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  • Gareth Ellis

Mental Health Awareness Week

I am struggling.

It hurts me to say it, to admit it, but I’m having a hard time right now. I’m putting on a face a lot of the time but behind closed doors the bad days are outweighing the good.

Jess has gone back to work and I’m full-time Daddy, something I thought would be a lot easier and much less exhausting.

However, as it’s mental health awareness week I thought I would share not only my true feelings, but a little about my journey as well.

In the past I’ve struggled with a number of issues. I’ve been obsessed with how I look for a long time now because in school, and even into adult life people’s ‘go to’ insult was that I was ugly. Nowadays, I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and one person’s beauty is another’s ugly, so I don’t think too much about it, but it bothered me for a long time.

From there I was always self-conscious, seeking others approval for everything, even the smallest things. In the present day I’m again finding myself hit by self-consciousness, and the need to be validated – both personally and professionally. Deep down I know that I don’t need it, that my own satisfaction should be enough, but it’s taking it’s time for me to convince myself of that.

I started working for myself in October after being made redundant. I’ve always felt that I was a good writer and a lot of people have told me so through the years. So, I naturally, and naively, assumed that when I went freelance, I would have people knocking my door down to work with me, with a client list longer than I could ever have dreamed.

The reality is that I’ve had some work, and I’m extremely grateful for it, but not enough that I can see myself retiring at 55 – yet.

Now, with my business not yet taking off, Jess has had to go back to work full time leaving me taking care of our children. I must admit, as much as I love our children, I feel like I’ve let her down. I wanted to have so much work that she could work part-time, able to spend so much time with our babies before they eventually go to school. It’s so hard to see Jess go into the office every day feeling like she’s missing out on the wonder of our children on a daily basis. And the problem is that I find myself exhausted looking after a one and two-year-old, so I never quite find the time to market myself and get even a sniff of work. Maybe I’m just sad that my chance to connect with other professionals this week was spoiled by a poor internet connection.

I’m not someone who is against hard work. I’m just a loving husband and Daddy who wants to provide for his family and be able to treat them every now and again. And yes, everyone keeps telling me I’m doing a wonderful job with the kids, but I can’t quite see it. All I see is that I’m surviving. Yes, I’m learning about them every day and I’m becoming a better Dad because of it but I’m not there right now, and I want so much to be that person for not just them but for Jess as well.

I’ve always been a bit of a hothead, not physically, but verbally. I can often say the meanest things to people with no real reason as to why I’ve said it or done it. Sometimes it’s justified, but often it really isn’t.

This ‘anger’ issue caused me to go to counselling a few years ago where I was told that it was my fear of confrontation that led me to be that way. I would say the meanest thing I could so that I could avoid the confrontation – the problem being that people then don’t like you because you’re a horrible person.

The truth is, mental health is so important, we all need to look after ourselves and others. There is absolutely no need to be horrible to other people, no matter who they are because you never know what someone is going through that day.

Sometimes even the nicest of people can be having an off day and your words have the ability to lift them up or break them down, so make sure you choose them wisely – I will of course be doing my level best to practice what I preach.

To anyone who has been on the wrong side of this from me over the years I’m so sorry. I am doing all I can to be the best husband, dad, friend and son that I can be, knowing that is enough, regardless of whether or not people tell me.

Don’t ever be afraid to reach out to others too. You never know how much someone might need that.

If anyone reading this is struggling, please remember you’re not alone. Samaritans are available on 116123 or you can visit Similarly, you can reach put to C.A.L.M – a national helpline for men to talk about their troubles on 0800 585858, between 5pm and midnight, 365 days a year.

Failing that ping me a message, I’d love to help anybody in need, and despite being busy with the kids, my door is always open.

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