Mental Health Awareness Week – Guy’s Story – Finding The Right Help
Written by LBRadio on 9th May 2021
Guy Venner presents the King Jerky Show (with Stef) on Thursday evenings at 9pm. Here he shares his journey of finding the right help for him.
Listening to me and Queen Jerky on Thursday evenings you’d be forgiven for never once entertaining the thought that we have both suffered from mental illness in the past.
My own worst time was 1995 to 1998 when I suffered from M.E. which also brought on depression and panic attacks. I’d felt down before but suddenly, literally overnight after a bad ear infection, I had no strength. I couldn’t train anymore (I was building up to masters swimming competitions) and even things that take very little effort seemed too much for me.
The trouble was, I looked absolutely fine. If we break an arm or a leg or we have some other physical disability, the plaster cast we wear for six weeks, for example, screams, ‘Treat me with a bit more care than usual please.’ With mental illness there’s none of that. People’s constant comments of, ‘well, you look alright,’ even from my GP, were a constant reminder that the battle against mental illness would not be as straightforward as fighting a cold or the flu.
My doctor started me on anti-depressants but it would be a while before I found the right one. Prozac made me extremely tired but unable to sleep, which effectively turned me into a Zombie, and one of the older anti-depressants had such terrible side effects that I couldn’t even get an erection. So things did not go well in the early days. In 1996, they got worse when I began vividly imagining suicide and this scared me so much that I reached straight out for help and got a counsellor.
Like the anti-depressants though, I had to find the right person to guide me through these dark days. A move back to part time teaching in Nottingham thankfully saw the pieces fall slowly back into place. I found the right counsellor and the right medication (which I’m still on) and these helped me lay a strong foundation for recovery and for a very happy future. I knew I was doing a lot better in winter 1997 when I joined my older brother for a Christmas Eve drink at the local pub. At one point he just looked me in the eye and said, ‘It’s nice to have you back mate.’
Since then I’ve had the occasional bought of depression (or ‘blips’ as I like to call them) but these days I know my enemy. As unpleasant as these usually month-long periods can be, I know they will be short lived and that I will be absolutely fine.
I know also that panic attacks, despite being very frightening, cannot kill me. The over-breathing caused by a negative or stressful thought causes the body to turn slightly alkaline, leading to constricted blood vessels and consequently the symptoms many of us know well: palpitations, tingling in the extremities, feeling faint, nausea etc… This is simple biology. When the breathing calms down, the symptoms go away.
So will you hear any of this on the King Jerky show? Not so much. There is madness of course but I wouldn’t change that for the world!