2 years ago I was hospitalised for 28 days with Adjustment Disorder. I didn’t even know this existed before my diagnosis; in fact I didn’t hear of it until after I was discharged. All I knew at the time was that I was in pain, that I didn’t have a future and I wanted to die. Today I am still here. Today I am ok.
A year before my diagnosis my wife and I had our first child. The pregnancy had gone without a hitch, right through until the end. Then it went wrong.
While my wife was in labour our little boy had managed to move his head at the last moment. He got stuck, and then he got tired and then he couldn’t breathe. Somebody hit the panic button, my wife was rushed out of the room by 7 people, and I was left surrounded by her blood not knowing what had happened.
Soon a nurse came to tell me that she would have some news in a few minutes, because that was how long they had to get our baby out. I was left on my own for 47 minutes after that. I thought our baby had died, I thought my wife had died. I didn’t know how I would explain this to my in-laws.
My wife didn’t die, but she wasn’t well. My little boy didn’t die, but he was very poorly. The stress that had filled me for those 47 minutes had damaged me more than I knew. For the next 4 days I lived in a haze of relief and worry, my wife bedridden and my little boy in intensive care on another ward. I was so distraught for those 47 minutes, when to me they had gone, that I couldn’t bear the thought of it happening again.
They got better, I got worse. I didn’t realise I was getting worse, but looking back there were signs. On the first night home I left my Wife and our baby on their own at 1am to go to work and print off staffing reports. It wasn’t my business and it shouldn’t have been my problem.
A few months later I had started my own business. We had negotiated contracts and everything was going well. Out of nowhere a major customer started having severe financial problems and our main supplier changed the terms of our contract. I renegotiated with the supplier and after speaking with the customer started the process of buying them out. I thought I could fix them, but I didn’t know that they would break me instead.
We fell victim to a huge fraud while my Wife and business partners were on holiday. Instead of sending £100,000 to our Foreign Exchange partner we sent it to hackers who had intercepted our emails. A month before I had downloaded a malicious attachment forwarded to me in query by a staff member, and I had pressed the final button on the bank transfer. The money was borrowed and we we already in the middle of a financial restructure. We were broke, everybody would lose their job. I would lose our house. It was my fault.
I reported it to the bank and the police, but I had finally snapped. I went to stop with my parents, a 30 year old man needing to be cuddled to sleep by his mum. A few days later someone claiming to be from the Serious Fraud Unit at the Met police called my mobile. They said the money had been recovered and would all be returned in the next 3 days.
The money wasn’t returned and when I called the number back there was no answer. I was convinced this was an elaborate scam to stop me chasing the fraudsters. When I called the police office landline they told me that the police officer I spoke to did work there but that they couldn’t put me through to him, and couldn’t tell me why. When I called the bank they told me they were unable to give me any details.
I drank a bottle of whiskey, went to work the next day and decided to jump in the river. I wanted to die, I had nothing to live for and I was a complete failure. And it hurt. For me it wasn’t that I thought everyone would be better without me, it was that I was in too much pain to go on.
I had to drive past the hospital on the way to the river, and at the last moment I swerved into the car park and took myself to A & E. I explained that a mental health nurse, who I had seen a few days earlier, told me to go to A&E if I felt suicidal. They asked me why I had gone to hospital rather than just go ahead with my plan, I said it was because the hospital was closer than the river. I’m not sure if they believed me.
I was asked if I had any children. I hadn’t even thought about this but I realised that they thought I may harm our child. My mind told me that I had now lost my job, my house and my family. I found out later that I had been so absent as a father that Social Services had taken that into account when deciding he wasn’t at risk.
It was a fight to get admitted; it shouldn’t be. Adjustment Disorder carries a stigma of its own within the stigma of mental illness. It is caused by being so overwhelmed with your circumstances that you cannot react proportionately to them. I had no choice but react the way I did, no faculty to be more ‘reasonable’. A lot of people cannot understand this.
The day after I was admitted I received a message. The money had been returned to our bank account. There had been a misunderstanding at the bank and the police officer in charge had been on holiday so had been unable to chase it up.
I did not get better in hospital, but it did give me a safe space. My business failed and a lot of people who I thought were friends have since gone their own way, either unable or unwilling to understand my illness.
I did get better though. It was hard, and on some days seemed impossible. I became an alcoholic, and remained suicidal. Slowly I drank less, and I worried less, and I did more. Life started to feel worth living again. I kept my house and my family, and got a new job. I have bonded with my little boy in a way I never thought possible. I did that. I got better. Me. Even though I failed, again and again. I learned to be patient, I learned its ok to be damaged.
Eventually I got up and managed to stay up.
This is only a small part of my mental health story, a smaller part of my story. I am more than my illness, but it is a part of me. I am not ashamed. You should not be.
I’m a normal guy in his mid 30s. I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety since I can remember. I’ve learned that this is one of the things that makes me normal.
About 2 years ago I was admitted into an acute mental health ward. I was as low as it is possible to be. I was in pain and I was suicidal.
Today I am better than I have ever been. I want to share my story to give the hope that I couldn’t see. It can feel like there is no way through. I am proof there is.