I’ll admit something now – 7 years ago, my answer to the title would have been a resounding no.
I’d have said it would serve no purpose other than to highlight your frailties.
Keep it locked down, tell your wife, immediate family, close friends but don’t go broadcasting depression, anxiety, trauma and stress for all to see.
Some people would still recommend this social media silence but with mental health costing the country and NHS millions and millions every year, with suicides rising, bottling it up may be very British but it really belongs in the past.
If you want to say you’re depressed, or you’ve kicked an addiction to drink or drugs, on Facebook, or to the business world on LinkedIn, do it.
It will help you and others.
Don’t get me wrong there’s cave dwellers lurking to piss on your bonfire, to ridicule you for seeking pity or attention, but I was given professional advice from a trauma counsellor when I was costing my school a lot of money with me being off long term. Sonya told me to tell the truth. If someone asks why you’re absent – whether it’s a student, colleague, neighbour – tell them you’re suffering with stress, trauma, depression and don’t be ashamed to admit to a broken mind.
Good advice yes but when I finally got back on the teaching saddle and admitted mental health problems at a church primary school, I was booted out – the Neanderthal head and his hypocritical deputy did not listen or approve but ejected me from the job. Their prehistoric attitudes were woeful.
It’s easier now then for me to admit to mental health issues because I’m self-employed – if I cry in my home office, I’m not going to have Occupational Health and the Gestapo of HR flicking through the folder called “Quick ways to get rid of a maverick” – I obviously don’t cry now I’m my own boss either, unless I stand on a plug – but who wouldn’t cry with that?
So my advice to anyone suffering with mental health issues is speak up and speak out.
In 2012, if someone had said to me, “Stuart in six years you’ll be paid to be writing about this shit you’ve been through and helping others as a writer,” I’d have laughed.
Admitting to depression, anxieties, stress, suicidal ideation is not a weakness – and if you admit them when you’re in a workplace and get shafted then you know it’s not the place for you.
I admitted all my frailties to a headteacher when I was ill and was offered a job by him – which I foolishly declined as I was still recovering – but that man was enlightened and wasn’t the type to see mental health admission as a serious character flaw.
I should have chosen that boss and that job.
But things are better for me now.
I’m well again.
Teaching is a chapter of my past that is shut.
If you’d like to submit your stories, please do too.
We are three open people with no other agenda than helping other men come to terms with, and recover from, mental illness.