Paul, June 29, 2019

"When I disclosed my mental illness to my line manager, I was told 'Talk to somebody else'"

I had just started working for a new employer following a three-year break in my career due to my mental health problems. I was looking forward to building a new career, developing professional skills, making new friends and finally moving forward in my life.

All seemed fine at the start of my new job but then I found myself at the sharp end of customers complaining about their needs not being actioned sooner, and I was unable to cope with the demands at work within my contract hours. I asked my line manager if I could work longer to keep on top of my workload, but their response surprised me. I was suddenly belittled and criticised for wanting to work longer and take back control of my job.

All of sudden I felt anger and my mind became lost within a fog of what seemed like hundreds of thoughts racing through my head all at once, not being able to pick out one thought from another in reply to my manager and take control of the conversation.

In this emotional, confused state, I started to question if this particular situation was actually real or if was it just inside my head. Saying this out loud, I realised that this situation was real and I suddenly felt like I was falling very fast from a great height, out of control and then the feeling stopped as I started to cry. I couldn’t cope with the pressure inside of me anymore and tears started to run down my face and I would occasionally let out a crying sound in despair.

I was unable to cope with the demands at work, and not being allowed to take control over my role, I felt powerless in this situation.

Dark thoughts then start to emerge within my mind and suddenly self-harming and suicide felt like an option. My mind started to replay all of the negative events in my life, as if to fuel this mindset and ignite these dark thoughts into action. When I disclosed this to my line manager, there was little compassion and I was told to “talk to somebody else as I can’t help you,” and it felt like my cry for help was ignored when I needed it the most.

It took me a while to emerge from this negative thinking pattern and be able to calm down from this event. No longer crying and the fog within my mind lifted, my mind reset and the thoughts of taking my life were no more. Feeling physically exhausted at this point and I just wanted to go home.

On the bus journey home, I still had a few moments where I would cry as the emotions within were still being released. It may have been an unusual sight to see a middle-aged man crying on the bus but it showed that I’m human and that I’m not afraid to show the pain and frustration within me.

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