Happiful November 2019

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Dear Society,

I’ve been trying to write to you for a

long time, but I’ve never been quite

sure who I’m speaking to. Maybe

I’ll have figured it out by the end of

this letter, but while I’ve got your

attention, I’d like to talk about the

fragile and complex conversation

regarding male suicide and men’s

mental health (and yes, it’s still

taboo, and it is still necessary to

keep talking about it).

There have been gargantuan

strides made with regards to

addressing mental health in

society. Every other office has

a mental health first aider (OK,

slight exaggeration, but run with

me please), it’s brought up in

conversation in pubs and on the

telly, radio programmes talk about

it, and celebrities have helped to

bring the topic to a wider audience,

and acted as role models to show

us how important it is to talk about

mental health, and be open and

honest with each other.

Yet, in spite of this, 84 men die

by suicide every week. Every two

hours in the UK, a man takes

his own life, affecting families,

friends, and creating a ripple

that will go on to devastate those

who are left behind, leaving them

weighed down with questions and

heartache.

When my dad broke down in

front of me in tears, racked with

fear, what he said next would go on

to shape the rest of my life and our

relationship together.

“I can’t do this any more, Richard.

I’m watching my son die in front

of me and there’s nothing I can

do to stop it, and I just can’t take it

anymore. So if you’re gonna go, let’s

go together. Because my life isn’t

worth living without you.”

Richard is a writer, mental health

advocate, and campaigner. He works for

GoodGym, and when he’s not working

or writing can be found with his head

in a book or playing Playstation. He

is incredibly open about his own

experiences with mental health on

Instagram and Twitter, and you

can follow him over

@RichBiscuit21

For context, at this point in my

life I had effectively been bedbound

for nine months at the

cruel, invisible hands of obsessive

compulsive disorder (OCD). I was

dangerously underweight, my

mental compulsions and rituals

were omnipresent and oppressive,

controlling every aspect of my

behaviour and thoughts.

I had to be bathed with the help

of my dad as I stood naked, bereft

of any dignity, and I could only go

to the toilet once a day – again with

my dad’s help. If you’re reading this

and wondering what form that help

took, he held a carrier bag under

me so I could go to the toilet, and

then disposed of it for me. It made

me feel feral and it stripped me of

my humanity every day, but that is

the nature of OCD – it cares not for

how it makes you feel, or what it

compels you to do. My life revolved

around a 24-hour cycle of waiting

to feel clean enough for all of the

intrusive thoughts and compulsive

behaviours to stop.

I was between the ages of 18 and

20 when all of this occurred, so

from a male perspective, having

to rely on someone to pretty

much care for you in all aspects

of your life felt overwhelming –

especially when that person was

so closely related. I had regressed

to childhood, incapable of keeping

myself alive and functioning.

Previously, OCD had prevented

me from living an ordinary life

and, at this time, I’d already

52 • happiful.com • November 2019

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