John Medway, Brighton, England
I was born in the 1960s in the South of England in a family that was fractured by the separation of my parents. Their separation initially provoked so much fear and dread in me that I withdrew my true feelings and hid them deep inside. I often felt lost and alone and unable to express my inner worries. I became out of touch with how I really felt in an attempt to cope with my loss and the abandonment I felt from my father leaving. For many years I denied my feelings and numbed my pain to cope with this traumatic situation. To the outside world I seemed happy and a lot of the time I was, but a part of me was scared of life and I hid my pain and fears behind my smile. As a child I found distraction from this pain in friendships, football and later in relationships with girls. As I grew older I found it more difficult to connect with others and started to make poor and unhealthy choices. My behaviours became obsessive and I started to drink alcohol, take drugs and gamble as an escape from the pain and discomfort I felt.
Throughout my adult life I have experienced occasions when my mental wellbeing has been severely challenged. Times such as the break-up of a relationship, the death of my parents and the loss of close friends have all provoked strong reactions inside of me and reawakened my feelings of loss and abandonment. At these times I struggled with severe anxiety and felt extremely low but rather than reach out to others for support I would isolate myself and try and manage this by myself.
For a three year period after the death of my father my life was riddled with anxiety and depression and it felt like it would never end. At points I felt so low I questioned whether life was worth living. However, by reaching out to others I started to change my life. By speaking about my challenges and sharing my deepest worries and concerns I began to see that the challenges that affected my mental wellbeing were not dis-similar to those of others.
Today I see a bright future that is full of opportunities for happiness, love and connection. I now understand that my choices have influence over my future and I am starting to make better choices that promote happiness in my life. I regularly exercise and meditate to support my physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. I have good friendships and talk openly about my challenges with others. I am learning to love and respect myself and to treat myself with kindness and compassion. I am breaking free of my mind that is conditioned by the thoughts and opinions of others and I am finally starting to live my truth.
My message of hope to others who struggle with their mental wellbeing is to reach out and connect with like-minded people, to share your challenges and get the support you need and deserve. Hope is available to all. Hope is mine and hope is there for you.
Please support The Hope Project with a donation.
We rely on donations to cover all of our costs. These include:
To outreach, meet and photograph our Stories.
To print the portraits for the exhibitions.
A basic salary to Aamod to coordinate the project part-time.
Website creation and social media outreach to spread the word.
Exhibition space in host European cities.
Marketing the exhibition in each city location.
Thanks for supporting our work!