John and Charlie's Story

I identify as gender-fluid, this means that I naturally flow from feminine to masculine and do not think of myself as having one set gender identity. I have faced many difficulties and much discrimination from people and systems and this has driven me to set up a campaign where I share my experiences and help other people come through the challenges that they face, whether because of their gender identity, race, background or because of their mental health. 

Honestly I would say I’ve been through some really tough times, I’ve experienced abuse and assault, I John holding a newspaper featuring his storyhave self harmed and I had attempted to end my life. Life looked very bleak for a long time, I felt I had no escape, alone and worried by uncertainty over what would happen if I told anyone how I was feeling, or what I was experiencing. I was in a very lonely place.  

I think that all of the experiences I have had, and the challenges I overcame have impacted my mental health, I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, which also presents me challenges; in essence I find it really hard to connect and trust people. I am really tough on myself and struggle to regulate my emotions, and BPD has been linked to increased suicidal ideation.

I attempted to take my own life on four occasions, looking back I can see how they were linked to really bad times, where things got too much for me, when my dad died, who was my best friend and role model, when I was in a violent relationship and things were getting worse. Now I look back and I feel honestly so glad that I am still here.

I recognise that my life was filled with toxicity, people who were not supportive of me, situations that made for bad decisions and emotions, which overwhelmed me. The thoughts are still there, I can still hear them when I am low or feeling drained, but now I can acknowledge it and let it pass me by.

I stopped letting toxic people spread their hate and negativity to me, I don’t need that in my life. As a result, I now have really good people around me. I found the ZSA as a really good resource and organisation to help me understand how to reach out in a supportive way, and I share this with everyone I can, being able to support someone and actually listen is so important.

My sights are now set forward, I have so much going on, when I stop and take it all in it feels incredible that I might not have been here for it, and it makes me humble and grateful.

I am currently writing an autobiography, I’m also an actor and looking for my next big role, I lead a national borderline personality disorder campaign and I make music.

You might have asked, who is Charlie in this story. Well Charlie is this big teddy duck that has sort of become my mascot and mate along the way. I found that this comfort was a big help in starting to reconnect and to be more self compassionate, and as time went on he started to come along with me. People really connect to this fluffy stuffed animal, he disarms you and you just want to give him a cuddle. So officially Charlie is now a big part of what I do, he comes everywhere with me and people look out for the big duck, and I think that’s really nice.

You can find out more about John and Charlie on their campaign website, where they are pushing for much more mental health support for everyone, and the development of centres for mental health in every city across the UK.