31st March 2021
Today marks the five year anniversary that I asked for help. I remember the day as if it was yesterday as I stood in my office, looking out of the window at nothing in particular. The main HQ building was having major construction work so there were builders and vehicles coming and going, but everything else was a blur. It was minutes to 8am. There were papers sitting neatly on my desk (I hated mess, still do). I was working on sourcing new alarms for our victims of domestic abuse and had put a proposal together regarding numbers needed, connectivity, finance options, ease of use and training.
I was spinning many other plates and juggling day to day demands of a Detective Inspector in a very busy Public Protection Department. I knew what was sitting in my email box as I would check my work phone or laptop in the evening and morning, just to clear some work before my actual working day started. I would always tell my staff not to do this, but typically it is something I always did. There are so many out there who do exactly the same.
As I stared out of the window and checked the time on my phone I knew what I had to do. It was 8am. The magic time where the GP phone call rat race starts to get an appointment that day. Thoughts were spinning around my head as I rehearsed what I was going to say when the receptionist asked me what the problem was. All I knew was that I was tired, maybe burnt out, a bit down in the dumps, fed up. My thoughts were that perhaps some physical illness was plaguing me. I had previously suffered with anaemia, was it that? It did not matter as the phone line was constantly engaged. Thoughts of whether to carry on with the redial game or to just give up and carry on with my day. I sat down, looked at my screen and decided to multi task hitting the redial button whilst replying to emails which were popping through.
Redial, redial, redial.
Gulp, the automated message had kicked in telling me if I was having chest pains, signs of a stroke, or severe bleeding then to contact 999. Nope, I wasn’t having any of them, just exhausted. I have no idea what I said to the call taker in the end, but I had an appointment for after work. Now what do I do? Plan what I want to say? That never works. What do I want to say? I have no idea. The fact that I had recently had failed IVF, and in the last 4 months had split up from my wife, was unsuccessful in my inspectors board and had knee surgery to remove some bolts probably had something to do with it. Oh, and the fact that I had wanted to end my life, more than once and was saved by a friend.
I have no idea what I did in work that day. I put the happy George face on and continued in the hardworking and professional manner that I conducted myself in. My 2 close friends within the department knew what was going on, but I did not show any weakness to management. I was doing well in my role, I loved my job and it was evident that how I was feeling was not interfering with work.
I made sure I left for work on time. I straightened everything on my desk (yep true), packed up my bag, making sure I had my work phone (for email checking later), said my goodbyes and off I went.
I don’t recall the 25 minute drive from my office to the surgery, but no doubt I was running through things in my head. Was I wasting their time? Was there actually anything wrong with me? Can I back out now?
I have talked about how the standard 10 minute appointment went on for over 30 minutes in earlier blogs. What I did not realise until sometime after this appointment was that this was my first call for help. This was the start of what has become my journey over the last 5 years. The path of destruction, suicide attempts, antidepressants, TV, therapy, and my platform to speak out and help others. Importantly, this became my journey of discovery, my journey of finding me. It became my openness to recovery, it became about me. It led me to Olly, it led me to new people, new friends, new ideas and a new life.
Importantly, opening up 5 years ago today saved life.
If you are reading this and recognise you need to speak to someone, then do it. Hey, if I can do it, anyone can.