‘I had decided I wasn’t good enough any more’ - St Neots dad opens up about mental health battle

James Archer, aged 36, speaks of his battle with depression and anxiety, as well as the stigma surro

James Archer, aged 36, speaks of his battle with depression and anxiety, as well as the stigma surrounding suicide in men, during his podcasts “RUOKM8”. - Credit: Archant

A father-of-two from St Neots has launched his own podcast in which he talks openly about his suicidal thoughts in a bid to reach out to people struggling with mental health issues.

James Archer, 36, speaks of his battle with depression and anxiety, as well as the stigma surrounding suicide in men, during his podcasts titled 'RUOKM8' (Are you ok, mate?).

He told the Hunts Post how his depression caused him so much turmoil that he was seconds away from taking his own life.

James, who works as a construction manager, believes he has been suffering from depression since he was a teenager but wasn't aware of it until recently.

"People had me down as a moody person, and I am really not. I spent a lot of my teenage years being known as an angry person when, actually, looking back now, I was probably suffering with depression," James said.

He said it wasn't until he was seconds away from taking his own life in 2017 that he decided it was time to get help.

"I had the noose around my neck. I was ready to go. I decided that I wasn't good enough anymore. I felt like I had failed life. I closed my eyes and was about to throw my phone in the water, when crystal clear, I could see my two sons. One in each eye, I can still see it now," he said.

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"If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here anymore."

It was only after that life-changing moment that James sought help from a doctor.

He said: "I felt like the old James had gone, and I was stuck like this. I decided to confide in a friend and go to the doctor to get help. That's when I was put on medication, and offered counselling."

Over the years, James has tried many different anti-depressants, and has recently found the right one. He also says that going to the gym and talking to friends has been positive therapy for him.

He says that one of the hardest things he had to do was tell his work colleagues.

He said: "My heart was pounding. You expect people in my job to be big and brave. We are all lads, and I was worried to tell people. One day I sat down all the lads on site and just explained to them what was going on. I told them that sometimes I will have bad days, and others will be good. They were all so supportive, and so many people opened up to me about their own struggles. It has been very empowering."

James is now using his own experience to beat the stigma around mental health and encourage more men to talk about their feelings by starting his own podcast.

He said: "I thought to myself, 'I can't be the only one feeling this way. I don't understand why we don't talk about the most complex organ in the body, the brain.'"

The podcast, which features guests talking about mental illness, is released every Thursday.

"I am just an average man and I was so worried to talk about how I was feeling. But by doing my podcast I want to normalise it, and if I can help just one person, that would be amazing," said James.

"It's taken me a while to realise that depression lives within me, I do not live within depression."

To listen to James' podcast visit: www.anchor.fm/james-archer.

While male suicide rates are at their lowest since 1981 (15.5 deaths per 100,000 people) suicide remains the single largest killer of men under the age of 45. In the UK, the figure for women is 4.9 suicides per 100,000 deaths.

INFO: If you need help, contact The Samaritans on: 116123 or go to: www.samaritans.org or e-mail: jo@samaritans.org.uk or information is available at: www.mind.org.uk.