Generalised Anxiety (GAD) & Depression - The SRFDRY Story
It has always been the intention to use the SRFDRY blog as more than just a promotional tool. We want the blog to be an open and welcoming place for people to share experiences and maybe even learn a little. With that in mind, I want to share a little about my story.
The past few weeks have been pretty tough on a personal level. Living with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) & Depression on a daily basis is something I've been trying to get used to for a long time now - trying being the operative word.
Starting SRFDRY has been a real help in terms of my health. It's given me something to focus my mind on, a real purpose and something tangible to work on. I'm enthusiastic about the future of the business and I love chatting to people online about the products, how we can help or just any old thing that they want to talk about. It's a release from the daily issues that we all face and as such I'm really grateful to have this be my 'job'.
I did have a career in Higher Education for over 10 years but I had to leave this due to my health - it’s something that people don't always think of when thinking of mental health struggles. That career was a stable, solid and well paid one that I could easily have stayed in for my whole life if things had been different. A good regular salary, generous pension and pretty favourable working conditions.
My health deteriorated to such an extent that I couldn't do the job anymore and I had to leave. It wasn't quite that simple and the lack of understanding from my employer still bothers me 3 years later but ultimately I just couldn't continue. Ever since I've been working for myself, building businesses to varying degrees of success and working from home (even before it became so fashionable).
Most people think I'm living the dream and I'm always happy to go along with the narrative. The truth is something different though. If I'd have chosen to leave my career purely based on lifestyle and personal choice then yes, I'd see myself as extremely privileged. That's not the case though. I was basically forced out of my job, deprived the opportunity to earn a steady income, by my health.
It's impossible for people to understand really, unless they've been through it. The obvious thought I'm sure is "Just suck it up, nobody likes gong to work". I get it, I don't blame anybody for thinking that way to be honest.
I'm fortunate that Paul, the other half of SRFDRY is cool and patient when it comes to getting things done and he understands that I can be a bit hit and miss! There are times when I'll be due in to work on something with him and he'll get a text from me cancelling because I need to sleep all day. There will be times when I have a whole plan, a list of things I'm looking forward to getting done - then I flake.
I don't expect people to understand, just to show a little compassion. I'm not looking for sympathy either but a little empathy goes a long way.
The thing that still upsets me the most about my mental health is how it can deteriorate without warning. One day I can be happy, enthusiastic and motivated - the next morning all that positivity has evaporated and I have no clue why. It can be really difficult to build up any momentum, to really develop a positive mindset, when any progress can be snatched away in an instant.
When talking about my mental health I often refer to a lack of resilience, that's the best way I can think of explaining. Things can be going really well and then the smallest thing can knock me off course and leave my struggling to function. That mental toughness that most people have just isn't there and as much as I want to shrug things off I just can't.
It's part of my daily routine to try and limit stressful situations, avoid known triggers and to try and manage the impact of those small roadblocks. After a while I've got pretty good at it and even though I'll have a lot going on inside I can generally carry on as normal. The problems really come when actual real issues come along, ones that even the most mentally tough struggle with.
When I'm struggling I basically become a shell. I'll wake up in the morning and it'll take a couple of minutes before I realise that something is off. My head will be a little hazy and I'll generally feel like I only have half of the energy that I should. Things will feel bland and dull, things that I'd normally be enthusiastic about don't even register.
Immediately I'll start to feel defensive, like I need to hide the symptoms from the outside world, so as not to alarm them or raise questions. Doing this inevitably makes things worse because I'm a terrible actor. So then on top of my own feelings I'll start worrying about how my mood is affecting everyone else and things then begin to spiral. It all becomes too much for the limited mental capacity that I have and I'll just shut down.
Fatigue will kick in and the only thing I can do is lie down and sleep. In the past I've been known to have a full night of sleep, do the school run and then go back to sleep from 09:30 - 15:00. To a lot of people the thought of a day time nap is great, I get that. Sometimes I have a nap just because I want to and it's the best thing ever. Having to sleep because you're walking around like a zombie and feeling like shit isn't quite as much fun.
The best thing I ever did was to confide in my family and friends, to stop pretending everything was ok and to seek help. Without my wife Nina (you may know her from Instagram, she's our social media manager ) I don't know where I'd be now.
If anybody is reading this and wondering whether they need help or not - you do. If you're at the stage of wondering, of thinking something may be wrong then that's the perfect time to talk to somebody.
This blog could go on forever but I'm going to wrap it up now. If anybody wants to share their story then we're happy to have guest bloggers. I hope that you are all safe and well.