NOTE: This article is one that describes extreme acts of violence, and struggles with mental health, which could be distressing for some readers.

My name is Kelso Simon, I am an everyday working class guy born and raised in Leicester.

Kelso Simon writes for Female First

Kelso Simon writes for Female First

They say life begins at 40. For me that sentiment appears to hold some truth. Mentally I am probably in the best place I have been since my late teens. The trauma I went through during my childhood had shaped my mind and conditioned me to think that the world was a dark place, and the only people that got through life comfortably were selfish and ruthless people.

For years I would wake up in the morning with a sense of dread and my mind and body felt drained and exhausted. I felt like a prisoner trapped inside my own mind and inside I was quite hopeless... hopeless but not defeated. Of course on the outside to everybody else everything was fine. I was the life and soul of the party, always ready to crack a joke and always out with the lads in the heat of the action. Inside I was a lost little boy, scared and worried to the point of wanting to die.

The worst times were after a night of heavy drinking. The physical hangover was bad enough, but the mental hangover left me suicidal, feeling nothing except the thought that I would be better off dead. An overwhelming feeling of guilt and shame overcame me, along with a complete feeling of impending doom. "Surely death would be better than this", I would think. Only the thought of my kids would bring out some fight in me. 

The worst thing was the fact that I was caught in a vicious circle; I would drink and party to escape feeling low, only to feel ten times as worse when I woke up in the morning.

I would tell myself that I wouldn't drink as much again, only to find myself up until 5am drinking until I couldn't drink anymore. This wasn't every week, but every other weekend I would find an excuse to be out and I would drink myself into oblivion.

If I went out with my partner to a friend's birthday party, or a wedding for example, we would get home and I would search the house for alcohol no matter what time we got in. "Your trouble is you never know when to stop", 'Melissa' my partner of 15 years would say, but it was an escape; anything to prolong the feeling of facing another day feeling like I couldn't face the world.

I knew i'd seen a lot of things that I shouldn't have as a kid, and I knew my childhood showed me many moments of the harsh reality of how brutal the world can be, but I thought that there was nothing I could do to change my view of the world. This was my mind and this is the way it would always be, I thought. My trauma started in a very brutal and uncompromising way.

When i was 7-years-old I watched my Dad get stabbed almost to death by a stranger. My Dad had been drinking heavily at the time and had no chance of defending himself.

On this particular day, my Dad went to check on an old friend, a guy named 'Johnny', as he hadn't seen him for a while. It was an elderly chap that my Mum and Dad had befriended many years earlier that would sometimes lodge at our house. We hadn't seen him for a while and my Mum and Dad were worried.

He lived in the Highfields area of Leicester, which at the time was classed as a sort of red light district, so me, and my older sister went with my Mum and Dad to Highfields to check on Johnny.

When we got there the Johnny was fine and we stayed there for a while. It began to get late so it was suggested that we stayed overnight as my Dad had had a drink. We then went to the house of an aunt who lived just around the corner to say hello.

We stayed there for a couple of hours and then headed back to Johnny's. 

When we got to Johnny's the flat door was locked and there was no answer after knocking, so my Dad attempted to nudge the door with his shoulder. All of a sudden a bearded guy with a crazed look in his eyes and a kitchen knife in each hand burst out of the flat next door and knocked my Dad to the ground. As my Dad was scrambling to get up, the guy then flurried at him with the knives and then repeatedly slashed away at him with the two of them. My Dad was slashed and cut on his neck, face, body and hands as he struggled defenceless on the floor. 

All that me and my sister could do was scream as we watched the blood flow out of my Dad's face and arms as he tried desperately to defend himself. I was certain my Dad was going to die there and then.

It seemed to go on forever until my Mum ran into Johnny's kitchen and grabbed a knife and then stabbed the guy in his arm. Johnny had opened his door after hearing the commotion. After that, the guy stopped slashing away at my Dad and just stood there as if it was no big deal. My Mum shouted and explained that there were children present and then the guy just went back into his flat. 

My Dad was on the floor covered in blood. There were lots of screams and lots of crying.

My Dad eventually got to his feet with his own blood dripping everywhere and with the cuts on his face wide open. My Mum took us into Johnny's flat and closed the door. My Mum rang the police and an ambulance for my Dad. The guy was arrested and admitted what he had done, he calmly co-operated with the police but never established a motive!

I remember my Dad's face after he came back from the hospital, swollen and stitches on his hands, face and neck. My Dad was lucky to be alive; the knife had missed a vein in his neck by a few millimeters and if the knife had hit that vein he would have been dead in moments.

So that was the start of my depression I suppose. That event planted a seed in my brain, a seed that said -"The world is a scary place, no one is safe, even the people you love... especially the people you love".

Looking back I suppose my every thought was conditioned by that event, and other disturbing events that had occurred during my childhood. 

I was very loved as a child and I have some great memories, my Mum and Dad did their very best but they too were victims of their own trauma.

Depression plays nasty tricks on you; one day you can wake up feeling fine and wonder why you felt so bad, then a day or so later you’re in Hell! It can really feel like that.

After a really bad bout of depression a few years ago I decided enough was enough, it was either fight this depression or fade away; I believe I was on the verge of a big mental breakdown. 

I started to look at self help videos on the internet and I ordered some books. I researched some inspirational people who had been through depression and had wrote books about how to battle it. One of the people whose podcasts and books really helped me was a chap named Geoff Thompson. He is a world-renowned martial artist and former doorman from Coventry who lived a life of violence before turning his back on violence and becoming an inspirational speaker.

Geoff Thompson also once suffered from debilitating clinical depression which was the result of an incident of abuse he suffered as a child. He beat his depression and is now a successful BAFTA-winning playwright, writer and self help guru.

One of the things he spoke about that particularly struck a chord with me was ‘creative energy’. He said that the trauma people go through can be used as something to create with. If we take our trauma acknowledge it and then create with it, we can stop it from becoming rooted with in us.

Trauma can be very powerful; it’s like an energy, if we don’t acknowledge it and deal with it, it turns in on us. That’s why when some people get drunk they end up fighting or having big rows; because that powerful energy has no containment when our inhibitions disappear under the influence of alcohol. I don’t expect this to make sense to everyone but for me this philosophy helped.

The main thing was that instead of hiding my depression and masking it with alcohol or putting on a big front, I faced it. I faced it and dissected it. I told people close to me, like my partner Melissa and my close friends all about my depression. It was a relief. The fear of looking weak is a big thing for most people, especially for menm but believe me there is nothing weak about facing your demons head on.

Around this time I decided to write my novel A Monster's Tale. It was my way of putting all of my frustrations and my heart and soul into something. I took parts of my trauma and created  something with them. This book was a way to completely express myself and say what frustrated me about society, and in a dignified way, rather than ranting on social media.

I also went to therapy. I went to my doctor and told him everything. It took a while but after a couple of months I was offered cognitive behavioural therapy.

The ins and outs of the therapy was one thing but the main thing was that I was finally giving that 7 year old ME some attention. That 7 year old helpless child that witnessed his Dad almost get stabbed to death was always with me, always sitting on my shoulder; I just hadn’t acknowledged him properly, I drank him away, I covered him with pretence, I pretended he wasn’t there because I thought it was easier then facing up to him.

Talking about my depression, sharing it, acknowledging it and going through therapy felt like a massive weight had been lifted from my chest. My depression was just a 7 year old child crying out for attention.

I wrote my book. It was very hard. I never thought I would get it finished because I told myself I didn’t have the time. But if we want to do something like write a book we have to throw away the excuses and make the time. Instead of going on social media when I got home from work I wrote; instead of watching TV I wrote. Until eventually it was finished.

I did some research on the internet about editing and about getting published and I then sent off my manuscript to publishers, and I did this relentlessly. After a few months I was offered a publishing contract by The Book Guild Publishing. I was offered a chance to get my book into all of the top retailers nationally and internationally. Now my book A Monster's Tale is out there.

The novel has had a fantastic response and has recieved some amazing 5 star reviews. My proudest moment was seeing all of my friends and family at my book launch. Holding the book in my hand with all of the people I love celebrating with me was a moment I will never forget.

A few weeks ago my book hit number 57 in the Amazon top 100 books of contemporary fiction! To see my book numbered up there alongside a Stephen King novel was surreal.

I left school with no GCSEs and failed my English exam, so to now be a published author just goes to show what can happen when we absolutely refuse to give up!

As for me personally, I don’t think I will ever be in the very dark place I was a few years ago. I am now looking forward to the future and I’m really excited to see what may happen. Who knows?

I wrote my book to highlight some of the issues that I feel contribute to the recent rise in male mental health diagnosis, and I feel that the uncompromising realism of my story has contributed to the positivity it is receiving. I am also pledging 5% of my royalties to C.A.L.M. (The Campaign Against Living Miserably) which is an organisation that tackles male suicide.

A Monster's Tale is available through all of the main online retailers and stores such as Amazon Books, Waterstones, Foyles Books etc.

Finally, if there is anybody out there that is struggling in anyway mentally, please just talk to someone about it. No matter how tough and hopeless you may feel just please talk to someone, friends, family a close work colleague, anybody. Go to your GP ask for some therapy, go online, there are organisations that will talk to you and point you in the direction of services. Organisations like CALM will offer support.

And please if you are taking part in behaviours that make you feel worse or behaviours that are destructive then please try your best to abstain from those behaviours and talk to someone.

It may seem like you’re in a place you’ll never get out of at times, but take the steps to some help and support and don’t look back. Don’t ever feel weak admitting that you’re struggling mentally, it’s the bravest thing you can ever do.

A few years ago I was feeling suicidal and in a dark place that I thought I could never get out of. Now I’m a published author looking forward to what the future may bring.

Many blessings. 

Kelso Simon. 

A Monster's Tale is available now to purchase on Amazon.

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