When Prince William and Kate Middleton (the current Prince and Princess of Wales) came to visit Patrick Regan’s successful youth charity, XLP, it should have been the highest point in his career. Pictures of Patrick with the Prince and Princess adorned every glossy magazine, his charity was on every major news channel, and his phone was a non-stop buzz of congratulations. But instead, burned out from constant anxiety, growing depression, and the fear that it would all fall apart if he was less than perfect, Patrick experienced a breakdown that would push him to the very edge, mentally and physically.
In Patrick’s new book Brighter Days: 12 Steps to Strengthening Your Wellbeing, endorsed by Terry Waite CBE, and psychiatrist Dr Chi Chi Obuaya, he shares a powerful message for anyone struggling with mental illness: when you cannot see any hope at the end of the tunnel, look for pinpricks of light. This is more manageable, and ultimately more powerful, than trying to force your way through the darkness all at once.
From cultivating honesty about mental health issues, no matter how distressing, to practical exercises for improving everything from depression, shame, and anger to perfectionism, relationship issues, and grief and loss, Brighter Days offers you a space where you can belong without having to fit in and where no thought, feeling, or struggle is ‘too much’ to overcome, one step at a time.
Brighter Days is endorsed and recommended by GPs, psychiatrists, and psychologists, but it is Patrick’s experience as an ordinary sufferer of mental health issues and a human being and his deep empathy with the struggle for wellbeing amidst the highs and lows of life that make him such a trusted guide and source of support for anyone struggling through their own tunnel of mental difficulties and struggle.
A 12-step programme for mental well-being
Packed with useful tools and real-life stories of struggle and strength, Patrick has written Brighter Days to offer twelve, practical steps for hope amidst some of the darkest times for mental health this country has ever faced. In his own journey of recovery, Patrick discovered that mental health is more than just medicine, and his vision is to restore the community support that is so vital to wellbeing and that our individualistic culture has stripped away. In writing Brighter Days and in launching his new mental health charity Kintsugi Hope, Patrick studied the success of community ventures such as the twelve-step programme and Park Run in order to create a similar atmosphere of support and sense of belonging for those struggling with the relentlessness of our fast-paced, social-media-driven world.
The straightforward, practical tips that Patrick lays out in Brighter Days, including ‘taking a thought to court’, in which you critically examine a negative or catastrophic thought, for example, “They didn’t text me back; I knew they didn’t like me,” to consider whether it is fact or just opinion, or challenging the intense shame we can feel when making a mistake with gentleness and acceptance, allow people struggling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health difficulties to step outside of the overwhelm and slowly start to manage their reactions to the thoughts and emotions that they feel are derailing their lives.
Through his own experience navigating a broken mental health system, in which few can afford the expense of therapy and the endless NHS waiting lists and underfunded services mean people often have to be at the point of suicide before receiving proper support and intervention, Patrick is determined to use Brighter Days to restore basic knowledge of self-care and mental wellbeing to people and communities stripped of hope.