“You ugly Monkey. You scum, that’s why she didn’t want you. No fucking woman wants you. She wasn’t good enough for you anyway, but you still fucked it up, you and your stupid fucking head”.
I am blessed, or cursed, with being very cognitively aware during my most extreme panic attacks. Booze fuelled, I often feel I could have prevented episodes like the above if I had done something about it. The scars on my wrist and my head act as a daily reminder that I didn’t.
I feel I have never met the high expectations that I set for myself, and that statement in itself is provocative. But being a man, you just have to get on with it don’t you?
It started when I was 14 going on 15. I couldn’t ‘get it up’. I was the laughing stock of a group who were told about my first failed sexual experience. I couldn’t make the cut… Too petrified to have another sexual experience until I was 21, I filled my life with other activities. Boxing was one of them, but at the time, never making the cut with women, I made the cuts into myself.
Compile the shock of finding a cyst on my right testicle (which I kept quiet for 1 year), the anxiety of my looks, perpetuated by modern media and comments from those around me that I was “a psycho – why would you want to hang out with Paul,” I had, let’s say, difficult teenage years.
So I cut myself. Medication through this period only lasted a while, until I “felt better”. Then I ended up cutting myself again, only now with thoughts of an overdose creeping into my mind. Booze gave me the courage to cut a little deeper, a little more severe. People think drink was the cause, but actually alcohol was the courage.
How on earth did I not end up as another male suicide statistic?
After losing my Dad when I was 24 and very suddenly (within 3 months) to cancer, I got the drive to find focus, something bigger than myself to keep me going and work towards: Helping other people; at that time, children with special needs. On a daily basis, it gives me great passion and purpose.
This lasted a few years, until I changed my job (for financial reasons). At the age of 29, I ended up being sectioned (for one evening), but this was due to extreme anxiety with self-harm. I certainly was making the cut now…
Another year later, 2015, at the age of 30, I had a small relapse. I’m now 5 months into my 30th year and feeling strong, deliberate; I’m aware this is a bastard I have dealt with for a long time, and I am not out of the woods yet.
What has worked for me:
1. Having a focus bigger than myself, helping others, through sport, through things I enjoy doing for myself.
2. Having someone to talk to; though few, my thoughts of suicide have vanished. SUPPORT is vital.
I suffer from mental health problems due to certain situations that make me anxious. People’s opinions, breaking up with women and sexual encounters have always made me the most anxious. But as I live with this shit, I give myself reasons to go on in times when I am calm, so when I am anxious they are always in the back of my mind.
If only growing up I knew about a campaign such as CALM. But then having the balls it takes to let someone else help has always been difficult, especially coming from my boxing background.
I’m not here to portray happy endings. This is my story and I have to deal with my issues. BUT I am dealing with them and continue to do so.
I have my reasons to live, I have my support (and someone to talk to and help me) and if needs be CALM.
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