For Mental Health Awareness Week, we talked with dad of two, Kevin Murphy, about his experiences with mental health and anxiety. Find him on Instagram @mrmurphy__ to hear the rest of his story and to follow his journey.
My mental health was great up until a night out raving back in 2004. I woke up in the morning and I instantly felt different. Something was wrong, it was normal to have a comedown from the night before but this felt more… a lot stronger I suppose. As the day progressed I felt worse, I felt very paranoid and scared about how I was feeling. I managed to get through the day but the next day it felt even worse. I got in my car with my girlfriend at the time and drove to the Lake District to get away for a few days thinking that it would help me “fix” my brain. It got worse and worse and I was panicking thinking I needed to check into some kind of mental clinic. This strong feeling went on for about 6 months but I managed to get a hold of what was happening to me.
To get through times I would maybe drink on an evening or take paracetamol in the day to feel better. Obviously, none of these scientifically made me feel better but to me at the time they did. I had days driving where I just wanted to veer off the road for no reason and the thought of being at a social event was terrifying. I often would let friends down and make excuses for why I couldn’t make get-togethers. Even a simple pre-planned meal would have me on edge from the moment I’d be invited.
I ended up having therapy and it completely changed my outlook.
I read many books to try and understand what was going on but they would only help short term. I ended up having therapy and it completely changed my outlook. I was used to waking up in the morning and more often than not I’d be worried about the day ahead before I had even opened my eyes. Apart from talking to one friend I had kept all of this to myself. Up until I had therapy I had felt very much alone thinking I would be afraid forever. My mental health was at its worst when I was unfit and drinking beer for three most days which played a massive part in how I was feeling. Now I keep as fit as I can be and do my best to stay on track with a healthy diet. As most people do, I fall off the wagon and get on the beers and eat junk food and it’s fine to do that even for months at a time but as I do this I do feel the anxiety creeping back in.
Up until I had therapy I had felt very much alone thinking I would be afraid forever.
I’ve learned the tools to keep anxiety at bay as best as I can now but some days it can still take over for long periods of time but I do have to tell myself that it won’t last forever and that it’s ok and that it will fade soon. The main thing I tell myself is not to fight it. The more I personally battle with anxiety the worse it gets. I’ve accepted that I will have anxiety for the rest of my life and sometimes it’s uncontrollable but most of the time I can keep the wolf from the door so to speak. So my plan is to keep active, keep feeding myself the right foods to stay healthy, and hopefully, a healthy lifestyle will keep me on the right track.
Men shouldn’t be ashamed of feeling afraid or anxious they need to speak out.
I really do think that talking to a friend or a professional sooner rather than later is key for both men and women. If I’d have done that sooner I wouldn’t have had all these years of fear and I wouldn’t have missed out on so much. Men shouldn’t be ashamed of feeling afraid or anxious they need to speak out. I know it’s easier said than done but it will help. Since I posted on Instagram last year that I had suffered from anxiety I had some friends call to say they never realised and they are always there if I needed them which was nice. But I also had some of my best pals explain to me that they had been feeling the same but never told anyone.