Ambassador Rich Copson Blog Part 2June 17, 2020 9:22 am
In the 1st part of my blog I was talking about the diagnosis that hit both myself and my family hard. At 16 I was diagnosed with Becker Muscular Dystrophy, a condition that affects around 1 in every 100,000 male births and is often diagnosed in the late teens. Becker is like an adult form of Duchenne, that usually progresses at a far slower rate, it has the majority of the same symptoms but not as severe until a lot later in life.
People always tend to talk to me about the physical effects of these conditions but it is the impact on my mental health that shaped my life from diagnosis at 16 to now aged 34.
At 16 I was thrown into the world of disability and muscle wasting conditions. Nothing scared me more than thinking of the future, of being unable to independently look after my basic needs. I had to battle the demons in my head for many years which stopped me from socialising, playing sport and generally enjoying life. Over the years after diagnosis many upsetting conversations happened behind closed doors, I didn’t want this condition, I didn’t want to be different and I was fighting a battle everyday, avoiding stairs, struggling with leg cramps and a reduced walking ability. My head was a mess full of anger, bitterness, pain and frustration – why me?!
So what did I do… well I did nothing… I did what we all do… put on the brave face and pretend it’s not happening, bottled it up and just tried to be “Normal”. I pushed all help away , I took no advice, I gave up. I ended up in a cycle of drinking, isolating myself, taking anger out on family and I thought that this was my life, my normal.
But it wasn’t…..and it took the battles to get worse for me to make any effort to try and make things better….
At the age of 28 I started to realise that being tearful watching TV wasn’t right, crying on my own over nothing wasn’t right and having thoughts to end it all clearly were not right. While all this was going on I was actually working in retail banking, taking my smiley face to work everyday but inside mentally I was in so much pain. I was in a relationship at the time and to be honest I’m not sure if I was on my own that I would still be here today. After many months of every single night after work really wanting to drive my car off the road and end it all …i woke up one morning and said I am going to the doctors. I am still not sure exactly what made me go but I rang work and said I am not coming in. I finally began a journey that eventually led me to supporting this amazing charity and family.
In Part 3 I will share my experiences of the support I received for my mental health and how I finally got to a point where disability was no longer as scary as I had believed it became something I wanted to be proud of and something to use as a positive.”
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