“It was the small milestones that kept me going” - David's story
Trigger/content warning: suicide
In this blog, David reflects on the presence of mental illness in his life; how it has not only affected him, but his friends and family. After experiencing depression and anxiety, losing his friends to suicide and caring for his mother, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, David is passionate about raising awareness and creating positive change. He recently went on a 14-day trek in Nepal to raise money for Rethink Mental Illness. Read more about his journey here.
I had to pace myself, listen to my body.
Having negative thoughts, feeling physically drained, and being hungry and thirsty would’ve been too much if I didn’t rest when I could. But overcoming all that was so rewarding.
When tackling the 14-day Manaslu Circuit Trek in Nepal for Rethink Mental Illness, it was the small milestones that kept me going. Every day we would climb another distance, get to another village, edge closer to home.
Mental illness has always been in my life. My three brothers and I were child carers for my mother. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia and experienced psychosis. She was never violent, but it was a difficult time. She would become zombie-like, as if her brain was freezing. It’s hard to explain, and even harder to understand as a six-year-old.
I still have bad moments, but I always make it to the next day.
My dad worked a lot, but his patience, understanding, and love were traits we tried to follow. We were lucky to have him because so many people are in it alone. So, seeing the Carers’ Hub on the Rethink Mental Illness website and the work they’re doing to provide advice, information, and support for people going through what we did is incredible.
At 16 I started having panic attacks and was given medication for depression and anxiety. When I started university, I lost my way without people around me. I lost focus, direction, and confidence. I was at the bottom of a mountain I couldn’t climb and made two attempts to take my own life.
Thankfully, I was unsuccessful. Sadly, a close mate from that time with bipolar disorder died from suicide. And I’ve known several other friends who have died the same way.
The little things we do to be there for each other make a difference.
I still have bad moments, but I always make it to the next day because of my family’s patience, understanding, and love. And the small milestones I set myself: exercise, meditation, leaving the house, finding new music, travelling, trying healthy food.
People need educating about severe mental illness. They need to know that suicide is not inevitable and how the little things we do to be there for each other make a difference. I’m proud to have raised money for a charity who are trying to do just that.
You don’t have to trek for 14 days to show your support. But, by raising money for Rethink Mental Illness in any way, you can literally save someone’s life.
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