Don’t be Afraid to ask for Help
Jamie Harrison is the Highways Director at Osborne and in this very personal article, he shares his experience of suffering stress and how he found help.
“I first began not feeling 100% right in 2005 while working as the Project Manager on a project for the Highways Agency in the South of England.
I have always enjoyed going to work, but started not to enjoy it as much, found decisions difficult to make and began to avoid social situations both at work and home. I also started to shut my office door to try and remove myself from the team, something that I had never done before.
Soon I didn’t want to go to work at all, I found it harder and harder to concentrate, and eventually I would stop during my drive to work, making up excuses in my head for turning round and going home. Sometimes I would continue to work, other times, I would sit for a prolonged time, or drive home.
This clearly couldn’t continue, as I was becoming less than effective at work, nothing new there some may say, and more withdrawn at home and socially. Eventually, I spoke to both my line manager and MD, both of whom reacted to my request for help quickly and with tact and respect. I was offered workplace counselling, which I took up, and I was also given the opportunity to move roles, if I felt that would help. I didn’t want to give up on the work I was doing, or the team I was working with, so didn’t move immediately, but over time, I realised that this might be best for both the project and me. The counselling was very difficult to start with, as I am not used to telling a stranger everything about my life, but it became a significant part of getting better, and I attended 6 sessions over the course of 6 months.
The counselling showed me that it is often not one thing that causes the problem, but many events put together, be they work, or in your private life. Understanding these and giving yourself tools to deal with stress or stressful situations will help.
I do not hide the fact that this has happened to me, and I am happy to discuss it with colleagues and friends. There are times when I feel under pressure, and some of the feelings of that time come back, but by asking for help and receiving it, I have been able to better deal with those situations, move on and progress in my career. The first step in this was accepting a position back on the same project, when I felt able to do so.
WHAT THIS TAUGHT ME
Ask for help. You will not be alone. Many people have suffered or do suffer with mental health problems, and will be pleased to help if they can, or refer you to someone that can.
WHAT HELPS ME
When I was struggling, one particular work colleague noticed, and would call me each morning and tell me not to worry, that they would be okay and that I should go home. This made an enormous difference, knowing that someone else had my back. I am now a much calmer individual, and do not react to difficult situations so quickly. By staying calm and viewing a situation more objectively, I am better able to deal with the stress.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”