"I felt useless, negative and suicidal but now, I know I don’t have to live like that."
These are the powerful words from local lad, Matthew Peet, 28, who felt he couldn’t go on after a build-up of life stresses and social isolation took its toll.
In 2015, Matthew was looking to buy a house – a stressful yet exciting experience that many of us can relate to. This, combined with common work pressures and other daily stresses manifested into something much bigger and began to consume his life.
Matthew’s moods started to change and his personality altered. Putting this down to stress, Matthew assumed he would start feeling better. Poor mental health didn’t cross his mind, let alone a mental illness.
When things didn’t improve, Matthew started feeling ashamed and worried about his state of mind and became socially withdrawn, which made him feel even worse.
After experiencing suicidal thoughts, Matthew found the strength to book an appointment with his GP. Things slotted into place once he was diagnosed with depression and prescribed medication, which he says was a massive help.
Although he knew there was a long road ahead, straight away a huge weight had been lifted off Matthew’s shoulders and he began opening up to friends and family who continued to support him.
“The main thing for me was accepting that these feelings might not go away forever. I know there’s no quick fix but my frame of mind changed after my diagnosis as I know the signs. I know it’s how I handle it that matters.” Matthew explains.
Determined to move forward, Matthew focused on the small things he enjoyed such as dog walking, drumming and exercising. He believes this was vital to his recovery because he consciously set time aside to take notice about what was important to him.
Matthew also found writing about his experiences online extremely therapeutic and soon enough, he began blogging for Mental Movement, a magazine in London that focuses on positive mental health.
In 2017, Matthew took his newfound passion up a notch by setting up clothing brand, Behind a Smile, which is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health.
He works with charities and individuals to create custom designs, which either raises awareness about a mental health cause or remembers a loved one. Matthew is also proud to donate all of his profits to local charities such as The Sanctuary – an overnight mental health crisis service.
“Not only was Behind a Smile something I started for my own mental health,” Matthew continued, “but I wanted to give other people an outlet too and I know we’ve helped people through some really difficult times.
“There might be people reading this who are really struggling to see a way out – I know how that feels. I just hope they believe me when I say that there is a therapy right for them, they just need to find it! Make the first step and talk to someone.”
#TogetherWeCan find a way through.
If you’ve been affected by Matthew’s story, please head to our help and support page.