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After a breakdown, this man started a huge mental health support group

36-year-old Andrew Feeney’s life changed dramatically a year ago.

*TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains explicit description of a suicide attempt, addiction, mental illness, and baby loss.*

The mechanic from Glasgow suffered a mental breakdown and took an overdose, waking up in hospital still feeling as though he had nothing to live for.

Andrew went home and put a gun in his mouth, ready to end his life.

He told ‘I had lost 7 members of my family, I lost my home, stopped seeing my kids, my relationship broke down, and I was told I had lost a baby.

‘I ended up with drug and alcohol addiction trying to stop the voices but it didn’t – I had to – and could only do it again by fighting literally for my life.’

The proud dad admitted himself into hospital, but got into an altercation with another patient after they stole some of his possessions. After that, he was discharged and refused further treatment. For Andrew, this was a rock bottom moment.

‘I struggled each day, and it was sitting with my uncle Andy (who has recently passed away) I came to the conclusion I would go for a walk to raise awareness for men’s mental health and baby loss, as walking was helping my thought process,’ says Andrew.

He set off from Glasgow with his dog Kai, with the aim of walking from the Scottish town to Land’s End in Cornwall.

Starting a Facebook group called Andrew’s Journey, he managed to meet up with supporters on the way, sharing his story and them sharing theirs.

Once he reached Wigan, Andrew had to attend hospital due to a leaking heart valve he has, and they instructed him to stop there and then, but do it the following year.

Although, due to Covid-19, this hasn’t been able to happen yet, it hasn’t stopped Andrew turning his life around and doing all he can to help others.

He says: ‘When I started walking south I never thought for a second it would grow the support it did, and that I’d also find people reaching out to me to help them with their mental health.

‘We have regular contact with folk struggling with mental health issues and continuing to support them and their families.’

Although they are not a registered charity, the group helps raise money and awareness for other charities, and offers ad-hoc support to those who reach out.

Andrew has been helping a man called Barry (and his horse Barney) on their own sponsored walk from Land’s End to John o’ Groats – which has raised over £8,000 – and have been publicising Forth Valley Radio’s Christmas Toy Drive so that children across the Central Belt will get presents this festive season.

He adds: ‘Coming out of lockdown, we will be looking to start walking therapy groups travelling to different places and involving as many as possible – and thanks to our sponsorship with Craghoppers we can provide everyone with what they need for the day.’

The Andrew’s Journey group now has almost 7,000 followers, with people from across the UK fundraising and doing what they can to comfort those in need.

Although Andrew’s own mental health journey isn’t yet over, since starting the page he’s managed to get back on his feet – including starting a new relationship with a woman called Debbie who’s now pregnant with his seventh child.

Speaking about Debbie, Andrew says: ‘We first met six years ago but separated for a number of years.

‘We have always maintained a friendship and when I was at my lowest she was still there waiting to offer support. We started seeing each other again last year.

‘It has been difficult for Debbie to learn the new broken me, but I love her and Debdeb loves me, so we will be okay.’

He adds: ‘I still worry I’m not good enough and don’t deserve what I’ve got and how my life is going, but I’ve got to listen to Debbie and my kids that I am worth it; listen to those who truly love me unconditionally.’

If you’d like to join Andrew’s Journey on Facebook, you can do so here.

Need support? Contact the Samaritans

For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

Do you have a story you’d like to share?

Get in touch at [email protected].

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