It’s 4am on February 21st 2017. I’ve been off work since 5th August 2016 after my role was made redundant. Since then I’ve been re-architecting my career after years of trying to manage my depression alongside a highly stressful job.
It started in February 2008, when a dear friend died suddenly and a business I’d set up two years earlier became a victim of the economic crash. In 2012 I was diagnosed with depression following four depressive episodes. In July 2016, two days before my last day at work, I attempted suicide…
For the past six years, I’d been struggling to cope with a high-pressure job in sales, my profession for over 30 years. I finally gave in and left – in the end my job was literally killing me.
My crucible moment came in November 2016 whilst I was at a retreat in Ibiza. During a yoga session I suddenly realised that helping others (I’d always been naturally compelled to help when someone fell over or needed a friend) would be my new career… I just needed to figure out how to do it.
Since then I’ve started a coaching course, looked into working with a colleague who runs a retreat for burned-out executives and, most recently, started working on de-stigmatising mental illness in the workplace with Geoff McDonald.
As I write this post I know I’m on the brink of a depressive episode. The difference this time is that I know what to do: reduce the workload to a manageable level and subsequently reduce my stress levels. The point is, the more I recognise and embrace my depression, turning it into a positive, the better I can manage the illness and improve my life. Most importantly, I can make life easier for my wife and two teenaged daughters, who I love dearly.
The challenge was always taking on too much. Throughout my sales career, I was used to keeping multiple plates spinning and juggling projects, but experience has now taught me to recognise my limits and adjust my workload accordingly.
Time will tell if I’m strong enough to manage my illness and live a full life. I hope I can.