I first knew about James Arthur from his song Say you won’t let go in 2016. Since then, James has made a documentary, Out Of Our Minds, encouraging more people to talk about their mental health.
James struggles with depression and anxiety that stemmed from his childhood. He was deeply affected by his parents’ separation, where he battled with the idea of self-identity and a sense of belonging as he stayed with a foster family.
“Why didn’t you just speak up?”
James worked with Redcar CF football team, based in North Yorkshire, on his documentary. In a Twitter post, James wrote that he wanted to highlight how isolating the battle with mental health can be, but also that it doesn’t have to be.
Sometimes saying words like “I need to talk to someone” or “I need help” may not be easy, especially for some of us who are facing emotional struggles and problems.
James shared with Redcar CF football team:
“I always tell the lads to ask twice. Ask someone if they’re ok they’ll say ‘yeah’. If you ask them again you say ‘are you sure you’re ok?’, you’re opening up the conversation a bit more.”
While some of us may have close friends and family nearby to seek support, some of us may not have trusted people around us. James shared that he tried going to therapy and even started exercising as a way to relieve stress and the overpowering emotions he faced.
Looking back at the past
In an interview with The Sun, James shared that in order to heal his trauma, he had to face his difficult and painful past instead of running away. Therapy helps us understand our situations better and provides us the tools and healthy coping mechanisms to improve our lives. However, what we do with those tools and information is entirely in our hands.
“I decided that, to tackle my mental health issues, I had to start by going back to my hometown to revisit my past, and the separation from my parents.”
He shared that he “felt a lot of resentment” towards his parents over the years and did his best to keep them away.
But now, he sees his move as an opportunity to get to know them again and have the uncomfortable conversations that are necessary to deal with what happened.
A new beginning
Now, together with his girlfriend Jess, James is a father to baby girl Emily.
“One thing I would say is that I’ve never felt better equipped to deal with those dark days as I do now. I’m 35 years old and now I’m a dad with a baby girl so I’ve begun to learn how not to let it take me over. I don’t spiral the way I used to. It’s much more manageable“, James shared.
James also found meaning and purpose in his life by learning about how to be a good dad to Emily, and a good partner to Jess.
“People often say I’m emotionally intelligent, but I failed to really understand what the real point of life was. I had this unhealthy obsession with just wanting to be recognised for my music. Now I’ve got Emily, I realise my whole motivation has changed. I’m super happy with life.”
Some of us may relate to James’ story of unresolved hurt from our past. The kind of caregiving that we received as a child can affect our subsequent relationships.
It’s ok to hurt. Honestly admitting that we have been hurt by people that we trusted is the first step out of the negative emotional entanglement. James’ story reminds us that there is always hope and light at the end of a dark tunnel.
If you have been feeling extreme negative emotions, please seek help and support.
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