I was going through an overwhelming period of time juggling three things; working full-time, studying to complete my master’s degree and being a first-time dad.

My coping mechanism that I had known no longer worked, especially as I had a new title to me: Dad. Previously, I would turn to drinking for escapism or I’d choose to lock myself in. This time however, I decided to seek help through my local GP.

'Internally, I was able to cope much better'

The GP was helpful. Within days, I was seen, and medication was prescribed to me for my anxiety and depression, relieving a lot of what I was feeling. It’s important to point out that the external didn’t change – I was still studying and working, I was still a dad – but internally, I was able to cope much better and feel less overwhelmed. 

I studied Psychology at university for 3 years because I wanted to better understand what I went through in my earlier years. I am now a Service Manager overseeing the care received by patients who have been referred and seen. Mental health isn’t a conversation I’ve known, although my siblings, cousins and I do talk about it.

There is however, a generational divide as it isn’t something I can talk to my parents about due to the lack of mental health awareness. There is stigma by the older generation and an attitude to just ‘get on with it’ – which may have delayed the time for me to seek help.

Different people benefit from different things. For me, seeing a GP was a very validating experience. They listened to me, followed up with questions relating to my degree after the initial appointment. As someone with social anxiety, being able to have virtual appointments as an option helps a lot without having to worry about taking time off work.

Today, this can all be done discreetly; therefore, avoiding the need to think about all the steps before going to an in-person appointment.

'Balance and structure is key'

Having a supportive employer also helped – I was lucky with this. During supervisions, my employer holistically checked in with me which proved invaluable as some supervisions can feel solely performative and driven by ticking a box. Employers can either support you or they may exacerbate your situation covertly. It’s important that for example, employers don’t just focus on your targets during supervisions, but take the time to ask how you are and how they can support you instead.

For me, having balance and structure is key. Doing things such as going for walks, exercising and doing a lot of art helps me to not lock everything in. It’s also important to talk to the relevant people who will be able to help you. Mental health doesn’t discriminate, so why should we? My advice is to accept that nothing is permanent – what you’re feeling isn’t going to last forever.

 

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