Whenever I think about that night. The strongest memory isn’t the shame or the sadness I felt. It isn’t fear of what would have happened had things gone to plan.
It’s the outfit. The spot-on replica outfit of Olivia Newton-John in her Physical video – circa 1981 – and I can’t help but grin before being over taken by the grim reality of what so very nearly happened.
Let’s backtrack a bit. I’m Davey. I’m a 34-year-old gay man who suffers from severe anxiety and depression. It’s recently been suggested that I have Borderline Personality Disorder, otherwise known as Emotional Intensity Disorder. And for the best part of the year I’ve been banging on about mental health to anyone who will listen. Last year, dressed as Olivia Newton-John I finally convinced myself that my suicide was the best thing for everyone. I left the party, one I had actually allowed myself to enjoy, strangely calm. I marched through the streets of Brighton in pink leggings and leotard with more confidence than I had in months. There were practical elements to consider, my outfit being one of them, and I solved each problem that presented itself with precision and efficiency that had ever presented itself in my regular life.
I arrived home. This was it. But one thing I didn’t prepare for was to find my housemate, making gravy for chips he made me. He was meant to be elsewhere but he had realised he had forgotten his wallet, so came home. And like that, it was over. My suicide plans went out the window. The next day I finally reached out to my GP and friends and finally started getting real help. It took 33 years to get that point. And yet I was diagnosed with depression years ago with no guidance.
There is a lot more to my story, and if you’ve met me or heard my podcast you’ll be sick of hearing about it, so lets shift gears a bit. Why am I regaling you with such a story? It’s because, that’s what I do. I talk and talk, about myself, about mental heath.
October 10 is World Mental Health Day. I know, I know it’s also National Handbag Day. Don’t want to take away from that, but it will be one year since I was inspired to fully come out about my mental health and set up MenTalkHealth in Brighton thanks to statements that flooded my social media feed that day.
Set up with my amazing MenTalk family, Damian Friel and Eli Beaton, we have been embraced by the community.
We started as a podcast. The most millennial of all art forms. Just a couple of inebriated friends talking openly and honestly about mental health and laughing all the way.
We had no idea that so many people would find it as entertaining as they did. That we would have episode after episode released to a growing number of listeners. Nor did we imagine that thanks to Brighton’s LGBTQ+ communities we would be marching in Brighton Pride 2017, talking at The National Theatre, and raising funds to become an official charity. We’ve been given an opportunity to be a voice ourselves and give a voice to everyone who has ever recognised that mental health is something we all have.
This article is, in a way, a thank you to you. Only here could something as dark as what nearly happened to me be used for good. The biggest thing I’ve learnt, the one thing that even though I knew; I was completely unprepared for it. Is that this isn’t just happening to me. Or Damian. Or the guests on our show.
The last year has led to me talking with so many of you. Learning your stories and experiences. Over a pint at Bar Broadway, in the street on the way to the bank, at the gym or at Piano Bingo on Sunday at the Bedford Tavern. So many of you have your own stories and I am touched that so many of you want to share with me. Which, finally, gets me to my point.
Talking. Talking about myself is the only thing I’m good at and now I’m making it my job. I’ve talked about my mental health so much now that I bore myself. And that’s brilliant! Imagine not hiding how you feel? Imagine telling someone how you feel before it gets too much. Imagine if talking about how we feel was *whisper* normal. I know that’s what many of you want you’ve told me so. Now tell others. Those you trust, those you care about. Make it be part of your chat. A simple “How are you?”.
I’m not saying talking will fix everything, but it certainly won’t make things worse.
And maybe it isn’t as easy as all that, but maybe just see what happens on October 10. When you’re on Facebook or Twitter and you see those annoying posts of people proclaiming the virture of World Mental Health Day or you see someone embarrassingly over share their own mental health status, maybe embrace it?
Maybe message that friend and ask how they are? They’ve started the conversation, they have put it out there and it’s up to you to continue it. And maybe, just maybe it’ll help you. them, or someone you don’t even know. Olivia Newton-John started talking and that why she’s still here.
Episode 7 is available NOW at all SoundCloud, iTunes and all good podcast apps. Head to our website for links.
MenTalkHealth can be downloaded on Soundcloud, iTunes and all good podcasts apps or at www.MenTalkHealth.uk
Follow us on twitter @MenTalkHealthUK
Join us at our MenTalkHealth’s Musical Therapy fundraiser at Bar Broadway on Sunday, October 22.
For information about MindOut, the LGBT Mental Health Service, view: www.mindout.org.uk
If you need to speak to someone urgently, telephone Samaritans on 116 123 (calls are free)