In my early teens, I realised I was gay. The friends I had and the social circles I had made it extremely difficult to accept. My family would have been, of course, incredibly supportive, but that wasn’t enough. I could not accept it. I hid it from everyone.
It was a real bone of contention; it was the elephant in the room. I fell into a pit of depression and isolation. I was so alone and scared about what people would say. I started to drink more, I started to take drugs and party, trying to avoid the truth that constantly followed me around. I became an addict, again I fell deeper into the pit.
Fast forward a few years, I was in my late teens, and I managed to muster up the courage to finally come out. To my surprise two things happened, everyone was supportive and applauded me, and I still felt ashamed. I felt shame that I had not trusted the people I loved and cared about.
I was in a dark place; my mental health was at an all-time low. With the help of a friend, I managed to ween off the drugs and get sober. I was empty, I stopped working, I stopped socialising, I stopped leaving the house. I started self-harming and contemplated many sleepless nights. I needed a way of coping with everything. So, alone at night I poured my nervous energy and pain into my journals. I started writing.
It was hard, I was dyslexic and when I wrote something, it wasn’t necessarily easy to read it back. I wrote stories about pain, redemption, loss, love, and heartache. I put my heart, soul and pain into the story. My writing was exactly that, mine, it wasn’t for anybody’s eyes but my own. I was proud of my work, but I was terrified that somebody would see too much of me, after all, I had put everything I had into it. I filed the journals away.
A New beginning
When I turned thirty, I met my partner. It was an unconventional romance, but something just clicked, and we started dating, before long he proposed, and we started living together. I remember coming home from the pub one night and he was telling me about a book he was reading, all of a suddenly I blurted out about my writing. He was intrigued and asked if he could read some of my work.
I let him read my story’s and he devoured them hungrily. We would stay up late and discuss the details of the world it was all set in. Eventually he convinced me to publish one of the books. He helped me with the editing, getting the punctuation and the spelling right. He is great with a computer and managed to make the book cover and make my website.
He has been an amazing support to me and every time I feel unsure or feel like an imposter in a literary world to which I feel I don’t belong; he is there to re-assure me that I do.
My journals sat untouched for ten years gathering dust, now in the light of day the stories are mirroring my own journey and shedding the bonds of confinement and are free, as books, to be enjoyed.
My journey to this point has been cathartic, not always easy but extremely rewarding. When I think of the man that was isolated, alone, in such pain and self-doubt, I hardly recognise myself.
I still have days where I struggle to energise myself, but I think we wall have days like that. If I have learnt anything from my experiences it would be the importance of being true to yourself, and certainly the importance of being able to ask for help when you need it.
There is no shame in suffering with your mental health, I believe at some point we all will. Currently mental health is the biggest killer of men under 45 and on average 12 men in the UK will end their lives. If you are going through something you must reach out for help. When I was in the height of my despair, I would never imagine there would be a time where I could be genuinely happy again.
Joy comes in the little things, seeing my partner asleep reaching over my side of the bed because he misses me in his slumber. Our cat doing something really stupid but obscenely cute, and now, holding a final printed copy of my book.
‘Steve’ is my debut novel; it is a story about a man and his wife. They are homeless and, on a journey, to re-join society, to get a standard of living back. It is a thriller and chronicles their adventure and the pitfalls of the streets. It covers homelessness, abuse, addiction, and mental health issues.
Because of what I have been through, I want to do something to help people. I have decided that a portion of the sales of the book should be donated to support charity. The charity partners I have selected are Shelter, and Mind.
I’m feeling super energised and I’m currently working on my second book which is going to be titled ‘Steph’
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