I had a traumatic childhood. My father was an addict, chronic hoarder, paranoid schizophrenic and a dealer. Whilst he never hurt me directly, the clientele he let into his house was a different story. For most of my young life, each day was an endless tedium of boredom and neglect punctuated by moments of intense fear.

I ended up moving out of home at 15. By surviving of charity, government support, and part-time work, I was able to finish school and then university, qualifying to be a secondary teacher. All the while I was battling with mental illness: symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD and dissociation. At my worst, I was self-harming, abusing intoxicants and at times suicidal.

At one of my lowest points, a friend suggested that ‘before you ended it all, you should try everything first. What have you got to lose?’. I agreed and decided to give my recovery process one last go. This took me to multiple different therapists and medications as well as numerous different forms of self-improvement. Medication worked in the sense that it kept me alive, but it didn’t really make life have a point. Once stable I weened off them, and begin exercising and meditating daily.

I am in a far better place now. Instilling discipline and sticking to the self-care that works for me has been vital.

I now write, vlog and podcast on the topics of mental health, recovery, and motivation. I have found that by sharing our stories we are able to connect, support and help each other to not feel so alone in our suffering.


Zachary Phillips is an online mental health advocate, writer, teacher and martial artist.