"Although she wasn’t a counsellor, just the fact that she showed me understanding and compassion really helped"
Digital team's blog
In the spring of last year, Mark had a conflict with a colleague at work, the fallout of which left him suspended while an investigation in to the event was carried out. At the time it felt like his whole world was crumbling apart, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise...
Over the course of about a year, I was going to work and hoping that someone would notice something was wrong with me. I had a feeling of hopelessness, severe troughs in mood, I struggled to sleep, withdrew in to myself socially and felt as if I had no significant place or role in the world. This led to me losing a lot of self-confidence, I had also lost belief in myself to function as a productive human being, becoming extremely self-critical. I didn’t have the courage to come out and express myself to anyone and just really hoped that someone around me would detect I wasn’t myself and broach the subject for me, but nobody did.
I needed to reach out to someone in order to stop things from spiralling out of control
At the start of last year, I desperately needed to reach out to someone in order to stop things from spiralling out of control. I went to my manager at the time and opened up, the first time I had spoken honestly to another person about the way I was feeling.
Although she was very sympathetic, my manager openly admitted that she didn’t have any answers or experience with the situation. But I was just relieved and grateful that someone had listened to me and didn’t think I was being ridiculous.
She went away and spoke to the company’s HR department and found out that our company offered access to a counselling service and supplied me with the details.
The counselling I received helped me focus and understand where my negative thoughts were coming from and the periods of depression seemed to shorten and become less frequent. But the truth is, my depression was still there, the counselling hadn’t been a magic bullet.
After my initial outreach to my manager though, no one from my company had enquired about how I was or how the counselling had gone or if I required further help. I believe that if I had been suffering from a physical illness or injury, more would have been done to support me.
Opening up and being honest about how I was feeling was one of the hardest things I’d done
In the months that followed, I felt slightly abandoned by my employers, as though the problems I’d experienced had been glossed over or forgotten about, when opening up and being honest about how I was feeling was one of the hardest things I’d done.
I began to feel resentful and angry and the feelings of depression remained. That’s when the disagreement with my colleague occurred. Although I was scared of losing my job and felt extreme guilt about letting people down, what had happened had also highlighted to my employer that I wasn’t feeling right.
I was suspended while they investigated, and then as part of my introduction back to work, I had weekly meetings with my manager, who I’d initially opened up. We would talk about my feelings and problems. Although she wasn’t a counsellor, just the fact that she showed me understanding and compassion was enough.
Over the course of a few months, I had spilled my heart out about the insecurities and shortcomings that I felt. I can’t fully express how powerful this was, just to talk to someone and how much it meant to me and I will be eternally grateful for her amazing support, but it took me almost losing my job for this to happen.
Just talking about mental health can make a big difference. This Time to Talk Day why not join the conversation and help us break the silence?
Mark is fundraising for Rethink Mental Illness. You can follow his brilliant ‘5K a Day’ challenge on his website here and sponsor his challenge here.