Sometimes in life things happen for a reason and this certainly appeared to be the case last Thursday morning. The day had arrived for me to ‘tell my story’ to over 40 employers at a conference in Cambridge and understandably I was feeling a little anxious. To calm the nerves, I had met up with Tracy Wilkinson the inspiration behind the event for an early morning coffee. We agreed to go in one car and were heading along the A14 to Taylor Vinters, a very reputable law firm when my phone started ringing…..
I nearly chose not to answer the call because I was in deep conversation with Tracy and I also did not recognise the number flashing up on my phone. However, curiosity got the better of me so I answered the call with a cautious “Hello, David Beeney speaking”. Within a few second’s I nearly brought the call to an abrupt ending because all I could hear was heavy breathing but something was telling me to persevere with this call. I am so pleased that I did answer and also that I put the call on speaker so that Tracy could hear the call too.
After a few seconds, a man said that I hope you don’t mind me calling you but please bear with me as I am very nervous and struggling to breathe. He said that he was 41 years old and worked in a shop in a town centre that I know very well. He described that this was a very difficult call for him to make and that he was sweating and filled with anxiety. He went on to explain that he had been struggling with severe anxiety issues since he was 18 years old but had read my story in a newspaper that morning and decided he needed to call me.
I asked him who else knew about his anxiety issues and he told me that he had never shared his suffering with family, friends or colleagues. He had not spoken to anybody for 23 years and this phone call was the first time he had ever discussed his anxiety with anybody. By now Tracy and I were both struggling to keep our emotions in check and told him how brave he had been to make this call. We told him that we had found him inspirational and I promised to give him a call back within a few days.
Interestingly he called me back an hour later to give me his personal mobile number and I hardly recognised him. I said to him “Sorry I didn’t recognise your voice, you sound so different”. He told me that he had felt so much better since the call and wished he had spoken to somebody years ago.
If Tracy and I had needed inspiration and motivation ahead of speaking at a #TimetoTalk Conference, we could not have asked for a timelier call. This lovely man had suffered in silence every day since 1994 and reminded both of us of why we are so committed to reducing the stigma of mental health in the work place.
That call happened for a reason!!
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