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I’m going to take you back (as briefly as I can) to the day my life changed, forever. Like many I was young lad with no cares, loving life. Aged six, everything changed forever when I became a victim of sexual abuse. I lost my spark; I started being affected by things that no person should experience.

I was alone and vulnerable, like a candle that had been put out abruptly. As the months went on, I felt I didn’t belong. The problem was, people noticed me secluding myself, and so the bullying began. Bullying isn’t black and white, it comes in various forms and it took its toll on me, until I was 20 years old.

As a teen I suffered with depression, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but with a lack of understanding it was hard to get help. I was always a skinny kid so it was easy for me to disguise that I was struggling, dealing with bulimia and getting weaker by the day. High school is hard enough but with what was going on in my head I felt like I was in complete darkness, with no way towards the light. That led to an attempt to take my own life.

Age 15, I told my parents what happened when I was six.  I remember it vividly. All of us sat in a room, crying, me feeling detached from reality, with no emotion. A year or so later, I found my first love – basketball. The problem was that, because it was an escape, it became destructive to my physical health. It started out with a couple of hours, then a couple more, until eventually I was playing up to 10 hours a day.  My coach looked me in the eyes and told me if I didn’t start eating, I wouldn’t be around much longer. A few weeks later, faced with the threat of losing my lifeline altogether I decided to work on fixing my issues.

I eventually went on to university, where my mental health deteriorated quickly resulting in self-harm, and another attempt to take my own life.  But one good thing came from university: I met my now wife.

In 2014, I moved to Scotland, by myself, pursuing my basketball career.  Injury in my first ever training session with my new team led me to realise I no longer loved the game; I didn’t need that lifeline any more.

After 18 years, I had enough and decided I was ready to seek help.  Going to the GP was the first step. Asking for help was an alien concept and the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I was put on anti-depressants and referred to 2gether’s ‘Let’s Talk’ service. Eighteen months on and I’m following my own dream of making people’s lives better by running my own company and tackling the stigma around mental health.

I’m 26 now, with an understanding of my emotions and a smile on my face. I’m determined to help remove the stigma surrounding mental health, from the inside out. To all of you who have read this, you’re so much stronger than you think you are. You’re capable of anything.

Help and support

Our Let’s Talk service can offer help and support if you are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression, please visit www.talkghc.nhs.uk for more information. You can refer yourself to Let’s Talk or you can ask your GP to refer you.

If you think you may have a mental  health condition, you should visit your GP who will be able to help you further. If your GP agrees, they will refer you to our services so you can be assessed and given help and support. For further information about mental health conditions click here

Pete has his own website to raise awareness of mental illness called ‘What Were You Born to Do’.

If you would like further support with any of the issues highlighted in this blog you can also click here