Firstly, let me send my thoughts and condolences to the families affected by this tragic event, it’s a terrible thing to lose a loved one and particularly in a tragic way. What is disappointing about the whole coverage of this event is how they are trying to expose the fact he had severe depression which led him to taking his life amongst many others.
It is being widely published in the media that he was depressed and that is what is likely to have caused him to act in the way he did but this is a horrific thing to suggest, even if it is true.
Particularly as so many mental health charities are trying to break the stigma that having a mental illness is something to be afraid of.
He hid his illness from his employer
A new news story coming out of the BBC suggests that he hid his illness from his employer and tore up sick notes.
Has the fear of people thinking that someone with a mental problem is crazy or ‘less of a human being’ meant he became fearful for his job, his life and his ability to live and follow his career and that not knowing how his employer would have reacted forced him into the situation he was in?
Is this a warning sign that more employers must ‘support’ employees with common mental health problems in order that they come forward, get help and can feel free to be able to heal.
Imagine going to work trying to conceal a broken arm incase you were deemed ‘unfit for work’ and feared getting fired.
This is my first point to raise from the tragedy that maybe it is time employers stopped seeing mental health as a danger or a problem to their business and to protect people in vulnerable situations so it doesn’t exalate to this terrible level of despair.
Secondly, I will never condone what he did taking other’s lives but when your mind is plagued with negativity you don’t think logically and just want to escape your mental anguish, you detach from the real world and he likely never thought of anything other than not wanting to be here anymore.
The founders experience of having severe depression and anxiety
It is no secret that I, the founder of BoM, suffered with severe depression and anxiety. I educated myself to masters level in Architecture and Tutoring but found the first industry to lack opportunity where I lived ( I couldn’t move due to ex-relationship and plus I didn’t really want to leave my hometown as its where my family live ) and the teaching degree I experienced work place bullying in an industry I only went into due to the recession.
I was severely in debt of over £30k, all 3 grandparents died in quick succession around this time as well as my ex’s mother ( who was her only family so I became her only other support), my relationship that I was in became terrible, controlling, highly pressured financially and personally and some of my family didn’t like her either increasing the pressure on me further.
To put it bluntly I was lost and my mind was totally f**ked!
What is it like to feel depressed to a severe level?
Yes I know what its like to feel severely depressed and anxious when you get a string of bad luck and I know that you don’t think like you used to. You start having a combination of frustration, anger, looking for reasons why things have happened, lacking of trust, sad, low self-esteem, hard to do anything, see the world as a difficult and cruel place and the more you think about your difficulty the more your mind gets tired and the more the world becomes dark and strangers on the street are as vicious to you as a pack of wolves.
Severe Depression is like being tortured in a prison you can’t escape
Having negative thoughts is only one part of depression and it feels like you will never be able to change how you feel about things. Those who don’t know what you have seen and been through only see someone who is maybe negative, sad or ‘over-thinking’ things when in fact the person is usually having a mental dialogue with themselves constantly trying to fight their thoughts.
It is hard and it is a feeling of being trapped. It can really feel like being in a pit until you find techniques and strategies that work for you (thus why I set up this website for others).
Held down a job now for 3 years
When I was severely depressed I would take citalopram on 40mg and I had 5 hours of CBT. I also received disability benefit as I was so severely depressed but what was worse was the anxiety of strangers due to bad past experiences of people (something I admit, I still continue to deal with and battle but not as bad as it used to be).
I was reassessed for disability allowance and got thrown off by the government ( you can read more about that here ) and thus forced me to push myself to my extreme limits and I applied for jobs everywhere even whilst trying to recover…ending up with a job in London.
This job has been the making of me and part of my healing process. I had to deal with my anxiety, I felt purpose and that I was using my many years education again so dealt with my depression and also met a wonderful Tibetan woman who continues to help make me see the world in a different light.
I also hid my illness
Being employed by this company I never told them I was depressed…I never told them I had anxiety… I also hid how I felt and now only a handful of people who work with me actually still know of my past health problems. I understand why he hid it from his employer as there is stigma that you can’t do your job properly if you have a mental problem but with help support and belief in someone it can be part of the cure to a better life.
It is sad when you can’t tell someone you are ill in a certain way (even if recovering ) for fear of being judged wrongly. In 3 years I have only had 1 day off and I have been late maybe three times also thus is the power of a job to be a catalyst for change.
In Conclusion what can be learnt from the tragedy?
This really is a very tragic and terrible event but we must learn lessons from what happened.
More needs to be done with employers and within the law to protect employees who need help due to stress, depression or any other form of illness from being unfairly treated or dismissed so more people will seek the help they require and for people ( men in particular as they don’t talk enough ) to realise it is okay to need help and speak to someone about how you feel and society also needs to understand that someone with a troubled mind needs help not judgement.
We must not let the media stop the hard work lots of mental health charities have done and continue to help society as a whole understand that people with mental health problems are not to be feared but understood to stop further tragedies like this happening in future.