For Men's Health Week 2017 we asked community members to share their thoughts on the term 'Healthy' and how they look after their health. In Joe's own words, he talks honestly about engaging with health care professionals and supporting other's with their health and wellbeing.

Health is a funny thing to think about and I tend not to if I can help it. I have to be coerced into going to the doctor or the dentist and then I feel like I’m taking up their valuable time listing my relatively minor woes, rather than letting them deal with people in real need.

The last time I went to the doctor it took about 6 months of badgering by my partner to get me there and then I presented with a bizarre list of apparently random aches and pains - from a spasm in my foot, to an ache in my neck, to not sleeping. I’d also been told being over 40 that I should be getting invited to a 5 year check which I hadn’t been. My doctor wasn’t very helpful and advised that he couldn’t possibly solve all my issues in 10 minutes, that there wasn’t much he could do for a man my age and could I pick my top priority that I wanted him to check out. He sent me away saying I was fine and to make another appointment if I wanted to talk about any of the other issues. To be fair he looked ill himself, stressed out and overworked with just not enough time to work out what if anything could be wrong. I came away worrying more about whether my doctor was alright than myself!

Other people’s health has always been important to me, whether that of my friends and family or when I’ve been volunteering either on the mental health project I worked on in Bristol or the various forms of HIV support I’ve been involved with at George House Trust. I’ve always encouraged my friends to be tested and get regular sexual health check-ups as well as going for them myself.

Sporadically, I do care about my own health, I’ve been through phases of going to the gym which last about 3 months or swimming three times a week which lasts a few weeks. I like swimming and I tell myself it would be a hell of a lot easier if there was a pool in the back garden and I lived somewhere warm! Whatever the exercise plan, something happens where I’m too busy, stressed or hungover and I lose the motivation to go. I’ve stopped smoking on various occasions and then I start again, but I believe I will stop, just not right now. I count my alcohol units in an app, setting myself targets but then blow it all on a binge. I look at the steps on my phone and sometimes think ‘that’s good’ but don’t make any sustained effort to hit a certain level.

I care more about my mental health and emotional wellbeing than my physical health but tend to view these as needs so therefore essential. Knowing who I am and why I behave in a certain way, how I can cope with certain situations or how I could have dealt with something better is of real importance to me. My relationships with other people and how I interact with society, the idea of gaining an insight, you could almost call it spiritual but without the religious overtones. I guess the concept of wellbeing is relatively modern, but without my mental state being in the right place I’m never going to be able to tackle any of the physical health issues that I might have.

So maybe some of the things the doctor saw was someone else in life about the same age who was stressed out, tired with a bunch of symptoms manifesting themselves physically. Perhaps we both looked in the mirror. It’s not something you can fix with a bunch of pills, a few weeks off work or a holiday in Gran Canaria. It’s lifestyle and sometimes your mind or your body are telling you something has to give, we might just need a little bit of help to find out what that is.


If you'd like support with your health and wellbeing, give us a call on 0345 3 30 30 30 or drop us an email at info@lgbt.foundation