In my first newsletter I spoke about how difficult 2023 was for me

I wrote out what happened within that newsletter but it quickly became much too long for one piece

So I decided to extract and make it a newsletter in and of itself. I have just finished adding, extracting, finalising and editing.

Enjoy, my year from hell:

A few days into January I got fired out of the blue from a job I didn’t particularly like.

Within a few weeks I started a new job and from day one I knew I was in trouble.

My head wasn’t in the right space and the work was awful.

I stuck it out until I had a breakdown.

I signed off sick, was put on antidepressants and entered on to a six month waiting list to talk to a therapist.


Bottom of the barrel, never felt worse and all I wanted was to talk to someone. I had to wait six months for a call to book an appointment and I took their pills, reluctantly, in the meantime.

I won’t go too in depth regarding the pills but I took them as advised and was booked to come back in in two weeks to see how I’m getting on.

I thank my lucky stars that the Doctor I saw on my return was different because the first told me nothing about the pills. This new Doctor was great, though his first words shook me;

“Are you on the ledge yet?”

I asked what he meant and he told me that the pills are known to make you much worse before you get better and that the other Doctor should have warned me – he did not.

I did feel worse. I thought I was so depressed I was making my antidepressants depressed.

The new Doctor said I would be over the worst of it soon and recommended I stick them out for 4 more weeks to see if they help.

I stuck them out for longer than advised but all the effects they had on me were negative:

  • Mind fog so bad I often forgot why I walked into a room.
  • Forgetting simple regular tasks like putting the bin out, turning the downstairs lights off when I went to bed, even brushing my teeth
  • Extreme dehydration no matter how much I drank
  • Headaches and nausea
  • Mental numbness to the point of feeling like a drone – I would sit and watch something but I wouldn’t enjoy it nor dislike it, I’d just sort of be there

I was switched to another antidepressant and again stayed with it beyond the recommended duration but with the same result.

Rather than go on to a third option I opted to stop taking them all together.

I received statuary sick pay while off work which was less than one sixth of my normal wage.

Being still employed by this company felt like a noose around my neck but if I left it would mean the small amount of money I received would drop by a further 50%.

I spoke to Samaritans (UK helpline for anybody struggling with a multitude of issues) and in addition to hearing me out, advising me and offering support the advisor spoke of my eloquence and way with words:

  • He laughed at the ‘I thought I was so depressed I was making my antidepressants depressed’ line I told the Doctor
  • Agreed with the point I made when I said I wish my arm or leg was broke so I could point to it and say I can’t come to work with this, but my broken mental health isn’t the same, invisible scars hurt just as much but go unseen
  • When I told him about my financial situation and wanting to be free of my current employer but couldn’t do so as my income would drop even more he said my summary ‘I’m too poor to have poor mental health’ would be a great title of a self-help book I should write

I started attending a men’s mental health group and this helped me massively.

Most of the guys there had problems much bigger than my own and had attempted suicide multiple times.

Despite this they listened to my problems, offered support and gave me unconditional support.

After three weeks of attending one of the senior members approached me asking about my previous experience within construction.

Let’s call him Carl.

Carl believed that fate had brought us together as the company he worked for was looking for someone just like me.

Within a week I was booked in to a hotel in London and given a train ticket so I could get started.

The departure date was Sunday (that’s right Sunday) 4th June 2023 – my step-son’s 9th birthday. That was difficult but I was in a horrible situation and needs must.

There were problems from the start that I turned a blind eye to, the worst of all being the broken promise that some weeks I would be working close enough to home that I wouldn’t have to stay in hotels. With a young family at home I didn’t want to be away from them constantly.

My first 11 weeks were spent working away in London. Then a week working away in Wales before finally having some local work and the luxury of coming home to my family after clocking out.

Three long months after starting on my step-son’s birthday I finally got to come home after work and sleep in my own bed next to my fiancee.

By then the problems had grown in to major issues.

The tension and pressure was almost unbearable and it all came to a head when I caught the flu one weekend leading to less than 4 hours sleep in a three day period.

“You can’t be sick, you’re expected in Glasgow tomorrow morning”

“I’ve already pushed this job back twice and if you refuse to come in and do your job I’ll have to cancel it again, the client will be outraged”

“This doesn’t look good for you, and with your probation meeting coming up”

“You’re really letting the whole team down, people will have to cover for you and work twice as hard while you’re at home in bed”

“I’ve been deathly ill recently but I understand the importance of the job we do and I’ve been coming in to the office sometimes doing 16 hour days for the cause”

“One of your colleagues sounded more ill than you but came in and got his work finished quickly so he could go back home and another was in a car crash just last week and is in today working with a broken wrist in a cast”

“Go to the pharmacy, buy as much immodium and co-codamol as they will let you and double dose, you’ll be fine”

As if these things being said to me weren’t bad enough you’ll never guess who said them…

That’s right, ‘Carl’ – from the men’s mental health group.

He sat there months earlier and listened to me almost breaking down talking about my struggles dealing with the unfair pressures of work.

He looked right at me when I told everyone it was so bad I had wished to be in a bad car crash on the way to work so I wouldn’t have to go.

And here he was talking to me like this.

As you can imagine my precocious mental health situation was now shattered to bits. To add insult to injury I couldn’t even attend the men’s mental health group any more because Carl was a senior member there.

I went back to the good Doctor from months earlier.

This time it was regarding the flu but he recognised me. He told me I look awful, that I had lost a lot of weight and asked about my mental health.

It just so happened that it was my birthday that day. It was the worst birthday I can remember, he wished me happy birthday. On the same day my colleague at work had told me I was letting everyone down. The simple act of him saying happy birthday almost made me cry.

I told the doctor about work and he broke through professional boundaries telling me I should tell work, and specifically Carl, to fuck off then leave immediately. That made me smile, his anger reassured me that they are actually out of order and I’m not just being soft and weak.

Because of money I couldn’t leave and for the second time this year I was signed off sick with mental health.

When I told Carl (with higher management cc’d in) about this they only replied that they would be picking up my company car and all work related equipment the next day.

With the support of my partner, despite being in the same situation as earlier in the year and once more funds running low, I took a few weeks to focus on getting better.

Carl suggested we catch up each Wednesday to touch base and see how I’m doing.

The first Wednesday we spoke and it was mentioned how maybe when I return I can come back a couple of days a week to ease me back in and we can try to make sure it is only local work. I told him I appreciate that and it sounds good.

Second Wednesday he never called then apologised the next day saying he was too busy.

Third Wednesday I told him maybe next week I could come in for a couple of days and see how we go (it was more that I needed the money rather than ready to return) but he told me there was actually an issue that could be seen as gross misconduct and it would be discussed in my probation meeting, which was set for two weeks later.

While I was off work sick they had gone through the work laptop and tablet and in my probation meeting they said that I apparently allowed someone access to a private network (didn’t happen like that at all, and when I told them what happened at the time they backed me, but now I was off sick they changed their mind).

They then mentioned how I refused to work away (guess 12 weeks of working away doesn’t count) and had DEMANDED that when I return it was only two days a week and would be local work only. This was what Carl offered me, not my request but that is how they worded it.

As you can imagine I was sacked there and then. Or more accurately the company decided to not continue pursuing my employment following an unsuccessful probationary period.

I was broken but also I was livid. The frustration I felt knowing how in the wrong they were but there was nothing I could do, consumed me.

I had no avenue to release these feelings, so deep within me they remained.

For the next few weeks I tried to get better but my partner and I were struggling financially, leading to arguments and resentment.

I couldn’t do anything for enjoyment because my mind would tell me you need to be productive, you need money, you don’t deserve enjoyment, your family are starving and going to be homeless because of you.

It was a very dark period. I was constantly on the phone to Samaritans (the helpline I mentioned earlier). I felt completely worthless and hopeless.

Arguments with my partner culminated in her telling me her worst fear was we would have to leave our nice home and move in to a horrible block of council flats because I can’t find a job. I lost composure and snapped that my biggest fear is that I’m gonna jump off a block of flats and end it all.

I broke down, again. I told her I didn’t mean it and that I would never do it, it’s just that when you’re in that dark place unfortunately thoughts like that are among the depths of the darkness.

Luckily around this time that six month waiting list for therapy had passed and I got a call to book my first session. I was only allotted a limited number of sessions on the NHS (I believe it was eight) and after that I would have to go private and pay for myself but of course I had no money so I had to make the free sessions count.

There was no big resolution or revelation when I finished my final session but the difference in my life from the first session to the last was night and day.

The difference could be put down to my hard work, luck, karma or any number of things but I truly believe just talking to someone independent, unbiased, and trained to listen did me the world of good.

In the period between being fired from my last job and starting the job I am in currently I couldn’t find any work in construction so I applied for hundreds of jobs that nobody would choose to do (factories, warehouse, cleaning, foundries etc).

I was rejected by most, had interviews with a dozen or so and succeeded in getting an awful production line job that required me to get a taxi to and from that cost £20 each way (the job paid around £70 a day after tax so it was barely worth going).

Two weeks later I was offered a slightly less awful, similar job that was close enough to home the journey there and back was much easier with more options.

I forgot to mention that two weeks before I was ill with flu and then signed off work sick our family car was stolen so we had to pay £1000 for an old banger until we could get something better.

This was followed by, if you remember, my work taking my company car off me and then maybe two weeks later the old banger’s clutch system completely failed and would cost more than the car was worth to repair. Talk about luck huh?

My partner needed a car for her work, we couldn’t get the kids to school without a car (so was having to pay for taxis as no buses ran that we could have used) and I was restricted on what jobs I could get as I didn’t have a car – one of the interviews I had was for a parcel delivery job but it was an hour drive away and a taxi would cost me £50 each way, I was offered the job but told I couldn’t take the work van home after finishing my route so I couldn’t take the job.

At that time it felt like anything that could go wrong did. I had to remind myself multiple times a day that we all had our health, the kids were happy and had all they needed, we just needed to get through this period.

(The below was on my first newsletter but I wanted it repeated here following my summary of my year from hell)

A piece of advice that I wasn’t planning to give when I started writing this newsletter:

– Write about your hard times. Whether from the past or something you are currently going through. Let it all out. You will feel better. Then read it all in your head, add more if needed. You will fell even better. Then go back and read it out loud. You will feel better still. Just reiterating to yourself what you have made it through will remind you how strong you are. You are right to feel pride in surviving the trials that many may not have.

I sincerely hope that this post hasn’t completely depressed you but rather has inspired. If I can get through that then you can also get through your struggles too.

I know people have had it much worse but if you are going through a tough time that is all there is. You can’t compare it to somebody else, as if their hard time means you shouldn’t be affected by yours. I always say that even if people are starving all over the world it doesn’t make you any less hungry.

If you have gone through difficult times I would love to hear your story, where you are now, and let you know just what a legend you are.

And if you are still going through a hard time – I am here for you.

Thank you,


And remember;

You + Me = You+