If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything
I’ve been on quite the emotional journey the past year, but my story doesn’t begin there, and it doesn’t end with this article either. That’s the beauty with self-discovery, it’s in my hands, and I’m the puppet master.
I turn 41 years old this year and I feel a new chapter in my life is just beginning. As I’m sitting at my desk at home typing on my laptop I haven’t felt like this in a long time. I’ve been on somewhat of a campaign recently sharing my own story of living with several mental conditions and I must admit, it has felt like an enormous weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I was silent (in public at least) for 20 plus years and carrying around so many insecurities, in that time I felt so incredibly lonely and isolated.
If we take a brief trip down memory lane, it all started for me in my early teens. I started feeling very anxious when I was enrolled in lifesaving lessons at my local swimming pool. Being a young man standing by the side of a swimming pool may seem a little unimportant in a life story but for me, it’s when my journey with mental health began. Fast forward to my 20’s and depression had well and truly dug its heels in and was consuming me at every turn. I was incredibly unhappy with how I looked, which in turn caused me to lose out on so many years of my life that I cant get back.
As I’m an 80s kid and love all things nostalgic from that era, forgive me for using one of my favourite 80s movies Back to the Future as a reference but as Marty McFly would say, “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” This is a concept I’m now embracing.
Fast forward to 2021. I’m working from home, sitting at my desk, and I decided to write a blog. I started typing and off I went into a two-hour reminiscing mind-field with no particular end goal in mind. The result of that blog was something called The Endless Spiral.
In that blog, I wrote about how I use sport as an escapism from my spiraling negative thoughts. I tried to give some insight into the world of someone who lived with anxiety and depression for so long.
I shared that blog on Twitter as I was confident nobody I knew personally would see it. I guess I wasn’t quite ready to share my story with my inner circle, yet. I’m no different from many other men when it comes to fearing the stigma of men’s mental health.
It was received with immense positivity, I could put the chimp on my shoulder back in his box. That blog ultimately developed into a blogging community for other people to share their stories and experiences with mental health. The Endless Spiral was born. And in turn, so too was the podcast.
Sharing my story has felt so therapeutic and cathartic. I no longer have to live in silence. I receive messages from men daily thanking me for bringing men’s mental health into the conversation. My podcast has connected me to so many inspiring people with so much help and advice that has been invaluable. Terms like Body Dysmorphia and intuitive eating became part of my vocabulary. I’m now exercising to affect the way I feel rather than to affect the way I look. I’m doing yoga, and my podcast is now listened to in over 30 countries and nominated for a People’s Choice Award.
Once I learned to develop a healthy relationship with myself I learned to develop a healthy relationship with everything else. My emotional eating is a thing of the past. And, I’ve developed a positive outlook on my purpose in life. I am still a work in progress and like most things in life it needs constant work. You can’t just flick a switch and turn it off. But, I’m going in the right direction and that’s all I can ask of myself.
People ask me all the time what advice would I give to someone living with a mental health condition. It’s a question I wouldn’t dare tackle a year ago. Please don’t live in silence. It won’t benefit you in the present or future. Talk to someone, reach out, and ask for help. There is no shame or stigma in mental health. You aren’t alone and there is help out there. It’s never too late. Trust me I’m a perfect example.
By Keith Russell