Anna Williamson shares her Mental breakdown experience
By Anna Williamson
Let’s be honest, nobody wants to have a complete meltdown at work… However, a few years ago I found myself doing the unthinkable, bursting into tears and breaking down in front of my colleagues. The reason? I had been battling in silence for well over six months with relentless panic attacks, anxious feelings, and depressive thoughts. I also wasn’t sleeping properly, my relationship was not a healthy one, and I put unnecessary pressure on myself to over perform at work. It’s little wonder then that something had to give, right!
The moment I asked that all too tricky word to say sometimes, ‘help’, things started to get better, however it took me such a long time to be able to get to the point where I could say it. And if I could go back to that situation now, which I really wouldn’t want to, I would say to myself trust in those around you to listen and help.
I think a huge part of it for me, and I know many others feel, was pride and embarrassment about talking about something that you can’t see. Mental health is invisible to the naked eye, and that is where suffering with mental health challenges can be really tricky. When there is a physical problem it can just seem so much easier to accept sometimes, yet physical and mental health make up who we are in equal measures and deserve the same respect and care.
With the benefit of hindsight, I should have trusted in my fabulous bosses more, they were very approachable and yet it was a big part of me that didn’t want to in anyway let them view me as anything other than the strong Kick-Ass presenter I portrayed every day at work. But as I quickly realised when I couldn’t put on the brave face anymore, there was and is no shame in admitting that sometimes things just get too much. Why do we always feel we have to be perfect? Do we have to be superwoman? No! Nobody is perfect right…?! We just have to be real.
Coping badly with my anxiety eventually got the better of me, when I was just so exhausted it all came out at work one day after a particularly panic attack riddled night. My initial embarrassment at crying my eyes out in front of my colleagues soon ebbed away when I realized the support I had around me.
After three weeks off work, seeing a brilliant doctor, medication and some helpful therapy, I went back to work feeling much calmer and together in my head space than I had in months. I was better at communicating to my colleagues about what I needed, and how they could help me be my best at work, and in the healthiest way.
It was my positive experience of therapy and learning more about myself and my triggers, that ignited a passion for helping others in a similar situation to me. 10 years ago alongside my work in the media, I started training in various forms of therapy, and I’m extremely proud to be an accredited and qualified therapist with some truly inspiring private clients. I’ve also recently started working with DNA Plan who offer an Emotional Wellbeing and Workplace Performance Test which looks at the genes associated with emotional wellbeing and positive performance in the workplace, including what your genetic predisposition is to stress, anxiety, depression and sleep. Using these results, they offer practical advice about how you can better both your health and lifestyle to create a well-balanced, healthy and happy work life, which I hope can prevent other people from suffering in silence in the work place like I did.
The Emotional Wellbeing and Workplace Performance Test is available at www.dnaplan.co.uk
Anna Williamson is a Counselor, life coach and Master NLP practitioner and author of the book, “Breaking Mad” an insider’s guide to conquering anxiety now available on Amazon.com