Life with my black dog
Since 2020, the Brightstar Group has been a keen supporter of SANE and a shining example of a company that puts mental health on par with physical health.
Through Sirius Property Finance – the UK’s largest B2B mortgage broker and specialist, client-facing arm of the Brightstar Group – the company has raised just under an incredible £25,000 for SANE.
Here, Rob Jupp, Group CEO at the Brightstar Group, shares his personal mental health story.
I’m a 50-year-old man, born the second year of the 1970s to a modest, aspirational working-class family. I achieved straight A-grades in my A-levels and became the first generation of my family be university educated.
It was while I was at university, in the final year, that I met my life partner and this December we celebrate 25 years of married life. I have two teenage sons who are both sporty and bright, and I’m incredibly proud that we have been able to provide them with a private education at one of the finest schools in the country.
We live in a beautiful house, in a lovely village which has one shop and two pubs and a cricket club that’s been there since 1850. I run a successful, multi-million-pound business and employ almost a 100 people. And I’m president of the local rugby club.
That all sounds pretty good, right?
But despite all of this, I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager, living every day with the struggles of my own ‘black dog’.
Many people I talk to say the worst thing about living with poor mental health is the guilt that they shouldn’t be feeling as they do. My introduction to this article wasn’t designed to be self-congratulatory, but rather to demonstrate that even though everything in your life could be about as wonderful as possible, the black dog has little respect for this. It doesn’t go away.
On a bad day I will still struggle to get out of bed and function as a human. I will feel unloved, unappreciated, vulnerable, lonely, and unable to see beyond the next hour, let alone the next 24.
Ways of coping
I’m a fully paid-up member of the ‘Depression Gang.’ I’ve spent thousands on therapy, taken anti-depressants and fully accept that this is going to be with me until the day I die. That said, I am now able to function with depression in my life and have found ways to limit the crippling effects of poor mental health most of the time.
Here’s what I can share:
- Accept you have a problem
I spent years in denial, blaming work, lifestyle, my wife, my family, the pressures of life etc. You only start your recovery when you accept you have a problem.
Talking remains the most under rated medicine in my humble opinion. Telling someone close to you how you are feeling is also likely to make them feel relieved that they know what’s wrong with you.
- Learn what works for you
It could be medication, could be therapy, could be a critical look at your routine. It could be something completely different but find it!
- Bad days will come, but then go again
This is crucial. When the black dog comes calling, don’t forget that it won’t be on your shoulders for ever.
- Enjoy the good times
When good times happen, embrace them. Get plenty of photos. They will help you when your days don’t look so happy.
- You are not alone
On my goodness, there are millions of us in the UK. We could have our own army there are so many of us!
Depression is not a definition
I live with depression every day, but I am not defined by my depression. I’ve got plenty of quirky things I do to ensure I am equipped to keep the black dog at bay and give myself the best chance of being the one in control of my life. These include meditating in my pants at 6am, a 15-second burst of cold water during my morning shower (positive stress – it works!), regular exercise and ensuring consistent, restful sleep.
On a final point, I’m proud of so many things I’ve done in my life and I feel I really am living that definitive ‘best life’. What I am most proud of, however, isn’t the material or career achievements but that I am able to write an article like this, talking honestly about how I am not just surviving with my mental health struggles, but also able to thrive.
You can too.
I had a black dog, his name was depression by World Health Organisation (WHO)