What is the biggest problem with treating mental health? It’s all in your head! The truth is though that Mental Health is no Joke!

Breaking point

I mentioned in a previous post that I had suffered from mental health issues and still do. We all have to deal with everyday problems, stresses and pressures and each of us deal with them in our own way. Sometimes though, we hit a breaking point and everything changes. Mine came in 2019.

I knew about mental health, depression, anxiety etc and knew people who suffered with their mental health. But, I had never truly suffered with it myself. Before I go into detail about what I went through let me give you a bit of background.

I had met and worked with people who either had mental health issues or claimed to have them. I was always a little bit suspicious of people who said they were off sick because of their mental health. Skiver, fake, bullshit. Yes, I’m ashamed to say it but I was one of those people. Not for everyone though. There are those that I knew were genuine but there was a couple of people who I believed were faking it to get time off work.

Turned out I was right with one of them. However, I still had my doubts about people when they used mental health as the reason they were off. That was until I reached my breaking point.

The downward spiral

I won’t go into details about everything that happened for me to reach my breaking point, I’m not quite ready for that. There are a number of factors that set me on the downward spiral that culminated in me having a break down. Work, home life, money and so much more contributed to everything. I’ll focus on the work side as that’s where I was most affected.

I used to think that I had a thick skin and insults, abuse and other things would just bounce off me. I shrugged off the fact that people didn’t like me (I still do that to be fair!) and didn’t care if people didn’t reply to my phone calls or messages. All of the time these things were slowly chipping away at me, bit by bit.

I knew all about physical bullying, it happened to me at High School, although I didn’t realise that’s what it was at the time, and it was a horrible experience. But, mental bullying, that was a whole other ball game. I was at a weak point and feeling low, unhappy, fucking miserable if I’m honest and I didn’t know what to do. A so called colleague used this to try and undermine me, gradually bringing me to my knees. Talking about me behind my back, causing frictions at work, using my poor memory against me to say I had said things when I hadn’t.

I didn’t notice it at first but it started to weigh me down. I was always on edge around this person and after a while of putting up with this I snapped and shouted at them. This led to a complaint against me, all the while they were still making snide comments and trying to turn others against me. They had seen I was struggling and used it against me for whatever strange reason they had.

Then it happened

Probably the most embarrassing part of all this was when I finally snapped and had a break down in front of my Area Manager. But, other things had happened on the lead up to that point.

I had started to take long walks, with my dog, around the local golf course. It was the only time I felt relaxed and at peace. I often found myself walking close to the edge and looking over the cliffs to the rocks and sea below. Sometimes I would sit there with my dog (on a lead so he didn’t jump off!) just contemplating my life and thinking it wasn’t worth staying around for. But, I had my kids, my fiancée and my dog who all relied on me.

So, I phoned the Samaritans. I spoke to a lovely lady and I let everything out. I cried like I hadn’t cried in years but it helped more than I could have realised. That first contact set me on a path to getting the help I needed, although, it was only the first step of a long journey. I then went to see the doctor and was extremely lucky to see such an understanding one. She put me in touch with talking matters and prescribed me some anti depressants.

CBT

The next thing that happened was when I broke down in front of my boss who had come to visit my workplace. She told me to take some time off work and gave me a number to call. I rang that and ended up seeing a psychologist who treated me with CBT. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as it is known isn’t for everyone and won’t work with all types of mental health problems. It did help me though and I am forever grateful for the support of my manager.

I changed medication during this time and then was given the strongest dose available. I still take Citalopram today but will be looking to reduce the dose and eventually come off it altogether. It is best not to rush this though as it could lead to me heading back in the wrong direction. I’m in a much healthier place mentally, although I still have days when my anxiety levels go up and days where I just feel like shit!

I know how to deal with these days better than I used to and one thing going through this has taught me, is to never take people lightly when they are struggling with mental health. After all, mental health is  no joke! I understand now how people might be feeling and until you actually go through it yourself, you can’t possibly know exactly what is going through a persons mind. You can’t know how it affects them and how they are feeling. Never presume that they can just ‘snap out of it’ or ‘man up’.

As a man I felt weak

It is true, I felt weak and almost pathetic when I first opened up to the samaritans. Like I wasn’t really a man because I couldn’t control my feelings. As a man I am expected to be strong, powerful and someone to be relied on. As a man I should never show weakness.

This, of course, is bullshit and it is one of the reasons why more men commit suicide due to depression than women. Men struggle to talk about things because they are afraid to be labelled as weak. Let me tell you now, it is one of the hardest things to admit and it makes you stronger by letting it all out.

Holding things in isn’t brave or manly, that is what makes you weak. I get it, you want to be The Man but first, have a look around you. There are people that do need you, partners, kids, parents to name a few all rely on you. But if you don’t get the help you need then you can’t be there for anyone because eventually it will all become too much.

There are a load of places you can go to and I’ll list some of them here with the phone numbers etc

That’s it for today and just remember it’s ok to not be ok and you are not alone. Thank you for reading Mental Health is no joke! don’t forget to read my last blog Mondays are the new Friday.

Take care and keep growing

Tony

 

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