I originally joined the YMCA with the Young Carers group. I started off with very little confidence, always thinking I was being judged and looked at, wanting to stay back just in case someone was laughing at me. Later on, I got to know more people within the group and found they were a lot like me – little confidence, not really wanting to socialise.
My confidence grew when I was invited to go on a trip to Cornwall. I met the Triple A team and soon got to know a lot of them, they spoke to me and made me feel welcome within their friendship groups. However, I was still always that kid that kinda just waited for people to come and talk to me. I would sit inside and just eat some food or chill on my phone until someone would come and say “hey”. I always felt awkward introducing myself to people or going up randomly and joining people, especially because I didn’t know them at all, I just felt like I was judged with everything I did.
After the Cornwall trip, I started going to the Triple A youth clubs on Tuesdays and soon got to know everyone in there. Triple A is honestly the only reason why my confidence has been boosted so much. I used to suffer from so much anxiety, I never wanted people to socialise, because I was so scared of meeting new people. I was never even able to order a cheeseburger from McDonalds without having a anxiety attack or something. I still have difficulties socialising. I still hate trying new things unless I know at least one person in the room so I don’t look awkward walking around and just talking to myself.
The staff at the YMCA have played a very big part in my life, they’re always there to talk to, they will never judge you or make fun of you. If you are feeling like you can’t handle something on your own, they won’t let it go unnoticed. I was feeling very stressed at one point and felt like there was no point in me even being on Earth. Someone had obviously noticed that and asked to talk to me. I told them what was going on, why I was stressed, and it helped a lot; opening up that is. That’s the biggest lesson I learnt. If you ever need to talk to someone then never keep your stress to yourself, because it won’t help. If there’ someone you feel comfortable talking to, then just ask to talk to them. Never keep it held back there to grow bigger and destroy you slowly as it gets worse.
If you are a young male like me, suffering from anxiety, depression, any mental health matter, then the biggest advice I can give is to definitely try and talk to someone. It doesn’t matter who, as long as you feel comfortable talking to them. Trust me, it will help.

For more information about Virtually Minded, contact Hannah on  07879 794319 or hannahcleveley@ymcasc.org.uk.