Having graduated in biomedical sciences, my career started off working in a public health setting. Soon after this I shifted focus to my childhood hobby of computing and moved to working in IT systems development. I continued to work in this field for over a decade during which time I worked for some of the biggest national and international companies in the private sector and was doing well in terms of my career and financial prospects.
Approximately a decade ago, my career once again changed direction, this time moving to the community and voluntary sector and working with individuals from a range of backgrounds, abilities and health issues. Today I am working as a senior manager for Sharing Voices, supporting individuals suffering from mental health difficulties, and helping to improve the services that are provided by the statutory sector.
So why the big shift in my direction you may ask?
Well before moving to the voluntary and community sector, I suffered a close family bereavement. Before this, I had spent five years caring for the individual I lost. During this time, it had an impact on my work, my family members, and I had to relocate with my family to another city for specialist care. Much of the time was spent was spent in a hospital environment, with hospital procedures and tense situations. At the time I didn’t quite understand the effect the daily routines were having on me but this proved to be an extremely stressful period of my life.
Despite having lost a close family member I tried to retain some sense of normality and returned to work. Six months later whilst returning from work, I was sat watching television when I suddenly felt a huge sense of panic and fear of death. My heart was racing and all sorts of thoughts rushed through my head. I had suffered a panic attack! Subsequently the anxiety got worse and I began having a huge range of emotional and physical symptoms. I was diagnosed with depression and prescribed antidepressants. I went through many bad days and some good days.
I thought I would quickly get over the depression but it seemed this would not be the case. I continued to suffer many of the horrible symptoms associated with mental illness to the point I contemplated suicide as I could not see the value in living anymore. My thoughts were stuck in a negative state, and I had no sense of enjoyment or any desire left in life. I was angry with the world and god!
Being an individual who has always looked for solutions, my search began for answers, to find out what was going on with me and how to recover. I tried many different techniques and approaches including counselling, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, thought management techniques and more, to the extent that I soon found myself attending courses to become qualified in some of these approaches. I also began to catch up with long overdue physical exercise and began to regularly go swimming and to the gym. All these seem to gradually help, however there was still something missing; my family and friends and the city where I had grown up. I decided to make the move and returned home. I also continued my self-care routines and once again took to the green outdoors and the hills I had so enjoyed in the past. I caught up with family members and old friends and re-ignited my social life. I also paid more attention to my faith and spiritual connection. This gave me huge strength.
Gradually things began to improve and soon I was able to return to work. I made a conscious decision to support others that may be going through similar situations. I moved into a field that allowed me to do this, to give something back to the community, to something more rewarding than a 9-5 routine. I also continued my personal and professional development and completed a post graduate degree in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
Today, I am helping manage an organisation (Sharing Voices) that supports individuals from Black Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. I am working with young people, adults and older people from a range of diverse backgrounds with a variety of support needs. I work with local statutory providers and other organisations to help improve the services delivered to the community and continue to work on ways to help destigmatise mental health.