Be Kind Tae Yer Mind With Raymond Hewitt

Raymond has very kindly shared his experience of his personal struggles with his mental health as part of this BLOG series being made available tae support the mental health foundations awareness week 2020. The theme is kindness. By sharing his story Raymond is demonstrating kindness in two ways. Kindness tae himself for getting the help he needed when he needed it and kindness to others who might take comfort and or action due to his honesty in this post. He's sum man for sharing his story, av nae doubt he'll be helping so many people in doing so and ye know writing yer truths is quite cathartic tae so a dae hope he got some more peace after putting it doon on paper. Raymond has also offered tae speak wae anybody who reaches oot after this post, he wanted me tae tell ye he's available tae chat @rh90 on instagram. Withoot any mer chat fae me, here's Raymonds words....

We aw busy in our lives - whether it’s work, personal goals, relationships, making sure you’ve got time to speak to yer pals or get to the gym. In a world that’s constantly connected, scrutinised; How do you manage to keep up, let alone get ahead? I’d like to take you through my journey over the past few years to show you how I’ve been able to deal with my mental health - at times when it feels like the world is ending. A couple of weeks before my 22nd birthday I ended up in hospital with myopericarditis, an inflammation of the heart and surrounding sack. As I lay looking up at the bright light in the hospital bed above me, consumed by overwhelming pain and surrounded by doctors and nurses who told me I was having a heart attack (turns out I wasn’t) - I reconciled at the age of 21, with the morphine flowing through me having no effect - I was going to die. I’m no wantin to sound like a drama queen but it is was what it was. For the first time in my life, I really felt like I was going to die – no lying on your mates couch after a Saturday sesh looking for a Capri sun and a McDonalds, but actually dying. It was something I struggled to accept in the moment and struggled to understand even more once I was finally released from hospital a few weeks later. The next four years of my life could only be described as fucking brutal, absolutely horrible, something I wouldn’t wish on my worse enemy. But I was born in Easterhouse, I know what it’s like to struggle, and what it’s like to fight back. When I left hospital, I would get crushing chest pains, which evolved into repeat visits to the royal: the beginning of my battle with anxiety. Although I was struggling (and no cunt knew it), I kept focused on my goals and a year after leaving Uni I got my first “proper job” – which was a mix of hard work and just being in the right place at the right time. I learned one of my first proper life lessons looking back at my time in that job, always put yourself forward, even if you’re afraid you’re no good enough – you probably are. I struggled massively over the next couple years, sitting in meetings with a wee voice in my head saying “here it comes mate, heart attack inbound” while trying to deliver a presentation – no-one knew I had anxiety. I didn’t even know I had anxiety. I’ve always been someone who’s been ambitious, but at the same time I’ve been hard on myself to make sure I keep pushing – it’s the same with mental health, you need to keep pushing yourself. It’s easy to say but one massive caveat here is success like wellbeing doesn’t come overnight, you need to work at it, bit by bit – small goals over time coming together as part of a bigger picture. So, if you’re giving yourself a hard time for not being where you think you should be, give yourself a break - things take time, and perseverance. Here’s an example – I love my maw, but she does my nut in sometimes, I said since I was about 16 I wanted to move out, but it took me another 10 year to buy my first flat. Fast forward three years from leaving hospital, and three years struggling everyday with crippling anxiety - I managed to get a promotion to manage my first team, which came with two things: more money, and more stress. (Mo money, mo problems) I don’t know what that team thought they were getting when they said you’ve got a new manager coming next week, but I bet it wasn’t me. So in the next few months between sitting in meetings with that wee voice in ma heed again telling me I’m going to die, trying to listen to my teams problems and figure out how I was supposed to be a “manager” I thought this can’t get any worse – ha. Within the space of a few months my old dear had to go in for a major heart operation and my da had a brain haemorrhage. So over the next couple months I would spent 8 hours a day in work stressed, then I’d take my anxiety a trip up to the southern every night to see if my da was going to die (he didn’t – he’s still loving life). I cut back on the drink big time, started meditating and made sure I was at Jiu-Jitsu at Scottish Hit Squad (Coatbridge) at least twice a week, it was great for my mental health. I spoke to a psychiatrist privately who said to try CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) but it just wasn’t for me, I eventually found a GP who was willing to listen who recommended I take some tablets. For me this was a massive deal, you have to understand I was born in Easterhouse in 1990, it was drilled into me by various people (including my da) the only people who took tablets for “mental health” were psychos and it would change you forever. The biggest piece of advice I could give anyone who reads this is don’t be afraid of a tablet, I am the exact same person I was before I started minus the anxiety – I don’t take them all the time, but I’ll go on and off them for a few months depending how I feel and if it wasn’t for that wee tablet I don’t know where I’d be. Everyone has their limits and it’s important to figure out what yours are because everyone is different, burning the candle at both ends can only ever last for so long and prior to seeing a doctor I learned this when I eventually confessed to my boss, tears in my eyes that I was overwhelmed with stress (didn’t tell him about the anxiety, probably should have) – I wasn’t looking after my mental health. This is potentially the biggest lesson I’ve ever learned and it’s that’s no matter how mentally strong you are, everyone has a breaking point and you need to look out for yourself, most people will be oblivious to what you’re going through so you need to be open about how you feel and you’ll probably be surprised who’s there to give you a helping hand. When I got the courage to take that wee tablet great things started to happen, I opened up lot more about how I was feeling that made me feel great, I felt confident enough to start to go outside of my comfort zone, got a better job with another company, bought another flat I rent out now and started a side business I ran for a few years. This was all the result of looking after my mental health. 2017 came and I was offered the opportunity to do another degree through Skills Development Scotland, they’ve got opportunities for people at all levels from school leavers all the way up to Master’s degrees – if you’re struggling give them a shout it might just be the thing that gets you on your feet. I was working full time while I did a full time degree back at Cali uni, I could have never did that if I was in the headspace I was in five years before that. The truth now is that given all the setbacks I’ve had in life (and there’s much more than I’ve wrote here) I’m quite successful (and more importantly happy), but I could never in a million years have got here if I didn’t take that wee pill. So know that no matter what you’re dealing with in your life - if a wee guy fae easterhouse like me who used to wear astrobumpers and two stripe can come through all that, be happy and make a success of himself – you can too. Cheers, Raymond Hewitt

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