My Journey by Connor Smith, FG Factor Founder

FG Factor founder, Connor Smith, has battled with depression and anxiety since childhood.  His experiences together with the knowledge that good nutrition can have a positive impact on your mental health, led to the creation of FG Factor.  Here is Connor’s story…

From around the age of 12 I started to suffer with depression and anxiety and at the time I didn’t really understand why I had these feelings. I just carried on with day to day life suppressing my emotions. As time passed the emotions were much harder to suppress and ignore. I developed periods of very low moods during which I started to have suicidal thoughts and self-harming impulses. This made it even more difficult to talk about because when you read stories about these subjects you can always hear someone say “attention-seeking” or “melodramatic”. I felt I should not express my issues or talk about them to anyone even my family. And I started to self-harm in places where no one would see so it would not raise any suspicion with my wife or family.

I got to the stage where I was waking up not wanting to be in this life anymore, I did not know who I was or wanted to be. I felt an emptiness inside me which was so strange as I had a very good life, a job I enjoyed, house, car, loving family. Yet I still felt like I didn’t belong and what made it worse was that I blamed myself for having these feelings.

After years of trying to manage myself after breaking down again and again, I decided to start trying to improve my state of mind and increase my feeling of self-worth by getting professional help. I spent 3 years trying to find a therapist I felt I could trust, which thankfully I have now. I also turned my attention to what I was putting in my body – nutrition. From this I started to do research into what helps my body recover and enables it to function to its best ability. I noticed after doing research that there are a lot of natural products that help massively but that they are all contained in separate supplements. And so I decided that I was going to make a drink that improves the health of the mind just as much as the body. Thus the Feel Good Factor range of drinks was created…. Providing a daily dose of the mix of vitamins and minerals needed to fuel a healthy mind and a healthy body!

I learned a lot on my journey as I grappled with my mental health issues. I learned that:

  • talking openly about your own mental health is critical to dealing with issues before they escalate
  • conversation about mental health, at home and in the workplace, does a lot to remove the stigma which is sadly associated with mental health problems
  • good nutrition has a positive impact on mental health and wellness – and we can assert some control over our own mental wellness by ensuring that we feed our bodies with the right combination of vitamins and minerals

And now I want to share my learnings and give others the tools that will help them get through dark days of the kind that I have struggled with….

  1. take your mental health seriously

Our mental health influences how we think, feel and behave in daily life. It also affects our ability to cope with stress, overcome challenges, build relationships, and recover from life’s setbacks and hardships. Mental health is everyone’s business. We all have times when we feel down or stressed or frightened. Most of the time those feelings pass. But sometimes they develop into a more serious problem and that could happen to any one of us. Our mental health state is now more important than ever given the stress and strain of living through the global CV19 pandemic and coping with the situations at hand. There’s a stigma attached to mental health problems and lack of awareness about them. This means that people often feel uncomfortable and don’t talk about them.

So I have curated a Resources Hub of inspiring stories and practical tools to help you make mental wellness a priority in life and work. Here you will find interviews to learn from, positive stories to inspire you, and access to mentors and coaches to support you: a tool-kit to help you on your journey promoting good mental health for yourself and others.

  1. talk!

But it’s healthy to know and say how you’re feeling, it is OK to talk. So as well as developing the FG Factor drinks I have also launched the Feel Good Initiative – a programme for employers and employees to take into the workplace and encourage dialogue about mental wellness as well as give the gift to individuals of practical tools to deal with stress, depression and anxiety. My amazing therapist, Melanie Dales,  is heavily involved in this program of education. She is running workshops and providing support for organisations who sign up to the Feel Good Initiative. Our mission with the Feel Good Initiative is to raise awareness and encourage people to open up, to speak to friends, family and colleagues, to find ways to help themselves or be aware it is OK to seek help.

  1. feed your mind as well as your body

The Feel Good Factor range of drinks was created to provide the daily dose of the mix of vitamins and minerals needed to fuel a healthy mind and a healthy body! And it is delicious to boot! Teams of NHS workers report the uplifting effects of the drink; the armed forces are helping us to promote the drink to servicemen and women ; and a number of professional sportsmen are helping us to push the message far and wide. Try it for yourself! Register here to find out when you will be able to pre order.

Today, I feel that I am successfully moving forward. I still struggle but I try to stay positive and do everything in my power to promote my own wellness. I hope my story is another example of how you can defeat your inner demons and create a way to help others even if it is just talking and being more aware. FG Factor has been designed to make you smile, to share and to value your own and others’ mental wellbeing and health in general.

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