The untold story

At 11am this morning, I delivered a lecture to local students, sharing my journey, and also my untold story.

An untold story that I’ve kept to myself (only my exes know) for almost 12 years, and today, I felt I was ready.

I’ve shared parts of my childhood on John’s Road to Volunteering in the past, but not the part detailing my darkest moment.

Starting off the talk with a picture of me at 2 years old, I talked about how my nan was my hero. I’d go around her house every week, eat her pink wafer biscuits and have a glass of milk to help wash it down.

When I was sad, she would always turn my frown upside down and when she passed, I didn’t cope well. I didn’t cope because within a few years, my mum was battling breast cancer, my sister had a stroke and I was being severely bullied. I ended up being suicidal.

I was in a place, where I no longer wanted to be around and this was coming from a 13-year-old! I’d come home from school (well, when I decided to go in), jump straight onto my XBOX and I’d shut the world out.

I’d go into my own little bubble and blank everyone around me. I saw friendships being lost, a lack of willingness to open up to my parents, and I felt like a burden.

I couldn’t speak to my parents, as they had their own battles. I didn’t want to take the attention away from my mum, as she was battling just as much as I was.

I found myself going into a dark hole, keeping all my thoughts to myself, wanting to know when my parents wouldn’t be around, so I could end my life.

I had nothing going for me, with all of this happening, and yet here I am. When I delivered the lecture this morning, my emotions were running, tears were appearing in the eyes of the students, and this untold story is why I got into volunteering in the first place and why I write these kind of personal posts.

Someone out there is struggling and will relate to the story. After the lecture, a few students wanted my help to signpost them to local volunteering opportunities. The immediate impact saw an invite back next year, telling my story once more, and I learned from today, I have a lot more to give.

How often do we hear about child mental health? How many of us are openly speaking up about our childhood?

Being in such a dark place as 13-year-old John, I didn’t know what was around me. My teachers wanted me in school, but didn’t quite know what was really going on in my mind, yet one PE teacher made me feel welcome.

One PE teacher gave me the time of day to be myself and the 2 days I’d go into school each week, was down to PE being on. That one PE teacher gave me a reason to enjoy my childhood, and when he passed a year after I left, I felt I needed to take his legacy further. A legacy that I never felt I could have. As I grew up, I became more willing to speak up about my past.

When I was asked today how I transitioned from sports volunteering to more personal volunteering, it was because volunteering gave me the confidence to open up.

Without volunteering, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My journey has been much more than just the roles taken on, but more so the confidence building I needed to share my story.

The struggles as a child stay with me as a memory, but also as an influence. I want to keep using my past struggles to help others know they’re not on their own.

Ever wondered why I reach out to so many people? It’s because I want to listen. I want people to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s ok to speak up.

I kept things to myself as a child, and 12 years on, I’m sharing my childhood mental health battle with you all. Whether it’s a week, a few months or 12 years, mental health is never an easy topic to talk about, and I said today to the students, that we should open up, when we feel ready.

Today, I felt ready to open up about my dark times, and the immediate impact, is motivating me to do more for the mental health community.

I feel things happen in your life for a reason and when Flash, my best friend growing up, last year passed away, it reminded me of the impact animals can have.

I’ve talked so much about the people who was part of my confidence building, but Flash, who was a Springer Spaniel, brought a smile to my face when I was home, and he was the reason I didn’t put my thoughts into actions.

Flash, was there to let me know I was loved and even though he couldn’t speak, his cuddles and him being there for me, gave me a reason to stay alive.

Just sitting there, unknowing my deep thoughts, I was able to talk to myself about how I was feeling and gradually, my school attendance increased, resulting in 11 GCSES’s.

As I mentioned above, I feel I was meant to have this childhood. I was meant to go through the heartache, the deep thoughts and the isolation to build myself up to the person I am today.

I never anticipated to be in a position I’m in with John’s Road to Volunteering, but that’s how powerful someone’s story can be.

Writing posts like this are never easy, but I think about the outcome. I think about the outcome when I volunteer. I think about the outcome with everything I do, and if that means I help someone, I feel the emotions I go through are all worth it.


17 thoughts on “The untold story

  1. Wow!! just wow…i am incredibly proud of who you have become. I am crying while i am writing this with tissues next to me. This post has honestly struck a cord in me because i can relate to a few things you have written and my goal is to also let people know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. John, you are amazing, a role model and my inspiration. I am just going to go and read the post again and again now. You are so strong, keep your head held high because me and rest of the blogging community think you are amazing. Volunteering for me has honestly saved my life and it sounds like its saved your’s too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This has been all I’ve spoken about this week ,and it’s comments like this have gave me the confidence to speak up about my MH story. To hear I’m your role model, brings a tear to my eye and I want to thank you! Jessica, you’ve been an supporter of JRTV, an amazing friend and just a blessing to have in my life!


  2. It takes a lot to share your personal struggles and dark times. I commend you for that honestly. There’s some topics and memories in my life that I’m not sure I could build up the courage to share. I think it’s great that you decided to turn the dark times into “showing the light at the end of the tunnel” for others’. Great post John!


  3. Wow, i wanted to say that this is tremendously brave of you to share. I know just what you went though, to share that its ok and show people they are not alone.
    I wanted to say thank you for sharing, brought a tear to my eye.


  4. I’m so proud of you!! One for sharing your story on the blog, but two, for standing up in front of so many people and speaking out about it!! I had a tear in my eye when I was reading this! I love that this proves there is light at the end of the tunnel and everything will be okay in the end! You really are amazing and a massive inspiration! X


  5. Wow! this is such a powerful post!! It is amazing how much you have overcome, you should be very proud of yourself. It’s wonderful that you are using your story to help others.. that’s the sort of thing I am trying to do. I write posts on my blog about my past experiences in hope that they may in some way help others. If you have time, feel free to have a look:)


  6. A very powerful post and I could feel my eyes welling up 😦 So inspirational and I agree with others on here that your post shows that there’s always hope and help is out there and they’re not alone. I think many of us can relate to this post on different levels, i read an article other day about how today, kids feel “lonely” and spend more time in virtual world/social media with no real interaction with real people. It makes me worry that people who have problems whether big or small, or just want to talk won’t be able to and things spiral out of control… It’s brilliant how you are able to share your experience with others xxx


  7. I read this a while ago, but wanted to wait until I properly had time to sit down and reply, as I felt a post like this really deserves that, as you put so much time in sharing your story with all of us! Even on a second read, it still has such a connecting heartfelt effect! Which is a sign of great writing in my mind 🙂
    There’s so many people, including myself, who have already related with so much in this, so I’m sure you are going to keep having an amazing effect on many other people’s lives by sharing your story!
    I completely relate to how you said you feel you were meant to have that childhood, despite the difficulties. I know that without the difficulties I faced at such a young age, I would be no where near the person I am today. That has led me to the job I have now and hopefully being as compassionate and understanding to others that I can be.
    I also work with therapy dogs quite often in my job and the impact animals can have in tough times is really amazing!
    Have you heard of the ‘Leo & Friends -Therapy Dogs’ page on facebook? I definitely recommend checking it out! I follow it to add some cuteness and smiles to my day!

    Love, V x


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