By Charlie Roebuck
As some of you may be aware, I’ve experienced some life changing events over the last few months.
Some have been monumental changes which some people don’t experience over a life time. These changes have obviously had an effect on my mental health. Some in good ways and some not-so-good. That’s life.
However, for a person living with anxiety and depression its often these events that can re-open old wounds from past experiences, bring old issues you used to have back to the fore-front and increase the chance of a relapse happening.
It’s been emotionally and physically tough. I’m not saying I would change anything as that line of thinking can be a mental slippery slope.
What I’m trying to say is that when you live with long-term mental health issues, when you add some negative thoughts to a positive thought, even the amazing moment in your life can be overwhelmed by the darkness penetrating your mind, overriding the happiness you got from that positive moment in the process.
What do I mean by these ‘positives’ and ‘negatives’? That’s a great question, so let’s get into it.
- Florence Ann Roebuck, my gorgeous daughter. I honestly can’t describe the feeling of having a child. It’s something which amazes me on a daily basis. She is already providing so much comfort to me in those dark times I mentioned. She is changing my perception on life and I love her to pieces.
- My family. With the events happening all around me they are the ones I fall back on. They pick me up and make me ‘me’! Without them I wouldn’t be who I am today!
- My friends. I have some of the best friends in the world. They don’t judge me for struggling or for having mental health issues. They take me for me and would do anything to help me, just as I would for them.
- My new job and work colleagues. What a place! These guys have been so understanding of my situation and the support, friendly welcomes’ and care has been overwhelming. All I can say is thank you.
So, what’s gone wrong?
A few months back I got made redundant. I had my job taken from under me without prior warning and was left in a huge hole.
For anyone, this is a traumatic experience. It’s one of the worst things to go through. You begin to ruminate, overthink and ask yourself questions like:
‘How am I going to live?’ ‘What bills need paying?’ ‘Do I need to buy extra food?’ ‘Will they cut off the water supply to our house?’
Panic sets in straight away and your anxiety explodes and takes off at an alarming speed.
Throw into the mix that Flo was due a week later and it felt like my world ended! I’d temporarily lost my income and thereby the means to support her and my family. ‘How could I provide for her now?’ I thought.
I fell to pieces and crumbled. I thought to myself:
“She’s not even been born yet and I’m already failing at a dad! She’s entering our world and what can I do?”.
I left my former office crying my eyes out. I phoned my family and cried to them on the phone not being able to speak. I felt lost! I got home and locked myself away. Luckily, the wonderful world of Twitter helped me! I put out a tweet to say I’d been made redundant and wondered if anyone could help me.
Through the power of a single tweet, I managed to get over 5,000 people engaging in it. Yes, that’s right, I was famous for being unemployed! Honestly the generosity and kind heartedness of the general public astounded me!
Through that viral moment and the people who engaged with it I got job offers, interviews and eventually was offered the current role I am in now.
Without this job, I’m honest enough to say I don’t think I would have survived and been standing here today to tell you this story. That group of people who helped me are truly remarkable. I cannot thank you all enough.
After Florence was born, she spent 6 days in hospital with Mum and it was so difficult to go through as a new Dad. My child was not allowed to leave and her mother was stuck in a room smaller than a match box with 4 beds and families cramped in together. 20 other babies came and left before she did! 20! It was awful to see this every day, knowing we still had to wait before it was our turn to go home. Thankfully we did.
You’re probably wondering what’s wrong then? You might be thinking ‘yes he had a hard time but he’s got through it now so things must be looking up?’
Well, something happened to challenge that line of thinking….
With the new job comes sacrifice. The job is not paid the same as my previous one and this has added some financial pressure onto myself despite me no longer being unemployed.
Losing a percentage of a wage may not seem much but if you combine it with all the outgoings you have in life it’s quite a tough ask, especially with a family. This has made my stress levels increase and my anxiety more intense. I’m scraping by, trying to survive and worrying if anything does go wrong, how can I pay for it? I’m barely living as it is!
I feel like because of this hardship I’m facing and through losing my previous job, I am letting people down. It’s an emotion that’s been with me for a while. Over time I have come to terms with it. Despite losing the job through no fault of my own its made me think ‘why me?’
I lost my professional cricket career in the same way and now its caused me to lose my job! What the fuck am I doing wrong? Everyone said I was amazing at what I did in that job. I’d transformed the landscape of the job, created a magnificent product and stimulated engagement over the last three years so why the fuck was I the one to be let go?
In my professional career I did all I could. I scored runs, worked hard and was told it wasn’t down to lack of runs, it was just that my form didn’t come at the ‘right time’. Then I got injured. How much bad luck can one person get?
With no answers that actually made sense to me in my head, how could I think I wasn’t a failure? These negative thoughts infected my mind further still. I thought to myself;
“Surely if I’m being made redundant all the time, I am doing something wrong! I must be, right?”.
This caused me to beat myself up mentally and create the image of myself that I am a failure. In my head, there was no other logical explanation.
As a result, I reverted back to old habits. I allowed my thoughts to spiral out of control and take over my mind, driving myself deeper and deeper into a pit of depression. Then the anxiety kicked in.
I became anxious over anything I did in case I failed. Everyday tasks became a mountain to climb, things I did easily before became the hardest things in the world and I constantly though ‘I’m going to fuck up’. Then one mistake comes and my world ends!
Add all these up and alongside the pressures of a new job, smaller earnings and the fear of failing, I became an absolute mess.
The strategies I had in place went out the window. I forgot about myself and I tried to focus on others to take it away but I ended up in an even darker state.
The constant worrying and anxiety took over my everyday life. I isolated myself, I hid from people, I didn’t talk. Instead, I put on a fake persona to show I’m alright when in reality, I’m not. It was a mask to cover up what’s really going on inside my head.
Then, the relapse happened. I’m down for days. Not just one day but two, three, four, sometimes five days. I’m not me. I’m lost within a shadow of myself. I self-harm again like I had done in the past. How fucking stupid right?
I break down in tears at work. I’m completely lost. My overthinking goes into hyper-drive again. I think out loud:
“I’m worthless! I’m not supporting my family, I’m failing in my career. Who am I?”
This isn’t the person everyone thinks is Charlie. He’s that amazing sportsman, outrageously good at what he does in every part of life. Who is this person? I’d become a shadow of my former self.
I started to worry even more; is my mental health going to stop me from getting a promotion or a higher-paid job? I panicked over anything. The fear of failing took over once more and I sensed myself going through that same negative and spiralling disintegration; is it worth me trying to move up and go for further jobs? Am I really good enough?
To tell you the truth, I was a mess! So what do you do?
Recently, I broke down in tears one day at work. I had to take myself away and lock myself in a cupboard with my line manager consoling me. I was crying with a woman I barely knew at that moment, what must she think of this person she’s employed? The negative thoughts continued to infect my mind in this way.
I panicked more, apologising several times and pleading with her not to judge me harshly.
I calm down and we sit down together to chat.
I open up about my experiences and my story. All she does is listen intently. We then start talking about things and logically analyse the situation. I see where I’ve gone wrong through conversation. I start talking about procedures I used and how I can change them etc.
I look at it in a whole new light. I message my closest friends and loved ones. I talk, I speak, I tell them the truth.
This is the point I’m at now…
I have a wonderful job and I work with wonderful people. Yes, the money isn’t high but I can survive. It’s the right place for me now. I enjoy going to work, I love the people and that helps a lot. It’s what I’ve needed after these hard few months.
Here are a few positives of where my life is at now:
I shouldn’t be scared. I’ve been there and done it. I’ve made changes to my life and I’m good at what I do.
Look at my achievements they are there for all to see. Everyone else sees them so why can’t I? I should be proud. Better yet, I AM PROUD!! I should view them as what they are! I am a success!
I have achieved so much in my life and I take it all for granted. I don’t view it as success but I should. I’ve played professionally for Yorkshire County Cricket Club, England and Durham County Cricket Club. I’ve changed thousands of disabled people’s lives through sport! I have done well. People would dream of doing the things I have!
However, I have neglected my fitness and training. I’ve been so caught up in helping people that I’ve neglected the tools that help me. I need to get back into a fitness routine because it helps me be ‘me’!
Family and friends
With everything going on I have isolated myself massively. I’ve not seen anyone or gone out. I’ve stopped talking to people and replying to messages. I shouldn’t have. I should be talking and trying because they know me better than anyone!
Having Florence has taken over my life and we’ve thrown everything into her. It’s stopped us enjoying things. We need to learn to let people have her and give us time to do stuff! Otherwise we are neglecting the important things we need to do and self-care!
I need to get back to challenging irrational thoughts with logic. It works for me and I stopped allowing the negative thoughts to take over! I need to get back into the routine of writing things out, sharing them with people and challenging them because it helps. It works for me.
All in all, a relapse isn’t a bad thing. In some ways, it can be a blessing. Yes, its fucking awful but look at what I’ve been through and experienced.
It’s made me notice I need to sort myself out and look at the things I need to do to improve myself and my life. Nothing will get in the way of that!
Instead of overthinking and allowing negative thoughts to take over, I challenge them with logic again! It’s never as bad as it seems. Yes, I relapsed but I am going to be better for it!
This is what I say to myself now:
“Believe in yourself Charlie! You are amazing and people can see it! Now it’s time for you to shine!”
You can read Charlie’s first article on Vent here.