I am a 38-year-old male, I would and have always been described as one of the lads. I love footy, enjoy a beer and a boisterous lifestyle and I have been diagnosed with depression.
I found it very difficult to admit to myself that I was struggling but I knew something was wrong. My stupid male pride and assumption that I was less of a man for struggling with my mental health lead me to conceal my depression from myself and others.
However, I noticed that bottling this up was one of the most harmful things I could have done. I was getting narky and severely mistrusting of people (with some justification) and was failing to handle this with the standards I would expect of myself.
I asked for help
I took the step and accepted what was blatantly obvious. I was struggling, a lot, and in many ways I still am. But I spoke to my GP and looked up my work’s policy around mental health. I found that the company I worked for had a blog and an objective to end the stigma about opening up about having a mental illness.
I thought: ‘Great! I can find support and understanding.’
I was wrong! In disclosing my problems my contract was retracted and I was put on a temporary one. I was isolated and victimised and shown very little understanding. This ramped the pressure up on me to way beyond what I could cope with in this position.
All I wanted was to be a success at the firm and I required support to do this
Office politics is a fact of life, but I believe people took advantage of my condition to take the focus off their behaviour with the simple excuse ‘Oh he’s depressed, he must be paranoid.’
I began to fight back and not tolerate what was happening, but this landed me in more trouble. I continued to ask for help, I asked for reasonable adjustments such as moving my desk to a less noisy area which did not happen. The more I asked for support and raised issues about people’s behaviour towards me, the more I became subject to exactly what was not helping me.
I did have support from my line manager, but I really thought telling my employers would allow me to get the support I needed in the place where I spend 8 hours a day and do quite well at my job too. But I’m being forced out and discriminated against. I was advised not to make a complaint about the treatment I received as this would go against me. But what age do we live in? I have made my complaint informally and I am now awaiting to see what comes of this, I am hoping the failings within the company are rectified and the pain and suffering they have caused is put right.
I have learned it is time to change in several ways
First, us men need to change within ourselves and get rid of the stigma and daft male pride that stops us recognising something is wrong and seeking help. Whatever demographic you fit into, you have the right to be respected and treated fairly, and should never ever be made to feel like you cannot raise issues when you believe you are being treated unfairly.
We supposedly live in enlightened times with the errors of horrendous discrimination a thing of the past. I’m afraid this is not true. I feel at this time that men need help breaking from the old stereotypes and you should be able to seek help.
The trust with my employer has been broken and I dread going into work for the fear of further discrimination - but programmes like Time to Change give hope that people are starting to recognise that there is a need to change and there is a need for people to tell their stories and be heard and supported.