Sam has an outward confidence that he admits some people can find intimidating. But for many years he struggled with depression that went undiagnosed. He was moody, self-absorbed and ‘just didn’t care’.
Recognising the issue, Sam went to his GP: “I told him ‘I can’t cope with this. I can’t cope with feeling like this. I can’t cope with the emptiness’.
“My life was just a blur. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to live either.”
Sam was prescribed medication and he joined a local branch of Andy’s Man Club, a therapy group where men of all ages, from different backgrounds, get together and talk about their experiences.
Sam said: “The mantra of Andy’s Man Club is ‘it’s okay to talk’. Talking is something that men don’t do and finding a place where you could talk so freely was thoroughly refreshing.”
Things began to improve, but Sam hadn’t opened up as much as he needed to and was scratching at the surface of how he truly felt.
One night at an Andy’s meeting, he was passed the ball that meant it was his turn to talk.
Sam explained: “I told them I’d had a good week and I told one of my crap jokes. And then as I was going to pass the ball on, I looked down at it and my world just fell apart.”
“I told the guys what I was planning. I cried and cried and cried. The guys were absolutely magnificent, and we went from Andy’s to a late-night café and they stayed with me and we talked and drank coffee after coffee.
“There’s a closeness that I’ve got with a few of those guys that I can never explain.”
That was the turning point for Sam, and he began to get himself better. Initially filling his days with his hobby of photography, he returned to work as an IT Manager for Oldham Council.
Now, he is a mental health first aider, listening to colleagues and delivering talks at work. Also recently trained as a Samaritans volunteer listener, Andy’s Man Club has become a huge part of Sam’s life.
“I got more and more involved and now I lead the Oldham group. It’s my therapy. The more I give it, the better I feel.
“It’s so nice to be able to say, ‘You know what? I’ve been there mate. I’ve been there.’ My life now? It couldn’t be better. I actually like myself now. And at 57 years old, it’s taken all this time to like myself, but I do and I’m not ashamed to say it.”
There are currently over 30 branches of Andy’s Man Club in the UK, offering real, non-judgmental, talking groups for men. Andy’s Man club created of the viral #ITSOKAYTOTALK movement. If you’d like to join Andy’s Man Club, visit andysmanclub.co.uk
Together we can help prevent suicide. Suicide affects us all. Encourage someone to talk before suicide seems their only option.
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