Anxiety & Depression, it’s a trip to hell but at least the warm.
This is my toughest post to date; currently I’m going through the mental wars and it has affected all aspects of my life: finances, relationships, careers, friendships, social interactions and education.
As a man in his mid to late 30’s from a West African background, this was tough to both accept and seek help for; however I did and I’m now applying my mini rule; if I go through something share it with others so they know what to expect and also know that they are not alone.
I don’t always follow this rule but for this I feel it is important to share.
In 2014 after a series of events including issues at work I started developing anxiety & depression, depression has always been there or there about in my life but anxiety that was new to me.
I tried to manage it with exercise, mediation and rational thinking and this worked for a while but then it stopped working and things got worse, brutally worse; I could no longer function in any settings and to say it threw a spanner in my works would be kind, it rolled a whole damn tank over it!
Life’s been hell, the anxiety is keeping me out of jobs and the depression is telling me it’s my own fault, to make matters worse I am an introvert so naturally I like being alone which is like a breeding ground for these problems; add to the fact that during darker days and cold months both gain more strength, I have actually notice increases in my anxiety towards Autumn/Winter.
It’s to the point where my mind would rather sink the ship than let me captain my mind, I also find myself angrier and ready to fight over the smallest things these days, it’s a horrible position to be in as it can lead to homelessness and let’s be frank, we can pretend all we want but the country does not really care about homeless heterosexual males at the moment; we are disposable.
Why am I writing this?
To reach who it needs to reach, if you start noticing symptoms get to the GP immediately, you can work on other stuff but you need to get to the GP just in case the other options don’t work; you don’t want a trip turning into an endless uncontrollable free fall.
You may have some of the same concerns I did before I told my GP:
- I don’t want mental health issues on my record it could limit future career options for me when I’m well.
- I don’t want to be on medication.
- I am a black man, and this does not affect our community.
- This will make me seem like a beta male.
- I won’t be able to get a girlfriend if I’m dating and they find out.
- People will think I am weak.
I won’t BS you, all of the above concerns can be true; I know the airline industry are reviewing the case for pilots medical files to be made available to them due to the suspected deliberate crash of a plane by a pilot who may have been suffering from depression.
There are some who will never understand and will disparage you but anyone who disrespects you for what you are going through, let them do them and let them go, get rid! you should not have such trashy people in your life; it is not conducive to your repair.
The cold truth is, if you don’t sort this, all of the above will be the very least of your problems, in fact one day you might actually wish these were your only concerns.
I will never forget when I opened up to a former finance director about what I was going through (I don’t know why I did), that finance director then proceeded to ask me out for lunch and tell me a lot of the stuff he had been through, I was gob smacked, stupidly I thought here’s a guy who’s got it all, why would he be down.
You don’t know what someone is going through, all I know is you owe it to yourself to be you in all your glory (or terror lol), this version of you is not you.
Another reason why I advise people to seek their GP immediately is if you are not doing this privately; the process from self-referral to your first actual session can take up to 6 months at time of writing, after your first face to face session there is a waiting list of up to 3 months before they can formerly start the program with you; they have a huge waiting list, let that be of comfort or concern to you.
Things you can do in the mean time that may help:
- Sort out your diet.
- Get a routine going.
- Ensure you body is properly hydrated (i.e. drink loads of water).
- Try and get a good nights sleep.
- Exercise preferably with some heavy weights (naturally don’t over do it).
- Reduce sugars in your diet.
- Get some direct sunlight where possible, I try to get at least 30 mins.
- If Christian praying & meditating, non-Christian meditating.
- Balance exercises.
- Talking to people.
- Keep a log of your anxiety times or events that seem to trigger it.
The great news is you can get through this and as you can tell from the waiting times you are not alone, men it is important to me that us in particular sort this out, these symptoms can lead you down a dark road and the support out there is not that great for us; I don’t want to see you dead, in jail or homeless because of this; you can and will get through this.
I do believe in our profession this is a problem; time and time again I bump into accountants who don’t want to be accountants and they feel stuck, they get frustrated with the repetitive month end cycles, frustrated at not being able to take time off at month ends, stressed with exams, audits and UK GAAP/IFRS changes, burnt out with all the late nights and annual leave entitlements they can’t use, the daily commuter fight, the PDR battle etc, some will be stuck in this professional until they retire as career changes are a brutal process, that’s why I’ve written this, to let you know you are not alone and the sooner you speak to someone the better it is.