It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly my issues with depression started because I didn’t seek help until much later in life, into my 20s.
The trigger stemmed from my mum’s partner – the things I witnessed him do to my mum and also the way I was treated by him physically and emotionally over many years.
I think when it first ‘came out’ that I was battling depression people were surprised because I’d hidden it so well for so long. I didn’t tell anyone initially because I thought people would treat me differently or act differently around me.
It didn’t help that, being a man, the stereotype is you don’t talk about these kind of things – you just get on with it.
The medication and counselling I received helped massively in managing my symptoms and making me realise that it’s OK to talk. My wife Rebecca has also been a hugely important part of my recovery.
Although the roots of my depression and anxiety dated back to childhood, it was returning to my old job after paternity leave for the birth of my second son that really made it escalate.
Returning to work I felt anxious about the possibility that maybe I’d missed something, which may have caused issues for people while I was off. I feared that I had let people down and would get into trouble.
I’d been off for five weeks and felt very much that I was expected to just crack on.
Although I knew our new baby was perfectly fine and safe with his mum, I found myself worrying that if something happened to them and I wasn’t there to protect them, I would have failed.
On top of the anxiety all of that caused when I returned to work, I felt that most of the management had taken a dislike to me and I didn’t know why. We’d always had a good working relationship before I left.
I told them that I was struggling but was made to feel that I was just being silly, it would pass and I just needed to ‘man up’ and get on with it.
One day I had to leave my desk to be sick and ended up crying at my desk. I asked if I could leave the office for the remainder of the day but this wasn’t permitted.
My wife was extremely supportive. I went to see a doctor – I think partly because I knew from past experience that it’s better to seek help sooner rather than later.
When I was signed off from work and put on medication, it initially made the symptoms worse. After a while this calmed down though, and I also took the decision to seek employment elsewhere.
My current employer, Simplyhealth, has been really supportive. I think the fact that they are an everyday healthcare business means there is a genuine interest and commitment to their employees’ wellbeing. It certainly feels like that after my experiences elsewhere.
I have also taken up running as a serious hobby.
I’ve found that running has been the greatest way for me to deal with my mental health struggles on an ongoing basis as it allows me to not think about anything other than where I’m going.
My anxiety is now all but non-existent. For me, running has had massively positive rewards – I worry less because I run more.
In 2017 I will be taking part in several Simplyhealth Great Run events, and each one of them will be a personal celebration to mark how far I have come in improving my mental health.
Clearly my physical health is improving too as a result of all the running, so in both mind and body I have never felt better.
For more inspiring stories, to learn more about the positive impact that exercise can have on both your physical and mental everyday health, and for practical tips on incorporating exercise in to your life, visit Millions Moving.