Life after the storm
10 January 2020
Philip has experienced periodic bouts of anxiety on and off for a number of years. During this journey, he experienced one particular low where he attempted to end his life. This attempt coincided with his divorce and a change in his medication that he was not consulted on. He is now in a position where he can process and reason through his anxious feelings and is optimistic and looking forward to what the future holds. Philip says…
"As a younger working man, I had low self-esteem (although at the time I didn’t know this). I didn’t want to let anyone down and I often was not able to say “no”. It earned me a reputation of having an excellent work ethic, but it was at the cost of my mental health. I was working hard for the wrong reasons.
One episode drove me to tears. I used to have a manager that would regularly bully me at work. He would make snide remarks that would belittle me. He would regularly threaten me with the sack, criticise my work and ignore me for long periods. Funny thing is that on other occasions he would be very nice. I guess the uncertainty made it worse - I never knew who would turn up. It came to a head one day when I was driving home. I ended up in tears, feeling extremely anxious.
That night I drove straight to my parents’ house. I knew something was up, but I didn’t know what it was. Having had experience of depression and suicidal thoughts, my mother seemed like a good person to talk to. She suggested I might have depression, but when I went to the GP they said that it was anxiety. I was prescribed with anti-depressants for the first time.
After some time, I handed in my notice at work and got away from my toxic boss. For the following six years I “managed” my anxiety with some success.
Seven years ago, I took a job in a very responsible position and one that I felt quite burdened with at times. I started feeling overloaded. This coincided with my daughter leaving home and my son becoming less dependent on me. My wife was also getting busier and I was seeing less of them all which gave me more time to think. Most of this thinking began to take a negative nature and had a detrimental effect on me.
In 2016 I left my wife. The divorce didn’t go smoothly, which troubled me deeply.
"I was experiencing the perfect storm of symptoms. I was off work and back at home with my parents. My doctor had changed my anti-depressant medication without telling me and the side effects caused a significant change to how I felt. It was the cherry on top of a bad situation."
I then wrote a seven-page suicide note explaining my feelings and giving reasons for what I was intending to do. I went to bed that evening and woke up in the early hours feeling extremely anxious. I didn’t know what to do.
It was at this point that I attempted to take my own life.
The next thing that I remember is waking up in a hospital bed with my parents by my side. I didn’t want to die but I didn’t want to feel the way that I’d been feeling. I felt a complete burden on everybody and that I was letting them down. How wrong I was.
The support I received after trying to end my life really helped me get back on track. My mother was at my bedside from the very beginning, and my boss called in later. We had a long chat about mental health. He told me I had nothing to worry about, and that he’d like to see me back at work when I was feeling ready.
For the first time in a long time I was able to stop and think properly.
My life since that point has been focused on getting back on track. Having established that my medication was changed against my wishes, I’ve had it changed back. I’ve come across a book which put all the pieces of my care into context. This enabled me to realise the benefits of CBT and talking therapies. I now see a therapist who has become a close friend. I have taken a redundancy package and enrolled on education and training courses. I’ve started to take my physical health seriously as well and have competed in several triathlons and Iron Man events around the world. I’ve also taken the plunge and set up my own mental health business to raise awareness, train and educate people on many topics around mental health.
I’m well aware that I still have a journey to complete and anxiety may always be part of me. I may be on my medication for the foreseeable future, but I’m in a much different place than I have been. I’ve learned to take steps to manage my anxiety more effectively than ever before so that it doesn’t overwhelm me."
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