50 Years 50 Voices "I need to show people that even if you live with anxiety, you can be happy." Shahan’s story In early 2020, I fell off a boat while on holiday in Thailand and dislocated my shoulder and chipped the bone. I was in significant pain. When I got back to the UK, my relationship broke down because of the physical problems I was having. I had to move in with a friend. Over the next few months, I kept dislocating my shoulder, and in July, I made the decision to have surgery. After that, I had to be supported by carers for six months. They helped me to get out of bed and make food. While recovering from surgery, my digestive system stopped working and I had to go back to hospital repeatedly. I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and I must’ve been in hospital about 50 times over two months. It was traumatising. Because of my physical health, my mental health wasn’t great either. I had anxiety and was dealing with severe panic attacks and nightmares, so much so that I had to call the ambulance numerous times. I was made redundant from my job as a delivery driver due to Covid-19, and my health prevented me from finding work since. I also used to go to the gym five days a week, and then suddenly I couldn’t go at all. Things built up, and in January 2021, I considered taking my own life. Something stopped me though. The following month, I was given a one-bedroom place in east London. While dealing with physical health issues, I was given a befriender and a care navigator, and supported by several organisations in London. One of the first support services I was referred to was Hestia. When I met my recovery worker Jessica, I was so happy. I was lonely and needed someone to talk to, and she gave me moral support and helped me to push for the flat I have now. For six months, I was stuck indoors and felt like a prisoner. When we would meet in the park, it felt so good to be outside, and having that face-to-face interaction helped with my mental health. I’m living alone now and I’m trying to be independent. I’m in a better place, but I still have ups and downs. When I’m with people I feel OK, so I try and meet friends or talk to them on the phone. Sometimes I’ll go out on a long drive and put my music on and it feels like nothing is wrong with me. It gives me peace. With mental health, I’ve learnt that everyone experiences it differently. I know I struggle to be alone. Sometimes I can distract myself with long drives; sometimes I stay in bed all day and cry during the night. Some people still don’t understand what mental health is; I’ve had to explain what ‘anxiety’ means to family members before. Men particularly struggle to talk about their mental health, often because of their pride or because they think there is no point in reaching out. I want to help these people. I want to show them that I sought help, and if I can do it, they can too. If I can get support, then there is support out there for you too. I want to encourage others to open up and talk. Earlier this year, while with Jessica in the park, I decided to make a YouTube video discussing mental health and the support I was getting. I now want to create more motivational videos and take my channel to the next level, and have set up an Instagram account and a YouTube channel, FatherOfTheFour, to document my journey. I need to show people that even if you live with anxiety, you can be happy. Which film has impacted me the most? I like TV series more! Shows like Lost or Game of Thrones. I like action films and TV shows as they excite me. Romantic films just make me feel sad whereas the action element can give you motivation. Which book has impacted me the most? I like motivational books and reading motivational quotes. They make you feel good about yourself and distract you from the negative. They help me to forget whatever happened yesterday and instead think about what could happen tomorrow. Which song has impacted me the most? There’s a song called Ego by Zack Knight. I listen to it on repeat because it feels like the story of my life. It’s about how some people can’t say sorry to you because of their ego.