"I had been given a second chance" - A guest blog by Danny Bowman ft.on 'On The Edge And Online' | 'Ad'

My battle with mental illness has been a very long one, one that has seen me struggle with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder) and experience of isolation, alcohol abuse and losing hope.

At the age of eleven years old I was happy and excited for the future doing many normal things such as playing rugby, meeting up with friends and doing well at school. That all changed in the December 2005 when I started suffering heavily from intrusive thoughts due to what I would later find out to be OCD. At eleven I didn’t know what was going on. I started to suffer in school, becoming isolated as I stopped going out with friends, and I felt tired all of the time. My work was failing and I was dropping behind on assignments and I just remember my Mum hugging me and telling me it was all going to be ok, as I cried next to her.

By February I was in treatment at the Maudsley Hospital in London, I got excellent treatment there but was discharged and after six months it all started again with BDD becoming prominent aged 14. This compelled me to take up to 200 selfies a day so that I could check every part of my appearance, in addition I started spending many hours moisturising my skin and applying acne creams. I also started dieting dramatically.I hated myself and sadly that meant I lost friends, dropped out of school and became housebound for six months. I remember looking at Facebook and seeing my friends living while I felt like I was dying inside.

In April 2012 I reached breaking point. I remember sat in my room as the rain poured down outside and believed that my life was point the past of tomorrow being a better day. I remember the flashing lights of the ambulance and waking up to what felt like hell.

These events made me reflect on my life and I developed the belief that I actually had a chance to really try and break out of my negative cycle. I wanted to get better, I had been given a second chance and slowly but surely I started to recover. Thanks to the understanding of my local therapist and my therapist at the Maudsley hospital in London.

I am now better; the road was long but through hope, compassion, and belief in a better day; I am here! There were many hard times along the journey and difficulties to overcome, but the one thing I would say to anyone who suffers mental illness is to never lose hope.

My dream now is to help others and I have that opportunity through Fixers UK, a charity that changed my life. I appeared on This Morning, Daybreak, Time Magazine, ABC 20/20 and many more TV programs and news outlets talking about my struggle. The most important thing to me though, is helping others; I have dreams of becoming an MP and helping others so that no one suffers mental illness alone.

I am currently working with Members of Parliament (MP’s) and recently with the Department of Health to improve mental health provision. I also had the honour recently of speaking at the BDD Foundation 1st International Conference in London.
You can beat mental illness and you can live a better life.

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