May 3, 2013

EmmaI’ve been struggling with mental health problems (anxiety and depression) since I was a child but they came on strongly again when I was 18.

At this stage my dad had a nervous breakdown and took time off work. At this point I was not well enough to work either. As I hardly left the house due to my anxiety I had to start caring for my dad as he became very depressed and started to drink a lot.

My health become worse and I wouldn't leave the house without having a drink. It was the only way I could cope with what was going on in my life and caring for my dad.

When my friends saw I was struggling, I sat down and spoke to them about it and opened up. My best friend has always supported me from day one. She never judged me.

I tried to hide it from my work friends

I was working full time and I enjoyed my job and got on well with my work friends but as soon as I became ill everything changed. I tried to hide it from them and just go to work as normal. When I was having an anxiety attack, I asked them if I could go home as I was not feeling well. It took me four hours before they let me go home.

The next day I knew I had to face work and I couldn't so I went into my sister's room and cried to her saying that I couldn't go to work. I started to panic at the thought of going. She made me go downstairs and talk to my mum, who had no idea what was going on. I explained how I felt and she phoned my boss and explained that I wouldn't be in. My boss was not too happy about that and said “Well, Emma was ok yesterday. What’s changed?”

I was signed off work for a week and tried to sort myself out. I just seemed to get worse. This is when my father become ill. I was signed off work for awhile longer and the only time I left the house was after a drink. I had to go into meetings at work after they had medical reports from my doctor to see how I was getting on.

They had printed photos of me off Facebook

One night I was spotted (by someone from work) while I was out with friends and I was called into work for another meeting. However, this time my boss gave me a disciplinary for going out but not being able to go to work. They had printed photos of me off Facebook to prove that I had been out with friends. This made me feel like they did not believe what I had said or what the doctors had said.

I had not opened up to my boss about my problems as I did not feel comfortable talking about it. After this I felt that no one believed my problems or understood. I felt so alone. After a while I decided to try and go back to work. I arranged with my boss to work two hours a day to help me get back to work. I found it very hard but I did not want to give up. After a few weeks of being back at working doing two hours a day, I was made redundant due to the fact they did not have a space for a part time position.

It seemed like I was fired because of my mental health

It seemed like I was fired basically all because of my mental health problems. I was very disappointed, angry and upset that I had been treated that way.

So at the moment I am now jobless but I have very good support from my loved ones, though I’m still finding it hard to travel and leave the house. I am also still caring for my father as much as I can as he lives in a different house now. With the support I have, I hope that one day I will get over all my fears and problems and be 'normal again', as I put it.

I do feel that there is not much information out there about mental health problems and how to treat people who are struggling with their mental health. People that do live with mental health problems do not like to talk openly about it as they feel people will look down on them. It’s an issue of education, you can’t see mental health problems so people think that they don’t exist.

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