During the recent mental health awareness week, I read some powerful and harrowing stories of the daily battles people living with a mental illness face.
Though many people know I live with depression and have struggled with alcohol and face a daily battle to even get out of bed, I have never really gone into detail about where the root cause of my illness may have stemmed from.
First, a bit of a recent history about my poor mental health.
I have had five episodes (that I know of), three where I had to seek medical advice or help.
The first episode happened when out with friends in the summer of 2001.
I have no idea why it happened. I wasn't feeling 'down' or miserable, I was enjoying a night out.
Towards the end of the night out, I just sat down outside and started crying while mumbling something none of my friends understood.
They helped me home and the following few days I just tried to bat it off without seeking help.
Episode two happened in June 2005. I had spent a day at the cricket with friends, then went for a curry.
On getting home I realised I had lost my mobile phone and started to get angry with myself, eventually imploding into a tearful rage.
This rage degenerated into a full-blown breakdown. I was at the time thousands of pounds in debt, mainly from a failed relationship.
I was also under stress at work due to management bullying.
Despite an attempt to section me, I again decided not to seek help as I saw it as a sign of weakness.
The third episode happened in April 2009, followed a stressful period organising a wedding and after workplace bullying.
The outcome of all this was a full-blown breakdown.
I managed to drive home despite crying uncontrollably. I phoned my wife at work but have no recollection of what was said.
My wife called my mother who came to find the front door wide open and her son cowering in the corner of the bedroom.
The doctor was called and I was given diazepam to settle me. At that time, it was thought best that I wasn't sectioned but would benefit from home rest, counselling and therapy.
It was then I was officially diagnosed as living with depression and prescribed anti-depressants.
Episode four happened in August 2010, not long after I had been elected to Birmingham City Council.
I had just taken time off with my mental health, again due to work circumstances.
To try to recuperate, my wife and I went to visit friends in Herefordshire. After a few too many drinks my wife and I had an argument because of my excessive alcohol intake and I stormed off.
While walking alone, I broke down thinking I'd ruined our relationship and sat on a bridge over the River Wye, rang my wife and said I was going to jump.
I sat on the bridge for about an hour pondering whether to jump. After thinking about the mess I'd leave, I decided I needed some urgent help and booked in for cognitive behavioural therapy.
This, plus a change of medication and work environment, helped get me back on an even keel.
The fifth major episode happened in February 2015 and was down to a culmination of events over a two-year period, the majority of which was from issues in my then political group.
This led me to quit my 'day job' as a postie as I was becoming mentally unstable.
Just as I thought I was returning to a functioning level, I decided to drink two bottles of wine and took 12 paracetamol thinking it might finish me off.
Two very close friends came to my aid and called an ambulance which took me to hospital.
I often look back and think about where my poor mental health could have stemmed from.
Could it have been seeing my mother being a victim of domestic violence from my natural father who left when I was very young?
Could it have been the bullying I endured throughout my school years?
Could it be the excessive alcohol consumption from age 16, or the cannabis I smoked and ecstasy I was foolish enough to take in my 20s, thinking it would be a release?
To be honest with you, it's probably a bit of everything.
The experiences in my life have formed my own ideas about treatments and early interventions at all ages, in all environments.
I hope, by sharing my journey, more people will open up about their own mental health battles.
Ian Cruise is a former Birmingham city councillor and mental health champion