I had a severe case of bell’s palsy in 2007, a result of burning the candle at both ends (too much training, work, studying and socialising). I was 26. It left me with a fully paralysed face for 12 months, some of which is permanent. I couldn’t smile and had to wear an eyepatch. People treated me differently and there was no escaping from it every time I looked in the mirror or being in a photo. It left with me with confidence and self-esteem issues, which can still pop up every now and then. For years afterwards I ‘wasn’t me’ – I just put on a brave face instead of getting the help I needed and most importantly, talking and sharing my issues with someone every time I had a dip into a depressive state. I’m now in a much better place – and want to put that experience to productive use and help others.
Regarding Yorkey Dads / Menfulness – what I’m most proud of is that everyone who is active in the groups has bought into the ethos we established from the beginning – that we’re supportive, inclusive and that men and dads can open up and ask questions in a ‘safe’, non-judgmental environment. Together, we’ve created a platform that has huge potential to grow, develop and do nothing but good things. I see it as being in the pub without the beer – a place where we can talk, share, laugh, support and offload together.