At home, at college, in relationships, in comedy etc I was the laid back funny guy that only very rarely let the mask slip. It wasn't until circumstances in my personal life hit a wall that finally the act had to come to an end and for the first time in my life, I snapped and told someone what was going on inside me on any given day.
I regularly get told the classic "You'd never know it to look at you" and, "You seem like you've got it all together." Believe me I very much do not, the battle in my head is so tiresome. Often I'll smile at someone whilst thinking, "gosh I want to die so much" and I'm by in no means the one swimming in the choppiest water.
In an ideal world, we wouldn't have to deal with anxiety, bipolar disorder, or anorexia - but this isn't an ideal world, so the best we can do is find any way to take away the hold those conditions have over us. If we can laugh about our own problems, it can help take away the spikes and prongs and slowly chip away at the them until we can take the power back. This is why we're running The Best Medicine - a week-long series of blogs, stories and videos on how comedy, stand-up and laughter can be part of the solution to help people cope with mental health problems.
When I was relatively new to stand-up I had a well-meaning promoter tell me "don't do anything naughty, keep it clean," at the exact moment I was introduced onstage in a West End comedy club. Utterly baffled - he'd seen my act and knew my tone, why had he booked me? - I was lost onstage as I flailed for vaguely PG observations from my honest, blunt and thus often crude material.
I would be tubing it to NW5, then east to Hackney; the following night I'd be at Dirty Dicks in EC2 trying some new ideas. The weekend would bring the odd 15 minute set. Yes, I heard heckles of "Don't give up your day-job, mate!". No, it didn't bother me. The joke was on them. I didn't have to give up my day-job. Stand-up got me fired from about three of them.
Of course my life since then hasn't been a disaster, and you can't sift out and keep the good bits. I enjoyed my university education, despite being a long way from home and abjectly failing to make any friends. I'm happily married now, and I can't separate that from all the other choices that I've made.
I'm here in Edinburgh again for the annual festival and as ever it's a marathon, so this time I'm heeding the words a fellow comedian gave me just last week: drink less, sleep more. The fact that I spotted that fellow comedian falling out of a pub yesterday just after midnight - completely arseholed of course - is neither here nor there.