Over the years I’ve personally suffered from anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, breakdowns and crippling headaches.
Growing up with a bipolar mum was never going to be easy. From the drinking and suicide attempts to the pure love and protection she gave, life was a volatile mix of extreme highs and lows. I think the hardest thing was to watch someone I loved the most in the world, try and destroy themselves while I was helpless to save her. In her mind, her ending her life would set me free from the pain she unintentionally was inflicting upon me. She was right. Mums always are.
So she died. I survived. And after suffering a breakdown two years after, a counsellor recommended I should write. Locking up the things I’d seen and feelings I’d had about it all for most of my life came to a blow. Internally I crumbled. A broken boy that felt completely lost and confused.
I questioned my own sanity. Did all of that actually happen? Where is mum now? What the fucking fuck is going on and why can’t I stop crying? I just wanted to sleep but couldn’t. Was starving but didn’t want food. I couldn’t work, socialise or function as a human being. Proper fucked.
Eventually, and after some help, I realised I wasn’t alone in what I was experiencing.
I HAD SURVIVED MY MUM’S SUICIDE. AND THERE WERE OTHER SURVIVORS OUT THERE. WHAT I WAS EXPERIENCING WAS NORMAL. AS UN-NORMAL AS IT FELT.
Mum died in 2005. To get to this point where I am now has taken me ten years. I still have anxiety, panic attacks and these damn headaches. But I’ve learned to live with them. I’ve learned to carry on living. That’s what mum would have wanted. That’s what I want. Everything happens for a reason.
And that reason is to learn from it. The biggest lesson I learned from my mum was never to be afraid to ask or question something. Don’t be afraid to stick your hand up.
I don’t have all the answers. And I can’t promise you anything. I’m not a doctor or a professor. I’m just an average guy that’s been through some shit and knows what it’s like.
The Making of
The only way to turn MindJournal into a reality was to ask for help. Kickstarter seemed like the perfect platform to crowd-fund the journal due to the success of similar projects.
After an incredible day filming with some mates in an area of England known for its dramatic natural beauty, the launch video was ready. And by February 29th, 2016, so was the Kickstarter campaign. What happened next blew my mind.
Within the first 72 hours, MindJournal reached its original funding goal of £17,500. It picked up media coverage by some of the highest ranked online men’s magazines in the world such as Gear Patrol and Uncrate. News outlets also ran stories on it including The Telegraph, LadBible and Huffington Post. By the time the campaign ended, £45,641 was raised in total from 1,403 backers. So much more than I ever thought it would achieve. And proof that so many guys wanted to start journaling.
The journals I had designed and manufactured arrived at a self-storage room I leased in early June. And by the middle of June, they were ready to ship. I roped in my girlfriend, sister, dad and nephew to help get the journals shipped out. We had to assemble, pack and label over a thousand journals. And we did it in 5 days — all stuck in a tin box for 12 hours a day, with no windows or natural light, listening to the worst radio station in the world. It was some of the best days of my life.
TO DATE MINDJOURNAL HAS REACHED GUYS AS FAR AS NEW ZEALAND, SAUDI ARABIA AND EVEN HAWAII.
Out of all the amazing things MindJournal has gone on to achieve, the thing that has moved me the most are the stories. The stories from guys I’ve never met, from all over the world that have shared with me their own trials and tribulations in life. The stories of courage and strength. And of how MindJournal has changed their life.
It's been an incredible journey to get here and I owe it all to so many. Too many to list here. But I'd like to personally thank every single person that backed MindJournal on Kickstarter. Those of you that sent me messages that moved me. The comments that kept the energy levels up. You are the reason this thing exists and I will be forever grateful.
MindJournal has grown into something I never planned or could have imagined. And the mission is to keep moving forward and to get as many guys journaling as possible.
My ultimate goal is to get 1 million guys actively using a journal. It's a big challenge but I believe in the power of journaling and believe that it could help so many men.
The conversation around men's health and in particular their mental health is growing. And whilst I admire and recognise the importance of breaking down the stigma around mental health, part of me believes that more tools need to be provided - especially to guys, now they’re starting to think differently about their mental health. It’s one thing asking guys to talk, but the tools and services to help them do that, are still lacking in my opinion.
Attitudes are changing, minds are opening and MindJournal aims to be the go-to tool for men to have available to them, no matter what they're facing.