Living with a life-long congenital heart condition places significant physical challenges on an individual.  Less obvious are the psychological or mental challenges that go with it – the hidden cost of a lifetime of surgeries, tests, hospital appointments and check-ups.

The analogy I like to use is the legend of Damocles, in which Damocles swaps places with his King for a day, perceiving the life of a king to be all luxury and pomp. What he doesn’t understand is the pressures that go with the role – and the presence of the sword of fate hanging over the King’s throne suspended by a horse hair waiting for him to ‘slip up’.

Men, I think, are less inclined to show emotion or discuss their mental problems, myself included. The Somerville Heart Foundation offers a route to counselling, sharing and discussing our specific problems and challenges.

It significantly reduces the stress to know that I am not alone and that other people understand and go through the same emotions that I do.