Acute mental health crisis – and the kindness of family, friends and strangers


Taking time out to recover

If there was a blogpost I really did not want to write, it is this one.

I’ve been going through what feels like an acute mental health crisis over the past couple of weeks. It’s got to the stage now where I need professional intervention – hence this blogpost being written in advance of my older brother travelling halfway across the country to take me to my GP, and whatever comes next.

Earlier on I was at the gym – doing circuits as I now normally do on a Monday lunchtime. This was all part of my plan to deal with my anxiety symptoms. Yet a messed up body clock and messed up thoughts meant that for the first time, I felt utterly exhausted before I even stepped into the hall. It was a good workout but I couldn’t get the feelings of anxiety – mainly in my stomach, but also in my head, out of my system. The same was the case with swimming. I booked an appointment with my GP before heading down to Lifecraft to sort out some counselling – ensuring that both GP & counselling provider would be co-ordinated.

Yet when I got back home, I was utterly exhausted with everything going on in my head. I went to sleep in the early evening, having taken an increased dose of anti-anxiety medication (the dose I was on throughout my time in the civil service). waking up four hours later having not rested at all. It was then I properly asked myself the question: “Am I in the early stages of a breakdown?” (I had been sort of pondering whether this was the case, but hid away from looking further). Looking at the various symptoms I have with those listed on a number of reputable websites – e.g. Mind, the answer seemed to be “Yes”. It was at the stage when I realised I was struggling to get up to feed the cat (as well as myself – I normally like cooking but over the past 24 hours have struggled to summon up the energy) that I thought: “Hmm…this is new – and not normal – even for my standards of laziness”. That was when I decided to accept this for what it was and call for help.

The run up to today

There were a number of things that happened over the past few weeks that may have kicked things off recently. I’m not going to go into detail, but what’s interesting is that it seems to have been both the positive and negative things that have set me ‘on edge’. Last week in particular was particularly busy – and difficult. Delivering three presentations in three days to different audiences – one of which included the Mayor of Cambridge. I was also due to launch my ‘professional’ website last week, but my health and also the closure of Cambridge First Newspaper (and the job losses of the journalists I was working with) has meant that I have put that on hold for now.

Longer term issues

What I was finding was that little things were triggering off really intense worries and thoughts. This is why I don’t blame anyone who I’ve interacted recently with the situation I find myself in today. I can’t help but feel that this event was over 15 years in the making.  Some of you will have seen my further thoughts on past issues in my previous mental health blog posts – I don’t intend to go over them today. Suffice to say that anything could have triggered off the messed up mind that has led me spiralling down to where I am now. It just happened that it was the things that it was, rather than other things.

The kindness of family, friends and strangers.

Some of you will have seen the tweet on Friday where I said I was really struggling. I received a number of lovely messages on the back of that – and many thanks to you all for those. Also to Ceri Jones, Sam Smith, Jon Worth and Karen Melchior who all dropped what they were doing last weekend to meet up with me. Also to my older brother who is literally dropping everything in a high pressure job to come back and look after his little brother (who he seldom got on with as a child).

Saying sorry

There are a whole host of people I want to say sorry to for a variety of reasons – especially those who have put up with me during times when my mental health problems have been at their most acute. For their dignity I won’t name them here. Suffice to say there have been times where the life I have been living – and values too – have not been anywhere near in harmony to ‘the real me’. Selfishness and cowardice are the two traits in myself I despise. I hope when I come out of this, those traits will have diminished, and that one day I can make it up to you.

What lies ahead?

If I knew that, life would cease to be exciting. I’m taking the viewpoint that this was a long time coming and that I’ll be one of the many people who emerge stronger and healthier for the experience. Obviously this means far less blogging and tweeting – but as I acknowledged earlier, my levels of both were getting to the stage where it was unhealthy anyway. I’ll try and keep everyone updated on my progress – whether through this blog, Twitter or through friends and acquaintances via Twitter. I hope to see you all in sunnier, happier times.


14 thoughts on “Acute mental health crisis – and the kindness of family, friends and strangers

  1. We’ve met briefly but I am, essentially a stranger. The last thing I wish to do is intrude or offer advice which may well be irrelevant to your wishes or needs. I say that because I have my own experience of being open about mental health problems on the net and in the media. The responses have been rather mixed. Rather than offer advice may I express a belief in your ability to get through this. Best of luck.

  2. Apologies as I’m sure lots of people have made suggestions and it can get wearing. But I have found that mindfulness based cognitive therapy has helped me hugely. It is recommended by NICE for prevention of relapse after a major depressive episode. I think this book is one of the best.

    Jon Kabat Zinn The mindful way through depression.

  3. Good luck with your recovery. The main thing is to focus on the future and being able to deal with your illness. Remember that you, the person, are not your illness. You are more than your illness which is why friends, family (and even strangers) support you. Keep your family and friends close as they know “you” and this is why they look beyond your illness to your recovery.

    Keep strong and keep focused on the positive future
    you have.

    Be “seeing” you on the other side on the other side of your recovery.



  4. Getting to ‘know’ you through twitter and your blog posts has been an absolute inspiration to me – and no doubt to others.

    Your are so well thought of beyond the immediate circle of your friends and family and I hope that knowledge helps you in your recovery.

    All the very best and thank you


  5. My thoughts are with you. I can empathise. I always blame myself and often others when i become unwell and it’s a falsehood that only compounds the pain.
    I wish you a full and speedy recovery.
    Warm regards,

  6. So sorry to hear this. I’m dealing with some anxiety problems myself right now, and I completely understand how tough it can be. Take gentle care of yourself and I hope you’re feeling better soon.

    claire x (@CLButler76)

  7. Get yourself well and remember how much you are appreciated – even by total strangers! Incidentally, I think that for many people, myself included, there’s a natural time limit on how much you can expose yourself as a presenter and trainer. After that, wisdom and skills may be better imparted through other channels.

  8. I can only echo what others have eloquently said. You do have the resources you need to get through this, we all believe it to be true. When times are hard, it’s sometimes hard to hope that life can feel better again, so may I and your online friends carry this hope for you for a while, and keep it safe for you? We’re all here for you, reach out whenever you feel the need. And if there’s any help I can give in facilitating your way through “the system”, let me know. My very best wishes for a speedy recovery, whatever that means for you.

  9. Sending lots of hugs. Wish I was closer. I actually think you’re a top dude in so many ways and I wish I had picked up on what was happening with you much earlier. Please do let me know if there’s every anything I can do.

  10. There’s no shame in being good to yourself and those that matter will understand where you’re at. The nature of the illness brings out the worst parts of peoples character but it is the illness, not you so don’t give yourself a hard time over behaviours caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain.
    Much love and hugs x

  11. Just caught up with this as I’ve been busy looking after my visiting parents and haven’t been on-line for a while.

    Big Hugs from me laddie. And another hug for good measure. Hopefully we can catch up one a glass of vino soon 🙂

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