As Mental Health Awareness Week draws to an end, we finish the week with a story from Kirsty, an Employment Advisor in Plymouth, on how after being diagnosed with depression, she is now thriving.  

I was originally diagnosed with depression in 2007 after losing my job due to a car accident. I was struggling to cope with day-to-day life, I had no motivation and felt exhausted all of the time. I was just surviving.

I was referred to Remploy in 2008 from the jobcentre, and with help from a great team who built my confidence and kept me positive, I was offered a role as Branch Coordinator in 2009. When I started work, my mental health became stronger each day. I grew in confidence and loved learning new things and helping people.

I then had two children within 21 months of each other and suffered from post natal depression with both children. However, returning to work after maternity leave helped to improve my health. I felt by helping other people who were in the position I had been in was really beneficial to my own depression and I became stronger as a person. I liked talking about it with candidates and sharing the fact that we are all human, we do not know if good or bad mental health is around the corner or what each day can bring. This seemed to make my relationships with candidates very strong.

Then, in 2015 after a relationship breakdown I developed anxiety. This completely threw me off my pace and I didn’t know how to cope with it. I felt lost, helpless and useless all at once which triggered my depression again and thought that burying my head in the sand would be the best solution. Feeling I didn’t matter I was so very critical of every aspect of my life. I did not speak to family or friends about this for around six months until I realised I was just surviving again.

I knew I had to make changes so I went to the GP, who was incredibly supportive and arranged for me to have some counselling. There was a massive problem though, it would be in work time! I was so terrified of telling my manager that I wasn’t coping and worried so much she would not care. Once again I was proved wrong. My manager immediately arranged to look at my workload together and see if there was any support she could provide. We restructured my diary and arranged a weekly half hour meeting so we could chat about how things were going. She was so supportive and arranged additional help for me too.

I then spoke to friends, family members and colleagues about my mental health and realised that people do care, people are willing to listen and talking does help. I discovered mindfulness techniques and became more organised which stopped the anxiety getting out of control again.

I think I will always have certain elements of anxiety and depression. However, I now know that talking about it, building relationships with people around you, and recognising triggers myself will help me maintain a good level of mental health.

I realise that I do matter and I can make a difference to people’s lives, be that at work, at home or socially. You do not know what each person is dealing with so just help where you can and be kind. This helps me continue to thrive and strive to be the best person I can be.

Supporting more people to thrive at work

Too few of us are thriving. We need to change that! If you think you could benefit from support, then take a look at our training courses, specific to supporting individuals with their mental health.