I wish I was going to write this blog post and tell you life has always been great! Like, the moments I’ve done things I’ve set out to do when others have doubted me. The moments I’m proud of.
Yes, you’ll hear about them soon, but I wanted to have a heart to heart with you all and share the most influential moments of my life.
I’m 26 now, but the influential moments happened early in life; mainly during my teenage years…
Losing my role model
My Nan passed away when I was being severely bullied in secondary school. My Nan meant a lot. I was a proper Nana’s boy! Most of my weekends were spent with her, as I couldn’t see my weekends being spent without her.
When she passed away, it hit me hard. I lost a friend. I lost the person in my life I looked up to. In a flash, she was gone. I had to find someone else to drink a glass of milk with and share a packet of pink wafer biscuits with.
My Nan was a proper community person. She was loved by many. She was a happy, outgoing and caring person. Her passing still hasn’t sunk in. I struggle with the grief. When she passed, I had a massive gap in my life. I always think about her. I wish she would see the person I am today. I wish I could still see her.
When I started volunteering in 2012, I vowed to do what my Nan did…give people a chance and let them know they’re not alone. I wanted to feel close to her. I wanted her to know her legacy was being carried on.
The smile that saved my life
Talking about legacy, there’s someone who has to be mentioned in this post. My best friend growing up…Flash.
Flash came into my life when I was 9 and I still remember the first day I spent with him and seeing him wet the sofa. Flash was my brother for 15 years. He still is. Yes, he was a dog, but the bond we had is something I’ve rarely had with others.
I knew when I was struggling that he was there. When I was being bullied at school, I would run home to spend time with him. His smile gave me hope. His smile made me smile. His smile saved my life.
At a time when I was suicidal, his smile stopped me going through with it. I couldn’t leave him. His love told me it was OK and I could get through it.
He’s part of the reason I now speak up about my mental health struggles. He helped me by listening. OK, he couldn’t speak back, but by him being there, I had someone to open up to without feeling judged.
When he had a stroke and my Dad came running into my room, I broke down. Like my Nan, I still struggle knowing he isn’t around. I would wake up in the morning, and he wasn’t there. The smile at the start of my day and at the end was gone.
Flash stayed with me during my struggles and I stayed with him until his last breath (where are the tissues?). I needed to. I wanted him to know I was there for him like he was with me.
I’ve continued his legacy. I learned to swim earlier this year, as I nearly drowned as a child. One life taken from me, one life had to be gained. I had to gain my life back.
I’ve had to support others gain their life back too. A few years ago, I was asked to deliver a talk to the local university, all about my volunteering and personal story. To that day, I hadn’t told anyone about my suicidal thoughts. Even my family didn’t know. Within 24 hours, I delivered a talk opening up about my struggles, I told my family and I wrote a blog post, openly speaking about how I felt and why we need to speak up.
I couldn’t tell my Mum how I felt
When my Mum battled Cancer during my childhood (yes, even more struggles!), I kept quiet. I used video games to escape. My Mum’s Cancer story inspired me to embrace who I am and to support those in my life and outside of my life.
When my Mum went for her operation, I stayed at home. I couldn’t see someone I loved leave me again. I hid away. I didn’t speak. I couldn’t. I felt like I couldn’t take the attention away from her, when I was struggling. She needed it more than me.
All of this was too much for a child to cope with. People ask me how I’m comfortable speaking up about my life and that’s because I just can’t be bothered with the darkness anymore. I can’t sit back and see others struggle. I can’t sit back and struggle myself.
When I was 18, I wrote a letter to my Mum. I told her how I felt. I told her how I didn’t want to lose her. We hugged. It was the first time we hugged.
I’m now comfortable with my feelings. Nothing is ‘too much information’. One moment can be influential. The darkness that once surrounded me has now been defeated. I only see light. I use my story to now help others. My story helped me to understand who I am.
The dark moments have shaped who I am today. The dark moments have given me a voice.
The dark moments are now my focus. I want to share them with you. I want to share how I got through them. I’ll also share some things I’ve never shared online before.
When I write these posts, I remind myself that someone out there can be helped by opening up about how I felt/felt.
I was crying through parts of this post. No matter when things happened, they’re still raw. Remembering is never easy.
But, if you’re reading this, and you’re struggling, know help is there. I’m here to listen. I’m here to support. There is light. You can win. You can get through it.