Poor mental health led child sexual abuse survivor Paul Scates down a dark road, culminating in a failed suicide bid at the age of 16.
Now he plans to follow a different path; the 26 miles of the London Marathon, to help other suffers. Alongside him will be the man he credits wit saving his life: his father.
Paul is taking on the challenge to help raise money for Heads Together, the mental health campaign currently being backed stars including Andrew Flintoff and Professor Green, as well as the The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
Opening up about his painful but inspiring journey in Attitude’s May issue – available to download and in shops now – Paul reveals how catastrophic mental health issue almost ended his life as an adolescent, and why the support of his father helped him make it out the other side.
“When I was 16, I experienced terrifying psychosis and paranoia and tried to take my own life. I was in a dark place, where my mind had become polluted and distorted, engulfing my very existence,” he recalls.
“The attempt left me with a broken back, bed-bound and paralysed for 10 months. My road to recovery, or, as I call it, discovery, was a rocky one but there was a small glimmer of light.
“A torchbearer lit my fire of hope and gave me a sense of belonging.
“The man holding the torch was my father.”
To help shine and light on mental health and to raise money for mental health, Paul’s father has agreed to take up running for the first time in over 30 years and join his son in running the London Marathon later this month (April 23).
Paul says his own recovery from child sexual abuse, abduction and rape, as well as an addiction to drugs and alcohol, took “blood sweat and tears, mixed with a huge sense of pride and happiness,” and urges people to do more when it comes to addressing and accepting mental health issues.
“Mental illness can be extremely cruel and distressing so please show compassion to your fellow man,” he says.
“Also, if anyone reading this… is experiencing any distress, please reach out as there are so many of us like me ready to help, and some amazing organisations which can provide support.”
If you or someone you know needs support the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day on 116 123 or visit their website.