LIFE has been anything but easy for suicide survivor John Junior, who is on a mission to erase the stigma around mental health.

The Wilmslow resident has experienced symptoms of borderline personality disorder for more than 20 years but was only diagnosed last year.

The 31-year-old, who is gender fluid and uses the pronouns they/them, says their condition affects them daily and makes them feel as though they are on an emotional rollercoaster.

John said: “I constantly think of suicidal thoughts, my mind is a rollercoaster daily. I have depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“Since a very young age, I’ve been bullied and suffered emotional, physical and sexual abuse.”

Despite their immense struggles, John is determined to help others and has become a passionate mental health advocate.

Before lockdown, John travelled the UK with a stuffed toy duck named Charlie, which brings John comfort from stress. Their mission was to raise awareness for others suffering with their mental health and encourage people to talk about their feelings.

John explained: “The aim is to get people to talk about their mental health and help them understand that it’s okay to not be okay. I suffered for 20 years because I didn’t tell people how I truly really felt due to fear of judgement, worry and stigma.

“We lock things up because at the time it feels easier, but in the long run, it builds up, stresses us more and then we start doing things that are not us because we are holding how we truly feel locked up.

“You have to let that emotion flow. I found the simple act of writing things down helps. I cried a lot and crying is fine. Reaching out is so important. I know it’s hard just to go and talk sometimes but there is help out there.”

John has found lockdown extremely challenging saying that isolation has made them feel trapped as they’re unable to go to their doctor or see people they can talk to about their mental health.

However, John found using their social media page John and Charlie’s Journey to share positive messages has helped them stay connected with the outside world.

John has also been using the new Samaritans app saying it has given them instant support plus help and guidance when they were struggling.

John said: “It’s been really helpful. I didn’t self-harm because this app helped me, and I feel really proud of that.”

The app helps users to learn safe, memorable techniques for coping with and preventing emotional distress. It can track the user’s mood, identify triggers and suggest resources to try. It also contains a safety plan, to help users stay safe in a crisis, as well as ideas for activities for when the app isn’t being used.

John encourages those struggling with their mental health to give the app a try, saying it helps provide new techniques to help people cope.

They said: “It can be hard sometimes just to open up to someone, so this app is really helpful in starting that process if you’re not quite ready to say it to someone out loud.”

John also recommends writing feelings down, something that they still regularly practise.

They said: “It can just help you empty those thoughts that are clogging up your brain. It’s a relief to see them written down and on the page and helps take some of the weight off your shoulders.

“A huge part of the battle is just getting your thoughts out of your head. They don’t go away but it helps you process things a bit better.

“My main message to people who are struggling with their mental health is to open up about it, don’t suffer in silence.

“I suffered for years in silence and I don’t want others to suffer. Me and Charlie, we will move mountains. I know it’s a challenge to end the stigma, but I am doing it! I am very passionate about what I am doing.”

Visit John and Charlie’s Journey on Facebook, follow @johnandcharlie_ on Instagram or to find out more about JOhn's mission.

You can download Samaritans Self-Help to your mobile or access it online at