health Psychologist, who worked in his team. From there I headed into Therapy. 

Mental Health is odd, it affects everyone differently, its outcomes are different for different people. Societies view on it is often disgusting & unjust, education around it is beyond slack & its often shameful to say you have suffered. But you are only human and looking after Physical Health is important BUT so is looking after Mental Health…..Check in with your self often. 

Now, I am fine. Yes, I have the odd day here and there, but I meditate and work out daily…it helps me. 

They say it is good talk! It is, they are right but it is only good if they listen!


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