My Story

As I’ve grown older I now realise the huge benefits of simply talking to people. Mark Hill

I’ve been seeing a lot of other chefs recently starting to open up about issues in the service industry around mental health and addiction. This has been a part of the parcel in so many ways within the industry, it being a place for the misfits, and the outcasts of society… or so they were made to feel, once upon a time. The service industry, cheffing in particular offers people of mixed backgrounds and often without qualifications opportunities to hold down a stable job and build some kind of career.

I myself have struggled with mental health issues for as long as I can remember, from being a so called “under achiever” in education, not having the right support within this to tackle issues like dyslexia and personal issues surrounding me, this ended up leading to me having some serious drug and alcohol problems.

I’ve lost family members to suicide, as well as many close friends to drug addiction and mental health issues.

This has had such a deep effect on me, they’re things I carry around heavily day in, day out, but I now feel that the only way out of that dark hole that these events thrust you in to, is to be positive and focus on positive energy. To spread as much love and joy as possible. As I’ve grown older I now realise the huge benefits of simply talking to people. Growing up I felt the opposite, tarred with being seen as a bit of a ticking time bomb, filled with emotion and angst, better to not set me off. I’ve always worn my heart and my sleeve and always felt like this was viewed as a negative trait. Something I now would strongly discourage, being open about whatever you’re going through can be a game changer, and pockets of support can open up around you.

I have, and will always have addiction problems.

I work on them daily, from staying away from the world of drugs, trying to control alcohol problems, and simply trying to keep on going day by day without indulging in anything that will help distract me from the real world.

I’ve been opening up recently about my addiction problems, and how the current situation is effecting me and how I’m trying to deal with it. This has helped me in many ways, it’s shown me that we are all trying to do the same thing. To survive, and to live a good life.

I, like any addict, will always be an addict. But I make it my first step of every day to try and be addicted to the good things in life, the things which make me and the people around me happy and positive.

The kitchen, and cooking saved me in so many ways. It gave me a job when I was told I would amount to nothing. It gave me a community and family to be a part of.

This has stayed with me and I’m grateful for this every day.

Food is just a small reason why I work in the industry, it’s a reason to do good, to make others happy. It’s an opening.

I feel the pain of lost friends, and all the negative’s that brings every hour, every day. But I now use this pain, anger and emotion as a drive, as a fuel, to keep me going and to keep on living.

I am grateful to have had such feelings and emotional experiences, that’s what life is for. I may fuck up all the time, I may some days feel like the only one, a black sheep, but thats ok. That feeling will pass, and you’ll learn from this every day, it can be your fuel, your fire inside.

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    Our stories

  • Doug Sanham

    I had a head chef, who, after I first tried to kill myself really stepped up to help me. He was really supportive. Really drove me. But still I could not speak. I just always said I’m okay. And there are times where I still say ‘I’m okay’... Read More

  • James Hudson

    I have battled mental health issues since around my 16th birthday. I had just finished school and all the stresses of exams and bullying through school to losing my father suddenly overnight. Read More

  • Daniel Watkins

    My journey has been a long one and I have found writing this really tough, yet at the same time a breath of fresh air. Trying to condense 15 years of depression is no small feat but I’ve tried to keep this short. Read More

  • Hannah Clare

    I have had issues with my mental health as long as I can remember, I have always been a natural performer and carer, just wanting to spread some joy and putting others before myself. Read More

  • Rebecca Lever

    It was 2016 when I began cooking professionally, as a gradual rehabilitation back into working after a period of burn-out from my previous job, followed by a wave of deep depression. Read More

  • Selin Kiazim

    I come from a culture that does not see depression as a ‘thing’ - legitimate, common, or otherwise. Read More

  • Jamie Lumsden

    On my 18th birthday, I travelled to London from my home town, Colchester. I worked for free in a French bistro in Soho until I was given a paid position. Read More

  • Nikifor Mleczak

    You would be surprised how many people can help, how many of them just wait for opportunity to help someone! Read More

We cannot do this alone! Together, we can create a community of like-minded professionals united by a common cause: to shine a light on these issues and act as a beacon of support to those affected by them.

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