This month marks Movember – a charity event that raises awareness for men’s health.
And one of the most pressing concerns that the organisation focuses on is mental health.
During November, numerous survivors of depression and anxiety are sharing their story.
One of these men is Callum Macgregor, a 26-year-old from Wiltshire.
The former hospitality worker’s life turned upside down when he suffered a severe anxiety attack a few years ago.
This episode left him unable to talk for an entire year – even when he wanted to tell his family he loved them.
Since finding his voice again, Callum has opened up about his experiences in an interview with Daily Star Online.
Callum was first diagnosed with anxiety and depression during his university years.
He said: “I started battling my anxiety and depression quite a while after I knew I was anxious and depressed.
“Being on the autistic spectrum, I’m not the best at understanding emotions. Only basic ones like happy, sad, angry and so on.
“I got the first part of my diagnosis for depression and anxiety while still at university, but it was never set in stone.
“But after I dropped out of university and saw doctors and specialists back home I got the full diagnosis and was told I suffer from anxiety and depression.
“It was only then it became apparent that I had been suffering for a few years but I didn’t know how to put my finger on why I felt that way.”
When Callum was at university, he threw himself into various activities.
As well as taking on tasks as a sound technician, he helped to run the Open Mic Society and DJ’ed on student nights.
The undergraduate offered assistance to others, even when it became apparent that he had to dedicate time to himself.
During his studies, he started experiencing dark thoughts and considered suicide.
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He recalled: “(My) suicidal thoughts first started at university when I was becoming disillusioned with what I was doing there.
“They all came to a head after a night helping out with the Open Mic night I help run and arriving at where I was living at the time and just deciding I had enough.
“My last ditch attempt at any semblance of being okay was to call my mum.
“Her first thought was if I was calling to say I had a good birthday that day but quickly turned into just staying on the line until she picked me up from my student house in the middle of the night.
“After that incident, it was slow but I was getting back on my feet and carrying myself well.“
Over the following months, Callum continued to battle with his mental health.
And in July 2018, his stress levels got so high that he suffered a debilitating anxiety attack.
He said: “On July 1, 2018, that stress culminated into the worst anxiety attack I’ve had in my life that left me unable to say anything.
“And waking up the next day I couldn’t utter a word, let alone a sound.
“I was left a mute after that anxiety attack and couldn’t tell anyone anything, after just one night I couldn’t say ‘hello’ to my brother that was coming home from New Zealand, I couldn’t crack jokes with my friends, I couldn’t tell my mother that I love her.”
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Callum was completely mute for 12 months.
And it wasn’t until he started seeing a therapist that he found the strength to speak again.
He explained: “I was holding onto hope I could speak again and accepting that I have a mountain to climb.
“Perseverance for myself and to ironically shut others up about it were powerful factors.
“But I do have to mention the help I had from the therapist I had been seeing, their patience, positivity in the face of adversity and their virtuous nature was crucial to speaking again.
“I currently have the stammer that I managed to hide very well before losing my voice, but I’m confident I’ll be able to get it under control again.”
Since he was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, Callum has decided to take part in Movember.
He also hopes that sharing his story will help others who are going through similar struggles.
The charity supporter added: “I took part (in Movember) unofficially in 2017 as I did want to help and promote it but I didn’t believe I could raise anyway money for it so I just grew a moustache.
“But I wanted to really take part after learning that a good friend of mine from school passed away due to suicide.
“I thought a good gesture would be to write a letter to the family of what he meant to me and how he’s helped shape who I am today.
“And also, after speaking to his mother it made me realise how similar we actually were despite neither of us talked about the things that made us who we were.
“Ever since then and even more so after losing my voice, I’ve been quite passionate about taking part in Movember, for my friend that is no longer with us and because of my own struggles with mental health…
“I do hope that speaking and sharing my story will help others.”
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