Huw is a ruby-loving father of three, and works in a high-tech industry. He’s also an NCMH Research Champion, helping to spread the word about our research. This is his story:
My name is Huw. I work as a sales director for a biotechnology firm, and I’m married with 3 grown up children and 2 Labradors. Originally from Llanelli, I then moved to Carmarthen with my family where I spent most of my 6th form days playing rugby and enjoying post-match “meetings” in the Golden Lion pub.
I still managed to get just enough A-levels to study for a degree in Human Biology, and I have spent most of my working life in the high-tech life sciences business. I now live across the Severn Bridge in Bedfordshire.
My experience of depression is most likely similar to that of a lot of other people. The trigger for me was easy to pinpoint – it was work stress. I started to find myself under more and more pressure to achieve ever-increasing targets, and manage a demanding sales team. With business buzzwords like ‘moving forward’ ringing in my ears on a daily basis (boy, do I dislike that phrase) I started to feel not quite right.
My first symptoms were anxiety (which I have now learned is a real warning sign for me) followed by a certain degree of paranoia and finally depression. I lost my job and entered into what I called “the world of concrete duvet”, where even getting out of bed became a momentous task.
I was taken out, completely out, for 6 months. I lost the ability to write an email or even leave the house.As my sister in law said to my wife at the time in her typical Yorkshire style, “Liz, he does jack sh*t.” And she was right – I just couldn’t function.
Depression is to sadness what a broken leg is to a stubbed toe – it’s on another level, and it can completely lay you low.
Eventually, I got better. Maybe with the help of the medication the Doctor gave me my serotonin levels started to sort themselves out; in my book, I believe depression is caused by a biochemical imbalance, or at least that this is a major factor (So why the apparent stigma in the business world with mental health issues – surely it’s no different to conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or even cancer?).
Perhaps I just needed time to pass, as Dylan Thomas wrote in Under Milk Wood “Time passes, listen, Time passes”. I also had help from my loved ones – my brother was by my side and my wife, family and friends were very supportive – so I was lucky.
I started to feel better, just a bit better, to the point where I decided to walk up and down our local high street clutching my CV and got an unpaid job helping out at a local estate agent. They still don’t know quite how helpful they were in getting me back on my feet again. It turns out I was quite good at it.
I started to embrace mindfulness after reading “The Art of happiness” by the Dalai Lama that my daughter gave me on her return from a trip to India and I learnt how to meditate at our local Buddhist temple near where I live – I was back on track again. And now, here I am three years later, back in the saddle as a Business Director, back on track. So that is the important message – with the correct help and support it is possible to get better.
I took part in research with NCMH because from my experience, I simply understood its importance and wanted to help in any small way I could. And my experience has been very positive. The researchers are easy to talk to; they have a real understanding in their eyes and the interviews are really quite painless. To me the work that is done here is helping us to understand what we are – the brain and all its consciousness. So in my book I do not think that there is anything more important. You could say it’s a no-brainer!
I would really recommend taking part to anyone thinking about it – just do it! You will be helping to gain further insight into mental health and will I am sure, as I have done, felt happy that you were able to give something back.