Throughout his school years, Matt was considered to be rather intelligent. Excelling at core subjects such as Maths, Science and English, and enjoying less success in things like Art and History. Despite this natural intelligence, he stumbled his way through his A-Levels (it’s a UK thing?) and only just made it into university where he began a Masters in Space Physics.
Matt’s mental health rapidly deteriorated following the untimely loss of a close friend. This was soon followed by the sudden death of his granddad. Failed by both so-called mental health professionals and the university’s student support body, Matt’s focus shifted from study to drink. After two years he dropped out, spending the next year trying and failing to find employment.
When an opportunity finally arrived, in the form of an apprenticeship in a field he had no interest in, he had little choice but to take it. So began three years (half in the apprenticeship, half as a fully-paid, but part-time, employee) in a dead end job suffering daily bullying in an otherwise all-female office. During this time he again sought help for his worsening mental state, but again was failed.
Eventually a chance of escape arrived, when his parents expanded their Accountancy business and offered him a job. Full time hours, better wages, and training. Things began to look up. He eased through AAT Level 3 learning and qualification, restoring some of his self-confidence. But personal problems persisted.
Then came November 2015. Waking up one morning his mind had cleared. Everything seemed so obvious now. He got up, showered, got dressed, ate breakfast, brushed his teeth and headed up to the train station. He was working towards AAT Level 4 by this point and it was a college day. But he had no intention of going to college, because today he had decided would be the day he ended it all.
As the train came into view, Matt stood on the edge of the platform. In just a few seconds it would be over. No more pain, no more suffering. And one massive “I fucking told you so” to those mental health professionals he had been dismissed by. The answers to the inevitable questions were laid out in a letter under his pillow. The bullies he had suffered at the hands of through school and early adulthood were named, and the failings of the NHS and mental healthcare for students he had experienced were detailed in full.
But then… doubt. His suffering may have been about to end, but not that of his friends or his family. Was this how he wanted to be remembered?
Now or never… one step forward into oblivion, or stay.
He chose never. He chose to stay.
That day he wrote. He didn’t know he was doing it. The entire day passed him by. But while at college he wrote down everything about how he felt. And he wrote poems. Several. He posted them online, gradually. They received positive feedback, mostly from others who were suffering, thanking him for sharing his own fight and showing them they were not alone in theirs.
“This is why I stayed” he thought. “I can use my own pain, my own experiences, to help others.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Four years later:
- AAT Level 4 Qualification
- Full MAAT status
- Four published anthologies
- Four more pretty much ready to go
- A small but supportive friendship network