Way back in the nineties, I had a very high pressure job, working 90 plus hours per week, the usual mix of deadlines, sometimes unrealistic targets staff management, my sustenance was coffee and cigarettes, stress didn’t even begin to cover it.
At work they hired some lifestyle councillors, to “help us” and they reported that I was suffering from high levels of job related stress and exhibited many of its symptoms poor diet insomnia etc, I remember looking at her thinking she must be mad, I’m an achiever a success people like me thrive on stress not suffer from it.
The advisor gave me a long list of things to do to relieve the symptoms and also explained that if I didn’t make changes to my lifestyle it could result in depression, it was like she was talking to someone else “DEPRESSION” come on I’m under 30 and a little under pressure I don’t have time for this,I’ll be off on my holidays soon and will come back refreshed a raring to go.
Several of my colleagues were of the same opinion the company had wasted thousands of pounds on nonsense and what a wasted morning, you see I thought I was invinicble…..ha!
Fast forward some 10 years later, my mother died and I was just pole-axed with grief so i thought, but it also opened up Pandora’s little box of demons oh and how she raged and took up space rent free in my body.
There were many other triggers of course, but I enabled the bloody thing to grow inside me , what did it care that I was working harder and harder sleeping less and less being bullied by new young whipper snapper of a boss, I was grieving, this thing took no prisoners it owned me.
And here we have the problem as I’ve said it’s a silent shameful illness, and it plays tricks on you alters your reality, leaves you devoid of emotion yet you feel this pain that eats at you sucks out your life force, in moments of clarity I knew I should have listened made the necessary changes, it may have just remained a stress related illness or might not have, but my guilt in not taking care of myself has been the hardest thing to bear.
I got over that first bout well so I thought, but did have some therapy paid for by my company, though the terrible downside was I was moved to a smaller unit less pressure, basically no mans land, so now depressed and sidelined eventually I left a job and career I loved because I couldn’t cope with being demoted and the sheer embarrassment of not really being able to articulate how I felt, it just made me feel useless.
Fast forward five years and the walls came tumbling down, the signs were there, but again shame kept me from dealing with it, I had enabled this thing again and it was beating me with the terrible blows of its secrecy, you’ve heard the expression the wolf at the door well this was sitting on my lap constantly whispering in my ear.