With close to 80,000 followers on social media, professional fashion stylist, designer and hairstylist Joey Bevan is well known in the fashion industry. Starting his humble beginnings at a YMCA charity shop in Southend, he has established himself as a force in the fashion industry with his work being featured on Britain’s Next Top Model, The Ideal Home Show, Xfactor, Vogue and InStyle, to name a few.
Becoming well known for his sense of style in the industry and working alongside renowned celebrities such as The Saturdays, Jessie J, Janice Dickenson, Melanie Sykes, Kimberly Walsh and many more, it’s a lesser known fact that Joey has struggled with mental health difficulties throughout his life.
Joey self harmed for five years and suffered with anxiety, body dysmorphia and clinical depression caused by stress. He’s now speaking out about his struggles with mental health difficulties to break stigma surrounding the issue as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, and to show young men struggling with mental health difficulties that they can be successful and thrive despite their difficulties…
I first realised I was struggling with mental health difficulties when I began to self-harm at the age of 11. At the time, I didn’t want to admit I was gay, I hated the way I looked and I had a major issue with a person close to me who mentally abused me and then introduced me to illegal drugs. I suffered in silence for so long that it became almost normal to feel so much pain and disguise the mental pain with a physical pain.
I didn’t tell a soul, not even my friends. It was like I was so alone with only myself to deal with all my issues and it was my father who first noticed there was a problem. He asked me what was wrong and why I was hurting myself but I was so ashamed I just got angry and ran away once again from my problems.
It has been a very long journey for me to understand and then start to deal with my mental health difficulties right the way through to the age of 26. The person who had been mentally abusing me had made me increasingly angry and turned me into a monster; I had then been fuelling my depression with drugs, which was making things even worse. In sort, I was destroying my life.
There are three very dark days in my life that really stand out in my mental health journey. The first was when I was 11 years old and I realised I was gay – I feared I would be destroyed by my sexuality.
I then tried to kill myself aged 16 when I felt I had no choice but to take my own life. I remember picking up a bread knife and slicing my arm open… luckily I was so ‘wasted’ I threw up the pills and booze and I couldn’t go through with it.
The last moment for me was four years ago when I had a complete mental breakdown. I was living alone at the time and ended up calling my mum who came to pick me up after three days of not knowing what was going on. I ended up living at home for the next eight months while seeing a counsellor who tried to help me remember and reflect on my childhood to learn more about what had caused my latest breakdown.
I have suffered a lot over the years, going on to medication from the doctor and battling with the side effects they have. Thankfully, I no longer use these and I feel like I’ve dealt with my issues head on, which has helped to make me a stronger person. I also no longer take illegal drugs or drink any alcohol.
I think a lot of people assume if you have mental illness you are crazy like they portray in the movies. When I’ve spoken about what I’ve been through, people have asked me if I was locked up, wore a strait jacket or heard voices. I think people need to realise that mental health difficulties are common, real life and experienced by real people. People like us deal with mental health issues on a daily basis and we are pretty normal about it; I just wish people would understand that dealing with things alone doesn’t help.
It would also help if people would talk more. Since talking about my current and past issues, I have noticed a lot of peers also suffering in the same way themselves. More than this, talking about my issues has helped other people come out of their darkness.