I was warned that the counselling process would be challenging.
I understood it would be painful. I knew it would be a rollercoaster ride. At least I thought I did.
I was soon to learn, it really is tough to talk. I remember reaching the halfway point, session 7 of the 15 that the London Fire Brigade could offer me.
A finite amount of time to undo a lifetime of trauma. As I left the counselling building in Euston that day, the sun was shining, it was cold and I was crying.
I remember being aware of people staring at me as I walked towards the nearest pub, utterly broken, pain splashed all over my face. The busy Euston Road in central London had never felt so isolating or so lonely.
I was in serious trouble, my heart drowning in darkness and thoughts of wanting to end it all invading my every thought. I sat down in a dark corner of the pub with my first pint and completely broke down. I was crying loudly. People next to me moved tables.
Nobody asked if I was OK. I needed to release this emotion and 6 pints later I decided to write…I had always written poetry and decided this time, it was poetry or a very permanent solution to a temporary problem.
It just doesn’t feel temporary at the time. I pulled out my phone and with my vision distorted with tears, I began writing. The worlds fell out of me, almost as if on autopilot. Within minutes I had written “The Darkness.” It is a commentary on one day, a month previously when I sat on my couch just before I lost my home and stared in silence as the warmth of the sun hit my face.
I had never felt such excruciating pain. I had never felt so lost. I had never believed my recovery was so hopeless quite like that day.
After I posted the poem online I received a flood of messages from friends and family asking if I was OK. Asking where I was. Asking if I needed help. I ignored them all and drank another beer. I re-read the poem a few times and realised from comments posted underneath my words, that others felt the same. Private messages thanked me for putting into words what others could not, despite feeling the same pain.
I decided to fight. I decided to survive. Asking for help is not giving up. It’s refusing to give up.
This is my poem.
Who is Ricky?
My name is Ricky Nuttall. I am an award-nominated screenwriter and published poet.
After a traumatic childhood, I joined the London Fire Brigade, where I have served for 18 years.
On the 14th of June 2017, I worked alongside countless emergency service colleagues at the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 72 people. As a result of the life-changing decisions I made that night, I began a downward spiral into depression, PTSD and drug and alcohol misuse.
5 years later I am a mental health advocate and public speaker, focusing on raising awareness on the importance of social and workplace mental health and well-being.
I have been booked to speak for a range of different audiences from government organisations, including the CAA, emergency services and HM Prisons, to billion-pound corporate companies as well as schools.
I have appeared on multiple podcasts around the world, including SAS Who Dares Wins, BBC Breakfast, This Morning, Man Utd TV and various national and local radio stations.
I have also enjoyed success on social media, going viral on a podcast recording which has amassed over 250 million views worldwide across all major platforms.
I have been called a celebrated, exciting and intellectual speaker with a unique insight and brutality that strikes intrigue and self-reflection to anyone listening.