I was trying really hard to keep afloat, but in the end, I just couldn’t cope. I was homeless, sofa surfing from place to place to keep a roof over my head and continue doing my job. Being vulnerable meant I wasn’t able to go out and look for another job like I usually would have done. So really, I was stuck in a situation with no money coming in and my debts increasing. It felt like everything was working against me – a series of business reverses, having a health condition, not being able to actually actively go out and look for work, it made things more complicated. It was overwhelming. It can really get you down.
I realised I had to ask for help, say, ‘you know, I’m homeless, I’m in a really tricky situation here’. And that’s hard, especially when you’ve learnt to rely on yourself.
I’m 52 and for most of my life I’ve tried to do everything on my own – I suppose because I didn’t feel like I could ask for help, I didn’t feel like I could be vulnerable in case I was judged or treated differently as a result. But actually, asking for help is really important, being honest and open with the people you care about can really make a difference. I found it when I shared my experiences of abuse in my 40s, and I’ve found it again during the pandemic. No matter what you think, people don’t judge you like you think they will. You build so much up in your head, you think people will make assumptions about who you are – and that really isn’t the case. Mostly, people just want to support you.
I’m part of a number of men’s support groups, and I hear men talk about different things that they’re trying to deal with. You hear about their fears, about being vulnerable, their fear about being judged, their fear about being seen as weak. Unless you ask for the help, you can’t be seen, you can’t be heard. And you can’t heal. That’s a fundamental thing for me, to be able to heal. I know that self healing is possible, but you have to be vulnerable in order for that healing process to start and that’s very difficult.