Mike was struggling after losing his father in law, hearing about his uncle’s cancer diagnosis and starting a busy new job during the pandemic. He broke down and needed some support from Ben...
“I drove to work one Monday in December and I was really, really upset. I was upset about a number of things. We had recently lost my father in law and I had started a new job during a very stressful, manic and busy time (due to Covid). I had been at my last company for 20 years, so my regular routine was taken away from me.
“My uncle also got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, so my world was turned upside down. I got very poorly over the space of a month.
“I remember that Monday like it was yesterday. I was beating myself up, thinking ‘I have a family, a lovely wife and lovely kids, why do I feel like this?’. But I was at the point where my brain was frazzled, I couldn’t even write an email and my speech was slow and slurred. I was physically exhausted and couldn’t take any more. I was absolutely broken and lonely. I had some awful feelings. I didn’t see it coming.
“I hadn’t told anyone how I was feeling. Every day, I cried my eyes out on the drive to work but I felt pressure as I had a team of 30 people reporting to me and I didn’t want to show any weakness. I needed to be strong for them.
“I visited my company website and Ben’s contact details popped up in front of me. It took a lot to get there. When I spoke to Ben’s helpline advisor, I couldn’t stop crying. At the end of the call, I was laughing and feeling positive. The advisor gave me the confidence to tell my wife, my GP, my boss and my dad about how I was feeling.
“Calling Ben’s helpline started me on the journey to getting better. It was a weight off my shoulders. From that day on, I had medication from the doctor and I had taken the first steps to getting better. It was brilliant, I shouldn’t have waited so long.
“I’ve always been hot on mental health issues and an advocate for mental health support, but I didn’t see this creeping up on me. After speaking to Ben and going through it all, I could see all the telltale signs in myself - I had stopped exercising, my eating habits had changed and I wasn’t sleeping well. Also, outside of work, I’m a referee in the FA Cup, semi-professional. This is my hobby, my social avenue outside work and it was taken away during Covid, which also affected my mental health.
“During the two weeks after speaking to Ben, I had time off work for Christmas and focused on working through the programmes on Ben’s digital mental health platform, SilverCloud, including the breathing exercises. I also took the medication from the doctor. I felt so much better when I went back to work.
“Ben had assigned a Case Manager to me and we spoke every 1-2 weeks. They could see what I was completing on SilverCloud and I enjoyed that, I knew I was achieving something for myself. I wanted to get better for my family. I wanted to get back on track. I started eating more healthily again and exercising regularly. I was proud to tell my Case Manager about everything I was doing. Ben also offered me bereavement counselling and so much support.
“Since this experience, I always ask my family and my colleagues if they are ok. My approach is different and I really care. I remember when I was poorly, a customer spoke to me like a piece of muck one day. I cried all the way home after that. I thought to myself that I won’t ever talk to anyone like that as you just don’t know what they are dealing with. This experience has completely changed my perspective.
“I used to come home from work, look at my work phone during the evenings and then I’d have sleepless nights. I’d be up all night thinking about work. Now I turn my phone off after work and don’t look at it in the evenings. Before, when I couldn’t sleep, I’d drive into work at 2-3am and it made me so poorly. I did the SilverCloud programme on anxiety and it changed my mindset. These positive changes I’ve made are thanks to the support from Ben, the programmes on SilverCloud, as well as the medication, exercise and talking about things.
“Before, I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. The difference in me now is that I talk. I can’t say life is perfect but I can talk about it. I also have a routine, I plan my day and stick to it. I always take a lunch break and I go for a walk every lunch time. I plan my week religiously. I’m eating the right food and I look ahead.
“Now I’m positive, my outlook is good, I’m ambitious and I’m looking forward to everything that comes my way. I’m a different person. I’ve progressed in my job and I’ve had good feedback from my new employer. I’m enjoying life and work. I have a young family and I’m looking forward to seeing them grow up.
“I analyse any challenge that comes my way and think about how I will rise to it. If there’s anything challenging happening at home, I talk about it with my wife. My wife and children are brilliant and since the help from Ben, we sit down and talk more. We talk about everything. We make more of an effort than we ever have before.
“I always used to say there's no stigma around mental health, but men just can’t seem to talk about it. They struggle to open up. Since I’ve shared my story, a few people have come up to me saying they have struggles too. I’m proud to talk about my experience now.
“I appreciate everything Ben has done for me. It’s made me a better person. I know what life is about now - it’s about my family, being healthy and planning and looking forward to the future. I couldn’t recommend Ben more! If you need it, put your hand up for help - it’s the best thing you could ever do.”
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