“I felt so alone for so long. And then I’d had enough.”
“The world is my oyster,” says John, who is happy and positive about the future. But only a few years ago, things looked very differently to him. Where he had once been the life and soul of the party, he became quiet and withdrawn. Even playing football with friends, an activity he had loved doing, was now a struggle. “When I did play, I wasn’t myself,” he says. “And when everyone would go out for a meal afterwards, I didn’t want to join them.” The more he withdrew from his everyday life, the more alone he felt. And although the trigger for these emotions stemmed from problems at work, looking back John now believes it went much deeper than that, back to his childhood. “I had been carrying baggage all my life,” he says.
For John, mental illness meant living through each day thinking no one cared about him and everybody hated him. “It was torturous,” he says. He was filled with all these negative thoughts and believed his family would be better off without him. “It was like I was screaming for help, but the sound was trapped inside me. And then I felt numb,” he adds. “I’d just had enough and I wanted to end my life.”
When John woke up in hospital, his wife, daughters and friends were all waiting by his bedside. It was during his stay there that John knew he wanted to get better. But he also knew he needed professional help to support his recovery.
John’s first interaction with Jami was at our Head Room Café in Golders Green. An event was taking place for people who had been through a similar experience to him, and his friend had suggested he go along. “I walked in and there were a dozen people there,” explains John. “Straightaway I felt at ease. I sat down and introduced myself and I was totally amazed by everyone who shared their story because we had at some point all experienced feeling lonely and unwanted. It was just so enlightening.”
Convinced that Jami’s other services could also help him, John started seeing peer support workers Laura and Simon. John connected with each of them once a week to talk about how he was feeling and together they would set goals to help him move forwards. “Our chats were something to look forward to each week, something to hold on to,” says John. “Laura and Simon were my rock and I owe a lot to both of them.”
John believes that Jami’s support also helped him to start making positive choices in his life. He now has a great job and is back playing football with like-minded people and enjoying every minute of it. And he is loving spending quality time with his wife and family. “If it wasn’t for Jami, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” he says. “Jami has listened to me, helped me and has been a huge comfort to me. But, most of all, it has given me hope for life, hope for the future and hope to my family that I’ll be around for many more years to come. It really is the most wonderful organisation.”
This Rosh Hashana, we need your help to continue our vital life-saving work, so that everyone in our community can get mental health support when they need it. Donate here.