A young man who has battled depression for the past six years has set up his own website to encourage other people not to suffer in silence.
Aaron Corria, a keen sportsman who lives in Cardiff Bay , said his mental health problems got so bad that they drove him to the brink of suicide.
But after confiding in his family, the 30-year-old took positive action and created his own website called “Brotectors” which aims to tackle the stigma around men’s mental health.
“On the surface I look like any other normal guy. I enjoy going out, watching sports, having tattoos and keeping myself healthy,” said Aaron.
“But during my bad days I would shut my family and friends out by not answering phone calls and texts.
“I found myself wanting to stay away from people and becoming increasingly withdrawn.
“I’m not sure what triggers it and I’m not sure why I have it.”
“I became highly secretive of my depression”
When Aaron first started feeling depressed, he put it down to a lack of sleep or the potential onset of flu.
But when it got more severe he turned to alcohol which only made the problem worse.
“I became highly secretive of my depression,” added the former St Teilo’s Church in Wales High School pupil.
“The only way I could make myself feel better was to go out and drink all weekend, then feel even worse the following Monday until it was Saturday again and do it all over again. This became a continuous cycle.”
As well as suffering with bouts of depression, Aaron’s anxiety also got substantially worse and he became a hypochondriac.
He added: “If I had a bad throat I would Google my symptoms and convince myself that I had cancer.
“I was always back and forth to the doctors, but no matter what they said I always believed in my own mind. I felt like everyone who tried to help was against me.”
“I immediately felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders”
After spending years taking medication then trying to wean himself off them with little success, he reached a turning point in his life just after Christmas.
“I was tired of feeling the way I did and tired with battling my demons and pushing the people I loved the most away,” he added.
“The day after Boxing Day I decided I’d had enough and began to have suicidal thoughts.
“I got in my car in floods of tears and drove to the cemetery to visit my grandfather’s grave.
“As I pulled up my dad was putting down flowers and saw the state I was in.
“I got out of my car and broke down in front of him. I told him how I was feeling and that I couldn’t go on any longer.
“We went for food and I immediately felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”
The Cardiff resident, who is still taking medication and is getting advice from a life coach, believes the discrimination around mental health is diminishing thanks to some high-profile celebrities.
“It’s so good to see people like (rapper and grime artist) Stormzy speaking about their depression as he’s seen very much as an alpha male.”
The aim of Brotectors, which is also on Facebook and Instagram, is to provide men with a platform to speak about their mental health issues.
He added: “Our ethos at Brotectors is ‘no brother is alone’ – we aim to get as many people talking about this as we can.”
For details go to www.brotectors.co.uk or search for Brotectors on Facebook.