HAVING struggled with OCD, anxiety, panic attacks and depression since the age of five, Adam Shaw came dangerously close to taking his own life.
Having met psychologist Lauren Callaghan, who helped him turn his life around, he is now dedicating that life to helping others in similar situations.
The 39-year-old from Lincolnshire co-founded The Shaw Mind Foundation and has just published a book, Pulling The Trigger, which aims to show others how to cope, too.
“What I learned from working with Lauren was a new way of thinking about obsessive compulsive disorder and other problems,” says Adam.
“I had been passed from pillar to post, back and forth to hospital.
“It came naturally to me to fight my condition, get rid of it, but Lauren told me to hang on and try it another way.
“I came to realise that it was through trying to figure everything out and fighting it that I had actually been fuelling it.
“Lauren showed me how to say hello to it, to welcome it in.
“I remember her saying to me: ‘When you listen to a really good song, over and over, it starts to lose its momentum and that uplifting sensation.
“‘There’s no difference with anxiety, and the reason it’s hanging around is because you are trying to fight it.’
“She showed me how to let the feelings in and they would gradually reduce. I faced the demons, and it became clear that she was absolutely right.”
Seemingly, Adam had it all — beautiful children and a loving wife, a great career and nice home.
But, having ensured they would be financially secure, he found himself on a bridge, ready to throw himself in front of the next train.
It was the low point his life had led him to since the age of five, but he walked away from it, partly through not wanting to damage the train driver’s own mind, and is now helping others.
“I remember conversations with my mum as a kid,” he recalls.
“I would tell her that I worried bad things would happen if I didn’t do certain other things, and she just thought I was quirky and would grow out of it.
“Her advice was always: ‘Stop wishing bad things on yourself. That’s how people end up in mental institutions.’
“When you’re a kid and you hear that, it just reinforces the things you worry about.
“I would have thought like: ‘Oh, my God, I’m going to be a strangler, I’m going to be a murderer, I’m going to go on a rampage and kill everyone!’
“The thoughts were so real, that I did everything I could to avoid knives, to not have my hands around people in case I strangled them.
“It was very, very distressing, and I just thought I must be a psychopath.
“It built up so much that I hit a dead end and it would all come out or I would just end it all, because I hadn’t got rid of this burden.
“That happens to a lot of people with OCD and anxiety, and a lot of males, because we are not so open and can’t get things out.
“A lot of my friends, when they knew this book was coming out, said: ‘Wow, we had no idea!’”
According to Adam and Lauren, the answer is to reach out and grasp the very problem itself. Accept it, rather than fight it, and thus you begin to control it. And finally, you can pull the trigger on it.
Having done that to his own demons, Adam aims to help others going through what he once endured.
Pulling The Trigger: OCD Anxiety Panic Attacks And Related Depression, by Adam Shaw and Lauren Callaghan, is published by Trigger Press, price £21.99, ISBN No. 978-1-911246-00-8.