My name is Tommy Dunn and I am a 25 year old man. I got involved with this project because we live in a world which too often overlooks what is really important, one being mental health, which is why we now face one of the biggest killers of men under 50 years old and a detrimental crisis within our society.
From the age of 14 years old, there were many events in my life that contributed to the breakdown of my mental health. From being bullied at school, getting rejected by my father, being fired from an apprenticeship and being beat up in broad daylight. I went through ups and downs, with frequent suicidal thoughts that haunted me on a daily basis.
At the age of 21 years old, after being promoted in a progressive worldwide company, I woke up one day with a lethargic and fatigue feeling. I looked in the mirror and saw how big I had become, almost weighing 18 stone. My whole body hurt with pain, from my joints aching to intense headaches. The most odd, uneasy and uncomfortable feeling I could describe was the heavy weight on the back of my head, almost like someone had tied a brick to it. It was the anxiety and depression that had been building up all of those years. I had built all of my feelings up, behind eating all the junk food and binge drinking; I had totally let myself go. It was only at this point I realised just how sad I felt in myself. So one night after I was out drinking with my friends, I went home and took all of my anti-depressants that had only been prescribed recently at the time, and I drank myself into a deep sleep with a note left on the side for my mother.
I have had many thoughts of suicide and even times were I wanted to attempt it but this was the first and gladly, the last time that I was truly set on going through with it. Even now I shock myself when I look back, remembering how I was so intent on the idea of ending my life and if I had succeeded, how different everything else would be now. I’m still not sure how but I managed to survive that night, with my mother waking me up at 10am the next day and rushing me to the hospital. The reality of what I had done hit everyone in my life, including myself. The cold feeling of being ashamed, weak and alone laid with me in the hospital as I had to watch my mother cry because she couldn’t understand why I felt the way I did.
I was signed off work for a bit and my occupational health therapist arranged counselling over the phone for me. I moved through that year, sailing on the idea of just “being happy” and “getting on with it” but I never really identified or tackled what was making me feel so low. In February 2017, I had a complete break down at work, ran into a room and slammed the door shut before crying into my arms. The feeling that I was never going to get better was haunting me and I had to give up. I was signed off work again but this time, I went to see a psychologist and that was the best decision I have ever made.
Through psychology, not only was I able to really uncover the deep hidden emotions within me that even I had not been aware of, but I was also able to identify what you would think was the most obvious answer – I was not happy where I was and I needed to move on. So I made a brave decision to fly out into the world to work abroad as a rep and what was only meant to be one season, turned out to be another two seasons in the Canary Islands. Not only did I become more confident in myself through stepping out of my comfort zone but I lost all of my weight, even met a girl and now I have discovered that by talking about my experiences, I not only empower myself but I help others to empower themselves as well. The greatest feeling is I no longer wake up with the suicidal thoughts that haunted me for so many years. That doesn’t mean I am cured because let’s be clear, there is no cure. It does mean however, that I am in control and when those days of feeling insecure, small and weak come back to me, I will remember this journey and how it made me strong.
There is a mental health crisis and it is killing so many people, including many men but that doesn’t mean it is all doom and gloom. Together, we can turn that around and reduce the number of deaths through prevention but it all starts with you and by making the decision to go out and seek help. By opening yourself up and revealing what you deem as your weakness, you will turn it into strength because that is exactly how I view my own mental health conditions now – as a strength. I have defined it rather than letting it define me.
One last and important thing, we all have different ways of coping and seeking help, just like we all have different journeys. How you knock down your barriers may be through a different path to mine but all of our paths start at the beginning, which is taking the initial step to walk along it and seek help.
If you are looking for ways to become involved and find more information about how you can get support in your local area, then check out Get Involved section on this website.