You’re Not Alone
On World Mental Health Day Poppy Angell, Partner and Campaigns Executive at Phoenix, takes a look back on a time where she hardly recognizes herself…
“World Mental Health Day is always a conflicting time of year for me as I remember a time where I was scared to talk about my anxiety and panic attacks to anyone, including my GP. I was struggling a lot and felt as though I was sinking constantly. Nowadays, World Mental Health Day brings an opportunity to take this and turn it into a positive. It is the perfect excuse to educate others on mental health, fundraise for some very worthwhile causes and encourage people to talk about how they feel.
For me, anxiety and panic attacks brought with them a lot of ugly symptoms, symptoms I spent a long time trying to hide and mask. I would obsess over small things until they became a huge obstacle to me. I would wake up and instantly have a fear of impending doom like the whole world would end because of me. I would also have a whole raft of physical symptoms whenever I was particularly anxious – breaking out in spots, an upset stomach, headaches/migraines, very little sleep and so on. Panic attacks were also something that I had to deal with, I am sure anyone who has had one will know how you can feel like you’re are going to die. I had to deal with these symptoms on an almost daily basis for around two years and I couldn’t imagine a day where I wouldn’t feel this way.
It all changed after a particularly challenging day at a previous job and after having a panic attack that lasted for around two hours on and off – I knew I had to get some help. For the first time in my life, I spoke to someone about how I felt and what I had been going through. I can’t downplay how I felt like the weight of the world, that I had been carrying for years, had been lifted off my shoulders. To have someone to talk to me like I was a normal person and validate how I felt and explain to me that there was a way out, was a euphoric moment.
After a period of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) through my GP, talking to friends and family and taking medication when needed, I feel like I am now in a place where I can look back on this period of my life and think of it as a different Poppy all together. I do still suffer from anxiety and I do still have the odd panic attack as some days are worse than others, but I now have the tools and knowledge to manage my symptoms. I wouldn’t be in this position if I hadn’t spoken about how I felt.
If you can take one thing from this blog post, then let it be that talking to the right person will never do you harm. Talk to your GP, talk to your friends and family, talk to a therapist, talk to charities and other registered groups – anyone that makes you feel safe and comfortable to talk to – please do it.
Remember to take one day at a time, it may seem like baby steps at first but soon those baby steps will all add up and you will feel the difference; it may take a week, it may take a year, it might even take longer but one day you will be able to look back thankful you took that first step.”
This year Phoenix are partnering with Kemp Technologies to raise awareness and vital funding to support Mind, Pieta House and Vibrant Emotional Health.
Sinead Grant, People Operations Manager of Kemp Technologies, outlined how they are getting involved in raising awareness about suicide prevention on this World Mental Health Day.
“Promoting our employees’ health and wellbeing is an all-encompassing philosophy that underpins our approach to ensuring employee physical health and positive mental health whilst at work. It’s about creating a sustainable and long-term approach to building an office culture where staff can enjoy coming to work daily. Developing constructive and meaningful working relationships with colleagues, remembering to have some fun in the office and giving back to our local community are all priorities at Kemp. Following on from an Annual Wellbeing Week held for staff earlier in the year, promotion of mental health awareness in the office on the 10 October will involve exploring the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’, which are:
- Be Active
- Keep Learning
- Take Notice
We are also holding some fun lunch time office activities, as well as a prize draw in each of our regional offices to raise funds for Mental Health Charities such as Pieta House and Vibrant Emotional Health. We invest a lot of thought and effort in our corporate and social responsibility activities at Kemp, so it’s very beneficial and rewarding for our employees and the organisation to know that we are making a positive difference to support others in need. We are really looking forward to the day and are delighted to partner with Phoenix Software in our endeavors, as they share our overall philosophy regarding employee health and wellbeing.”