Mental Health - My Story

I am 58 retired and married, with a grown-up daughter.

In July 2018, following a full knee replacement I had had in March, I decided to join the gym. I joined with a view to building up my leg muscles after the operation, took advantage of an activity referral and was enrolled by Lynn from the activity team. We worked out a program that would suit me and had my gym fob activated. For various reasons I did not use the gym at all.

In early December I visited my local GP looking for help as my mental health had deteriorated.

I was constantly tired, had no interest in anything, tired of life and was very emotional on a daily basis.

I was referred to Emotional Wellbeing for counselling. After a couple of sessions, they were getting concerned and were close to referring me to a crisis team. I remember the last session before Christmas they didn't want me to leave, I was there for 3 hours and not only saw the counsellor but her manager and another colleague. I left with a promise that should I deteriorate further I was to phone the crisis team, which is 24/7.

I work as a volunteer one day a week and Thursday the 20th December was my last working day before Christmas. My mental health had deteriorated further and on the morning of that day, as my wife left for work, I calmly packed my bags with two full boxes of paracetamol. I done my research on the internet and knew how many tablets to take. I also bought a couple of presents for my work colleagues, not as Christmas presents but goodbye presents. My strategy was at the end of the day, I was just disappearing in life and not returning. I could not take it anymore; I just wanted to disappear and not return.

Luckily for me, I work with a retired NHS worker, who could see I was not myself. She asked me some direct questions and it all came flooding out in tears, what my intentions were, I produced the paracetamol tablets and she snatched them off me. I remember her saying, you're not going anywhere. I remembered the promise that I had also given to my counsellor, that I would phone the crisis team, which I did, and my work colleague took over the call explaining the situation. It was decided that I should be taken to hospital as a matter of urgency.

I was seen initially by the mental health team, who after assessment referred me to a crisis team, who came out to see me.

Meanwhile my wife and daughter were trying to track me down as I had not returned home from work. Establishing that my car was still at work and after asking around they realised that I had been taken to hospital.

I was discharged from hospital in the early hours of the next morning, leaving with my wife and daughter who had waited for me. I left the hospital on the condition that for the next 4 days a crisis team would visit me daily, which they did, even Christmas eve.

The reason for the crisis team visits was my suicidal feelings. To anyone not having mental health issues, this will seem extreme, but trust me, when you are confused, muddled, emotional, not thinking straight and the emotional pain doesn't go away, this it’s a realistic option for it all to disappear.

The crisis team left me after their sessions, with a view that my suicidal thoughts had diminished, and I was to continue with one to one counselling once day a week and group counselling once a week.

My next session was 28th December in the afternoon. I was knew that the counsellors didn’t have a magic wand to fix everything and I knew needed to help myself.

I remembered someone saying that exercise produces a hormone called endorphin, which helps with moods. I was still a member of the gym and thought, why not try it out. That morning I entered the gym for the first time, utilising the program that had been set up for me.

The first session was difficult as I was unfit and overweight but got through it. Afterward I left the leisure centre and I felt good; I had done something for myself. I attended the counselling session in the afternoon, and she was very pleased that I had taken this course of action. 

On 29th December I attended the gym again and at the same time decided to try dry January as I was aware that drinking alcohol is a depressant.

Since the 28th December 2018 I have been attending the gym 4 days a week, I managed dry January and was discharged from counselling towards the end of January. The counsellor was amazed at my progress and wished everyone could do this.

To date, 9th March 2019 I am still attending the gym 4 days a week, I put my improvement solely down to exercise. I have lost 17lbs in weight and am more conscious of what I eat and now eat a lot healthier.

I am more confident, I am happier, I am stronger in mind, I am healthier, I feel good about myself, I am enjoying life, I am laughing again, something I had not done for a long time.

I am fitter than I have ever been and push myself on the machines now. I have also noticed that where before I wasn't interested in anything, after a gym session, in the morning I am raring to go, in the afternoon, tackling jobs around the house and getting things done. I am also back volunteering, with everyone astounded at my progress to date.

All this I put down to activity and exercise and endorphin hormone that is produced. I cannot endorse daily exercise enough.

This is my story. I want to share it and hopefully it may help someone else, that has mental health issues that is looking for help.

If you or anyone you know if experiencing mental health problems you can find out more on the Mental Health Foundation website or at


Last updated: 15 May 2019