By Neil Waine
September 10th 2018.
Though I didn’t know it at the time, that was the day that re-booted my life. Illness, injury and disability had taken over my life. I was a shadow of the man I used to be. The people around me suffered, I wasn’t great to be around.
My wife somehow managed to live through it without leaving. I’d not felt like my true self for a few years. Nobody knew what was going on – so many people didn’t know. ‘We’ hide it well.
‘We’ are the silent sufferers of depression and anxiety. ‘We’ become brilliant actors. Hiding how we really feel becomes second nature, but it’s tiring. So very tiring.
You still seem ok to people but inside it’s a huge effort and a constant struggle to seem just ‘ok’. I didn’t want to seem ok, I wanted to BE ok!
At the end of August 2018 I broke down after an argument at home. What was the argument about? It’ll have been pointless…. but it will have been my fault, of that there is zero doubt. How my wife was still with me was the biggest surprise.
However, this meltdown, involving me sat in a crumpled heap uncontrollably crying at the top of the stairs was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
“You need help” my wife told me. She was right. Again.
Where was the help coming from? After all, my friends and family didn’t know anything was wrong….we are great actors remember!
With all the varying medications I was/am already on, I knew that wasn’t the route I wanted to take. So, what else was there? Therapy? I went online and searched and searched and searched. Then I saw the ad that, although I didn’t know it at the time, would change my life.
I clicked onto the link and after a couple of hours I’d seen videos, testimonials, articles and praise galore about a club for men to have a brew and just talk to other men. I messaged the group and got a very quick reply. Instant reassurance. I was still doubtful though. Very doubtful.
Fast-forward and we arrive at Monday September 10th 2018. I was met at the door and taken inside. This was horrendous. I was beyond nervous. I wasn’t sure what to expect at all.
In the lead up to 7pm all in all over 20 men turned up. We sat around in a circle and they started passing a ball around. There were rules and hints on how it works but I heard none of it; ‘Why am I here’ I asked myself in my mind. I did this for three weeks without really saying much other than the only thing expected…. your first name.
Week four came. I gave my name and on question one I spoke, just saying how my week had been.
Question two: I gave a positive thing that had happened in my week, though I couldn’t tell you now what it was.
Question three: this is where you can get anything off your chest. I spoke for about 4 or 5 minutes.
Questions 4 & 5 went and in the subsequent weeks I’ve spoken every week. The whole concept is so simple, just getting men to talk.
The fact it’s led by other men who have, or still are going through their own storm makes it work. No judgement, no form filling, no fees, no pressure. Just talk if you want to.
Andys Man Club has changed my life. Immeasurably. I now volunteer every week as a facilitator, helping others through their storm.
I volunteer and help run a local homeless charity called Huddersfield Street Kitchen and now, through the charity work and volunteering I’ve done I’ve even got a job! Life is good again.
I still use ANDYS MAN CLUB every week, both to help me and others and I’ll always carry on going along, it’s the best day of my week, I love it.
As of today, over 700 men use 22 clubs (soon to be 25) nationwide every Monday.
We recently did a nationwide tour to raise awareness, visiting all 22 clubs in one weekend on two tour buses. On that tour our aim was, as always, to find #OneMan.
We certainly found that #OneMan that weekend as the numbers the following Monday were up by over 100.
So many people’s lives have been saved, families reborn, smiles back on faces. It’s a phenomenon.
And yet it’s so simple.
It’s just talking.
Monday 10th September 2018 was the day my life changed for the better.
For men out there who are in the face of a storm, or just need to chat, let next Monday at 7pm be your Monday September 10th.
You can follow Neil on Twitter @BradfordTerrier.
Read more articles like this in our Experiences section.