Leicestershire-based man Tom Home has opened up about his struggles with mental illness during his late teens and early twenties.
Residing in Melton Mowbray, Tom was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in November 2016 while in his second year at Northumbria University.
Tom said: “I went from being a really outgoing, sociable person, who loved seeing friends and spending time with family, to cutting myself off and isolating myself from everyone in my life. I would very rarely leave the house unless absolutely necessary, and when I was left alone with my thoughts is when everything worsened.”
Tom attributes the onset of his mental health issues to being dropped from the university rugby team – quoting feelings of ashamedness and embarrassment.
He continued: “Growing up, rugby was always such a huge part of my life. Not only did it allow me to physically exercise but also meet people and socialise. I don’t blame anyone but myself for getting dropped. I didn’t work hard enough during the off-season and pre-season, and quite rightly didn’t regain my place. I don’t think I truly understood just how much rugby gave me until it was gone.”
Tom’s struggles took a turn for the worse when he tried to take his own life just a few weeks after being dropped. This was what spurred Tom to reach out and get help.
Tom said: “Failing to take my own life was the wakeup call that I desperately needed to get help. Deep down I knew that I couldn’t continue living how I was, but I didn’t know who or where to turn to, as well as not wanting to admit that I was struggling – an issue that the majority of men that I have spoken to have experienced.”
Tom has since founded mental health platform blOKes, which is a free-to-use website for men aged 16 and over. Users are able to create a blOKes account and join an online community of likeminded men all talking about their thoughts and feelings, as well as sharing peer-to-peer support through advice and guidance based on each user’s own mental health journey.
He said: “Ultimately, I wanted to provide men with a space that I knew that I would have benefitted from when I was at my lowest. Your mind can be the loneliest place in the world, and I know that first-hand. Having a platform to vent and physically write down how you’re feeling can sometimes help to both take some weight off your shoulders and also make sense of things. Having other men who can empathise and understand what you’re going through is immensely powerful and can go a long way in validating your thoughts and feelings.”
For more information about blOKes, please visit www.blokes.life.