43 Years Old
Married With 3 Children
Diagnosed with General Anxiety & Depression
My journey with Mental Health started as far back as I can remember but I can pinpoint exact symptoms back to exam time in school. Coming up to an exam I would start to feel nauseous and would often try to get sick. I used to just put it down to nerves but obviously there was a lot more going on in my head. In fact to this day I still have dreams about an impending maths exam that I am not prepared for – even though my days of exams are well behind me.
In later life the “sick feeling” started on a Sunday evening and more acutely on Monday before going to work. This continued throughout the week but noticeably – not on a Saturday!!
I remember being brought to the doctor as a youngster and being told that I had fluid travelling down from my sinus canal which caused the sick feeling – it was all started in my head and that was for sure.
It wasn’t till about 10 years ago that I was diagnosed with General Anxiety and Depression – I can’t say I was overly surprised by the diagnosis but it did explain a few different things.
I always got stressed going into busy shops and shopping centres – as a result I hated these places. I would take a parking space as far away from the front door of a shopping centre to avoid driving around looking for a space closer. If I had to go somewhere I would arrive super early just in case something happened on the way.
I took a job with a stationary company as a Sales Rep – I wasn’t supposed to be selling but rather trying to get dormant accounts that owed money back buying again. As the weeks went sales targets were introduced and pressure to display performance was applied. Weekly call plans were to be produced and maintained – I didn’t sign up for this and slowly the sickness started – every morning before work and sometimes during the day.
I remember one day parking the car at the Papal Cross and sitting there just crying – I called Aisling and tried to explain everything to her. We now use that incident as a reference point as I feel that was one of my lowest points ever!
I think I may have mentioned to a friend that I wasn’t happy and he orchestrated me back into my old job – with better prospects as it would have seemed they missed me!
I was happy there for a long time – the company was a good company to work for. They worked hard and also had a very healthy outlook towards team building and outings. As time went on the business changed hands and the new Managing Director wasn’t exactly a people person but that didn’t stop the business going after Best Place to Work accreditation. There were rumours of extra marital affairs going on in the business that was leading to some staff getting preferential treatment. For whatever reason I felt that this wasn’t right and I really took the whole thing on board. I had a tough workload bit then again – I was being paid well. The last straw on that job was the “bottom 10%” rule being brought into place. Seemingly it was used by GE back in the 70’s /80’s now we as managers were obliged to use this as a HR technique in a forward thinking quickly evolving tech company of the 00’s – there’s progressive thinking right there!!! Despite this we still got the “best place to work “accreditation.
I felt that it was counterproductive and didn’t agree with the technique. I resigned from the company. I didn’t have a job to go to.
That same friend that got me back into my old job persuaded me to start up my own business and he started me off with a few projects. That was the start of Ultraviolet Consulting and Nokia Care Navan.
I’ve been at that for the last 10 years now and I have to say in general I love working for myself – yes, there are some really dodgy times – mostly due to my inability to manage finances – but with the assistance of Aisling I get through them.
Over the years I was introduced to many different medications until I settled on the one that worked for me. I have also tried a lot of different coping mechanisms until I have found the ones that work for me. It’s a lot of trial and error – if you don’t try then you will never know.
I was lucky that I didn’t take to alcohol or drugs to ease my pain – my only vice was the occasional outburst which resulted in a few bruises on my head (self inflicted) or a hole on a wall or door.
One thing which has worked hugely in my favour is having my wife by my side! I don’t know if she knows but I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for her – end of story. I could write a few pages on the benefits of my wife. Along with my wife I had a decent circle of friends and they have always looked out for me even when I walked away on the friendship.
Some therapists will tell you to change for yourself however I saw myself changing for my Family, my wife and children. My kids know about my sickness and are very understanding of it – well that’s my perception of it. Part of fixing myself is to explain to people what it is and what helps / doesn’t help.
I am the ultimate fixer but unfortunately I don’t think I will ever fully fix this problem – it’s all a work in progress but the important thing is to continuously work on it and NEVER give up.
My sickness has caused me to walk away from friends, work, a very well paid job, significant bonuses and nice holidays etc. I missed my brother in laws stag weekend because of the sickness!
I have some very good days and some very bad days but in general I have a fairly level state.
How do I deal with the bad days?
I go to my cave – for some alone time to think
I go for coffee with a friend to have a chat and take my mind away to somewhere else
I flute around on the internet – it’s escapism for me.
I go minute to minute – the day then passes.
I make a list of what’s bothering me.
I text Aisling – she gets that a lot!
I listen to music
I watch TV – again I escape!
If I take a bad spell during work – I close the shop and go for a walk into town.
Running seems to be very on trend – especially with suffers of Mental Health issues. I was never a runner or an athlete – my early years with asthma stopped my running career. Now I’ve started to run seriously and it does help me. It is something that I can focus on – and it’s relatively free to do. My only issue with running is I need to be in the countryside and not in town. I get a certain comfort from the natural countryside – I feel more calm and able to run.
Ultimately Mental Health is far more than just a trendy hashtag! There are far more people out there that are suffering and it’s not fair to suggest that simply talking will fix it.
Talking is the start – there is still hard work ahead but if you take each minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day – things will start to fall into place!
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope that this can help someone out there!