A FORMER Wigan College student who has battled with mental health issues has learned to overcome them through music and found himself in the regional finals of a national competition.
Paul Higginson, 25, became mentally unwell after a bad break-up and the loss of his job five years ago.
Hitting rock bottom and turning to the bottle, Paul was in a state of despair.
But his inner strength willed him to overcome his anxiety and depression and focus on what he does best, play the guitar.
The father-of-two jumped right in at the deep end and entered Live and Unsigned.
He has successfully been put through to the regional live finals and is on his way to winning £10,000, 100-date tour of the UK and various festivals across the globe. Paul of Mere Street, Leigh said: “Mental illness runs in my family.
“After a bad break up and losing my job, I hit rock bottom, I started drinking and couldn’t leave the house.
“I’ve slowly managed to fight the illness and music has put me under pressure to face my fear.
“I entered Live and Unsigned by pure madness when I was looking online for gigs. I thought I failed my audition because my guitar had cut out on me, the electrics were faulty and I panicked.
“When the panel said I had got through, I was on cloud nine all day and it was a major boost in my confidence.
“I never imagined playing to anybody other than myself but I’ve found it’s slowly helping me with my confidence again.”
Paul learnt how to play the guitar at the age of 13 and after five years of not playing the instrument, gradually learned how to finger pick.
He began writing his own songs at the end of last year.
Paul added: “If I won it would change my life for the better and I think it would be unreal.
“I’m overwhelmed with how far I have come, facing things head on.
“I’d spend the prize money on building my act with equipment and a MAC to record on and I would buy my daughter an iPad because she loves her iPod touch.”