April 18, 2012

Photo of man riding a bike | Marc is a Time to Change bloggerI have struggled and battled with depression, for several years - albeit unbeknown to me. I took to drink to disguise what I was feeling inside.

I went down this path for many years - from the age of 17 until I was around 30. I am surprised that I am still alive.

Last year - 2011 was a turbulent year for me - I was under immense pressure from work. My boss did not listen to me when I kept asking for help but alas because I was deemed a 'success' and I was busting sales targets he did not listen.

This resulted in me trying to take my own life in February 2011 - and a stay in a secure hospital.

The support of my wife has helped me. This was difficult for her initially as she did not truly understand what I was going through as I was very good at hiding my feelings - I am a salesman and so waffling comes naturally to me. It wasn't until I was admitted to hospital that it truly hit home to her how ill I was.The hardest time for me was seeing her on my first day of admission and telling her I needed help - she couldn’t understand why as she saw me as a happy-go-lucky kind of guy.

I was under quite a lot of pressure from work

With the support of my wife I was eventually allowed longer leave and went home full time - under the care of the Crisis Team. I have to mention at this time that I was under quite a lot of pressure from work - I was getting phone calls in hospital and questions on when I would return to work. However my wife spoke to me and explained that I was ill but I was so desperate to please my boss and get back to work that I started to totally focus on totally returning to work. So after 13 weeks off I was signed back on a 'phased return'. 

My wife was not happy with this but as I assured her I was ready (I really was not). She let me speak to my Doctor and discuss returning back to work. So after 13 weeks off I was signed back on a 'phased return'. However, this did not happen and I was soon driving to different parts of the company helping out poor performing areas of the business. I was so pleased to be back that initially I did not worry too much.

It was only after a few weeks when my wife pointed out that I was doing 10 - 12hour days that I realised I was exhausted. I approached my boss who was unresponsive so I had to get in touch with human resources who tried to help. This annoyed my boss.

Eventually after a few months this role took its toll on me, I aired my concerns and to cut a long story short I was told to attend a review meeting, where I met with my boss and one of his colleagues.

He again told me that I was a problem 

He again told me that I was a problem and told me to go home and find a job - either in or outside of the company.

My wife at this point was again very supportive and helped me through this.

My boss then sent me to an independent medical assessment to check on my health - the doctor there was so concerned about my health that he made me an appointment to see my Doctor - he was concerned that i was under so much work related stress, which was also adding to my depression. I duly went to my Doctor who signed me off for 2 weeks - when I told my employer this I was told that I would not get full company sick pay as I was not contractually obliged to it.

My wife was again in turmoil but this time she understood a little more

This took its toll on me and I tried to take my life again - I was prevented by the Police. I was again admitted to the hospital - my wife was again in turmoil but this time she understood a little more.

I must also say that I understood why I had been admitted - this made the experience a little easier.

I was again in for around two weeks - but the visits from my wife were much more constructive. She also took control of work and made them understand that the reason why I was in hospital was down to them - they then changed their mind and offered me full company sick pay.

My boss wanted to meet. My wife took the bull by the horns and was also at the meeting which we held at home. She dealt with him, did the negotiating and made sure I understood what was going on.

She is still doing this as we have had two more meeting up to this point - we have another at the end of March, which I believe will decide my future.

I will either be offered a different role or will keep the same role in the Lincolnshire area - with reasonable adjustments - my boss is not too keen on this.

So, I do not know what the future holds for me, but I do know that I have really appreciated the support of my wife.

What do you think about the issues raised in this blog? Share your views with us on Twitter >>

Or pledge to share your experience of mental health today and find out how talking tackles discrimination.


Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.