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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 didnโ€™t start to tackle until he was in his late 30s. He said: โ€œIโ€™ve lived through some serious health problems, including a brain tumour, which left me with epilepsy.

โ€œBut Iโ€™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.โ€

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 Jamesโ€™ Park. He said: โ€œWhere 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.

โ€œWhen 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.โ€

Davyโ€™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 heโ€™s made lots of progress since moving back up North.

He said: โ€œI talk about it more openly these days, and my partner, Grace is really supportive. Sheโ€™s really frank and non-judgmental, and she doesnโ€™t mind the tears or shame or guilt that I sometimes express.

โ€œI also take anti-anxiety medication which has helped, and Iโ€™ve since had some really great therapy sessions. Iโ€™ve also taken it upon myself to learn more about mental health, reading books on the subject. Itโ€™s helped me to accept it.โ€

โ€œThe anxiety still comes and goes, but talking about it has helped me learn what my triggers and stressors are.โ€

Davy added: โ€œMen 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. Itโ€™s always worth asking how they really are.โ€

For more information on how to access mental health support for you or a loved,ย visit our designated page.

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