‘I’ve risen from the flames of my mental health’
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
A local politician who attempted to take his own life says his new mission is to help eradicate the stigma associated with mental health problems both within and outside Denbighshire County Council.
Cllr Chris Evans, 47, tried to end his life after a dispute at work led him to his garage in the early hours one morning last November.
Chris says his former employer’s refusal to accept his dyslexia and its traits caused him to spiral into depression.
After kissing his daughter and son goodbye whilst they slept, Chris, a dad of four children and two stepchildren, attempted to end his pain once and for all.
Miraculously, Chris, a former weightlifter, managed to free himself.
“Walking to the garage, I felt relief,” he said.
“I wasn’t scared. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. But as I was hanging there, I saw a photo of my daughter on the wall.”
Now Chris , a councillor for Tremeirchion, wants to raise awareness of mental health issues within and outside of Denbighshire County Council.
Chris, who has lived in Rhuallt for 10 years with his partner Susan, suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia.
The learning disability caused him to struggle through school and work, and when provisions weren’t put in place at work, Chris said he felt ‘worthless’.
The attempted suicide wasn’t the first time Chris tried to end his own life.
The union worker and former truck mechanic says he also made another attempt 15 years ago whilst walking his dog.
But now Chris is making it his mission to help others struggling with mental health issues.
“It started when I was a teenager,” said Chris.
“I suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia. When I was 15 or 16, I would just cry in my room, and my mum and dad didn’t know what was wrong with me.
“When I was older, I had a bad temper, and I’d fly off the handle. It was my mental health and not knowing how to deal with things.
“People don’t think someone like me can suffer with mental health issues. I have a big beard. I’m big and covered in tattoos. I’m twenty stone. I used to weightlift, but when I tell people what happened, they say, ‘You’re not like that. You’re a big man’.
Anyone can have mental health problems. Everyone has mental health issues. It’s how you deal with them.”
Chris has since become qualified as a mental health first aider, trained to help identify and help others suffering with conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Now Chris wants to put his experience and training into action and help others.
Chris said he is always up front about his mental health and is now working with Denbighshire to organise mental health workshops for councillors and staff.
“I want to highlight that the issue with mental health is real,” he said.
“It’s not just people making stuff up. To me, we all should be more empathetic and understanding.
“Sometimes all people need is to be asked how they are doing, how they are getting on. It is about having that thing of a text message or a phone call.
To me, that’s what is needed in society, and that’s what is needed in Denbighshire County Council.
“It doesn’t matter what group you’re in, Conservative, Labour, Lib Dems, or independent, or Plaid. We just need to ask each other how we are getting on.”
He added: “There is a stigma around mental health issues in which people think you can’t deal with things, but in my eyes, it gives you more resilience.
“I’ve risen out of the flames of my mental health. I’ve become a mental health first aider to try and understand what my mental health is.
“Now I can spot other people with mental health problems. Men are still seen as lesser when suffering from mental health issues. I want to help with that stigma.”
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