Kieran Knowles – a singer/song writer from Dorset, is due to release his new single ‘Shout Out Loud’ on the 9th October, just in time to mark World Mental Health Day on the 10th. He hopes the song will spread awareness of mental health. Below he has shared with us his own journey of coping with anxiety and panic attacks, and the experiences he has had of others suffering. He hopes that by sharing his story it will encourage others to reach out in times of need.
The first of my panic attacks
Suffering from anxiety attacks which left me feeling numb with a sense of overwhelming panic. This became the norm and seemed to add to the way I was feeling in a negative way.
I still remember to this day the very first time I experienced this feeling – I was 20 years old, working in a butcher’s shop. It was Christmas time and extremely busy. We had to add all of our sums on paper, which for me usually wasn’t an issue, until ‘it’ happened. This feeling took over me. I lost all focus on what I was doing. The only thing that was going through my head was ‘what the hell is happening to me?’ I had to walk out the back as I felt as though I couldn’t breathe, so needed to get fresh air, but that didn’t help. It’s almost as though this darkness surrounded me and made me feel uneasy, unconfident and alone.
I never knew that it was anxiety, it didn’t even cross my mind. Mental health wasn’t really something I knew much about back then, and so I assumed I hadn’t eaten enough that day and that’s why I felt dizzy and weak.
Learning how to control my anxiety
Fast forward to the time I wrote ‘Shout Out Loud’ and all those feelings came flooding back. The difference was that this time I knew when an attack was coming, and I know how to get through them. Laid in bed, heart racing, trying to control my breaths and not think about anything other than my breathing is the hardest thing to get through when panic is the only emotion felt, but it’s something I have learned how to control to avoid full blown panic attacks.
Very much like performing live, not only am I controlling my nerves but I’m also fighting against the anxiety at the same time, something I’m extremely good at hiding. I’ve never been one to talk about my feelings, it’s always been something I find hard to do and I know I’m not the only one, especially when it comes to mental health in men. I’m thankful to have an outlet in song writing, something I can go to when I need to get my emotions out and clear my head. Whether those emotions are positive or negative, either way, song writing helps me release the pressures that life can bring.
The importance of seeking help
Unfortunately, not everyone has an outlet or even the help given to them that they need, and in August 2019 a friend and colleague of mine took his life. No one on this planet should ever have to feel that the only way to make things better is suicide, but unfortunately it is far too common, and the statistics are heart-breaking.
It’s hard to say whether I was depressed at the time of writing ‘Shout Out Loud’ or whether I was just struggling with the stress of everything happening around me. I was feeling as though I was lost in limbo, kind of on a level where I felt neither happy nor sad. Just floating through life with this constant anxiety inside. Those emotions needed to come out of me, and I knew exactly how to do that. Whilst I was writing, I realised that I’m not alone in this, having friends and family that have also suffered from mental ill health and still do.
Shout Out Loud was written from my heart and was written for the millions of people out there who are struggling or have struggled with ill mental health. To spread awareness and to ‘Shout Out Loud’ that no one should ever have to feel alone. We all have tough times in life and together we can get through them.
Many thanks to Kieran for writing this blog for us.
If someone tells you that they’re having thoughts of suicide, here’s what to do:
- Assist the person to a place or point of safety, don’t leave them alone
- Be a listening ear – encourage them to talk
- Call in some help. If they are at serious risk of death or injury call 999 and ask for the ambulance or police; If they need to talk, call the Samaritans, 111 Connection helpline or the Hub of Hope.
Dorset Mind offers a range of support across Dorset for adults and young people; and a wealth of information and signposting – please follow this link.