"If you’re struggling, like I was, Samaritans is there at all times of the day ready to listen."
Six years ago, when I was 31, I went through an extremely difficult period of my life where my mental health just spiralled out of control and I fell into a deep, dark depression.
My anxiety was sky high, which meant I couldn’t fall asleep properly, and when I did it would only be for an hour or so before I would wake up in a panic, sweating.
I hardly ate anything, I lost interest in things I would normally enjoy and love, and at work I couldn’t concentrate on anything and would disappear to my car every day to just sit and cry.
Negative thoughts would surround me like a dark cloud following me everywhere I went. It was almost as if there was someone with a megaphone constantly shouting in my ear every second of the day.
I just couldn’t calm and quiet my mind, even for a moment, it was absolutely relentless.
It really felt like I would never get through that period, that I would never recover. I lost hope and didn’t want to be here anymore.
That’s when I decided the only way out was suicide. At one point I had even decided where, when and how.
However, to my relief looking back, I managed to get through that period against the odds I’d stacked against myself, and I’m still here.
Talking about how I was feeling made such a world of difference to me. I spoke to friends and family and it really helped to unbottle the emotions and anxiety that had been building up and had become utterly unbearable.
One weekend a friend somehow convinced me to go hillwalking with her to see if it would help.
When you’re walking side by side with someone on a hike, especially being out for a few hours, it just feels so natural to talk and to open up to get things off your chest.
Being more open about how I was feeling, alongside doing activities like hillwalking that helped my mental health, made me realise suicide wasn’t the only way out of how I was feeling.
It took about two to three months, but I gradually came out of that period of depression and started to find meaning in life again.
In July last year I finished a 5-year journey to complete all 282 Munros, which started that afternoon in August 2017 when going through depression. I’ve since started a monthly walking group to encourage more people to reap the mental health benefits of hillwalking.
For some people, the greatest mountain they will ever overcome is the mountain in their mind, a mental illness that, like with me, seemed at one time completely insurmountable.
If you’re struggling, like I was, Samaritans is there at all times of the day ready to listen.
Talking made an immense difference to how I was feeling and looking back I’m so relieved I made the brave decision to open up. It really did save my life.
Written by Ross, from Mountains Mend Minds