‘Mental health’ was never a phrase that I’ve associated with myself. I’ve always thought myself to be quite resilient. I took a bizarre pride in being able to work myself through situations clinically, rationally and logically. I was, I thought, secure in my own serenity. My wife, by the way, does not feel that this is an admirable quality.
My friend, Steve, took his own life this year. I hadn’t spoken to him for a while, and I had no idea he was suffering. My mother took her own life when I was ten. Mental health, whether our own or that of others, touches us all. Poor mental health can affect anyone. It is not a weakness, and we must talk about it.
Earlier this year, I started experiencing symptoms of what I later discovered was probably burnout. I felt anxious and couldn’t sleep. Basic tasks at work felt overwhelming. I was exhausted, and I hated my job. I felt a pang of dread on waking, and by the end of the week I was an anxious wreck. It took me until Sunday to recover, and then I’d begin the cycle again on Monday. I started to resent work and stopped giving a shit about any of it. I reasoned that it would pass, but it was getting worse. I knew, or at least a rational bit of me knew, that if something didn’t change, I was heading to a bad place. It was an odd feeling and I have never been able to work out the why of it. But I guess that’s the nature of these things.
I gave up my job as a manager and took up a secondment elsewhere. I feel much better. I was lucky to have options, and the mental capacity to take them, but I am now much more sensitive to how I am feeling, and acknowledging those feelings as something real. This was a tough lesson to learn for me, because it means that I’m not as mentally hardcore as I thought.
To those that are well: Reach out to your friends. Let them know that they matter and that you are thinking about them.
To those that aren’t: Talking helps. If you don’t have anyone that you can talk to, try your GP, or consider contacting one of the charities below: