I asked the National Trust if they had any case studies of good practice I could include in this blog series, and they sent me a number. The first one, today’s, is from a man who has really managed to turn his life around through very difficult circumstances including severe depression, and would like to reassure others that they can do the same too. I’d really like to thank Jon for this heartwarming story, and congratulate the National Trust in seeing his potential and helping him realise it. Over to Jon:
I have until this period of employment/training struggled with depression, as a result of emotion repression. I joined a large company when I was 16 and the way of life that I led for near on ten years was one of ‘get your head down and carry on’ – shows of emotion were not common place and were frowned upon as an inconvenience to the system.
As a result of this lifestyle and the refusal of help from anyone in a position of responsibility, including company-provided doctors, I became further and further depressed until finally I was unable to fulfil my role. I was retained by the company, but was removed from my role within company HQ and posted to an outstation in Cornwall. All very high profile within the HQ, but swept swiftly under the carpet. After this incident I tried to get help again from company doctors and eventually found that the only way I could get help for my depression was to leave the company and to see an NHS provided doctor, to gain the help I needed.
On leaving the company my depression got worse, as I couldn’t find a job. It proved impossible for me to gain any meaningful work and after my marriage failed, I set up an I.T. repair business, which is going from strength to strength; even alongside my role as a Visitor Experience trainee. I applied for the National Trust training for Heritage skills thinking that it may give me more qualifications, which could help change the course of my life by getting me a decent job again.
During this past year I have progressed immensely both personally and as a professional, wholly due to the support and guidance given to me by my manager at the National Trust, Laura Martin.
Although I have had the utmost determination to complete this contract to the best of my ability, my depression was still lurking and on the breakdown of the relationship with my son’s mother, I hit that brick wall again. Having to deal with this and still attend work etc. kicked off the process to my full recovery! Initially I started speaking with a National Trust provided counsellor and to a counsellor from Outlook Southwest and I attended a 5 session workshop run by Outlook southwest, to teach me how to deal with my emotions.
This workshop finished about a month ago and I have never felt so positive and in tune with who I am and what I want to do. I would like to work as a Visitor Experience assistant, within any National Trust owned property, whilst progressing towards gaining the qualifications needed to provide educational development workshops and property events, using the amazing natural places and natural play ideals held by the National Trust, which is a far cry from where I had seen myself last year.
I whole heartedly believe that I am much better physically, mentally and emotionally, as a direct result of being given this opportunity by the National Trust.
I no longer feel depressed and if I ever do again, I know how to deal with this in a proactive and meaningful way. The only downside is that when the emotion does come out, whether it be happy or sad, it is generally accompanied by tears, which isn’t a bad thing I suppose, as it feels great to be able to process emotions again after so long!
Depression is an illness that sneaks up on you, only to reveal itself at the worst possible time. Many people dismiss depression as a fake illness, I can tell you now though, that it is as real as the world around us! If you think you’re depressed the only way to really grip it and take control of your own mind again, is to see your doctor and to go through the counselling sessions, provided free of charge by charities through-out the country.
The National Trust ethos of “Beautiful places, For ever, For everyone” has helped inspire me to want to be a part of the ever growing portfolio of properties, coast and countryside. To stay a part of the movement that has changed my life in such a dramatic way and as my training is near an end, I will soon start to apply for every job within the National Trust that I may be qualified for.
With the support of a conscientious employer and the personal determination to succeed, your professional dreams are within your grasp.
Good luck to you all.
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