Alan's Story: Work-life balance and stress
The day I decided to kill myself had started off OK. I got up, had breakfast, caught the train to work. The usual kind of stuff. But once I got to work, it all went downhill.
I was supposed to have a really important meeting with my director to talk about replacing my boss, who had been off on sick leave for more than 18 months. But my director kept putting it off and putting it off, saying he had to see lots of other people first. I knew those other meetings were unimportant, they could have taken place anytime. By the time we met late that afternoon, I was pretty hacked off.
When we did finally get to meet, he didn't tell me what a great job I had been doing for the past 18 months, he didn't ask me if I was interested in the job. He told me he was worried about me and that I should 'see someone'. And that was pretty much it.
That wasn't what I was expecting - not after 18 months of working myself to death, doing my boss's job as well as my own, taking work home every night, working until 11 or 12 most nights, sometimes getting up at 3 or 4, lying to my wife about what I was doing, having furious rows with her or getting drunk and breaking things. All this, so that I could get the job done and protect my team - who were under threat of restructuring and redundancy.
When I left my director's room I wasn't angry, I was disappointed. And I was tired. So very tired. I kept saying to myself, 'What is the point, what is the f***ing point?'
When I got back to the office, there was some kind of celebration - I haven't the remotest idea what for. I drank a couple of glasses of wine and pocketed the swiss army knife we had used to open the bottle.
Then, when everyone else had gone, I sat at my computer and wrote the suicide note. Nothing flashy or emotional. I don't even remember what I wrote. Something about - if that's what you think about everything I've done for you, then you can get stuffed. At that point, I just wanted to stop the world and get off. And the only way I could think of doing that was to slit my wrists and let all my problems flow away.
I am glad I only had two glasses of wine. If I had had three, I might not have picked up the phone to tell my wife what I was doing.
A couple of years on, life seems very different. I have changed jobs and we have two lovely kids, kids who wouldn't exist if I had killed myself. And it's much easier to see that whatever I do to earn money, it's only ever a job.
Sure, I still get upset from time to time about what happens at work but it is only work. And my life - with my wife, my kids and my friends - is always going to be much more important than that.