You aren’t in this journey alone…

You aren’t in this journey alone…

So today is World Mental Health Day… here’s my story..

My personal journey has been ongoing for many years and many times I’ve almost lost the fight and have attempted suicide on more than one occasion and even today have those thoughts that make me contemplate my own life… But there only thoughts!

I have always fought against my own demons and in particular myself, I’ve always been my biggest critic and have always thought of myself as less than I am.

Growing up in London I always thought of myself as the outcast and a black sheep of my own family which led to me putting myself down and isolating myself away from people and finding my own comfort in over eating and lying to people to make myself look a better version of Josh than I was. Leading into adult hood I did the same I hid away and didn’t commit to helping myself, I told a lot of lies to make myself look better than I was in the hope it would attract people to me and boost my own self esteem when in reality I was damaging it more and locking myself away from the reality of life.. I was struggling and saw no way out and this led to my first suicide attempt. I was lucky and it failed but that didn’t boost me that just made me more determined to do it but I had to be careful and wait my time as people were becoming aware..

I’d taken the decision to move myself and my family the 300 miles to Newcastle and that’s where my mental health took a huge turn for the worst, I found a job I’d been promised wasn’t actually there for me when I came up but instead of opening up and talking to someone I shut myself away and tried to fix everything alone.. this led to me pushing everyone away and telling lies to my family and even to the point of the pretending that I was working full time and heading off to work everyday. I was getting more and more in debt and struggling with the concept of real life and getting caught up in an enormous story I’d written in my own head. My mental health at this point was the lowest it had ever been and I tried to and failed to take my life on 4 more occasions, the way my head was working it was telling me the only way to save my family was to take my own life and let them move on.. the light was dark and the tunnel was closed for me and anyone that tried to talk to me was shut down and pushed away.

It took one last attempt on my life to realise I needed help and it was a phone call from my son whilst I sat on the edge of a train bridge ready to jump that jolted me into the realisation that I could fix myself. I went home that night and opened up to people and seemed out the support I needed, I was very lucky and approached the Newcastle United Foundation and was offered the help and support I needed and through their programmes I learnt the importance of being able to open up and speak about my problems. I always stand by the fact that the foundation staff saved and changed my life. It helped me to open up and share my personal story and help people to live again through the power of the be a game changer campaign and the Newcastle United badge.

The only regular thing I ever had growing through my mental health journey was Newcastle United and the regularity of going to the match every weekend and using it to hide who I was Monday to Friday, it allowed me to be Josh for the weekend and have fun and enjoy myself where I’m reality through the week I spent my time working out how and when I would take my life.

The most important thing I’ve ever learnt through my journey is if never ends you just get stronger and more capable of living with it. I still struggle with my mental health but have fantastic support around me and know my own triggers and know how to cope with it.

The most important advice I can ever give is Speak Up… if you think someone is struggling then speak to them, ask the simple questions, be a friend, a confidant, someone they can trust! You’ll never understand how much a simple “How are you” can mean to someone who is struggling and needs help.

You aren’t in this journey alone as much as it feels like you are..

I’m a survivor and extremely lucky to have had the opportunities I’ve had via the foundation and Newcastle United and the Premier League!

Open Up and Speak Up…