Mental illness has plagued my life

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Earlier this month, the world came together to mark World Mental Health Day, which sought to raise awareness of mental health issues.

For Shane Tomblin (43) of Shirebrook though, living with a mental illness is something that he has to cope with for 365 days a year.

Shane, who suffers from clinical depression and anxiety, first became aware that something was not quite right as a teenager.

He said: “I didn’t fully understand my condition when I was younger. I went to the doctor who told me I was depressed and gave me tablets.

“If you are mentally ill, you are made to feel like a second-class citizen - it is still frowned upon by society.

“With cancer, people understand that you need help but with depression you get people telling you to pull your socks up or get over yourself.”

Shane also suffers from systemic sclerosis, an autoimmune disease which causes the immune system to attack and damage its own cells. Because of this, his lungs operate at only 40% of their capacity.

He has undergone chemotherapy and had a stem cell transplant in 2004, but is under no illusions about what challenge to his health has been more difficult to deal with.

“I’d rather have bad lungs than bad anxiety,” he said.

“No-one knows how horrible it is to have a mental illness until you have to face it yourself. At least if you have a physical illness you know people will care.”

At Central Notts Mind, an organisation which helps those with mental illness in the Mansfield and Ashfield area, Shane used to talk to people who found themselves in a similar to him, and was able to understand what problems they faced without being judgemental.

He now sits on the Board of Trustees.