Real life mental health stories: totally burnt out

Totally burnt out

Who are you, and why did you decide to share your story?

I am a woman in my mid-thirties and I work in the humanitarian sector. During a recent long-term field assignment, I experienced what I later discovered to be burnout. At the time I had little knowledge about this mental health issue, so for a long time I simply ignored the signals my mind and my body were sending me. 

By sharing my experience, I’d like to shed light on burnout, its symptoms and its consequences. In my sector there is still a lot of stigma around it, so I think that reading about others’ stories may be of help to those going through (or suspecting they are going through) the same experience. 

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Real life mental health stories: intrusive thoughts OCD

Intrusive thoughts

Who are you, and why did you decide to share your story?

I am a 35 year old French woman who has been living in Geneva for the last 12 years. I am the mum of 2 beautiful kids ages 4 & 7. 

I have an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), called phobia of committing impulsive acts. In a few words I would summarize it as the fear of becoming crazy and doing things you don’t want to do.

When was the first time you became aware you were suffering from a mental health/wellness issue? 

I have always been quite anxious as far as I can remember but that particular form, the phobia of committing impulsive acts, first revealed itself about 10 years ago. I was in my kitchen preparing dinner with my husband and all of a sudden, the thought hit me “what if I killed my husband”. I didn’t want to, absolutely not, but all of sudden I was attacked by intrusive thoughts, all going around the theme of “what if I became crazy”, “what if suddenly hit him with a knife”. 

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On suicide…

Trigger warning! This poem may be difficult to read if you know someone who has committed suicide, if you yourself have had suicidal thoughts, or if the topic of suicide is difficult for you whatever the reason may be. Please do not read if you don’t feel ready to do so.

If you want to read make sure you feel in a good place with your mental health, perhaps read it with a friend or do whatever you need so as to not feel triggered. Please also check local resources (and on this website) to support you with your mental health.

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Overcoming shame

This blog post is part of a series on men’s mental health for Movember. In this series, different men give their perspective on male mental health. What does it mean to deal with mental health as a man?

In certain cases as with the interview below, people have had the courage to reveal their identity. This is both brave and vulnerable, congratulations to them!

Ahmad

This guest blog post is written by Ahmad Jooma. I asked Ahmad to contribute his story around mental health, as a man and co-host of the podcast Authentic Dating Series. The below is Ahmad’s interpretation of that, and personal story. For him, shame was linked to his ability to fully show up as a man.

Imagine the consequences of that for mental health! Mental health doesn’t have to be about a burnout or a full mental breakdown, it can also be tied to your self-confidence and your ability to be open with others.

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Helping prevent suicide in men

Ben Akers

This blog post is part of a series on men’s mental health for Movember. In this series, different men give their perspective on male mental health. What does it mean to deal with mental health as a man?

In certain cases as with the interview below, people have had the courage to reveal their identity. This is both brave and vulnerable, congratulations to them!

What made you want to share your story? Please introduce yourself

Hi my name is Ben Akers, I’m 44, father of 3. I live in Bristol in the UK. I’m a Documentary Maker, Problem Solver and Mental Fitness Campaigner.

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Managing my mental health by myself

This blog post is part of a series on men’s mental health for Movember. In this series, different men give their perspective on male mental health. What does it mean to deal with mental health as a man?

In certain cases as with the interview below, people have had the courage to reveal their identity. This is both brave and vulnerable, congratulations to them!

What made you want to share your story? Please introduce yourself

In certain cases as with the interview below, people have had the courage to reveal their identity. This is both brave and vulnerable, congratulations to them!

I’m Adrian, 48, broke and living on the kindness of others. I’ve had a lifelong battle with my mental health of which there are many diagnoses. I want to share, in order to let people know that they are not alone – as I have felt for most of my life. 

 

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Managing my mental health amid a global pandemic

This blog post is part of a series on men’s mental health for Movember. In this series, different men give their perspective on male mental health. What does it mean to deal with mental health as a man?

In certain cases as with the interview below, people have had the courage to partly reveal their identity. This is both brave and vulnerable, congratulations to them!

What made you want to share your story? Please introduce yourself

I’m Nick, I’m 40 years old and I am a salesperson. I was furloughed in April and made redundant in September. I wanted to share my story with a focus on the last 7 months of lockdown and the pandemic,the effect this has had on my mental health and that of people I care about. 

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Addressing my mental health after 30 years

This blog post is part of a series on men’s mental health for Movember. In this series, different men give their perspective on male mental health. What does it mean to deal with mental health as a man?

In certain cases as with the interview below, people have had the courage to reveal their identity. This is both brave and vulnerable, congratulations to them!

What made you want to share your story? Please introduce yourself

Chris Hart
Chris

Hi, I’m Chris Hart, I’m 39 and live in the UK. I’m a dad to three boys and have worked in recruitment for the last 14 years.

I wanted to share my story because, slowly over the last couple of years I have become more comfortable in talking about my own experiences with Mental Health. It has taken nearly 39 years to get to this point, and now I want to do what I can to help others in talking about it and reducing the stigma.

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What a solo cycling journey taught me about mental health

This blog post is part of a series on men’s mental health for Movember. In this series, different men give their perspective on male mental health. What does it mean to deal with mental health as a man?

In certain cases as with the interview below, people have had the courage to reveal their identity. This is both brave and vulnerable, congratulations to them!

What made you want to share your story? Please introduce yourself

Dirk Spits
Dirk

My name is Dirk Spits, 39 years old. Between September 2013 and May 2015 I solo-cycled from the northern tip of Alaska to the southern point of South America, an expedition of over 30.000 km that took 20 months. I did this for my foundation called 99%RIDE, raising funds and awareness for small NGOs concerning children’s and educational projects.

During the expedition I experienced the most difficult (mental, physical and emotional) situations I have ever come across. The mental component has always fascinated me, and now I am always pleased to be able to share my story and experience with others.

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Shining a spotlight on men’s mental health

Men's mental health
Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

After the success of last year’s mental health awareness week campaign, I was wondering what I could do this year that would build on it and continue to add value for the readers of this blog.

As I started listening to podcasts such as The Authentic Dating Series, the Sanctus podcast on mental health, The lonely American man, attending talks and hearing people like Kevin Groen speak, I became more aware of issues such as toxic masculinity, and other societal pressure men have to deal with. This got me thinking about the impact it has on their mental health and their ability to talk about it.

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how my mental health affected my financial situation

Over the summer I listened to a few financial podcasts and was inspired by one particular episode in which the guest was talking about her childhood and how it had deeply affected her relationship with money. This got me thinking about the connection between finance and mental health and how they influence each other, and I decided it was an important topic to cover.

If you think about it, personal finance and mental health are both topics that aren’t really talked about that much. If you want to learn how to manage your finances properly you have to seek out information, but conversations about money can still be considered taboo in certain societies, and no one is ever taught financial literacy. Yet our financial wellbeing has such an impact on our general wellbeing, it strikes me as strange we don’t address it more often.

For this blog post since I don’t have much experience myself, I put out a call for contributions and was fortunate enough to have a few people respond. The following is an interview/guest blog post by Celine who was willing to share her story. I hope you enjoy, and thank you to her for contributing!

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Secrecy around mental health at work

Secrecy around mental health at work
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Previously I talked about the idea that mental health is bad for your career, in fact busting the myth wide open. But along with this commonplace myth come a load of other issues. Enter: secrecy around mental health at work.

While the topic is gaining momentum, we’re still not in a place where people openly volunteer information about their mental health in the workplace. Thanks to COVID19 I’ve seen the media and employers paying far more attention to mental health, which means companies are looking for ways to address the issue and bring mental wellbeing to the forefront of their agenda. I couldn’t be more excited!

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Mental health is bad for your career

As always, one of the reasons I write these posts and maintain this blog is to raise awareness around mental health so there are fewer myths and we’re able to talk about it more openly.

One of the main challenges with mental health and people feeling comfortable speaking up is that there is still a lot of stigma around it. We’ve definitely made progress but we’re not yet in a place where you can openly say to your employer “I suffer from depression” without being afraid of getting fired.

So today I want to address this common myth that mental health is bad for your career and break it down. Why do we believe this, what are the fears and most importantly, how do we overcome it?

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Job hunting and mental health

Job hunting and mental health

Long read

The past few months I wrote a few posts revolving around the corona crisis, but there’s one very important topic I haven’t covered yet – you guessed it – job hunting.

This topic is close to my heart as I’ve been unemployed, and have experience with the ups and downs that come with it. Now due to coronavirus things are different: many people have lost their jobs unexpectedly, perhaps overnight or without much warning. This creates difficult conditions in which to be searching for a new job, not to mention the mental health struggles that come with it.

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Mental health is everyone’s problem

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Wow! A lot has happened in the past few weeks and months. In fact, 2020 has thrown quite a lot at us when it comes to mental health. I’m not the type to write off the year because of that, but I have to acknowledge that it’s come with its challenges and that many people are struggling.

First corona virus hit us hard, and in the past few weeks there have been a lot of uprisings around the world against racism and social injustice after the death of George Floyd. It’s clear to me that these issues and many more are affecting our mental health, they are weighing heavily on us and creating stress. The fact is this isn’t new, many people and especially minorities have borne the burden of their status for decades or even centuries. But it seems that finally this burden is coming to light and prompting new conversations. I can only hope these will also provoke lasting change.

In this context, it felt appropriate to highlight how mental health concerns each and every one of us: mental health is for everyone.

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