Wellbeing in the City - Charlotte's story

"I’m a wife, step mother, daughter, sister and grandmother to four beautiful grandchildren.

"I also live with clinical anxiety and depression.

"I’m a successful coach and project lead, but I over analyse and become paranoid that my supportive colleagues think I’m bad at my job.

"I start to convince myself that I don’t know what I’m doing. It spirals, I become overwhelmed, I visibly panic, I sweat, become argumentative and extremely over sensitive.

"What I really need in those irrational moments is for someone to ask me if I’m okay. To remind me that it’s okay not to be okay. And to listen.

"Back in June 2017, I was embarrassed about my anxiety and depression. Months before I’d had another breakdown at work. It left me sat in a booth, sobbing, gasping for breath and paralysed with fear. It took me over an hour to compose myself sufficiently to move.

"The booth was next to an open plan coffee point. No one spoke to me, but I bet more than a dozen people saw me. I know for certain the person who I was having a meeting with saw me. After all, I had to ask her to stop our meeting mid-way through, seeing as my shaking, sweating and sobbing left me unable to concentrate.

"I don’t blame her for not saying anything. She was probably feeling uncomfortable or feared making me feel worse.

"Who can blame them? I don’t. Would you genuinely know what to say? Could you be confident your colleagues would say something?

"Being in complete denial that anything was wrong, I simply brushed myself off, didn’t say anything to a soul and carried on.

"The signs were there, I was on a roller coaster which was rapidly speeding towards a black hole. If someone hadn’t intervened the following week, the outcome could well have been very different.

"I’d travelled to Edinburgh to facilitate a negotiation skills workshop. It went well, I was feeling pleased at how well the session had landed. I was tired, drained by the early starts, two days on my feet and being away from home. I decided to travel early to the airport, to grab dinner and relax before my 9pm flight. All was well.

"And then I checked my emails. Stepping in last minute to facilitate meant pulling out of a business unit meeting my booth colleague asked me to attend. All was explained earlier in the week. However, she’d mentioned her dissatisfaction to a peer of mine – who emailed me to tell me how disappointed they were in my behaviour, how I’d let the team down and asked how I was going to put it right.

"It was like a switch had been flicked.

"The hustle and bustle of the airport went, the hands started to shake, the heart raced, the knot in my stomach appeared. I went blank, my only thoughts were of how useless I was, how things would be better if I wasn’t here, that ending it all was the only option.

"I hadn’t noticed the airport emptying, or heard the last call for my plane. But what I did see was the flight attendant kneel in front of me and ask me if I was okay. She listened and showed she cared.

"Had my work colleagues had the confidence and knowledge to intervene weeks before, things could have turned out so much better. With a little bit of insight and understanding, I’m sure someone would have done.

"That’s where Wellbeing in the City fits in. Samaritans and Lord Mayor’s Appeal had a vision to promote and improve the emotional wellbeing of UK employees. The Wellbeing in the City resources bring this vision to life.

"I was the project lead at PwC and I was involved throughout the design of the learning modules, including meeting with the vendors, reviewing designs, testing and drafting an implementation guide. I also volunteered to be a case study in the learning tool which involved telling my story on film. 

"For me, if Wellbeing in the City saves just one life and encourages more people to approach someone showing signs of distress it will be a success."


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