Finding light in a world full of grey

Tom Gray, 27, of Sheffield, has written a book about his battle with mental health problems.
Tom Gray, 27, of Sheffield, has written a book about his battle with mental health problems.
0
Have your say

In this world there is no black or white, just a grey area - that is the slogan of Tom Gray’s new book ‘King of the World’.

Tom, aged 27, of Aston, Rotherham, put pen to paper after many tough years battling with mental health issues which saw him attempt suicide twice.

He said: “I had a normal upbringing with my mum, dad, brother Alex, and sister Christie, but somehow I never felt one hundred per cent.

“I went to sixth form, where I started drinking, and then I went to University to study for an economics degree to try and escape from the bad feeling, but all my problems followed me.

“I dropped out and in 2007 I went to Australia for a year. I made some bad decisions while I was there, I carried on drinking and started taking drugs.

“When I came home I started training to be a financial advisor, but I wasn’t happy so I quit.

“Then I started thinking I was going to get punished for all the bad things I’d done, with the drinking and the drug taking.

“I thought the whole world was against me.”

Tom suffered a psychotic episode and attempted to take his own life in 2010. He found himself standing on a motorway bridge, having written a suicide note and drunk a large amount of alcohol, poised to jump - but a woman disturbed him.

His worried parents, Mark and Tracie sought help for their eldest child, calling an emergency doctor, and soon after Tom started taking prescribed medication. However, after 18 months, he stopped.

“I’d lost all track of reality,” he said.

“I went from an extreme low to an extreme high. I started to believe I had been sent to the earth to make it a better place.

“I thought everything was about me, I thought everyone was talking about me, but in a good way this time.

“I believed I had an ultimate amount of power and I used Facebook to spread my message. At one point I posted 84 times in an hour.”

Tom was sectioned under the mental health act in June 2012 and admitted to hospital. He was then diagnosed with Bipolar disorder.

He said: “I went from believing I was king of the world to then believing I was the most evil person in the world.

“It’s unbelievable how powerful the mind can be and how I could believe these two extremes of mood.”

He struggled to accept the diagnosis, and after an appeal at a tribunal he was released from hospital.

However, his mood spiralled and, embarrassed by his behaviour and believing he was capable of hurting others, he attempted suicide for the second time in December 2012.

He was at his parents’ home, just weeks before Christmas, when he took a kitchen knife to his wrists.

After his second suicide attempt, Tom voluntarily went into Swallownest Court Hospital, Rotherham, and three months into his stay began writing his book.

“I wrote the book because I wanted people to know they shouldn’t feel alone, they should seek help and talk about their problems because after all, a problem shared is a problem halved.

“I would find it hard to switch off after I had spent a day writing, and it did make me poorly again, but I’m still glad I wrote it.

“The book is 135,000 words long, and all of that was going round in my head, so it was therapeutic to write it down.

“King of the World takes you on a roller coaster ride, but really it’s a story of hope showing that people who are in a dark place can get better and will become better and stronger.

“One thing I would like to achieve from this book is helping one person who is going through a tough time.

“I would then like that person to help another person and so on.

“If I can just stop one person going through what I went through then I will feel my book has been a success.”

Tom is now working as a facilitator at a Bipolar UK support group in Chesterfield, but is hoping to start a support group in Rotherham soon.

“These meetings were really helpful to me, and now I want to help other people.

“I’ve only just started trying to get the group set up in Rotherham but it’s something I’d really like to see.”

Tom added that he would like to thank people for their support.

“I’ve had exceptional support from both friends and family. I’m doing very good now and feel like a much better person,” he said.

To buy Tom’s book visit www.amazon.co.uk/King-World-Tom-Gray/dp/1783820934.

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomgraykotw.

Bipolar disorder is a condition that affects moods meaning sufferers can swing from one extreme to another.

Sufferers will have periods of depression, where they feel very low and lethargic, and mania, where they feel very high and overactive. Less severe mania is known as hypomania.

Bipolar disorder is fairly common and one in every 100 adults will be diagnosed with the condition at some point in their life.

To talk to someone confidentially, call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90. You can talk to them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Alternatively, visit the Samaritans website at www.samaritans.org or email jo@samaritans.org.