Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.Harvey Mackay
To anybody that’s indulged in my writing before, or simply gives a flying shit, I’m back. For the first time in 10 months, I’ve sat down, opened up my laptop and decided to write a piece. The time frame may not seem much, and while that’s absolutely true in the grand scheme of things, it genuinely feels like an eternity since I’ve had the knowledge, motivation or creative capacity to articulate my jumbled thoughts and allow other people to understand where my head is at. Because despite finding a new job, making new friends, beginning my quest to travel across the globe and turning another year older (23 now) in the time elapsed between this and my previous blog, so much has painstakingly remained the same in the mold of the 1993 film ‘Groundhog Day’. Cue the sighs and frustration 😦
Now after that little introduction, shall we get into it?
Here’s a little snippet into my life in recent times:
Having started my role as a tram conductor for Blackpool Transport at the end of July last year, I now feel pretty settled and equipped to do the job well. Like many people feel, it was a nerve-racking mission getting to know my work colleagues and becoming accustomed to such a busy customer-facing environment. Particularly in the height of summer in a busy seaside resort, the people obviously come thick and fast, however it did surprise me how quickly I was able to make friends, pick up the intricacies of the job and adapt to a fairly hectic work schedule.
Neverthless, we all have our challenges and moments of realisation. For too long I have papered over the cracks of living with depression, anxiety and self-doubt by distracting myself with work, travelling around and arranging random meet-ups with friends, however I’ve recognised I cannot continue the ignore the issues at hand and simply carry on with life without addressing the root causes of my problems. Utilising outlets like leaning on friends, immersing yourself in different cultures or throwing yourself into work certainly have a positive purpose don’t get me wrong, yet we all come to a stage where we NEED to confront the demons head on and understand that things won’t just miracously ‘get better’. That nobody is going to wave a mysterious magic wand and do the work for me.
Although I’ve started private therapy at the cost of £40 per hour (we’ll save the NHS frustration for another blog) and began to build a solid relationship with my therapist, it’s very much early days and there’s clearly an awful long way to go before I begin to make significant improvements. Because of the nature of therapy and the fact you are tasked with reliving past traumas, I’m more than happy to admit that I’ve found it difficult bringing certain events back to the forefront of my mind as they’ve been buried and untouched for so damn long.
Thursday 2nd March, 2023
As I board the tram to work, greeted by the two conductors and a wave of passengers located around them, a dark cloud descends as feelings of numbnness and sheer dread wash over me. Slumping into a chair near the front double doors, I engage in brief casual small talk with work colleagues. Then, placing my head in my hands as the tears flow like a river, I turn my body towards the window to hide the pain and shame I currently feel. While I’m way more open and honest than I’ve ever been- encouragingly so- I’d be lying if I claimed to be comfortable with the idea of random strangers witnessing my expressions of anguish and potentially judging me for it. I wish it wasn’t the case but sadly it’s true. Sadly I still view it as a weakness or a failure, even though I’d NEVER utter such callous words to a friend or family member in a similar situation.
Finally reaching the depot after a period of roughly 45 minutes (which felt like a year I might add), I rush off the tram, barge through the metal gate, speed through the front office unable to look anybody straight in the eye and lock myself in the first available toilet cubicle. Slouching to the floor with my backpack placed firmly against the wall, again the tears start to trickle and I almost don’t want to leave. Behind the barrier of a toilet door, I feel safe in the knowledge that I can let out a plethora of emotions without people having to see me in such a disturbing state.
Once a couple minutes pass, I claw myself to my feet, exit the toilet door and take a prolonged deep breath in the mirror. Bumping into a service manager as I then enter the canteen opposite, we head upstairs for a chat as she senses how distressed I’ve become. Although I was nervous about her response and what this could mean for my job at the company moving forward, I was relieved to be treated with such respect and warmth when sharing my history of anxiety and depression, current difficulties with friends and family and how my situation is affecting my performance in the workplace. While the decision wasn’t taken lightly, and isn’t likely to be long-term, I’ve been given time off work to focus on my mental health.
It’s not going to be easy, and I will need to lean on support (never withdraw completely, it’s a bad idea trust me), however I am thankful for the opportunity to even take a break in the first place. After all, mental health may be better understood but that doesn’t mean many people aren’t dismissed or ridiculed with claims they’re ‘doing it for attention’ or are too lazy to work.
We spend so much of our lives working, therefore the BARE minimum we should expect is adequate support from our employers. To the workplaces failing on this, please do better. Formulate a wellbeing strategy, make employees the priority, create a cohesive environment and watch the profits flow. But don’t just take my word for it…
According to the Mental Health Foundation, having better mental health support in the workplace can save UK businesses up to £8 billion (yes £8 billion) annually!!
It’s 2023 people- no more excuses.
A happier, healthier workforce means a more productive workplace!
Thanks for reading,