This week is the Mental Health Foundation’s annual Mental Health Awareness Week and all around the world people have gathered to raise awareness and talk about a subject that many of us have difficulty broaching with others.
Occupational Therapy student Adam Sales has taken that brave step following his own mental health issues. In this blog, he opens up about what happened when he started that all important first conversation.
I believe football and sport bring communities together and give people purpose and meaning to their lives when all hope feels lost.
About a year ago I reached out to Northampton Town Football Club left-back David Buchanan as I was going through a rough patch and experiencing high anxiety and low moods. I’m a Cobblers fan but at first, after sending him an email, I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to share my personal struggles with ‘Buchs’, as to him I’m a complete stranger.
I didn’t have long to worry about this though as within half an hour he had got back to me offering his support and advice. This meant so much to me, it made me realise that I’m not alone and reaching out to people is a positive and strong thing to do, not a sign of weakness.
Buchs has since kept in regular contact and offered support and advice as much as he can when I have my dips in mood and episodes of anxiety. He and NTFC inspire me to keep working on my goals and to never give up no matter how hard life gets.
I see Buchs as a role model both on and off the pitch, having witnessed his consistent work ethic and the passion and energy he puts into every performance as an athlete. With the time he dedicates to the fans and helping the wider community, he is a true ‘cobbler’ and a fantastic human being.
It’s not often in life that you can connect with people you admire and look up to in such a positive and genuine way. I feel so lucky and grateful for the time Buchs has given me, all from the goodness of his heart – he hasn’t demanded recognition or asked for anything in return.
Since then, I started working in mental health care, channelling my energies into helping others and doing something that is greater than myself. Focusing on other people shifted my mentality and allowed me to grow as a human being, gaining valuable life experience along the way.
I am 28 now, and in a much better place. Over the last two years I have fallen in love with an amazing and supportive woman, who I am now lucky enough to call my fiancée.
I am also studying Occupational Therapy at the University of Northampton, furthering my passion for supporting others who face obstacles and barriers in life. These are the cornerstones of the OT profession and which drew me toward my new career. I feel I am now able to use my life experience to empathise with and help others who have struggled through similar issues.
I like to think how life experiences coalesce like this, choosing a new career that mirrors my values, interests and history.
I encourage anyone who is struggling with depression/anxiety to reach out and get the help you need and are entitled to. This doesn’t have to be public like I’ve done here, it can be personal and low-key, to your close friends or family.
Just by talking to someone you trust, it takes the weight off your shoulders and starts the process of healing. I know first-hand how difficult it can be to feel so vulnerable, but mental illness is not a weakness and you are totally worth people’s time and deserve a healthy, fulfilling life.