'Open water swimming saved my life,' says former Burnley man who attempted suicide three times
"I am truly the happiest I have ever been in my life."
That's not a sentence James Lowden ever thought he would be able to say, and mean it.
For in the past he has attempted suicide three times, caught up in a downward spiral of drink and cocaine that made him feel like his life was not worth living.
That, coupled with a series of devastating losses and the break up of his relationship, was too much for James to cope with. In his final suicide attempt it was his mum who saved him when she heard him sobbing in his room in the early hours of the morning.
"A lot of it stems from when I was younger as I am dyslexic and was bullied at school," said James who is 30.
He skipped his GCSEs at the former Towneley High School in Burnley and spent only two days a week at lessons in his final year. The other three days he worked as a bricklayer.
James studied sport at college and loved going out and partying, and drinking alcohol and taking cocaine was the norm.
It took him two attempts to quit both and take a new direction in life, increasing his training sessions in the gym and starting to do yoga and meditation.
But James says the main thing that has changed his life is open water swimming, something he now does on a daily basis.
"I love it, it is the best feeling in the world, it really helps to sort your head out," said James.
The mental and physical benefits of open water swimming are vast, from increasing circulation and improving your skin to giving you a natural energy kick and sense of well being.
James said: "I can't tell you how fantastic it is and how good it makes you feel. I also go walking every day, just being out in the open air has so many benefits."
Tanned and tattooed, James admits that his appearance does not always tally with his holistic approach to life.
He said: "A woman who recently came open water swimming said I had 'hippie' ideals but looked nothing like one and she was really shocked."
In opening up about his mental health struggles James, who now lives in Halifax, hopes that other people will feel they are able to talk to someone about any issues they may have.
He added: " Suicide is the biggest killer of men yet the government just don't seem to care.
"You can go to your doctor but more often than not you will be prescribed pills that often don't help the problem.
"I want people to see their are alternatives and there is way to get out of that black hole."
James is now working towards becoming qualified to teach yoga, meditation and also breathing techniques which are often key to our health. He has a vision to create a well being centre where people can go to relax and meditate and get help with their mental health issues and anxieties.
He added:" I am determined to make this happen."
James is also happy to speak to anyone suffering with their mental health and he can be contacted through his Instagram account jameslowden2021