I always struggle to talk about myself, or how to summarise my life up until now, but without this story, I couldn’t be who I am today, and who I am journeying towards.
Starting at the beginning.
Teenage years, as ever full of angst and possibly hate at points. Not depression, surely I couldn’t be depressed? As you do, I went through the usual heartbreaks, fist fights and drunken nights, often because that’s ‘just the way it is’ and carried on through. I ‘wasn’t’ struggling with my mental health.
The subject was almost taboo, certainly wasn’t talked about, men didn’t talk about their struggles or feelings. Occasionally I would try to open up to my Mum, that’s where my sensitive side comes from, but ultimately, I left it to build inside me.
Joining the music industry
Moving on from those teenage years, I found my solace in the alternative music scene, playing in bands, making new friends and going to shows, and it’s where I remained, for a good while.
Music was my main outlet, playing shows on stage gave me the physical release I needed, I was emotionally support by some great friends throughout, and touring gave me a lot of mental stimulation, or as I was to find in the later years of this, a distraction. I worked dead end jobs just to keep my dream alive, counting the days down until we got back into the van on our next adventure.
Once I had realised, that these adventures were the moments, that could not be recreated, debts amounted and I could not sustain the lifestyle I once had, enough was enough, it’s a ‘young mans game’.
Struggling with life in the city
I stepped down, and not being part of something creative, or moving forward with a project, I became lost, I always had an identity through a band, and my peers. I never thought about myself.
This is where I spiralled into self destruction, on this path, helping others, never taking care of myself until it was too late to realise, and I was in a hole. When I was in this hole, I actually lost my mind, I didn’t know who I was, or where I was going, there was no big picture, and I lived day to day, and in places, I also wished I wasn’t living.
Moving from the city to the lake district
Relocation sparked a change, and with new beginnings, I started my own new journey, to figure myself out, after I had been clouded so long by depression and anxiety, I took a conscious decision to come off my medication, so I could feel again and start to think for myself.
Piece by piece, I am working to undo all the times that I never thought of myself, the words spoken by the people who were not right for me, and choosing to be in a place that I want to be, surrounded by good people that are right for me.
Now, I aim to help others, by speaking about my experiences, about being positive in body and mind, about being comfortable with who I am.
With thanks to my brother, Andrew I found my new solace in the outdoors, and relocating to Kendal, Cumbria, UK. I could really start my mindful journey, in mind, body and soul.
Now I have started utilising the beautiful outdoors we have here in Cumbria, and I have got outside, hiking up the fells. As this happened, I almost reaped the benefits of being outside immediately.
Moving forward with my health
I have the mental stimulation of completing these fell walks and the physical exertion, that is aiding me towards weight loss and my overall health. This in turn has inspired me on to bigger things such as couch to 5k and starting to plan the national three peaks for next year.
I also co-host a podcast called Green Prescriptions, where I talk with my two friends Gary and Steve about how we use the outdoors for our mental well-being, and post pandemic will be arranging walk and talks for men and women in aid to getting people outside.
I now advocate that the outdoors is accessible to anyone, and that it can be used for our physical and mental well being at any level, and the positive impact it has on my life.
Written by Nick Barlow for Manual. Follow Nick on Instagram @bigladbarlow