Breaking the Stigma…

This article was originally published on LinkedIn on 11 August 2018.

This is going to be a long one so settle in for the ride…

My story

This is my story. This is real. Take note; or don’t. The choice is yours.

I have worked hard all my life. I have pushed myself to my limit to acquire knowledge and skills; to accelerate my career as quickly as possible. I never stopped trying to take the next step forward, to get the next big break, to climb the next rung up the ladder…

I broke myself.

During 2017, I suffered what I guess could only be described as a crisis…

I have always suffered from depression and anxiety in some form, but during 2017 it was particularly bad. Only earlier this year during #mentalhealthawarenessweek did I share this fact with my professional network. I had never told anyone professionally about this before due to being embarrassed. I was ashamed to talk about this. I wasn’t just ashamed to talk about it with my professional network, but I was ashamed of talking about it with my friends…with my family!

I am here to bring you the full story. This is not because I need to tell you, but because I choose to tell you. I am choosing to break the stigma attached to mental health and am going to talk about it openly. I am about to embark on something that means a great deal to me after what I have gone through. To understand why I am doing what I am about to do, you need to understand why…

..so here goes…

…and it takes a lot to say this publicly…

…especially to my professional network…

…so please bear with me…

My name is Andrew Salkeld and during 2017 I almost committed suicide.

During 2017 I reached an absolute low point. My wife and I separated. My job was stale. My friends were looking after their new families (something I wasn’t going to be doing now…). I felt alone. I vividly remember being sat at the computer I type this on now researching the best ways to end one’s life without needing to leave the house (as I was too embarrassed and ashamed to walk outside at the time…).

I did not end my life.

For many feeling like this is a huge point of embarrassment; for me it was for a long time…

Some of you may un-follow me. Some of you may not want to work with me. Some of you may fear that I am unstable to be around. Some of you may not care at all. Some of you might has expected it. Some of you might even have wished it!

All I hope is that some of you listen.

I am here today and I am in a much better place than I was during 2017. I still suffer from depression and anxiety. I have learned to make peace with it. Talking openly has helped more than any medication or therapy and I encourage anyone struggling to do so.

I never want to feel like that again…

I never want anyone to feel like that…

Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK.

…I want to do what I can to help prevent it!

So what?

Firstly, I have decided to break the stigma attached to mental health (particularly in the workplace) by talking openly about my experiences.

Secondly,…(and here’s where you come in)…I am about to embark on a bit of a mission…

I have always loved games. Games come in many forms, but I particularly like board games (mostly for the social aspect of playing with friends) and computer games (mostly for the ability to compete and play with people from all over the world). I’ve never been particularly good at them, but I have a real passion for them. This is what got me into streaming on Twitch in the first instance. I love entertaining, I love playing games, I love talking to people (even if no one is watching…) so why not stream. I turned this into a way for me to give something back to charity through Just Giving.

On Monday I am going to start a 24 hour live stream celebrating the launch of Battle for Azeroth, the latest World of Warcraftexpansion from Activision BlizzardThis starts at 11pm Monday 13 August and will continue to 11pm Tuesday 14 August (assuming I make it through…). I would like to welcome you to join me by tuning in on Twitch at some point during that 24 hours or by visiting the website or store. If you can’t tune in you are welcome to visit Just Giving or simply Text XMIZ70 to 70070 to donate via your mobile phone.

I will continue to live stream on Twitch, raising awareness of mental health and breaking the stigma attached to it for one year. I will be doing this in my own time with no support. I will be documenting it on my blog over at my website. I will also be sharing regular updates on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

I am specifically supporting Mind.orgCALM, and the Samaritans. I will be donating proceeds made during the week commencing 13 August to all of these charities.

If you would like to contact me about any of this, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

I feel liberated saying all this…

Andrew Salkeld

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