Peer-to-peer support was the key to my recovery. Now I run a charity where I use my experience to help others with mental health problems

When I was a child, my mum said I had a depressive personality. I was prone to low periods that intensified as I reached adulthood and when I started my police career.

There was and still is a huge stigma around mental health, so I, like many others, tried to mask it in the hope it would go away. In secret, I visited my GP for what they thought was clinical depression, worried that my job as a detective would be compromised. I managed to convince other people that I was living a normal and successful life, but behind closed doors I was living a different story – just about managing to cope with my depressive episodes. When in a manic phase, I couldn’t sleep and would work 18-hour days. I wasn’t really looking at the evidence that I had a serious mental illness.

Related: People can live with mental illness. I am living proof of this

If peer-to-peer support was a huge part of my recovery, couldn’t it work for others?

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