I struggle to put into words how much Mentell has helped me, maybe if I show you where I was before arriving to the circle you might gain a greater appreciation for how much this service means to me today.
I remember noticing changes in my mood, laughter and joy started to become more and more of a rare event and for the first time in my life the grey bags under my eyes didn’t disappear after a heavy weekend of drinking.
Little did I know, I was approaching the cliff edge of a depression, everything that used to make me happy started to become a choir - just the simple act of getting out of bed was becoming more difficult by the day.
At the time I was of the MAN UP mindset and went down the road of complete denial of my feelings and emotions. Men after all should not feel vulnerable, heaven forbid start crying ( we will come back to this point later).
Convinced that if I listened to enough motivational talks and affirmed enough affirmations by problems would somehow disappear overnight and I could return back to the old strong self - I mean how could this not be the destination?
All I heard during this period of inner turmoil was the postage stamp message of ‘don’t worry mate/lad/son/bro, you will be back to your old self in no time.
2 years went by and I can confidently report back that the pilgrimage of trying to return to the ‘old self’ only brought me 730 days of feeling like shit. Why was it that other people could be happy? - maybe I just had the unlucky sad gene
By now I had exhausted all avenues of traditional recovery, no amount of prescription or counselling could cover the hole inside me. My stress levels were at an all time high and the problems manifested into my relationships and work, all of which broke down one by one, welcome to rock bottom.
Suicide had always seemed a crazy concept for me and it wasn’t until I considered taking my own life that I truly appreciated how desperate people get before making that last call. I am forever grateful that something inside me decided to carry during these tough moments - I can assure you there was no heroic act just a man at his wits end going from one day to the other.
Then one weekend I found Mentell via a friend on Facebook.
The idea of sitting down with a bunch of strangers was an alien concept to me and I remember my first circle like it was yesterday. Full of nerves, not knowing how or what I was going to say.
I listened as strangers talked about deeply personal problems in a way that I had never experienced - honest , raw and heartfelt. Thoughts and feelings that I had only thought existed within me - now shared freely within a circle of trust.
The relief was so powerful I remember my whole posture changed as I walked out the room that night , almost like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. For the first time in 2 years my whole body and mind got the sensation of hope and belief.
After my first circle, I knew Mentell was going to be a regular thing for me, months went by and I got used to the idea of being honest with my feelings and emotions. After all these years I learnt that men are allowed to cry, not only that but men could be vulnerable in front of other men and still feel 100% supported.
The more I listened to other men talk about their feelings the more I learned how to reach deeper into mine and over the course of a year I unpacked areas of my life that had been holding me back since I was a child.
The beauty of Mentell is you don’t have to talk, I always found the circle a relaxed and welcoming space that supports you making positive changes. It’s also not all about the heavy bad stuff, members talk about the good stuff too and I got used to the idea of learning how to be grateful for the small stuff in life.
The biggest benefit I saw was the increase in my own self confidence that seemed to flow out of the circle and into my personal and professional life. From rock bottom, I found healthy relationships , more rewarding jobs and become a more relaxed and happy person, I realised that I didn’t need to go back to my old self I was truly happy with what I had in front of me.
If I were to give any advice to a new member reading this - just try it! Try it at least once, you will be amazed at how relaxed you will be made to feel by the circle, the tough part is walking through the door - but its so worth it when you do.
Thank you Mentell.