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It’s about time to talk…

…It’s So Meta Even This Article…

Approximately 300 people…

Gave 90 minutes of their time…

Over 7 days…

Across 4 offices…

At 2 of the largest professional advisory firms in the country…

To listen to 1 guy…

A 0, worth nothing…

Just some boring guy…

And his story…

Time to Talk day or week?…

Well this escalated quickly. Prior to Time to Talk day (week) I had given three talks to around 100 people total. In the course of a week I more than doubled the number of talks I have given on Breaking The Stigma and over quadrupled the number of attendees.

Before I talk about what this meant to me, I would personally (and professionally) like to thank Georgina Powling of Addleshaw Goddard and Chris Etherington of RSM for making this possible. Thanks as always go to Zainah Khan of Chakra Corporate who organises and makes all this possible. I saw without question or doubt that these people are my friends and are a pleasure to work with and associate with. They deserve as much credit as I do, and are more likely to accept it too!

You are not prepared…

I’d like to say I prepared for these talks, but I didn’t.

I’d like to say I rehearsed them in front of a mirror, but I didn’t.

I’d like to say I tailored them for the audience in question, but I didn’t.

I did nothing in preparation.

I won’t lie. I probably should have done something.

But that’s not really my style.

Breaking The Stigma is a personal story and with this I need to tell it from the heart. I want people to see a fraction of what it was like living through these experiences and the only way I can do that is by letting myself feel it, raw and unprotected. I allow myself to be weak, to be vulnerable, and in that hopefully the emotions come through.

I carry notes on the talk with me, 21 A6 multi-coloured cards with memes printed on the back and text written so small I can’t read it on the front. Previously I read these whilst talking. Now I just hold them to give me (and the audience!) some sort of hope that I know what I’m doing.

Each of the four talks I gave was very different. It was impacted by what I was feeling on the day, what I saw in reactions from the audience and honestly, what came to mind at the time. If you attended a talk, or ever do, known that it is personal to you on the day. No one will have heard that version of the talk before and no one will ever hear it again.

Standing out from the in crowd…

The majority of what I talked about has been covered many times on this website, so today I want to focus on some of the questions and feedback from the talks.

Some of the questions that came up across all four talks are listed below (these will be paraphrased);

“Did you take medication?”

Yes.

I have been on various medication through my life to help me with anxiety and depression. I am still taking medication that helps me manage my depression. I am not ashamed of this. It helps me lead a life I am happy and comfortable with.

I feel the reason this question gets asked is people are afraid to seek help and also afraid of taking medication that “affects your mind”. Seeing someone who is on this medication and openly speaks about it should hopefully give people some confidence in knowing that seeking it is okay and does help. Some of my friends and I have very open conversations about our mental health medication! How 2019 of us…

There are some downsides that I have experienced, so to warn you in advance here are some the side effects I have had over the years.

  1. Going onto and coming off them can be painful and can take about a week. This is normal as your body is adjusting to new levels of hormones and chemicals in your body. Don’t be put off by this!
  2. I experience (and many others talk about) a ‘banding’ process where you stop feeling the low lows, but also stop feeling the high highs. This is strange to begin with and a trade off you should be aware of.
  3. Your sleep can be affected for better and for worse. I am a light sleeper anyway, so when I went on medication and started sleeping through the night I got quite concerned. This can also go the other way and you can become a lighter sleeper.
  4. Sex lasts hours! It’s not as great as it sounds. Climaxing takes an age as you don’t experience all the high highs from sex and then when you do it can completely wipe you out as your body doesn’t know what to do with all the happiness and pleasure. By the end, someone is usually chaffing…

“How did your work react?”

Simple answer is they didn’t as I was self employed.

However, looking back, there were instances whilst in full time employment where my mental health was weak and I was struggling where I was trying to express how I was feeling and what was going on with me. At that time work did not provide me with the support I needed and made me feel worse as a result. I won’t discuss the details, but I remember one case in particular where I was suffering incredible anxiety and was (what felt to me like) pushed to one side. Needless to say I felt a lot worse about it as a result.

I feel people ask this because they want to raise awareness of their troubles to their work places and are scared of the response. Whilst I can’t tell you how your various managers and partners will react, just bare in mind a few things.

  1. If you are at a firm where I have been invited to talk about
    Breaking The Stigma then your firm are actively trying to promote a culture where people can talk openly and they want to hear from you and support you.
  2. If you are struggling and want to talk to someone about what you are going through, or just want to talk to people in general, then I do suggest you speak up. If you ever reach a stage where you believe you need help or need to talk, then you do and should!
  3. If you spoke up and your firm did not listen/reacted badly, how would you feel? If they are not supportive is it really a firm where you would be happy in the long run?

Thank you

I don’t take compliments well. There’s even a slide on it in
Breaking The Stigma. I’m just going to leave these here and on the Testimonials page. To those who said these, thank you. I won’t fight them. Just thank you.

“…thought-provoking…”

“…just the right level of humour and stripped it back at the right times to deal with the serious parts…”

“…dealt with a really hard issue in a (really) positive way…”

“…your honesty is truly the part that makes it so compelling…”

“…your talk clearly related… …which shows how powerful it is…”

“…It was great – thanks for your honesty and generosity in sharing…”

“…Just attended a fantastic talk about reducing the stigma surrounding mental health issues and raising awareness… …extremely thought provoking!…”

“…a great and inspiring session today…

Various; Addleshaw Goddard and RSM

I would like to give a special mention to the below statement. This is definitely paraphrased but the meaning remains. It meant so much hearing this that it made me blush and I had no response (me being speechless is a rare moment!).

“…I met Andy a few years ago on LinkedIn. He was a potential client that came up through various targeting. When I met with Andy he came across as one of the most successful and together person I had met and clearly didn’t need any help in pushing his various businesses forward. Skip forward a few years and I saw the article that started all this. I thought it couldn’t be the same person. How could someone so successful, composed and together have all this happen and be able to hide it, then have the strength to be able to talk to the world about it…”

Georgina Powling, Addleshaw Goddard (paraphrased)

I also received this out of the blue…

“…It’s been an honour working with you, I am humbled every time I hear your story. So proud of what you’re doing… …I suspect you might read this and think “I’m just a guy” but you are a blood good one!!!…”

Zainah Khan, Chakra Corporate

She knows me too well!

When I told my best friend about all this feedback (the one I talk about in Breaking The Stigma). She said the following…

“…it’s gotta be good to hear, especially from someone who knows the impact you’re making. Maybe you’ll start believing it…”

Andy’s best friend

I responded with how I feel I am just some guy and that I don’t feel how any of this makes me a bloody good one…

“…That’s up to others to decide…”

Andy’s best friend

And then it hit me…

I can feel like a nobody, a nothing, a zero…

That doesn’t mean I am one…

It certainly doesn’t mean that everyone sees me as one…

So I’m gonna stop trying to fight compliments and just respond with

“in your opinion”

Andy; even when being sincere it sounds sarcastic

That awful bit at the bottom no one reads…

dscvr is launching at the end of February following a few delays with adding new features to the platform ready to launch. You won’t find much now, but please follow along on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to watch our story unfold.

The first episode of The ‘A to Z’ of Mental Health YouTube series is up. It’s our first attempt at doing “bite size” content. The production value isn’t great, but it is an important message we want the world to hear. Tune in and don’t touch that dial as more episodes will be coming soon!

Famous guild died as we started progressing the Battle for Daz’alor raid in WoW. As such my regular Twitch stream has taken a beating. I think I’m going to take this opportunity to play some other games and stream those. I am currently streaming Apex Legends. I am playing with some of the members from the Dead Weight community which is fantastic. It’s great to play alongside friends!

Pika is doing well. She got spayed a few weeks ago and is recovering nicely. The vet even complimented her on her fur and how soft and silky it is (and wanted to know my secret – I don’t have one!). Weirdly my little black cat is turning red and ginger in certain patches, particularly her chest. It’s beautifully different!

Here’s to each of us being beautifully different!

As always you can follow along with my journey on TwitchFacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

Thank you

Andrew Salkeld

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