Something Different – What a difference a year makes.

A year ago, my personal circumstances changed – My relationship/marriage of 20 years came to an end. While it is fair to say that the end was coming for a while, how it ended left a bit of a bad taste. I had already had a health scare earlier in the summer due to my own stupidity of piling on a huge amount of weight during Covid-19, becoming unhealthy, not being happy with myself, my relationship, my job, my house, I wasn’t happy and the health scare in some ways got me moving. I started to look at my diet, I started to eat a lot less, and a lot healthier.  A friend from work started walking with me twice a day for the month and helped with diet ideas and encouragement.

Just when I thought I had started on the right path my ex decided to end the relationship/marriage for the both of us, now don’t get me wrong, she did us both a favour, I just didn’t like the way it was done. However, I was down, I was skint pretty much, I felt a bit lost, and my mental health took a hit. I was/still am on medication for high blood pressure and will be the rest of my life, the result of this is insomnia that while a little better still affects me every day and always will. At this time, I came across the above group on Facebook and a gentleman called Fran. Fran, and members of the group told me some home truths, they encouraged me to be honest about myself, my role in how things ended while empathising with my situation but doing so with honesty and truth about how life works, how mental health works. Now my job allows me to have an understanding of mental health but when it is you yourself seeing is not so easy. Fran, and the other men, through their concern, and their honesty facilitated a slow change in how I saw things, how I saw myself while being there to listen, to encourage.

The experience I went through, the advice from the group, allowed me to start to look after myself first in some ways. I also learned who my friends were, and I learned who weren’t. I saw that in a contact list of 70 plus people there were basically 4 there for me. That contact list is a lot smaller now. I also spent time with my kids as best I could, I decided to focus on them in many ways as well, that has been good especially now that I am 53 and feel that I have a different kind of relationship with them now, one based around honesty and me being there when they need me to be. I learned that someone whom I had known through work for years was a really supportive person and has now become one of the best friends I have ever had. She had her own relationship but made time to help me to get healthy, to be honest, like the group she was there, and still is.

Mental health and stress are two of the most serious conditions that we can face in life. In many ways both can be worse than even poverty, well poverty that we think about. There are other poverties linked to mental health and stress. Poverty of the social kind, of not feeling wanted, unloved, abandoned. The poverty of health, when you let yourself go, make poor choices, choices that make you feel even less worthy, ones that steal your self-esteem and confidence. There is also the poverty of freedom, where you are trapped in your thoughts, in your circumstances, in the dark. That is when you have to find out who your family are, your friends are, and sometimes strangers are the best people you will ever meet.

So, a year down the road I find myself in a very different place. I have re-done 85% of my house and it looks great. It is a home for myself and my youngest who stays with me most of the time as he is still at high school. It is a place that I feel I can be myself in, I can read, I can play my vinyl, I can invite people around. My older kids can come stay, and they do sometimes which is really nice. I have replaced virtually everything in the house in the last year, a very special friend has also picked up things for me that have really changed how it all feels, and it feels like it is mine, things are not important really at the end of the day, but the sense of achievement helped the healing process.

I have known that my family are there for me but through this experience I learned that my Mum and my brothers will always be there. I have made some amazing friends, one in particular who I speak to everyday, but one of the most important things I learned, through Fran and the group, was I faced up to honesty, to the importance of my own physical and mental health. I learned through their encouragement at the start of this journey that there is light at the end of the tunnel, all you have to do is reach out, to learn to trust, just a little.

This story of my last year has been a journey, but it is more than that. I hope that by sharing it, and if you are finding yourself in a challenging place, that you will think about the support that is out there. The group above is a good place to start. Fran and the guys have lived experience, they not only provide support, but they also provide honesty, they don’t make excuses, but they are there to help anyone who just needs a little help. I needed that help, they were there, along with my family, 4 really amazing friends, and one person who will remain nameless but who has brought about so much change in myself that they will never really know how much that means to me, how much they have made me finally accept who I am and that I can be a better person, they know who they are.

So, it’s not always easy for us guys (or gals) to reach out but if you are needing someone to talk to, to listen, then the Male Mental Health, Marriage, Relationship Break Up’s and Broken Families is a good place to start. You will find me there to provide what little support I have to offer, but you will also find a guy called Fran, and others, real men with real experiences, good advice and a listening ear. Please don’t suffer alone, reach out.


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11 Responses to Something Different – What a difference a year makes.

  1. GSM?

    Happier Man… or as ‘GSM’ here known…
    Revealing what’s really true right here;
    And a really different place… at home.
    Feeling mentally healthy and is free-ER!


    • Ewen

      Spot on, I enjoy the fact that I am healthier. I eat healthier, I walk every day around 6am no matter the weather and have only missed 3 days in over a year and it was the first day of covid the three times I have had it. I try to encourage people to make change before it is too late if they ask how I have done it. I have a couple of people I know who have made some real changes which is great for their health, but some have fallen away as it is so tough to keep going every day it really is.

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. benmadigan says:

    very glad you are pulling through all the setbacks you underwent last year – health, emotional and so forth
    lovely to hear about all the people who were there for you when you needed them

    • Ben

      Thank you. It has been a tough year getting below 11 stone, walking every day, sometimes twice a day, eating a lot healthier now overall. I still have treats but eat a lot less and rarely have chips, bacon etc now. I am pretty much 90% vegetarian overall now and discovered feta cheese lol. Been very lucky with friends and family and the smaller social circle has been far more supportive, I have been very lucky.

      Thanks for commenting.

  3. I’m delighted to hear how your life has changed through facing your demons and defeating them. Congratulations.

    • Dave

      I am in far healthier place now that is for sure, lucky to have the people around me that I do but just to work hard and get healthier has been a revelation. I dread my walks every morning as I get up at 5am and out for 6am but once I start walking, I am fine and determined to do my 10,000-step minimum and I listen to music and podcasts. It is a journey every day as it is a battle every day but no one ever said mental and physical health was easy.

      Thanks for commenting.

      • benmadigan says:

        thought about getting a wee (or a big) dog for company on your daily walks?
        He would make staying in a non-option as he would absolutely need to get out 2-3 times a day

        • Ben

          When I retire I might but right now I work full time so it wouldn’t be fair on any pet to be stuck in a cage or something at home. Good suggestion though.

          Thanks for commenting.

          • I got myself a lovely black & tan Cocker Spaniel 8 1/2 years ago and she lights up my life. I agree, Bruce, that you can’t get a dog to leave it on its own all day. I retired 22 years ago while still married and got 2 blue rone Cockers, litter sisters, and they were a handful but wonderful company. My wife kept them after we separated but I still kept in touch with them and helped out when my wife went on holiday. The dogs stayed with me for their holidays. It was all made much easier because my ex and I remain very good friends.

            Kelly, my current wee dog, has kept me active over the last 8 years and goodness knows what I’d do without her. Living alone is made a lot more tolerable and she can light up my days when my depression comes calling. I’m 74 now and the need to take her out twice a day gets me up and moving every day. After an illness last year when I couldn’t walk her for a couple of months it has been difficult to get back to full fitness and I’ve still got a way to go but having to take her out has been the motivation I’ve needed. My legs lost a lot of muscle when I was incapacitated and getting my strength back is not easy but it would have been impossible without my walks with Kelly.

            Bruce, you’re doing really well and have come a long way. Keep going and when you do retire a dog will help fill your days with joy and make you laugh.

            Best wishes, Dave

            • Dave

              I do intend to pretty much to be honest once I retire and for the reasons you have mentioned. I still have a few years to go sadly as I am at the point where I will retire as soon as I can. Not that I have a terrible job. not at all, I have just learned that we work too long in this country, mainly due to the fact we pay so little, plus life is just way too short. I also hope that I can stay active as long as possible, as I said some days I just don’t want to walk etc but I do it as it is important for both physical and mental health and I really wish more people would do it. Good to hear you are on the mend and anytime you fancy a chat please don’t hesitate to drop me a line, I love a good chin wag. My email is and would welcome an email from anyone who just wants to have a chat.

              Thanks for commenting.

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