- Blog written by Adam Shaw, the founder of mental health charity The Shaw Mind Foundation in Nottinghamshire. These are his views which he is sharing with ITV Central.
I suffered with anxiety and OCD from the age of around five. It was a painful, lonely experience. I wish I could go back in time and talk to my younger self, to help him get through it.
Perhaps then I wouldn’t have found myself on a bridge, many years later, on the brink of suicide.
All my life, from being a little boy to a fully-grown man, I had very intrusive thoughts: I was convinced I was capable of killing my mum, strangling an old, defenceless woman in the street, or stabbing my partner.
I tried to suppress my thoughts and anxiety because I knew no better. I was frightened, ashamed and appalled about my mind and my crippling thoughts. I felt compelled to fight them.
I constantly felt that I was on the edge of madness and that nothing and no one could help me. I was in acute mental torment and felt that I was beyond hope.
I had no idea what ‘OCD’ was and so used avoidance techniques to try to cope with the debilitating and often terrifying thoughts that plagued me. I came up with rituals and compulsions to get by day- to-day, which were largely effective – until the day they didn’t work anymore.
Inevitably, the years of mental torment came to a head. The day I brought world-renowned psychologist Dr Lauren Callaghan into my life, was the day I stopped running away from my fear and my life changed forever. With Lauren’s help, I came to realise that I had to accept my anxiety and fear and embrace my feelings. Only then could I learn to control them.
At the height of my difficulties I told myself that if I got better, I would somehow help other people suffering from the anxiety and OCD which crippled me; I would somehow show them that there is a way to break the cycle and win the battle. I was very fortunate in being able to seek private medical treatment but I am acutely aware that many people aren’t able to get the help they need. I wanted to change that.
And so, alongside Lauren, I co-founded the mental health charity The Shaw Mind Foundation, in order to provide help to those with mental health issues and to those who support them. We also set up Trigger Press, a global mental health publishing company producing user-friendly self-help books. Proceeds from our books support The Shaw Mind Foundation.
Together with key allies such as Jonny Benjamin MBE, we have launched HeaducationUK, a campaign to make mental health education compulsory in UK schools.
To read more about my story, our campaign and Shaw Mind, please go to http://shawmindfoundation.org/ and www.headucation.org.uk.