The HR Juggler

The 25% Club: Darkest Before The Dawn

Posted on: February 6, 2013

dawn

This post is part of the 25% club series dealing with the topic of mental health, particularly as it relates to the workplace. Some of the posts, like today’s, will be accredited, others will be anonymous – all have a powerful impact and help to shine a light on a topic that we need to talk about so much more than we currently do. Today’s post is written by my brother, Dave Moss.

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Depression. One word, yet a decade of trouble for me. Touch wood, I have been free from Churchill’s black dog for the last two years. Long may it continue, because it roams the streets of your minds and never truly goes away. While I am relatively free from it, I thought I would share my experiences to help others who suffer from this debilitating illness.

Mental health still carries an almighty stigma. 1 in 4 officially will suffer from it during their lifetime. I think the true figure is much higher. In my secret facebook group ‘thoughts for the day’ I took a risk and posted that I had suffered from it, and statistically ten of the group should as well. Twenty admitted officially that they did, 50% of my group! Now I do not deliberately seek out depressed folks, thinking of myself as a glass half full person, what is the link?!

Life is a marathon not a sprint. You genuinely have a fuse in your brain, which blows when you have done too much. Breakdown time and hello my black dog again…listening to the radio the other day, Jeremy Vine had a segment about depression, something you can’t face talking about when you are in the eye of the storm. The doctor explained that there were two simple messages you should give your children, “I’m OK” and “the world’s OK”

“I’m OK”- there will always be clevererer, more handsome, wittier people than you. There will also be less intelligent, uglier and dull people than you. Be kind to yourself and be comfortable in your own skin.

“The world’s ok” – at the moment as I write, we are still in a recession. There is on the face of it much to be depressed by. But the world will sort itself out. It always does, these things are very cyclical. Trouble in the 70s, boom in the 80s, 90s then wobble in the 00s and 10s. Salvation due in 2020! 

 But eight years is a long old time I hear you say. How to cope before then?! The key thing is SLEEP!!! Ironically I write this at 0600, but sometimes this is my most creative time. Without sleep, deliberate or otherwise, you are unable to effectively analyse your issues. To try to get a healthy sleep pattern, try to minimise alcohol, fizz and caffeine. I know, not the most fun in the world but I never said it was going to be easy!! Exercise produces endorphins, positive energy that keeps blood flowing and yr brain fresh. The worst thing you can do if you are depressed is do nothing. Keep busy!!

Life is like a three-legged stool, my Mum says. Your life broadly can be compartmentalised into 3 main areas (legs); work, family and friends. I have added a fourth leg – money. If you have problems in one area, you are more reliant on the others to support you. If two areas are affected that is a big strain on the other two. And so on. 

The darkest moment is just before the dawn. It can’t get any worse!! Absolutely, when it is pitch black guess what? The sun rises. Tough it out. Positive thinking. Things WILL get better.

If you are still reading now, well done!! Depressed people classically have short attention spans. Hopefully I will never have to reread my own advice. But the black dog never truly gets lost, it may only be a couple of streets away.

Depression is also the curse of the strong. I never considered myself a perfectionist until my GP’s counsellor mentioned it. He also talked about disastorisation of events, i.e. thinking, overanalysing future events and assuming the worst will happen. Frequently it won’t. I differentiate between constructive and destructive worrying.

Worry about things you can do something about. You can’t change the past, only the present and future. The road to great victories are achieved by a series of small steps.

I wish you all the luck in the world. It isn’t easy and I’m sorry if my advice comes in a rather unstructured way. But it comes from the heart. If just one person reading this is helped, I have made a difference. 

Remember, sort out your sleep pattern. Identify what triggers your black dog. Minimise booze, fizz and caffeine. Be kind to yourself. You are OK. The world will sort itself out. 

Symbolically, I started writing this when it was pitch black. It is now getting light! I hope light is just about to dawn on you and your world 🙂

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If you care about mental health and want to make a difference there are lots of things you can do

  • visit Mind’s website and check out their excellent corporate resources
  • take the ‘time to change’ pledge
  • share your story and read those of others as part of this blog series. If you would like to contribute, please get in touch with me on Twitter (@AlisonChisnell) or through the comments section of this blog
  • we are forming an #HRforMentalHealth team to fundraise for Mind by running the Royal Parks half marathon in October. Register here if you’d like to join us – we’re a friendly bunch with some first-time half-marathon runners joining us :)

1 Response to "The 25% Club: Darkest Before The Dawn"

This is a really thoughtful and helpful piece of writing. Thank you for your honesty and actually, the light shines all through this.

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