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"Just Try"
Posted by MartinClyde
8th Oct 2014

So here we go........

Finally, yes FINALLY, I have found the courage to take to my keyboard and do this. For the 10th October and Mental Health Day and, truth be told, a little bit of new found confidence, the time has come.

It's hard to say when I first encountered problems with my mental health, but suffice to say the most problematic and disrupting period began in 2010 and really only "ended" to some extent a few months ago when I removed the main source of the problem, my work, an began afresh in a new position with another organisation.

I worked in financial services, for one of the biggest banks in this country. Exactly who is not important, but what is to be emphasised is that I’m no city high flyer or career hound - just an ordinary bloke, middle management, who worked in the "engine room", the operations of that bank

The past 4 years, up until March of this year, have been a slowly-worsening downward spiral that led to several periods off work, shuttling between numerous line managers, various hoops and swings and roundabouts with HR and occupational health and in the end, a very clear message that if I didn't like it, I knew what to do.

In the end, it was made very clear to me that I had outstayed my welcome, there was nothing the company would do to help me anymore and I was closely managed on a performance improvement plan - the same method and tool used to tackle those who are incompetent or found of wrong doing. The end result, had I not left, I am sure would have been the inevitable warnings and ultimately dismissal - something my last manager gave a wry smile and subtle nod at when I spelled that out as the path we were on.......

I wrote the poem below some months ago as it was the best way I could tell my story, simultaneously finding it helpful in my recovery to empty these thoughts and feelings from my head. I put it away, not looking at it for months but I’ve left it 95% as it was first draft - straight from the heart, gut instinct - best instinct?

I don't profess this to be the greatest piece of prose but I’m at the stage in my recovery journey where I’m ready to talk, to share and to try and take that last step and firmly close the door on these horrendous experiences that have dominated my life for so long.

Martin, October 8th 2014.

Just Try

I can’t really explain it
But I’ll try
When the black dog barks, it makes me feel ill
Helpless, Despairing, Empty
I could cry
For the fight that I need, I just don’t have the will

I know I can’t deal with it
But I’ll try
Put on a face, hide it away
Afraid, Ashamed, Worthless
I may cry
I just try and bear it, get through the work day

I know I can’t ignore it
But I’ll try
In the evening some respite, a chance to breathe
Worn out, numb, spent
I did try
Not to show it, a “victory” Id believe

I know I won’t sleep
But I’ll try
I hear that black dog again, loud and clear
Anxious, nervous, exhausted
Awake I lie
Dreading the alarm, another day – the fear

I know I can’t keep doing this
But I’ll try
Why? I’m rubbish, who else would want me?
Incompetent, stupid, weak
I do cry
Is this how I, a grown man should be?

I know I can’t possibly please you
But I’ll try
Just “work smarter”, “prioritise”, “get on”
Swamped, overloaded, drowning
To you, I did cry
“Don’t like it?”, “Can’t handle it?”, “Begone”

I know you said you’d support me
Did you try?
Or quote policy, procedures, what’s “best for the team?”
Impersonal, by the book, the rules
Made me cry
When “jump or be pushed” is what all came to mean

I know with my years of hard work, disregarded
I try
To understand how cold, calculating, inhuman you could be
Oh it’s not you, just doing your job, no favours
That’s your cry
Just a number, too difficult, best get rid of me

I know you said I could leave quickly
I try
Hasten my exit, look for anything, just get out the door
Written off, pile on pressure, criticise and again
Made me cry
Already on my knees, then knocked to the floor

I know that I’m bitter and angry
I try
To forget, not forgive, but it’s all still so raw
Said goodbye to some people, some friends
Made me cry
That this was all above board, through HR, by the law

I know that I’m getting better now, slowly,
I try
To see that for me, it was no choice but to leave
In a better place now, more like “old me”
I don’t cry
Hushed the black dog, clearer head, can now breathe

I know now I wasn’t weak, stupid or worthless
I try
To embrace that I’m human and far from a drone
Tales of recovery, inspiration, tears of happiness
I now cry
When I, like the others, face the battle and won

So the black dog is tames, it was tough
But I tried – HARD
Acknowledge that I, with much help, overcame
The stigma, misunderstanding ill treatment
The lies
But know this, as should you, it’s not I who should be ashamed

@MartinClyde

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