How changes in my physical health led to depression

My mental health is not really something that had really caused me any significant worry in my life, until when, at the age of 56, things changed suddenly.

​How changes in my physical health impacted my mental health

I worked as an engineer ever since I left school, I enjoyed the jobs I’ve had and my life was generally very happy. Then a few years ago, my physical health started to fail with severe pain in my back and knees and I wasn’t able to do the heavy job in the same way that I had been doing for the past 27 years. My workplace at the time did not make any allowances for the pain I was in.

​Giving up work and falling in to depression

The final straw came when I was sent to a long term physically demanding job that would have been impossible for me. I had to give up my job and went on to sick pay. That was when the big hole of depression opened up and I fell right into it.

That was the first time that I had ever been out of work and it hit me really hard. I felt really low and everything was getting on top of me, I started to have more and more duvet days. As soon as my partner left for work I would climb back into bed and shut myself away from the world. I was persuaded by my family to go the doctor who, was sympathetic but all he could offer was anti-depressants.

The turning point

The turning point for me came when I was called to the job centre, I felt sick and really anxious about going there on my own, On arrival I was re-assured by the advisor that he understood where I was coming from and that he was genuinely interested about my condition. He told me about a local group called the WIN project (What I Need in Life ) and it would be a chance to attend along with others in a similar situation to get some help.

​Getting my confidence back

I was really nervous about going to the group as I struggled to retain any information, so the project let me repeat the course a couple of times before I could really take it in. They were really patient and understanding and the information and support really started to help me see things a lot more positively.

Eventually things started to fall into place, so much so that they asked me back to help the Trainer deliver the course, I helped her for a couple of months until I was asked if I would like to do training on my own. My self-confidence had returned and I accepted the position, which lasted for several years.

​How helping others helped me

One day a man who I had delivered the training to shook my hand and said “I owe my life to you.” and the project. That was an amazing moment for me, knowing I’d helped someone change their life for the better.

Presently I am invoIved with several service user led groups, and I also work with universities speaking to social work students from the perspective of someone with lived experience of depression.

​Men need to know that there is no shame in asking for help

As a man there is pressure to always be strong and not to show any weakness, that thinking is outdated and men need to realise there is no shame in asking for help when it is needed. It is really important that we all are able to talk about our feelings and be able to seek help.

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