Life “felt hopeless” for Brook Marshall at the tender age of just 17.
He had been thrown into what doctors then thought was depression, triggered by the death of his grandpa, dropped out of high school and began a long stint of unemployment.
Brook’s life continued on a downward spiral as he sampled ten different types of anti-depressants before finding one that worked for him and wrestled with intense mood swings.
The 27-year-old, who lives in the city centre, said: “My behaviour was inconsistent and completely erratic.
“One day I was the happiest person in the world, the next I would spend all day in bed because I was depressed, the next I would be paranoid and suspicious of everyone and not talk to anyone
“Sometimes it wouldn’t even be every day, sometimes it could switch from hour to hour when it was at its most intense.”
The mood swings became unbearable for Brook, to the point where he attempted suicide and was admitted to the Carseview Centre.
Through his own research into mental health, Brook stumbled across a condition called borderline personality disorder and recognised himself.
He said the realisation that he had this condition was like a “light bulb moment” of how he had been feeling his whole life.
An official doctors’ diagnosis soon followed and the appropriate medication has stabilised his behaviour.
Brook said: “I felt like I had been failed by the system.
“I suffered a lot of referral rejections, long waiting lists, my experience at Carseview was extremely negative and I was misdiagnosed for eight years.”
Through Book’s experiences he spotted a gap in the services provided, particularly a lack of peer one-on-one support and a holistic approach to mental health.
This led him to set up Feeling Strong around 18 months ago in an attempt to bridge the gap.
The mental health charity for young people focuses on supporting individuals with all aspects of life instead of solely relying on medication.
It has gone from strength to strength, now with six members of staff, 30 volunteers and ten projects under its belt, including running the Scottish Government’s ASSIST Suicide Prevention program.
And this month Feeling Strong opened a new “one-stop-shop” on Albert Street, where youngsters can access the charity’s services, receive referrals to partnership projects and simply hang out in the chill out zone.
Robbie Matthews, 24, services and impact manager at Feeling Strong, said: “There is a real vacuum when it comes to information and signposting.
“Young people don’t feel like there’s a place they can go for peer to peer support and they often say that mental health professionals don’t understand how they are feeling.
“The hub offers a safe place for them to come together and talk about mental health and to meet other young people who are experiencing similar issues.”
The centre can make referrals to green projects such as organised park walks, gardening and other outdoor activities.
Staff are also organising events such as a short cooking course and gaming events to encourage those with common interests to come together.
For more information see Feeling Strong’s Facebook page or download the app, which can be found by searching Feeling Strong in the app store.
Link to Evening Telegraph article here