A MUSIC conductor from Gwent has said he is "overwhelmed" by the response to his online video, where he opened up about his eight-year battle with depression and anxiety.

James Jones, 29, of Usk, Monmouthshire, first started suffering with his mental health while studying at the Royal College of Music and Drama in Cardiff in 2010.

Despite getting help from his GP at the insistence of his then girlfriend, Kate, James explained that he has fought a lonely battle against depression and anxiety ever since.

“There were times when I would come home, lock myself in the bathroom and just crumble,” he told the South Wales Argus.

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(James and Kate Jones)

“I hid it from everyone, including Kate. I kept up a façade of arrogance or cockiness, especially around other musicians. People just thought that was the way I was. I even fell out with a few people over it.

“But I’ve lost count of the amount of times I search ‘suicide’ on the internet over the last eight years.

“That’s not an OK way to feel, and I’m just really thankful that I didn’t do anything stupid.”

James married Kate last year in Usk, bought a house, and jetted off to their honeymoon in Australia. But what should have been the happiest year of his life quickly turned sour.

“We were on the plane heading back from Australia when I had to take myself to the toilets,” James explained.

“It was like a panic attack, I was struggling to breathe. Just the thought of going back to normal life, work, and all those feelings waiting for me again.

“It should have been the happiest year of my life, but it’s been so hard. We have a house we own in Usk and we’ve just got married. But I wasn’t OK.

“It took a breakdown in the GP surgery to realise that it’s not acceptable to feel like that.

“It’s not acceptable to wake up in your bed with a knot in your stomach at the thought of facing the day. "That happened every day for eight years.

“It’s not OK to have to put on a façade just to get through the day, and it’s not OK to have such overwhelming feelings of negativity.”

James explained that he was coping well at the moment with his mental health, but accepts it is something he will struggle with in the future.

He added that a new job at British Land as a facilities manager had helped a lot, as they made it clear that their staff’s wellbeing was a priority.

His current good health has allowed James to step into his father’s shoes and take over his position of conductor for an Usk brass band.

James recorded his video on his phone on World Mental Health Day (Wednesday, October 10), and initially had doubts about sharing it to his Facebook profile.

But since uploading the video, it has been viewed online almost 8,000 times and he said the response has been "overwhelming".

“In the end I just thought I should upload it," said James.

"I didn’t even watch it back before posting it. I think it was thinking of my friends that could be going through something similar that did it.

“The response has been out of this world - it's been quite overwhelming. So many people from all over the country have been getting in touch. Lots of mothers of young men, all talking to me about their sons.

“One woman messaged to tell me she had been stood on top of a car park recently, but has since sought help from a GP. She said my video really spoke to her. It’s amazing really.

“There’s such a stigma around mental health, especially in young men. I’m 29, and I’ve suffered for eight years.

“I know that some of my friends are probably going through something similar, and I just hope the video prompts somebody to seek help – to make that phone call.


(James hopes his video will help fight the stigma surrounding mental health)

“The help I’ve had has been amazing. When you go to the GP for the first time they take you through an assessment, and you feel like such a fraud. I remember feeling like I was wasting everyone’s time while other people were potentially sitting with cancer in the waiting room.

“But not once have I been laughed at or told to ‘man-up’ in a GP’s office. Everyone has really tried to help me, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

“If this video helps anyone, just one person, then it would have been worth it.”

*If you are suffering with your mental health you can talk to someone confidentially by calling the Samaritans or MIND.*

*More information on Mental Health Day can be found here.*