"When I was 21, I was living life to the full and loving every second of it. I had close friends, regularly saw my family, exercised most days, had plenty of money for clothes, shoes and always had a night out, gig or festival planned. I felt content, fulfilled and happier than I had been in years.
But a bad relationship in my early 20s changed everything. Within six months I became a shell of the person I once was. I stopped seeing my friends, gained loads of weight and end up thousands of pounds in debt.
It was only when my best friend Matt took me to one side and asked me about it, that I broke down.
By the end of the day, I had collected most of my belongings and moved into his spare room, where I stayed for the next three months.
It took two years to rebuild my life and become me again. Eventually, I met Becky and she reminded me who I was, instantly.
Our friendship started as we both navigated our lives outside of toxic relationships. We both had a clear picture of what we did and didn’t want from the future.
We’ve now been married for three years and have two beautiful daughters. We have never said a hurtful word to each other and never even raised our voices. Any disagreements, or minor stresses we’ve had, have been spoken through respectfully and moved on from.
It was a horrible time in which I lost sight of who I was and what I wanted. It happened so gradually that I didn’t realise that it was happening at all. But I have come away from it stronger than ever before.
My hope in sharing my story is to encourage other men to open up. Speak to each other. If you notice any changes in your friend’s behaviour, especially around his partner, talk to him about it.
Give him a safe space to talk through everything. You never know how much you can change someone's life by double-checking that they’re okay.
And if you’re in that place now, stay strong, know your worth. There are times that I can still recall negative comments, all these years later; but it does get easier. Remember, the first step might be the hardest, but it’s also the most important one to take."