One man's Talk for Health story…

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    This is me

    If I’m really honest, I thought only “weak” people could have a breakdown.

    What’s wrong with me?

    Looking back, I’d say it happened like this:

    I lost a job I loved

    I took voluntary redundancy, but over time I felt like I’d been pushed out.

    I felt unwanted, useless.

    I stopped feeling needed as a dad

    Children grow up. It’s normal and healthy.

    But it left a hole.

    I lost people I loved

    First a friend my age died, leaving a husband and four children.

    Then a close relative.

    Then another stopped breathing in my arms. All within three months.

    I got in debt

    Having lost confidence in myself, I lost control of my finances.

    I denied I had a problem

    I denied I had a problem despite frequently leaving the gas stove on…

    And the front door open…

    And despite the piles of unanswered correspondence on the floor in my office.

    But eventually I told my wife

    But eventually I admitted I was struggling to cope.

    It’s hard to convey how difficult and painful this was.

    I felt so ashamed.

    She found help

    I’d never have believed it, but it felt so good to put myself in somebody else’s hands.

    Thanks for reading so far. I’d like to tell you a bit more.

    My name is JP. I’m a storyteller – journalist, author and occasional performer.

    I’m also a Talk for Health graduate. Since starting to get better, I’ve been doing bits of work at Talk for Health (T4H).

    It’s helped me to get back on my feet.

    Quite literally, in fact – because one of the things I’m doing with T4H is running a special event combining storytelling with physical exercise.

    My psychiatrist told me that exercise would do more for me than all the pills and therapy put together.

    I bought some expensive trainers after she said that.

    Here’s what they look like these days:

    Rather knackered trainers

    In June, I’ll be leading a three-hour, three-mile “storytelling pilgrimage” across Hampstead Heath, open to anybody.

    I’ll be sharing storytelling techniques, and if you come you’ll have a chance to tell stories. In pairs, in threes, and maybe to the whole group.

    (Not stories like this one, about a mental health crisis – at least, not unless you really want to. Any story will do.)

    I’ll be sharing exercises from my training in theatrical improvisation, exercises that help you make up great stories on the spot – no preparation!

    I do hope you’ll join me.

    But places are limited, so don’t delay. The details are HERE.

    Before you go: if you know about Talk for Health, you know that we have a specific method of giving feedback to people who share their stories.

    I feel like I’ve exposed myself a bit here, and I’d be grateful to get your feedback, T4H-style.

    Please leave a comment, below. And then sign up for the special event!

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