A TOWN mayor battled anxiety and depression to get his life back after harrowing losses and became a figurehead of the community in the process.

Horwich town councillor and two-time Horwich mayor Stephen Rock is sharing his struggles with panic attacks and depression, striving to help others that are fighting the same feelings.

Mr Rock, 60, always dreamed of becoming town mayor after being "born and bred in Horwich", but suffered a series of blows which put his hopes on hold.

He said: "It goes back to when my dad passed away which was about 1989. That same year we had our house broken into and I lost my job.

"I just started feeling dizzy a lot and really ill. The doctor told me it was anxiety and depression.

"I got to a stage where I was frightened of driving and going out of the house. For around three or fours years, I was so bad with it."

He began to turn his life around by pursuing his dream of becoming a teacher.

He said: "The target I set for myself was that I wanted to teach and be a councillor. I wanted to be the first citizen of Horwich — the town I love and was born and bred in. It means a lot to me."

To achieve his goals, Cllr Rock pushed hard to keep up determination and still does on a daily basis.

He added: "You're battling it forever, it doesn't go away.

"Some days, I think what's the point? But you really have to fight back.

"It's the only way — keep fighting. I would advise people who are in a similar position to look at where they want to be in five years and then break it down into easy steps."

Cllr Rock worked to gain adult education qualifications and in his spare time, started serving on both Horwich and Bolton Council.

He eventually achieved his dream of being Horwich town mayor, not once but twice.

Cllr Rock is now a primary school supervisor and still retains a seat on the Horwich town council.

Cllr Rock wants to raise awareness of the hidden illness and highlight that people should have support, especially in the workplace.

"The trouble with depression and anxiety is that it's not like a broken leg, you can't see it and people who suffer from it are good at hiding it.

"A lot of people wouldn't think I have it. I've come a long way."