We all take our mental health for granted. But when things go wrong we need to recognise the issues and ask for help.
When Luke Radwell found the courage to do that, everything changed – and now he wants to help others. He shared his inspirational story with Pulse’s Sammy Jones.
As a youngster, Luke would struggle with his confidence and shy away from big groups in preference of being alone, and when he left school, he swerved college choosing to go straight into work.
But inside, he still felt unsettled.
“I’m not sure of any one trigger, but later on instead of seeking help, I started drinking and using other substances. It was a way of covering up the pain.”
And then came a particularly dark day in 2018 when Luke, from Olney, decided enough was enough: “The alcohol was making me miserable and I couldn’t do it any more…”
In distress, Luke found himself on a Milton Keynes bridge, desperate and prepared to jump.
Thankfully, a motorist in a BMW saw him and called for assistance. Luke still doesn’t know who was responsible, but that act of kindness undoubtedly saved his life.
Instead of jumping that day, he was sectioned to the Campbell Centre’s mental health unit, and his recovery began.
With medication, support and talk therapy, 28-year-old Luke has made huge strides – and he is now sober.
There have still been highs and lows; earlier this year he split from his first true love which was a devastating blow.
“It just didn’t work out and that was the hardest thing – I have never experienced anything like that,” he said.
Once again, Luke found himself in a dark place – and began self-harming.
“It was a cry for help,” he admits, “I was so lost and trapped in my own head.”
Thankfully, he found the support he needed from the team at Milton Keynes Mental Health Services who aided Luke in his recovery.
Several months on, he is bravely sharing his story to raise awareness of the importance of looking after our mental health, and of seeking help when things aren’t right.
His honesty is already making a difference; Luke was recently contacted by a lady whose husband was struggling with issues, but too afraid to reach out. After speaking with Luke, they spoke with professionals and are now receiving help and in a much better place.
“It was so rewarding,” Luke said, “I was able to bring him up and give him the confidence to get help. He was scared, but it’s important to let people know that there is nothing to be scared of – there really is help out there for you.”
Keen to pay back those who have been instrumental in helping his recovery, this December Luke will get in the saddle of his 600cc Yamaha R6 YZ6 and embark on a mammoth 2000 mile bike ride from Milton Keynes Hospital, travelling to Land’s End and John O’Groats, before biking back to the hospital.
He aims to do the whole route in just three days.
Poignantly, he is calling the road trip The Ride of My Life, and monies raised will go to support Milton Keynes Mental Health Services, run by Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, who helped him through the dark times.
He had hoped to raise £1000 from his epic journey, but that figure is close to being hit already!
His story has clearly touched a nerve with people who wish him well, and the more money that floods in, the more people in need will benefit. So please keep donating.
Today, Luke is doing well and accepting of the fact that there will be good times and bad: “I’m having better days and fundraising for the bike ride is giving me a focus – it’s a boost and has put a smile on my face.
“I feel a lot better now. I know I’ll still have bad days, but I hold on to the good days and know that things do get easier.”
When you are at your lowest it can feel that there is nowhere to escape to, and nowhere to get help, but Luke has been there, and knows that’s not the case: “There really is help there for you, but you have to go and get it,” he said encouragingly, “Suicide really isn’t the answer. So many times it crossed my mind and I thought how easy it could be, but then your pain only passes on to your friends, family and loved ones. I’ve had to learn to believe in myself and to know that I can get through this.
“I would urge anyone to talk; if they have friends and family to talk to, do it – it makes such a difference. Or call the Samaritans who are there to help. And seek help from your GP, from your local hospital or from another support network.
“If I hadn’t done that, and hadn’t been supported by MK Mental Health Services I wouldn’t be speaking to you today.
“I don’t need to give people false hope, because I can absolutely tell them that there really is light at the end of the tunnel…”
If you would like to donate to Luke’s fundraiser visit: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LukeRadwell