Secondment: Paying it Forward
Gandhi said, “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” It isn’t until we’ve suffered ourselves that we realise how true this phrase is. As human beings, until there is a personal connection, these things don’t seem real.
So, at Text100, we have decided World Mental Health Day is the day we make mental health very real by taking a personal perspective. By sharing stories of how mental health has had a personal impact on our lives, we want our people to know they are not alone.
There are people you work with every day who have been affected by mental health issues, past or present; People just don’t talk about it; worried about judgement and stigma, they suffer in silence.
So today we’re telling our mental health stories.
Our teams across Europe have bravely chosen to kick start the conversation around mental health. Some of us promise to be there for our partners “in sickness and in health”. Text100 are making this same promise to our people.
Please read our stories and share with those close to you. We want to make it easier for others to talk about their mental health problems and we hope you find this a helpful conversation starter.
Mental health story #1
Many years ago, I was an Account Executive at Text100 and had to deal with a lot of pressure from a client. We were paid for the number of hours we worked to fulfil the plan (rather than a fixed retainer).
I can see now I took on way too much responsibility than I should have, and I paid for it.
I started to sleep badly two nights a week, then three, then all of them, even weekends. My eyes opened at 2AM and I would lay awake, just dealing with everything in my head.
I went to the doctors, but the medication wasn’t good for me; This was not in my body, it was in my head. I took sick leave and started going to therapy, which helped me finally rest properly.
I was prescribed more drugs, but mostly I recovered by getting fresh air, taking long walks and having time with myself. It gave me a perspective on everything, but particularly my professional career and the changes I needed to make to look after myself from now on.
Two months later, I was ready to come back. I requested to leave that account and I started afresh, with a new perspective.
I felt some of my colleagues did not understand why I had to take sick leave and to this day, I still think some resent me a bit for it. But it was the right thing to do at the time for me to become myself again.
Now I do yoga, I meditate every day and have learned that you cannot control everything; not everything is your responsibility; and yes, you can still sleep badly from time to time. The key is understanding that that’s fine, as long as you learn to be at peace with it and let it go.
Mental health story #2
My husband and I always knew we couldn’t conceive naturally. I always thought I was resilient and tough minded, but starting IVF and trying to hold down a career where I was travelling two weeks of every month pushed me beyond all limits.
I didn’t tell anyone about the IVF so on the outside, it was business as usual. On the inside I was crumbling. I blamed my job for the first five failed attempts but we needed the income to pay for the IVF, so leaving my job was not an option.
It was only when an old manager caught up with me at a conference that I finally told someone at work what was going on and that I just wasn’t in a good place.
He arranged for me to have paid time off and he found a role that required less travel and allowed me to focus on myself and the treatment. I visited a nutritionist, had acupuncture and started yoga.
It took 5 more cycles of IVF for me to finally fall pregnant but by then, I was mentally and physically ready to bring a baby into the world. Our son was born in 2003.
I don’t feel I have ever been cured but I have learned my triggers and also coping mechanisms, including knowing that there are people I can talk to about how I’m feeling.
Mental health story #3
I was a journalist, a career I loved, but the death of my father hit me hard. After he passed away I continued working, but stopped sleeping well. 3 years ago I lost my job. It also affected my personal life. I left my partner of several years because I didn’t want to commit and “grow up”.
I took the decision to visit a psychologist, which I still do today, and he is helping me with to deal with the grief of my father’s death because I have still not fully accepted it.
It’s really important to look for professional help if you’re struggling. Listen to others, because you may not be able to see it in yourself.
Sad life events can turn into traumas if you’re not careful and this can have consequences that affect you for many years afterwards.
Mental health story #4
I used to have issues regarding confidence and self-esteem that meant I struggled with being comfortable in myself. This damaged my personal relationships, leading me to find solace in drink. Trying to “fit in” too much stopped me from progressing at work as I lacked belief in my own ability.
At my lowest point, I decided to go through psychotherapy. This was the best thing that I ever did and something I wish I’d done earlier in my life.
Therapy gave me the tools to understand my emotions, and the ability to face them in a constructive and loving manner. With this help, I’ve been able to progress in both my career and my personal relationships. I feel so much more comfortable with who I am.
Psychotherapy didn’t miraculously solve my issues overnight and like all humans I have good days and bad days. However, I now have the ability to recognise why I feel the way I do. Most importantly, I have learnt to love myself just as I am.
Self-care is important, and for myself I do simple things. I go for a walk or a run, read a book and play sport. Also something completely new, singing in a choir, has given me more balance in life.
Most importantly, it has made me a happier and healthier person.
Mental health story #5
I didn’t really come to terms with the fact that I suffered from anxiety until I was 24. I am now 27 and I still deal with it on a daily basis.
The thing with anxiety is that it’s so difficult to put into words. You can be afraid to leave the house and have no idea why. You can have tickets for a holiday you’ve been planning for months and the day before feel like you don’t want to go. At various points, it has affected every stage of my life, from work to relationships.
The increased awareness and conversations that have begun to happen not just about anxiety, but mental health in general have really helped me. I’m lucky – I have supportive managers who are aware of the struggles I have had with mental health.
I would advise anyone suffering with anxiety to speak to someone about it. If you feel like you can’t talk to your loved ones, speak to your HR representatives, your GP, or anyone you feel you can.