My Mental Heath Journey – Jac’s Story.

Today’s post is slightly different to what I’d usually post. Today I am going to talk about the boy in the image above – Jac, and more specifically I’m going to share his experience of mental health with you.

Jac found himself starting to feel down towards the end of last year, he resat year 13 and so, his friends went off to uni whilst he stayed at school.

He went in to school for lessons and that was it, he isolated himself from the rest of the sixth formers, and he really began to notice a change in himself.

He came to realise in December that he wasn’t just sad, it was deeper than that – “there’s feeling sad and then there’s being down constantly”.

He found himself having a breakdown days before Christmas, he spent a few days in bed unable to move which included Christmas and Boxing Day. Yet he still tried to convince himself it was nothing – “I thought no I’m being stupid, it’s just a blip”.

January arrived and he stopped eating food – “the thought of food just filled me up, I lost about a stone. I knew I wasn’t physically sick. I told my mate, I don’t think this is something physical, I think it’s something mental and then he literally just laughed it off”.

Jac then decided to take action and booked an appointment to see the GP, and he’d go alone. This meant not telling his family and when his mum saw his appointment card, he gave another answer to distract from the real reason – “my mum saw my appointment card, and I told her it was because I’d lost weight, which she then put down to stress”.

“That’s what I dreaded the most was telling my family, especially my mum but I felt like I was protecting her because my nan was ill at the time”.

He then went on to discuss the effects the Sertraline (an antidepressant) had on himself – “the first few days of being on the medication, I got the sickness and then came the sleep deprivation, that was the worst part. I started having to buy paracetamol for the headaches and drinking coffee to stay awake”.

“Initially, I told a handful of my mates. I became reliant on my work mate. She was a motherly figure and her husband was on Sertraline and so I figured she’d have the answers for me, but then I started feeling like a burden. I started reading into every sign, overthinking it in my head”.

Four weeks on, Jac still wasn’t feeling any better, if anything it got worse.

“It had been about four weeks and I still felt like pure shit. By then I told all my mates. I tried reaching out to talk but no one was answering their phones and then I started to cut my leg with a compass”.

He then went on to tell me that he understood that none of his mates could understand what was going on.

“I definitely wouldn’t have understood. I probably didn’t open up enough to them”.

Despite opening up to one person, Jac kept himself mostly closed off because he didn’t want to pile his ‘burdens’ onto someone else, especially if they hadn’t asked about it.

“I’d open up to my work mate but nobody else because they didn’t ask how I was doing”.

We spoke about the how experiencing a mental illness affected him and how he got through it day by day, and his response was definitely advice to consider if not do..

“You open up to someone else and they’ll open up to you. People are very understanding. I don’t care that I do have it, obviously I wish I didn’t but it’s just what happened”.

Warning signs or triggers are crucial for us to recognise when going through an illness.

“I’d go on a night out and spend the night sat down, alone, realising I wasn’t having a good time. I could be drunk or sober but I just wasn’t there, I wasn’t enjoying it”.

“I went on a skiing trip that was all male. I wasn’t drinking because of the meds and they picked up on that. My dad pulled me to one side and asked if I wanted him to tell them, and I said yeah why not”.

Stigma’s are slowly being broken surrounding mental health, however, many stigma’s still exist, especially with males who experience a mental illness.

“I think boys struggle much more to be open. I see girls tweeting and talking about it, I never saw that with any boys. When I told Mrs Newis (teacher) about it, it was about 9.50 am. She said I was the second boy to tell her that morning”.

So how do you differentiate between sadness and depression? Jac summed this up in his own words.

“If I’m depressed I just won’t do anything, I’ll stay in bed. Being sad is different, you’re sad for a while and then you’re back to yourself”.

I am so grateful that Jac was able to share his story and allow me to share it with those who read my blog. The intention is to simply raise awareness and to show how everyone’s experience is different, nevertheless, we can all relate and help each other too.

A HUGE thank you to Jac for letting me share this. Here are some wise words from him to end this post.

“Try and surround yourself with good people”.

Ciao for now x

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Wellbeing writer, host for The Inspired Narrative podcast and mental health support worker.