The HR Juggler

The 25% Club: I’m Fine!

Posted on: February 7, 2013

fine

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 anonymous, others will be accredited – 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.

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I’m fine!

I really am. I have a family, a house, a car, clothes to wear, food to eat, warmth and a good job. I really have nothing to complain about. Not when there are so many not as lucky as me, surviving on a dollar a day or less or living rough on the streets. I have reasonably good health, unlike many without access to decent healthcare systems. I am, in short, lucky.

Sure my wife carries in her head a brain tumour which, should it grow, will at least disable her and most likely kill her. Yes, she takes painkillers which flatten her mood and scare her. And maybe she suffers a little with depression as a result of this, manifesting itself in things like an eating disorder or destructive friendships. But she is a good mother and she loves me. I am lucky and we are fine!

And yes, one of our children has Asperger’s syndrome making everything from food to sleeping a big deal, but we limit our holidays to the UK (no funny foods) and we try to holiday with friends or family to share the burden when she has a meltdown about something new or strange or loud or scary or that involves making a choice. I’m trying to understand and be a better, more patient father… and to ensure I don’t neglect our younger child either. It’s fine, really it is.

My job as HR Manager has changed greatly in the past year, I’ve been involved in restructures, redundancies, disciplinaries, a change of CEO and a lot of things I’ve never had to deal with before, but that’s great. I love it. Career development and all that. Sure there have been worries. And I’ve coped with it just fine.

And this year we’ve lost my grandfather and my parents and their siblings have been learning to cope with advancing age, some serious conditions and the fact that their son and grandchildren hardly ever visit because they’re at the other end of the country and have so very little time to visit and dealing with the Asperger’s syndrome means journeys are hell and sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings will mean they only get 3 hours sleep each night they stay. But we do what we can when we can and really, it’s fine.

But just recently I’ve had the odd problem sleeping. And maybe I could control my temper better and be less uptight with the kids – I do find myself shouting a bit. It would be nice to be able to share my worries and concerns with my wife but she doesn’t need that – she has her own things to handle. Maybe friends could help – but then home life has meant time with friends has been little and many friendships have withered. But that’s ok. I can manage. Driving the car into that tree really is a silly option. Get over it! You’re fine!

At least at work I can make a difference. There is something reassuring about that point in my journey when I stop thinking about home and start thinking about work. I put on that mask and I’m good at acting. I’m fine. Really I am.

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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 :)

3 Responses to "The 25% Club: I’m Fine!"

The fact you have written this suggests you know you’re not really fine, but you need to give yourself a break and get some support before you are *really* not fine. If you carry on like this neglecting your own needs and feelings soon it will be you needing support from your family. Bring a carer is stressful at the best of times and it’s important you think of yourself. Please find someone you can confide in and don’t feel you always have to wear the mask. Be that a counsellor, your GP, a trusted colleague or a friend. They don’t need to be an expert, although perhaps an expert will help, but you do need to talk.

At the #hr4mh event the other night, we heard about how work can provide a sense of security and a way of dealing with daily life. You certainly describe the same.

Through various other posts, and reading, I would like to suggest some options for your own resilience.

There’s a growing understanding of how regularly practicing mindfulness techniques can improve mental health. Taking as little as ten minutes each day, allowing yourself to not be distracted, and focus on something either in or around you.

If you can, go for a run, or a long walk at least once a week during your lunch. It’s a good way of being free of just everything. No phoning home, no checking work emails, just taking some time for you. It’s well documented that physical exercise is a good way of releasing stress in the body, as well as boosting your immune system.

I echo the previous comment in seeking some professional help. Having someone to offload to who is expert in these things is a very useful thing to consider. It doesn’t have to be a prolonged set of meetings – maybe just a few in order to help voice things in a safe environment where you don’t have to hide behind the anonymity of a blog.

And lastly, please be mindful of the British stiff upper lip. It’s a fine thing, and you are fine after all, but the expectations you are holding within yourself need to be managed better before you stop being fine.

Best

Sukh

Please talk to someone – I was where you are a good few years ago (although I probably didn’t have anywhere near as much reason as you to to be there)and just having someone to listen really helped. I also echo the wise words of Sukh and Lellie above. Take care, Graham

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