December 8, 2023

Overcoming Anxiety and Depression: A Story of Triumph and Mental Health Support

Dean’s played ice hockey for his country, races motorbikes in the National Championship and has just entered the Super Series – a no-limits racing championship and a major step up in competitive standards, by his own admission.

But against this backdrop of fast bikes and competitive sport, Dean’s biggest success is getting help to overcome anxiety and depression, and to live a full life as a dad and husband.

This is Dean’s story and it shows the transformative impact of seeking support and using therapy to overcome common mental health problems we can all face in life.

“I was struggling a couple of years ago and then the anxiety got too much for me; I was playing hockey as a professional from when I was 19-years-old and I think I’ve always struggled with anxiety,” said Dean, 35 from Whitley Bay. “I’d never really done anything about it until it came to a head and it developed into depression because I was sick of the way I was feeling all the time.

“When I was 14 or 15,  I was playing ice hockey for Great Britain and I was going to all these places and then, all of a sudden, it started to be that things weren’t always going my way. I think that’s maybe what triggered some of the anxiety.”

It got to a stage where Dean couldn’t really take it anymore; his wife Aylisha sadly lost her brother to suicide and had experience of what was happening, she recognised things were bad, went for help and the NHS crisis team got involved.

“I was working with them for about a month, just at home, but in the meantime I started getting therapy with Andrew at Blue Talking Therapies in North Shields, he said.

“It’s such a relaxed place, and the way they do treatment is amazing – just understanding how things work and using coping mechanisms was brilliant for me. In a short amount of time, I went from that awful state to being virtually normal and just being able to enjoy living my life.  

“My level of playing went up because I wasn’t worrying about everything all the time. Not only did life improve for me, my hobbies improved as well and it’s been unbelievable for things at home. I’ve got a little girl who’s 4-year-old and I really feel like I’m part of that now, being a dad too. We lie in bed together eating chocolate just spending time together, whereas beforehand I just couldn’t be bothered, which was awful.”


When asked what Dean, who ran this year’s Great North Run for the charity, Mind,  would say to anyone who is struggling with a common mental health problem like anxiety, worry, low mood or depression, he said:

“I say don’t be scared to tell people, or be scared to admit that you feel like you’re ill because it’s a lot more common than you think.  Years ago, people didn’t talk about it but that all changed now, it’s not like that anymore.”

“I use the coping mechanisms Andrew gave me when things are difficult and I go to the gym a lot. One of my friends has a Gym in Washington called Rock Box – they’ve helped me out a lot with staying mentally strong as well as physically strong through exercise.

“I think at first it was hard for me to accept I needed help, especially having a wife and a kid, but my she understood what I was going through, she recognised it and I’m so glad I got the help I needed.  Blue Talking Therapies is an amazing place, I love it and I still go to Andrew occasionally because it’s a really positive thing in my life.”

A few words from Andrew Bryan, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist (CBT) at Blue

“It’s been great working with Dean; his commitment and honesty in the therapy sessions has been excellent and he deserves so much credit for his improvements.

“Dean’s been on a journey with his anxiety and OCD, but has done so well to always push himself to learn and overcome some of his difficulties.  He is a psychologically strong person and he’s never backed away and always showed great determination and strength.

What Dean has found through the CBT work we’ve done is that sharing and talking about our thoughts, no matter how horrible we think and feel they are, can make us feel a lot better about ourselves.  With any type of intrusive thoughts, the most important thing to remember is that they are normal and you’re not a bad person for thinking about unpleasant things.

Dean has a great mentality and leadership qualities, which many have seen through his hockey and motorbike racing, but he brought that to the therapy room too which he should be so proud of himself for doing.

If Dean’s story has resonated with you or you are struggling, please do get in touch with us, we’re happy to talk things through and see if CBT therapy can help you as it as helped so many others.




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