Hey Folks, Josh here 👋🏻
I wanted our new blog to first of all explain how MINT came together and my dealings the with my demons.
So, where to start?
MINT is alive for 2 reasons, the loss of 2 of my best friends and to make sure nobody ever feels like their alone in their struggles.
I lost my first best friend Barry Kirkpatrick back in 2015 and this was one of my darkest days upto that point. The first thing that came to mind was “I could have done more” and “Why wasn’t I there for him?”. Barry was like a brother or rather is a brother to me. This boy changed my life (not always for the better 😂) and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be the man I was today if it wasn’t for the experiences I had with him. From playing beat the letter (like hide and seek but each player had a letter that collectively made a word and you beat each other up until they told you their letter) to choking out your step dad and his friend on New Year’s Eve by accident 🙈
This was my first real experience of someone so close taking their own life and wow did it hit me like a brick. I will never forget that feeling of helplessness running through me like ice knowing I wasn’t going to see that ginger little t**t anymore. The feeling that if I was there for him more when he needed his real friends, needed me, would he be here now? The feeling that his mum and sister may resent me knowing that if I would have pushed him harder and steered him away from the toxic people around him would he still be here now? These are just a couple of the questions that run through anyone’s mind that loses family to such a thing as depression.
Then in 2018, that same brick reappeared and hit me again. Opening old wounds that had nearly healed and that’s when Jack decided to leave us too, but it was different this time, this time it hurt more. Not because he was more important to me than Barry but because of the type of person Jack was and what he did for me. Jack helped me through the toughest time of my life and I wasn’t able to repay the favour and this broke me, it broke me into a million pieces.
Jack was possibly the most loving human being I had ever met and one that brought huge amounts of joy to anyone around him and in the blink of an eye he was gone, leaving a Grand Canyon like whole in our hearts. Now I couldn’t deal with the pain, I couldn’t grieve and admit that he was gone so I vowed to make sure that not me or any of my friends and family ever had to go threw this again, and alas, Men In Need Together was born. MINT was how I grieved, MINT was how I made the loss of friends become something to celebrate as it has made other people’s lives much easier to cope with. It was also away for me to make sure that I will never forget either Barry or Jack and the effect they had on my life and many others.
Now onto battling my demons! The thing I never spoke about, EVER!
So my demons came about unknowingly around 2011/12 not due to any one thing but an accumulation of many things. At School I was always a big lad, I loved my sports and was rather smart (surprisingly I know) however my reign at high school was not because of this but because I was a class clown and a little bit of a bully. Looking back now it makes me feel awful knowing how I treat some people. I never physically hurt anyone and never truly bullied someone but there was always someone at the brunt of a joke which to me is just as bad. So although I thought I had loads of friends, in reality, I had none and this hit hard when I left school in 2009.
Time passed and year after year I realised that I hadn’t spoken to friends in what felt like forever but the truth is, they were no longer my friends, not anymore. This is where it began.
I started substituting my lost friendship with alcohol, gambling and women which as you can probably imagine didn’t end well. This went on for years, wearing masks pretending I was okay but inside each day I was crumbling with nobody to help for support. I was a perfect example of the stereotype as to why men struggle so much with depression. I didn’t deal with the problems in front of me and instead tried to forget them allowing them to build up until they were too big to carry alone which inevitably only led to one thing.
Now, I never told my family or partner out of shame, embarrassment and self loathing which regrettably just made everything worse. I couldn’t face the look of worry on my mums face every time I saw her or tears it would have brought my family knowing that the person they always turned to in times of hardship couldn’t face life and the pain it caused him.
But now I’m here, I have a wonderful family with 2 girls that I love unconditionally, I’m running 2 Mental Health organisations that are saving lives and I now have a hold on my demons (For now anyway).