At just 22 years of age, Jack Walton is an author, podcast host and established speaker. Despite years of struggling with PTSD and anxiety, Jack found some much-needed confidence after reading Rhonda Brynes, The Secret. He’s long been on our ‘ones to watch’ list and we’ve finally had the opportunity to sit down with him oh, and welcome him on board as our new monthly columnist!
What were your earliest memories of struggling with anxiety and how did dealing with it impact your life?
My earliest memories of struggling with anxiety have to be when I first started at High School, I was around 12 or 13. Being in a bigger school where I stood out for the wrong reasons meant that on most days before even going to school I had that nervous and uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. To me back then, it was just nerves, I wasn’t even aware I was dealing with anxiety. What sticks out a lot is how withdrawn it can make you, I didn’t make as much of an effort in school as I could have done, I remember always feeling so tired after a full night of sleep, it was like a permanent tiredness. It impacted my life socially too, although I didn’t have a lot of friends I hated being in social situations as a teenager, I just felt awkward and to me, I thought everyone was always judging me, I even felt like that around some of my own family at various points growing up.
After name-calling, homophobic bullying is the most frequent form of bullying and according to Stonewalls School Report, nearly half of LGBTQ+ pupils (45 per cent) – including 64 per cent of trans pupils – are bullied for being LGBTQ+ in Britain’s schools. You mentioned you were bullied as a teenager for being gay, how did you deal with this at the time and what advice would you have for a young person going through something similar in school today?
Being in High School can be hard for anyone, but being at school as an LGBT person is on a different level altogether. For me, the bullying was only ever verbal, but upon reflection, I see now that it was just as bad, because words cut deep, especially when it’s said to you every day like it was for me in most cases. It wasn’t instant bullying, it got worse as I got older, pretty much until the day I left school sadly. Luckily, my experience after, with both college and university, was a much more positive one. So much so in fact, that I got to organise an LGBT Pride event back in February at my university to celebrate LGBT history month. Getting to openly embrace and express my sexuality in an educational setting like a university is something I never expected to be able to do, it’s dreams come true style stuff really. A huge reason why I want to give this advice to anyone struggling, particularly LGBT people in school, is because I genuinely believed at the time that I’d never get better, I thought the bullying would be forever too, but it won’t be, nothing is forever. As hard as it is my advice is to just speak out and make your teachers and family aware of the situation, there are stricter rules in schools now related to diversity and inclusion than there was for me, being anything but heterosexual wasn’t really mentioned from what I can remember. Keep your head high, keep going and just remember, this is a super small period in your life, at the time I know it can feel like a total nightmare, but it does and WILL get better!
When did you discover the incredible ‘Law of Attraction’ and how did it change your life?
Wow, this is an amazing question! I wish I had discovered the Law of Attraction sooner, it’s changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. I’m glad we are chatting about it because I strongly believe it should be known more. Before 2016 I had never even heard of the term before, let alone understood it. Ironically, I have always used it, but for most of my life prior to 2016, it had been in the wrong way. I was a super negative thinker and person back then, my mindset was the furthest away from healthy, I would always presume the worst in situations and people, to the point where I’d make myself ill. Without realising, I was totally self-sabotaging things, I didn’t need anyone to do it for me, and something needed to give. In the summer of 2016, everything began to change when I had some sort of out-of-body experience where I literally heard my own voice speaking to me, it certainly sounded like me anyway. The voice said that if I wanted to achieve in life and do the things I wanted, I needed to change, I had to stop putting myself down and thinking so badly about everything. This gave me clarity because for the first time ever it’s almost like I realised what I had been doing, I could see how damaging my thinking patterns were. Soon after I discovered The Secret which helped so much, it’s a daily effort to think more positively, it honestly works more than I ever could have hoped. In simple terms, if you think positive thoughts then positive things are much more likely to happen if you think negative thoughts then negative things are likely to happen too. Why not test it? I always say that if you wake up tomorrow morning and say “I know for certain something good is going to happen today”, and really feel and believe it, I promise you that it will, just give it a go! It might be the smallest of things, like getting a seat on a packed train, but some sort of good, will happen. Everyone should be practising the Law of Attraction daily, it doesn’t cost a penny!
Have you ever had counselling to help you with your anxiety? What was the experience like for you and did you have any barriers to accessing the support you needed?
When I was officially diagnosed with both anxiety and PTSD in early 2011 when I was 13 I was offered counselling through my local authority with CAMHS, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, the waiting list was a few months long which did mean I had to wait. A positive in my situation is that during this time I was also given free counselling at school from our school counsellor within pastoral support. It’s funny because me and my counsellor from school kept in touch and just last week we met up in person after not seeing each other for 6 years, it was to give her a copy of my book, it was so surreal. The counselling through CAMHS helped massively, I needed something to get me out of the black hole I was in, I couldn’t find the light and needed someone to convince me it was there. I refused to take any medication from the doctor so was referred to counselling. I learnt strategies to help me cope more, I was given homework to complete and had to implement different things, it gave me a distraction and gave me mini goals to work on, something at the time I needed more than I realised. At the time I didn’t even realise I was gay, although I was bullied for it, due to my poor mental health it was the furthest from my mind, it wasn’t until I was in college several years later when I came out.
You mention goal setting has really helped you. How would someone implement goal setting in their daily life to help them overcome stress and anxiety?
Goal setting has been massive for me, I’ve set 5 goals each month for the past 2 years, and those 2 years have been some of the busiest and most productive of my whole life. I never used to set goals, apart from working on school work I didn’t have many hobbies or passions, I didn’t have the drive or motivation back then I suppose. I love goals because every single person reading this now can set some, they can’t be too big or too small, and they are especially good when it comes to struggling with stress or anxiety. I think a lot of people are reluctant to set goals because they feel the goal is too small, I always say that it’s what matters to you, that’s all. You could set a goal that says this month you are going to go for a walk in your park each weekend, it might be to go to the shops on your own and be out in public, it might be that this month you are going to make a conscious effort to meet up with a friend and do something out the house. I love this so much because it is totally unique and tailored to you. You could even set specific mental health goals, for example, this month you are going to attend your counselling session or this month you’re going to speak to your family about how you are feeling… what goals are you wanting to set, I’d love to hear!
You recently wrote a self-help book to help those who have been met with similar struggles. What can we expect to hear from you and where can we grab a copy?
Wow, what an experience this has been! The book took 3 years to write and release from start to finish, I did this alongside my university degree which is why it took slightly longer, but it’s been so worth it. It’s funny, I never planned on writing a book, to begin with, I started writing down tips on my phone to help me in the future, from positive thinking and mental health-related topics. Then the notes grew so I initially decided to write a small guide for people, I just wanted to help others and get the information out there. Then, about a year after I began I decided that I had so much to say it needed to be a book, I had no writing or any sort of relatable experience which is why I remember my Mom and twin Sister being so shocked when I first told them. The book is called Being The Best You, I’ve written it as an easy to read guide, it covers a wide variety of topics to help you become a healthier and happier version of yourself, no matter your age or current situation. Goal setting, letting go of the past, relationships, living in the social media generation and self-love and self-acceptance are just some of the topics included. I also speak about my experiences growing up dealing with my sexuality and at times poor mental health. The book is out now via Amazon, you can buy it as either a paperback or eBook!
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling desperately with their mental health but is feeling overwhelmed by where to start looking for help?
Poor mental health at any age is an awful one, it doesn’t matter how old you are, where you come from, how much money you have, absolutely anyone can suffer at some point throughout their lives. For young people especially, we are seeing this more and more, which really worries me, it’s a big reason why I’m planning to visit High Schools, Colleges and youth clubs in the coming months to speak about my experiences in the hope of helping others, we’ve got to get it out even more than what we are currently. My biggest advice I can give right now is to talk, just talk, it can be the hardest but most beneficial thing to do. Please, don’t do this alone, don’t suffer in silence, there are people here that can and will help. Tell your Mom, Dad, sibling, friend, teacher, anyone. You can visit your local GP which will get the ball rolling in terms of getting you much-needed help and support, be that in the form of medication or counselling/therapy. You can speak to someone online through Mind if you don’t want to physically say the words, which I know for some can be easier. Please, just don’t do this alone.
What are your top go-to books, films, podcasts or YouTubers when you are feeling low?
For me, this is now a chosen lifestyle, so I consume as much material as I can daily, be that in the form of following certain Instagram accounts, watching videos, reading books etc. The first tool I want to recommend is Head Space, it’s meditation with a difference. I meditate daily and last year did the 10 day free trial with the app, it’s 10 days of basic meditations, it changed the way I viewed it and can be used by anyone. I adore books, some of my all-time favourites are the following:
Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig
The Five Side Effects of Kindness by David R. Hamilton
I Love Me by David R. Hamilton
Happy & Calm, both by Fearne Cotton
Who Says You Can’t? You Do by Daniel Chidiac.
I’m always reading books on either mindfulness, personal development / mental health topics, I can’t get enough of them. Also, reading for me is so damn calming, it’s like the world around me just melts away when I’m reading a good book!
I have my own podcast on iTunes and Spotify called A Slice of Life, there is a great one all about my mental health story too which I know many people might enjoy. There are many Instagram accounts I need to mention too, these are just 5 of my favourites for feel-good content:
What do you have planned for the future? How can we keep up to date and follow your journey?
Now the book is out I’m working on a number of exciting collaborations, including writing this amazing article for you guys! Now I’ve just graduated from university I’m putting the wheels in motion for my Being The Best You tour, I’m taking it on the road and visiting High Schools and youth groups initially to speak about my story and what I’ve overcome, I’ve got such a passion to help young people as they grow and develop, I wish I had someone to speak to me about these sort of topics, I know for sure it would have helped me. I’ve also launched my new business page on Instagram called Motivator Boy @motivatorboy, it’s a platform where I’m making daily content in the form of mini videos, photos and advice on a whole host of relatable topics from what I’ve spoken about today. You can also follow my personal page to keep updated with my journey at @iamjackwalton. Finally, I’ve just wrapped recording for the first season of A Slice of Life, my monthly podcast, check that out on both iTunes, Spotify, and many other streaming platforms including Google Podcasts.