Peer-to-peer support was the key to my recovery. Now I run a charity where I use my experience to help others with mental health problems
When I was a child, my mum said I had a depressive personality. I was prone to low periods that intensified as I reached adulthood and when I started my police career.
There was and still is a huge stigma around mental health, so I, like many others, tried to mask it in the hope it would go away. In secret, I visited my GP for what they thought was clinical depression, worried that my job as a detective would be compromised. I managed to convince other people that I was living a normal and successful life, but behind closed doors I was living a different story – just about managing to cope with my depressive episodes. When in a manic phase, I couldn’t sleep and would work 18-hour days. I wasn’t really looking at the evidence that I had a serious mental illness.
It began at school, with A-star expectations and a horror of failure. Now we’re on social media platforms, locked into a game of mutually assured depression
During many job interviews, it’s common to be asked: “What’s your biggest weakness?” It’s a horrible question to respond to on the spot. We know it’s a trick, and the answer isn’t: “Sometimes it takes me more than two hours to stop looking at my phone and get dressed after a shower,” or: “I spend my free time constructing elaborate revenge fantasies.”
The cheat’s answer of choice, the panicky pick that puts you in a better light than the truth might, is along the lines of: “I’m a perfectionist.”
Young people who become homeless often find themselves in a chain of misfortune, forced into unsafe situations with little help from the state. Thomas Korpiela, Ann O’Shea, Kirk Rogers and Brookemorgan Henry-Rennie share their experiences of dealing with mental health issues and surviving on the streets. They describe how the charities Depaul and Centrepoint helped them get their lives back on track
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