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Story by: Jake Barnes
submitted: 24/06/2020

Story: Mental health is something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember. At first, I didn’t really understand what was going on, and I thought everything was ‘normal’. What is normal though? Overtime things started to get harder, and I was slowly coming to terms that things were not okay. Ashamed because of the stigma that surrounded mental health, I felt like I couldn’t speak out – meaning I kept things bottled up. In January 2018, I hit what was at the time, an all time low. The pain I was experiencing was at it’s worst yet. Because of the fact that I didn’t speak up about everything that was going on, I exploded. There was many factors as to why I felt the way I did, one of which was a toxic relationship I was in at the time. I finally gained the confidence to speak out and seek professional help, which although it wasn’t easy, it was definitely beneficial and is something I can’t recommend enough to anyone who is struggling mentally. As a result of seeing a doctor, I was put on a course of antidepressants and referred for counseling. Although the care I was getting helped slightly, things were still far from okay and were progressively getting worse which led me down a very narrow and slippery path of self-harm, which turned into a compulsive ritual of mine. This started to become an everlasting cycle which was hard to leave. Jumping to January 2019 now, this is when I hit rock bottom to the point where I thought there was no was out. It got to the point where I felt that the only way out was to end my life. THIS IS AND WAS NOT THE CASE, THE SAME APPLIES TO YOU TOO. It was from this point my whole world turned around and started to get easier. I discovered there was so so much more to life. During 2019 I came on leaps and bounds with my mental health as I was determined to see a difference. For me, this meant setting myself goals, focusing on exercise and learning to understand how I was feeling. One of the main goals/challenges I set myself was to cycle 300 miles for REACH as I knew this would be both mentally and physically demanding. At many points throughout the ride I hit the ‘wall’ and wanted to give up, or didn’t think I could finish. Despite this, I wasn’t going to let my brain get the better of me, so I fought on, finishing in 16 hours 32 minutes. Later in the year I received a formal diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, which at first left me with mixed emotions as this is something that I will be left with for the rest of my life, however with time to digest the information, I came to terms with it as I had gone 18 years without knowing what was wrong, so now with the correct resources it was only going to get easier (which it has). Although my life has been a very bumpy ride however that’s not to say I haven’t had any positives. Probably two of the biggest positives I’ve faced is completing the 300 miles and being asked to be an ambassador for two mental health charities – one of which is REACH. Regardless of how big, small or stupid you feel your problem feels, it is always important to speak up about how you are feeling as bottling an issue up only makes it more of an issue. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved.

Story by: Will Blissett
submitted: 16/06/2020

Story: I was involved in a very serious road traffic collision throwing everything I knew to be real into the air entirely including my life. In every aspect other than the accident itself I was as lucky as I could’ve been. Mentally I struggled as much as I know to be possible whilst re learning everything I had no sense of worth or reason to find it I hated myself. Until I found Adam and REACH and he did exactly what this charity tries to do he acted as a friend and talked it through with me and genuinely made my life 100 fold easier for me, he got me through the darkest times of my life and changed my outlook on life entirely when it was straight negativity.