Davy's Story: 'I was too proud to acknowledge my mental health problems'
For Davy, coming to terms with a mental health problem was a challenge he didn’t start to tackle until he was in his late 30s. He said: “I’ve lived through some serious health problems, including a brain tumour, which left me with epilepsy.
“But I’d been experiencing anxiety and panic since I was a kid. I just never really spoke about it. It was much easier to say the anxiety was a result of the tumour, even though it started years earlier.”
Davy, who was born in Heddon-on-the-Wall, spent most of his childhood living in a tough South London community, travelling up to the North East during the school holidays to stay with his dad and watch the match at St James’ Park. He said: “Where I was brought up you just kind of got on with it. I come from a pretty lairy family and I was too ignorant and full of my own opinions to accept that I might have a mental health problem.
“When I was in my 20s, the doctor suggested therapy, but it became a joke amongst my family, and I kind of respected their view. I was as ignorant as anyone else and I thought having a mental health problem was shameful – even though I was the one in need of help.”
Davy’s anxiety can cause him to have panic attacks and it is often accompanied by depression. He still experiences it from time to time, but feels he’s made lots of progress since moving back up North.
He said: “I talk about it more openly these days, and my partner, Grace is really supportive. She’s really frank and non-judgmental, and she doesn’t mind the tears or shame or guilt that I sometimes express.
“I also take anti-anxiety medication which has helped, and I’ve since had some really great therapy sessions. I’ve also taken it upon myself to learn more about mental health, reading books on the subject. It’s helped me to accept it.”
“The anxiety still comes and goes, but talking about it has helped me learn what my triggers and stressors are.”
Davy added: “Men seem to have a particular problem in opening up, which I think is because of this macho front we think we need to have. But the tragic death of Gary Speed in 2011 was a huge shock and I think it just goes to show you never really know how somebody is coping. It’s always worth asking how they really are.”
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