In 1999, I had Glandular Fever but after I recovered I developed post-viral depression, which has affected me for the rest of my life. I have had breakdowns over the years, which I sometimes refer to as blips where I shut myself away and have just been really down. I took anti-depressants for over a year, which really helped.
I remember it was 1999 and I had just turned 18, I was packed up and feeling really enthusiastic to start a new life at university, but having grown up in a small village in North Yorkshire, landing in the middle of Nottingham was quite daunting. It was like living on a noisy TV show which never turned off.
At first I had the best intentions, wanting to show everyone how grown up I was. However, I quickly found myself partying too hard and giving up on these intentions. I also started a relationship with someone much more mature than me and in hindsight I think the pressures of maintaining a relationship I wasn't ready for also contributed to my poor mental health.
My mental health quickly plummeted. I realised I needed to do something. I decided to go and live and work in France to try and return to some sort of normality. Although I said I wasn't running away at the time, in hindsight that is exactly what I did. Unfortunately my health got the better of me and after collapsing at work one night it was decided I should return home. I'm incredibly lucky my aunty and uncle were there to scoop me up from hospital.
When I got home I had no energy, felt beaten, fearful of life and not really sure on what to do. I felt like my world was over. My doctor really helped me. He diagnosed me with severe Glandular Fever. It was a long six months of being really ill.
Although I made physical improvements, one of the severe side effects of my glandular fever was the onset of post viral depression. I didn't have a sleep pattern, I felt constantly frustrated I couldn't do what I used to be able to do, as well as being consumed by this compounding feeling of worthlessness.
I was prescribed a course of anti-depressants and referred to a counsellor at the local hospital. I felt deeply embarrassed and it all got the better of me. At first visiting my counsellor made me more anxious, frustrated and confused. However, I will never forget as time went on she listened, advised, guided and empowered me to talk not just to her but to others too, and I soon had a group of people around me - who began to understand my mental health problems.
18 years on from these event I have a beautiful wife who understands but is there to push me back to fitness when I'm going through a rough patch. My biggest worry is for my two children, social media does some great things but if kids are not looking up from their phones, how can we encourage people to open up and have conversations. I think mental health awareness from a young age is so vital.
I have always been massively into fitness - I have to be for my job but running gives me that release to shut everything off. I think running is so important and that's why I jumped at the chance to run the marathon for Mind, as part of Heads Together.
Heads Together, are now offering a unique opportunity to bring a number of charities together to promote mental health in the community. There is a definite need for people to understand the need to listen and talk.