Putting my mental health first made me stronger
Fundraiser, Luke Hamer tells us why putting his mental health first made him stronger – as part of our World Mental Health Day campaign encouraging people to make their mental health a priority.
I have always considered myself to be an independent and self-motivated person, with the ability to logically think my way out of any tough situation because I am in control of my emotions. For 36 years of my life this has proved true – until I had the ‘perfect storm’ of tough challenges which started in 2019 and continued into 2021.
It all started when I broke up with my girlfriend. I began to struggle to apply myself in what was already a stressful job. Over the next few months, the lack of motivation and sadness in my life led me to losing my position. Worse still, while I was on the way home to work out what to do next – I received a call from my mother telling me that my uncle had died.
To my relief, I did manage to land a job at a previous workplace within a couple of weeks. I was really excited for this new chapter to start, however, four weeks later the 1st national lockdown started. I found myself stuck in a one bedroom flat for 4 months with all the time in the world to think about what went wrong in recent months in my life.
By June 2020, it was all too much. I found that I was always upset, my confidence was at an all-time low and I felt down most of the time. I had never spoken to my family about how I was feeling. One day I just decided to look on the Mental Health UK website for advice. Various articles on the site explored how talking to people may help and had practical suggestion on how to approach a conversation around your feelings. There was also information about how counselling could help – something which I had never considered before.
After I started seeing the counsellor we started to unpick how I was feeling and I felt happier to open up to some members of my family about what I was going through. I honestly learnt so much more about myself than I ever thought possible. I also managed to repair relationships with some of the special people in my life.
I honestly think that if I hadn’t found the information on the site I really would have been at a loss and maybe fallen into depression.
In 2021 I ran the London Marathon for Mental Health UK because I really wanted to give something back. The training was really hard but I managed to complete the course in just 3 hours 50 minutes. I felt such an amazing sense of achievement and such warmth and support from everyone on the day. It felt great that I could not only raise money in support of the charity but raise awareness of the cause too. We all face difficulties in our lives at some point and what I went through during those years was tough. I was lucky to have a great supportive family who listened to me and supported me.
Now in 2022, my mental health is miles better than before. I’m able to speak to people about how I’m feeling and more confident to speak my mind more often. Before I would hold back for fear of upsetting someone but I really can see it is better to get some things out in the open and not bottle it up. Previous years were tough but I have come out stronger. I now have a new job that I love and a wonderful girlfriend who encourages me to speak about any worries or stress I might have.
On Monday 10th October it is World Mental Health Day and the charity have asked everyone to consider how to make their mental health a number one priority. There are so many ways you can do this, but I suggest you find the one thing that anchors your sense of wellbeing. For me, fitness has been my life’s anchor – it helps me reset how I feel – so I would put my headphones on, listen to some great tunes and then work out at the gym. For others, a daily walk might centre you, 30 minutes reading an immersive book or cooking your favourite meal gives you a sense of pleasure and comfort.
The point is that everyone needs to press the reset button from time to time – we all need time out from the stress of life – to spend time with ourselves and our thoughts. So I would encourage everyone to consider their mental health as their number one priority.
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Just £10 could help pay for a call to our advice and information line, supporting someone living with mental illness who may be feeling in distress during this time.Donate today
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