Reaching out for support with poor mental health

Dan shares his experience with poor mental health and the importance of reaching out for support.


Hi. My name is Dan Gordon, and this is my story of dealing with poor mental health.

It was at the end of second year uni that I first acknowledged that I was a bit off. I had two things I was really looking forward to in the summer and when I was doing them, I remember being aware that I was flat and just not feeling anything about it. That year at uni hadn't been the easiest. I went through a breakup, I wasn’t enjoying my course and I was rarely going out of the house, other than to go out and drink. I would always be thinking that everyone else was having a great time compared to me. At that point, I just put how I felt down to what was going on in my life. I never considered that it was anything more.

By Christmas, I was starting to think that okay, something might not be quite right here and that it might be more than just who I am as a person. I was at home in England in February and knew I’d put it off long enough, so booked to see my GP. The doctor suggested that I could be depressed and advised that I attend some counselling. I thought okay, I’ll tell my parents and we’ll book some counselling for when I get back from Vienna in Easter.

On the first Saturday of our Easter holiday, I was watching TV and having breakfast as normal when suddenly my brain started racing at a million miles an hour. I felt like my head was falling, falling and falling. I suddenly got intense, depressive, overwhelming thoughts of what’s the point in anything - it’s all pointless, a waste. My whole perspective had gone. Everything changed in that moment. The day after, I had to tell my mum that something was wrong and that I felt different. I remember I broke down in tears as I told her. I was terrified. I just didn't know what was going on.

After a few weeks where I didn’t improve, she suggested that I try some medication. From then, it was just a long, long slog. Although some people see improvements straightaway, antidepressants can take a while to properly work. For me, it was really up and down. Those few months were the toughest period of my life. Depression is like a heavy weight. When it comes on strongly, you feel like you can’t move. Everything becomes a massive challenge. At points, you just want to melt into the bed and to disappear. It requires such strength of will. In my experience, you have to be strong because there are points when you want more than anything for it all just to stop.

Thankfully though, I battled through it and after a couple of months had passed, the medication I was on started to level me out. I stuck with the medication and tried to incorporate some lifestyle changes. I was still very flat but it at least stopped me having the deep plunges and the intense spiralling of my mood.

Having the breakdown was almost like my mind telling me that I need to change some stuff here, because I wasn’t looking after myself. I started to change a few things; go to the library to work, get more of a routine, meditate, drink less.

It took a while, but I slowly started to get some positive emotion back. It was very small at the start, but I remember I started waking up and actually feeling excited for things. It was such a nice feeling.

At the end of my final year, I managed to secure a 2.1. Getting this felt like a huge achievement and was such a relief. I had also managed to get an internship in Birmingham which started in the summer. Moving in on my own and starting my job, I suddenly felt like I had found something I loved. I started finding things that I actually had a passion for, and I loved the routine of work and feeling productive every day.

I can definitely say now that I enjoy life more than I ever did at uni. If you’d said that to me a couple of years ago , I would never have believed you. I’ve learnt so much and I know myself so much better now. I know what I need to best look after my own mental health and I am in a much better place for it.

I’m by no means perfect, I still take medication to this day, but overall, if I look back on where I was, the difference is huge. I’m genuinely positive about the future and look forward with optimism. I think that in itself is the biggest sign of how far I’ve come.

If you are finding things difficult right now, then please know that things can get better. Speak to someone, use any available support and things will improve. It may be hard work but I am proof that it can, and will, get better.

Page last reviewed: July 2024