After 15 recovery years, local writer David Hurst suffered a summer of extreme emotional and mental torment when he had tried to do things his own way again for a few months.
The 52-year-old freelance journalist from Torre del Mar had stopped drinking heavily with the support of others through self-help groups. But two years ago, even though he was not drinking or using any mind-altering substances, he began to feel continually anxious and depressed. Not knowing which way to turn, he found himself literally on his knees in his lounge in floods of tears. None of David's close friends or family were aware of this, because he hid his problems behind a clown's smile, but, as the writer explains to SUR in English, "for every waking second it felt as if I was walking through the thickest toxic treacle".
David, who has two young sons, returned to the self-help group, although it was not a choice he recalls making. "Within 24 hours, I ended up back at the self-help group. I still don't know how I ended up there; it wasn't a decision I remember making at all," David says.
However, David's situation would change drastically after a chance meeting with psychotherapist Wayne Kemp. He met Kemp after a therapy session when he went for a coffee with some of the members of the group. They got chatting and David told Kemp about ending up on his knees crying out for help. He explained that he felt as if he was trying to "climb a vertical cliff face made of jagged glass".
The psychotherapist explained that he had been where David was and he knew not only a way out, but a manner of living that would change his life - to ensure the best years of his life were ahead.
"Immediately upon taking Wayne's suggestions into my own life I saw my own astounding transformation. I felt the most relaxed and happiest I'd ever been. He told me that mental health problems get progressively worse, but that recovery from them, if done correctly, can mean that life gets progressively better," David declares.
Kemp is a leading psychotherapist with 30 years of experience in successfully treating thousands of clients around the world and spends half the year in Malaga. He has helped people suffering from every known mental health illness, including severe stress, anxiety, alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling addiction, bipolar, schizophrenia and depression.
Over the next year, in a series of sessions with Kemp, David heard so much that made sense. He felt the most relaxed and happiest he had ever been, a state of being that continues to grow. As a writer, he knew he had to share this.
"Wayne explained that he had been precisely where I was - by the end of his drinking he had been finishing two bottles of vodka a day. Also addicted to strong prescription drugs, he spent his days out of his head, spitting and cursing at the television, and too anxious and depressed to leave the house. I totally related to him in a way that was quite remarkable. As he spoke, he looked directly into my eyes and it was as if he was telling me my own story," the writer explains.
After speaking with Kemp and seeing the increasing popularity of self-help and metal-health books, David knew Kemp's experience, methods and message had to be shared. He was seeing a growing number of people struggling with various metal health issues, such as addiction, depression and anxiety, but he realised that a vast number of the books being read by these people concentrated merely on coping or surviving with their mental health issues, but none offered any real solution.
"Every time I came away from chatting with Wayne I'd be thinking, 'Wow! This really needs to be out there to help others who are struggling'. His knowledge and methods for living I could see helping those suffering from all manner of mental health problems. Even for people not suffering, it was a great way to live that could only enhance life," he points out.
David has recently published a new book (co-written with Kemp) called The Anxiety Conversation, which is based on a series of interviews conducted in Andalucía during the course of one year. David asked Kemp more than 500 questions concerning all aspects of mental health and he found the psychotherapist's answers life-changing.
Kemp claims that mental illness is really a message for people to make changes, and that the emotional pain and the problems it brings are delivering a clear communication. He believes ignoring this or masking it with drugs - prescribed or illegal - can have disastrous results.
The Anxiety Conversation aims to show not how to survive a mental illness, but how to overcome and thrive from it, 'to become the person you are meant to be'.
David is convinced that Kemp's advice offers a life-changing source of wisdom, even though some of his methods are at odds with the accepted way of thinking. He hopes the new book will show people who suffer from mental health issues that when they feel pain, whether physical or emotional, it is a message for them to change - to stop doing something or to do something differently.
"We did the interviews and wrote the book mostly in Andalucía. I have no doubt that Wayne Kemp will very soon become an internationally known name. His knowledge is second to none and, as with many pioneers, some of his views go against current accepted thinking, but make perfect sense when explained, and I am sure they will become accepted wisdom," David concludes.