By Jordan Trotter, Funeral Services Crew
I’ve always been the guy who worries a little bit more than others. Towards the end of last year, I noticed I was beginning to overthink things a bit more than usual. I wasn’t sure how to process my emotions and became angry easily. It was as if I’d changed overnight going from enjoying life to finding it difficult to see the good in things. I was short tempered and would pick fights over the smallest things, pushing my family away in the process.
I knew something wasn’t right but couldn’t pinpoint what. It felt like I was watching it unfold but I had no control to do anything to tackle it. I was in a vicious cycle that was difficult to break out of. It continued for a couple of months.
I visited the coast for a walk. I was still experiencing low thoughts but my overriding feeling was just how tired I was. I was exhausted and felt ready for a break. I knew I was draining myself and everyone around me but I couldn’t see a way past.
Receiving a text message from my dad snapped me out of my thoughts, but I had a realisation. I’d been on a busy beach full of people, but nobody knew how isolated I was feeling or had a clue what I was thinking. It made me wonder how many others there were like me, that maybe needed an outlet and some support.
I set up an Instagram page, ‘Walk nd Talk’, and shared an open invite for men in the local area to meet up for a walk. I didn’t expect anyone to turn up, so was pleasantly surprised when around 12 guys came along. Some I already knew, but others were complete strangers.
Since that first meeting things have gone from strength to strength. Each week, we usually walk around three miles along the coast, but the route can be adapted to accommodate anyone’s needs and we always make time to stop for a coffee!
Now we have around 15 regulars and others drop in when they can or when they feel they need to. We’re a diverse group of like-minded people, across a wide age range, in a safe space. Nine times out of ten, someone joins the walk as they have something they want to talk about. Nothing is ever forced out of anyone and everyone’s included in conversations. We also have people who attend without a story to tell. They just want to be there to make sure others have someone to listen to them.
Men’s Health Week
The focus for this year is looking at how mental health can impact physical health. For me being out walking in the fresh air is invaluable for mental health. Having a routine also helps as it gives you something to focus on and look forward to.
Because of this, I’m planning to set up something similar across the river in another part of town. I know first-hand how important it is to be kind to yourself and there’s a real strength from reaching out and connecting with others which I want to continue to share wider.
Although I created it, the group is for everyone and I use it just as much as everyone else. If I think back to my day on the beach, I remember how embarrassed I felt but also how I could have used something like ‘Walk nd Talk’. By setting up this group as a dedicated for space for males, I’ve been able to lead by example. I’m proud that I can use what I went through to my advantage and show there’s absolutely nothing to ever be ashamed of.
There’s more information available in this Engagement Pack on subjects specifically relating to Men’s Health and where to find more support. If you find that you need a bit of extra support, as Co-op colleagues, we all have access to LifeWorks, the confidential Employee Assistance Programme which can offer guidance on a range of topics including health and wellbeing and caring responsibilities. You can contact them free of charge, 24/7 on 0800 069 8854.