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Interview 10

Age at interview: 30
Age at diagnosis: 26
Brief Outline: Helpful approaches include counselling (which has helped him to address past abuse as well as being gay) removed himself from a bullying workplace; settling debts, swimming and moving away from London.
Background: Works part time in the tourism industry, living in a coastal town. Suffered depression and anxiety at a time when he was in a highly confrontational customer relations job.

More about me...

 
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Says that swimming, with its repetitive movement and breathing, is his main form of stress relief...

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Do things that make you feel better, like I found that swimming really, really helps me. It's very therapeutic. I think it's the repetitiveness of movement and also it helps your breathing, and also it's a different element. It sort of takes you, being in the water or submerged... or just.... its just a completely different element, its takes you away from your usual surroundings. 

You know, you hear all these comparisons about you know, the reason people like it is because it takes them back to the womb etc. I've heard that being used before, especially the feeling of being under water. I know the sound is all muffled and its just you know, its.... releases the endorphins, obviously the good, the feel good hormones etc. And after I found I now use it, it's my main tool for stress relief, I can often go in feeling terrible and come out feeling fine. Which was very, very common during depression and I'd go to the swimming pool and I'd go in, in the foulest of moods, and I'd come out feeling light, happy, relaxed. 

And it's absolutely brilliant. I've even sometimes used it to take out aggression, so if I'm feeling very, very angry then that just reflects in the speed in which I swim. And you know, if I'm, if I'm feeling really bad, then I'll swim very fast and I'll do.... so instead of doing 20 lengths, I'll do 30, and until I feel that, that actually feel that weight lifted off.

 
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When depressed he thought that his friends and family didn't like him, but therapy helped him to...

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Well the main distortion in my thinking when I was depressed was about people not liking me' which was a huge break through in therapy. Realising that, when I was in depression that I'd even, even doubt, my friends and family they didn't like me, I thought even my best friend, he, I've known him for, since we were both 11 years old, so its almost 20 years, I even convinced myself that he didn't want to know me anymore. That he thought I was useless and which in reality wasn't the case at all, you know we love, we love each other deeply, and that's always been the case.

 
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Counselling revealed that his family did not talk about emotions easily, so he talked to his...

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I think part of the problem was that we also spoke about in counselling, is that as a family, we were never really... we weren't really brought up to talk about emotions. We never really spoke about emotions with our parents, so I never really went in depth with my parents. They were always... they were aware that I was off sick and they were concerned but we never really spoke about it in depth. I used to talk about it mostly with friends, sort of colleagues as well, but in the main sort of release point was the counselling, which was to me was crucial. If I hadn't have had the counselling, I'd probably still be severely ill and wouldn't be, you know, happily now saying that at last I'm enjoying life to a greater extent.

 
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Found it hard to accept that depression was a legitimate reason to be off work, felt guilty and...

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I got to see the occupational health officer at work pretty much straight away. He called her and said, you know, "He really needs you to see him now". And she sat down in the office, talked about a few things, about how I was feeling. She asked me a few questions about, you know, had I been having difficulty sleeping, had I been having difficulty concentrating and things like that and she said, "It sounds like you've got symptoms of depression now". So she suggested I go and see my GP that day, which I did. And the GP signed me off. I don't remember initially how long it was for, possibly a week, two weeks, I was signed off work. 

And they just basically advised me just to relax, try just not to think about work, not to feel any pressure about going back to work. My GP said, "You know, you're under no obligation to go back to work, the most important thing is your health, that you relax"'. There was a lot of guilt there, there was a lot of pressure thinking no, I should be at work. You know, just because I had this bad day, I should be at work, I'm expected to be at work. You know, everyone is probably at work saying, "Why isn't he here, he hasn't got a broken leg, you know, ok he just had a really bad day, but you know he should be here, we all have bad days!'

 
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Dissatisfied with his GP, he wrote to his local Primary Care Trust to get a new GP at a new...

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I know that for instance down here with the [name removed] Health Authority ... all I had to do to get a new GP was to write to them saying that "I met this GP, I now wish to change" and they... 'cos I found that going to different GP surgeries, often I'd be turned away and they'd say, "Sorry, we've got too many patients", whereas somehow the Health Authority just force you into the books. So I wrote to them... So when I had my first sort of health check with the new GP I was just amazed, having had the previous experience of just being fobbed off by my GP. 

I went in complaining, for instance, of really, really bad headaches. It was always on one side of the head and I had convinced myself I'd got a tumour. But it was just the way he... He might have been thinking, "Oh, you're a hypochondriac, you're worried about nothing," but he actually went through and he explained everything. He said, "I'm going to do this test, and this test and this is why I am doing this test" and he said, "It's unlikely but...". And then he checked and said, "No, you have no symptoms of it, so it's probably just stress", you know. There was another skin condition I had that he explained what it was. He even gave me a printout of what it was, what causes it, "This is the medication I'm giving you, that's why it works, that's how it works, and that's what's going to happen after the treatment is finished". And he said to me that, "Whenever you feel that, you know, your headaches are coming back or are too persistent, then don't hesitate to come back and see me, and... similarly, if the depression ever relapses, come back here' we can refer you to the on-site counsellor".

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