Just a guy who has a story and likes talking…

I promised I would share this after the fact. It’s now up to you to read it if you want.

adventure-contemplate-depressed-54379

Slide 1

My name is Andrew Salkeld. I’m 34. I’m a Chartered Accountant. I trained at PwC before moving into industry. I specialise in corporate finance and business intelligence; ‘data and deals’. I work as CFO for a start-up based here in Leeds, helping them raise funding and developing their business plan.

My name is Andy. I’m 34. I suffer from depression. I almost committed suicide in 2017. It changed me. I stream World of Warcraft and other games on Twitch in my spare time and in doing so raise money to support mental health charities across the UK.

Generally speaking, not a dick…generally speaking…

Which of these introductions is more honest? Which is more the person standing here in front of you today? Which is more relevant? Why should we talk about the first but not the second?

I was asked to speak today after I published Breaking the Stigma on LinkedIn and on my website miz7.com. I published that article to raise awareness of the 24 hour charity stream I was doing, but also to share my story with my professional network for the first time.

I said this in that article and I will say it again here. Some of you might not like what I say. Some of you my not want to work with me in the future. Some of you may not want to talk to me again. It doesn’t matter to me what you choose to do.

But for now at least please…

…just stay a while and listen

Slide 2

Slide 2

I’m going to talk about my story with mental health, specifically depression, but a lot of what i say can tie into anxiety and the wider subject of mental health. This topic is incredibly seriously, very real, incredibly emotional and deeply personal. To try to keep things lighthearted and simple, I’m going to try and use memes throughout. This isn’t to take away from how serious it is, more that they can simply a highly complex subject into one or two lines of text.

Please do remember that…

…this is my story.

Mental health is personal. No two people will ever feel or experience the same thing. Whilst this is me, it may not be how other think, feel, act or respond.

A lot of what I say today will be as honest as I can make it. It will cut very close to the bone, maybe even breaking a few… I have no agenda in what I say. I am just telling a personal experience.

I value every experience I have gained, every lesson I have learned and every person I have met in my life and career to date. I would not be who I am today if not for all those people involved, so I am truly thankful to all of them. I am more comfortable in myself today than I ever have been in the past.

So to everyone. Thank you.

Picture1

Slide 3

This is me right now.

Throughout this presentation (or reading this article) I would like to believe I will come across well, maybe confident, possibly lighthearted…maybe even funny! Some of you may warm to me as a speaker, or even as an individual.

However I feel like a fraud, a failure and a fake. I don’t believe I’ve done anything worthwhile to be the person giving this talk. There are people more qualified. There are people with more significant experiences worth sharing.

I’m just some guy with a story who likes talking.

I value myself less than the t-shirt I wear here today…and I think think it’s a pretty nice t-shirt. It has my logo on it and all!

When I openly say I suffer depression, am medicated and that considered suicide in 2017, understand that THIS is what THAT sort of person can look like.

It isn’t about crying and weeping in a corner…

…or being a Disney process and collapsing on the nearest object saying “woe is me”…

…nor is it about hiding in bed and wishing for death.

You can be, look and act like anyone else and still suffer.

That’s why I’m here today. I might consider myself a fraud and a fake, but I know that no one suspected this from me. No one knew what I was going through.

This is the first of a few points I want to make today.

Slide 4

Slide 4

This was how I felt at work. Everyday it felt the same.

Whilst I was never tossed out of a window, it did feel like having any form of social life, or just life, outside of work was frowned upon. What made this worse was it wasn’t actively frowned upon, it was completely passive aggressive…

…Oh you don’t want to spend any time with that team…

Hmm…

…It’s okay, we’ll stay late and pick up the slack…

From seeing friends, to taking part in sports, to having doctors appointments or even having children! The presentee-ism culture in the workplace was stifling to me as it was preventing me from doing what I enjoy most in life; spending time with the other people in it!

Slide 5

Slide 5

After a while, my personal life took a back seat to my professional life.

I am not an ‘old boy’. I am not part of a rugby club. I do not watch football on the weekend. I don’t know how to play golf.

I am quirky and I value myself on being different with experiences others don’t.

Being a generalist with a personality does not work in an industry that requires specialists.

This doesn’t make these place bad. It doesn’t make them ‘toxic’. It just means I wasn’t suited for that culture and that way of life.

As a result of my differences I can say in hindsight that I actively suffered from work place bullying. I was bullied for my hobbies. I was bullied for my taste in music. I was bullied for liking maths and cryptic crosswords. I was bullied for my hair…

…this one was fair…my hair hasn’t changed in 20 years…kind of like my taste in music…

I can remember every comment, every slur. I could name names. I won’t. These events stick with you and leave a mark on you.

You don’t realise it at the time, but this environment can, and was for me, damaging my physical and emotional well being.  I didn’t know it at the time and I certainly didn’t know it when I was applying as a fresh faced university undergraduate!

Slide 6

Slide 6

Don’t worry about it…

You’re a little bit different and people are bullying you about it…

Don’t worry about it…

So you made a mistake in the sample size…

Don’t worry about it…

So there was a rounding error in a calculation that caused a discrepancy in an equity schedule…

Don’t worry about it…

So you only spent two hours reviewing the audit file…

Don’t worry about it…

Trust me. We all worry about it. In business nowadays everyone is under scrutiny, everything is reviewed, no one wants accountability and no one wants to take responsibility. However large; However small; letting go is a near impossibility.

Slide 7

Slide 7

This is mostly related to professional services because of increased market competition, but I can imagine it applying to other business sectors as well.

We can’t differentiate on quality anymore. Quality is assumed.

Okay…

We can’t differentiate on our people too much. Being too different might scare the client.

So we differentiate by ‘putting ourselves in our clients’ shoes’ and trying to anticipate their every need and want. It’s a great time in a meeting when you get asked a question and already have a response and document prepared and ready to go. We can do that all the time. Right?

Well, we certainly try, but it differently brings up a few questions. We start second guessing everything as what we’re told isn’t what the client wants nor is it ultimately the reality of the situation. We try to anticipate what our boss wants whilst they are anticipate what their boss wants.

It is exhausting.

Slide 8

Slide 8

Then this!

You finally get out of work. You finally make it home. You can finally do what you want; maybe not when you want, but at least what you want…

…Nah…

We are constantly questioned and under review all the time that we start reviewing ourselves. We try to anticipate how other people will respond to something we said. It just never ends.

Slide 9

Slide 9

This may not apply to everyone, but it certainly applied to me.

As I said at the beginning; generally speaking, not a dick. As a result of this people often say some nice things to me. The response to ‘Breaking the Stigma’ made me cry. The comments from people leading up to this talk made me cry. I am just a guy with a story who likes to talk. People shouldn’t be saying this about me! Or at least that’s what I think.

So here’s a couple of examples;

“Thank you for your hard work.”

Do they think I’m weak and need recognition? Do they think I could have worked harder? Do they think I made it hard? Do they think I don’t work hard the rest of the time? Do they think it was easy?

Another one;

“You are beautiful.”

Do they think I need reassurance? Do they think I’m beautiful because of my make up? will they think I’m beautiful without make up? Am I only beautiful today and not the rest of the time? Have I put too much effort in? Are they coming onto me? Do they think all I am is beautiful and there’s no substance underneath?

Slide 10

Slide 10

I will say this once and once only. It is the first point I’ll make today.

Say thank you.

Make a habit of it.

Thank every person who does something for you. Even if they are well paid and rewarded and just doing what is expected, let them know you value them.

I can’t speak for everyone else, but if I call you beautiful, you better know it!

Slide 11

Slide 11

Let me just start by saying that,

I fucking love my friends and family. They are the absolute best. I want them in my life always and I wouldn’t change anything about them. Well…maybe a few things…

But this was the start of my darkness. I ended up not only questioning my own capabilities, but I questioned my relationships, some of which had lasted for years. It was an incredibly sad time.

I asked myself whether my friends actually liked me…did they just want me round for a superficial reason? Was it because I could and would buy all the drinks? Was it just because we’d known each other so long it was easier to keep up a charade than give up? Was it just convenience?

But then my family…did they even like me? We don’t share hobbies or past times. We don’t enjoy the same things and are from different generations. We value different parts of like. I knew they loved me, but did they like me? did they respect me for me?

My isolation grew.

Slide 12

Slide 12

Here’s my second point for the day. Took me almost 25 years to get here.

Stop saying “I’m fine” when you are not.

and

Stop saying “Things are okay” when they are not.

Start talking about how you are and how you feel. Culture has warped us to believe that feeling is a weakness. Culture has made it people expect men to always be strong.

We are the human species.

We are one of a few species on our planet Earth with real emotions and real emotional intelligence. Let’s embrace that!

If we don’t then we’re no better than the robots in factories that build cars, or the AIs we’re developing that will cause the end of days in a few years.

Slide 13

Slide 13

If you don’t embrace your emotions and talk about how you actually feel, this is where you can end up.

It’s where I ended up.

I was turning my back on my friends, my family, my loved ones.

I didn’t understand what was causing it at the time.

The pain was unreal.

I wanted it to stop.

I was consumed by it.

Slide 14

I was first diagnosed with depression in 2014 to 2015. In hindsight I can now see the signs of it running through my life since I was a teenager and throughout everything. I don’t blame this on anyone or anything. As I’ve said, your mental health is your own.

In 2017 following a number of significant life changed my depression got significantly worse. The catalyst for where I ended up was my wife Deborah leaving me after 11 years together, 12 months of individual therapy and 6 months of working together. She had accepted that she was a lesbian and that it was over and that there was no way to save it…

…my life fell apart…

I can remember her coming home one day and speaking to me in the kitchen whilst I was cooking a halloumi, pine nut and pesto pasta dinner for us…

…I’m a pretty good good cook, happy to share recipes if you want…

She said she was 90% sure it was over and that we couldn’t work things out and that she was going to leave.

I literally…and believe me when I say I fucking hate the word literally…collapsed on the floor in a ball.

I couldn’t do anything.

I made it to our bed. I stayed there. I missed my best friend’s first child’s naming day because the shame I felt was too great. The pain was beyond anything I have ever experienced.

But remember, it wasn’t just Deborah I lost. I lost the future we were building together.

We were redecorating our house. GONE.

We had our cats. GONE.

We were going to grow old together. GONE.

We were trying to have children together. GONE.

Suddenly my future was gone.

If someone asks me what depression is I answer along these lines:

Depression is a heavy numb emptiness in the centre of your being. It consumes every part of your personality, you emotions and your feelings. It doesn’t just remove the happy ones, it removed the sad ones as well. It leaves you numb. Everything about you, inside and out, is gone.

Just for the record, Deborah and I are actually still friends now. We are selling our house together. We will file for divorce together. We still talk and communicate with each other.

No one deserves to live a lie and I am proud that Deborah has the strength to be this honest with herself.

It hurts.

Don’t get me wrong.

It hurts.

But this is the right thing for both of us.

Slide 15

Slide 15

Here it is…

Didn’t think this was coming….

He wouldn’t tell us that would he?..

This is where I was one day. I was sat in front of the computer that I still use to this day. I remember it vividly.

I settled on the first choice.

I was too ashamed to leave the house and I didn’t want anyone else to have to suffer around me.

I sat there and I worked out the position in the house with the greatest load bearing capacity, least purchase for my feet, figured I’d probably need two leather belts as I’m a big lad…

One misconception is that people view ending your life as an often impulse thing. It isn’t. I spent hours researching, days contemplating and months considering. You exhaust every other option possible. You try everything else. You desperately seek a reason to keep going.

Moving swiftly on.

Slide 16

Slide 16

I struggled with the pain of losing everything in my life. The pain took me so far I went numb to the world and everything in it. I came to the conclusion after months of consideration that there was only one choice…

…and then…

…Probably moments before I was about to end my own life, something happened.

I was reminded of someone; a different best friend.

I’d known her longer than I’d known Deborah. She had gone through something very similar the previous year…

…not the marriage and lesbian thing. I definitely win the “who’s got the biggest and baddest baggage?” game…

…I just heard her say…

You selfish bugger. Don’t you dare. There are those of us who need you.

She saved my life that day.

All it took was a simple reminder that sometimes people want you for just being you, even when you’re broken and empty, they just want you for who you are.

And I realised I wanted to make sure I did the same for others. If it wasn’t for the people around me, I wouldn’t be here. There are people out there who have no one around them. There are people in my situation that no one thinks could be struggling. They needed a voice.

Slide 17

Slide 17

I stopped giving a shit.

Fuck it.

I almost didn’t have a future.

Now I want to make that future mean something.

I promoted my stream across all my gaming communities. I have around 200 active followers with regularly 5 to 10 people tuning in to view and chat. I’ve had up to 150 people viewing at one time and on the 24 hour stream I had 152 unique viewers and managed to raise almost £500 in a day.

I got my first tattoo for my stream.

Now I fucking hate needles. I really fucking hate needles.

Now my tattoos are a huge part of my life.

People tell me I’m emotional. People tell me I wear my heart on my sleeve. Now I literally…that fucking word again…do. Two in fact so far!

I’m slowly adding everything about my life that I love and that makes me who I am so that I can never ever lose it again. Who I am means something to me and I never want to forget that again.

Life is Unfair

Slide 18

Now I don’t give a shit.

I’m just me.

Here’s one of the most important lessons for today.

Life is unfair

Disney lied to us.

The universe owes us nothing.

There is no scales that balance out net neutral when you die so everyone has an equal number of positive and negative experiences.

But life being unfair isn’t all that bad…

It means nothing is deterministic. The bad times might not last forever because how long they last isn’t determined by the past in any way. Why not just stay a while and see?

Forget the past. Forget the future. Live in the now!

Slide 19

Slide 19

Mental health is a person journey and one that will last a lifetime.

I suffer from depression.

I have accepted that and it’s comforting in a way.

A friend told me that my relationship with myself is the longest one I will ever have, so I better settle in the for ride and get comfortable.

Whilst everyone’s journey is a personal one and everyone’s mental health is an individual experience, it doesn’t mean anyone is ever alone in facing it.

No one should ever feel alone.

Everyone should feel comfortable sharing.

And that is my final point.

Slide 20

Slide 20

And they didn’t…

The feedback I received from giving this talk was humbling.

I didn’t expect it.

I promised I would share these slides and the video (which will follow). If you’ve made it this far, I just ask one thing of you.

Share this far and wide.

Let everyone know that they can share.

Let everyone know they are not alone.

 

 

You can follow along on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

 

Andrew Salkeld

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Breaking the stigma (part two)

When life gives you lemons…you now have lemons.

Many of you will have seen that I have been publicising that I am giving a talk on World Mental Health Day about my story with regards to mental health and facing suicide.

In advance of this I wanted to share with you all some more detail about what I will be talking about, how I will be presenting it and give you a preview of some of the slides.

Firstly…

You can find more information about the event at the eventbrite website. I believe there are still spaces available, so please do come along if you have the time and are interested.

I will be making all the slides and my notes available after the talk. The talk will also be recorded and we will hopefully find a way to share the video, so those unable to attend can still see and hear what I have to say; so nothing is lost in just reading the slides.

Thank you to Zainah for inviting me to talk. It is something I genuinely enjoy doing and if I can help just one person through speaking in whatever small capacity, then I have made a difference.

The juicy bits…

It would be wrong of me to not start with this (as it is indeed my first proper slide).

Mental Health is not visible.

It is not about crying and weeping in a corner…

…nor about being a Disney princess and collapsing on nearby objects…

…nor about staying in bed all day and wishing for it to end…

Mental Health can impact each and every one of us. No one knew how much I was suffering until I spoke out. My colleagues didn’t know, my friends didn’t know, even my family didn’t know. This isn’t because they were ignorant, it was because we learn to hide it; we internalise it. Mental Health in whatever form is an entirely personal experience and we all deal with it our individual ways.

To me, I am just some guy who had some bad luck and ended up in a pretty bad place. I’ve got a story like anyone else, no where near as bad as some and there will be people far more qualified to do this talk than I am.

I shouldn’t be doing this…

…But I am…

…and I am doing it to show that regardless of how happy, well adjusted, confident, outgoing and positive someone appears to be, we never know what is underneath.

I consider myself a failure. I have no confidence in myself. I have no self esteem.

I may not look it, but that is how i feel.

and then the kick at the end…

This slide comes towards the end of my presentation and I feel it is a message that most understand but few actually accept.

Life is inherently unfair…

…Disney lied to us…

…The universe does not owe us anything…

…There is no positive and negative balancing force…

We are all start from nothing and end up as nothing so regardless of any impacts of nature and nurture on our lives; we are here for our time and it will be what it will be.

But in knowing it is unfair, and imbalanced, that in itself is actually a positive. We have no knowledge of what the future will be, our past has no impact on what is happening in the here and now; there is no point in living anywhere but the present.

You may be in a bad place now, you may be struggling and it may feel like this has been forever, but you don’t know what’s round the corner.

Forget the past. Forget the future. What is actually important is now!

As usual…

I still live streaming on Twitch. I still break the stigma attached to mental health (in the workplace) by talking openly.

You can continue to follow my journey by visiting my website or store. You can continue to follow on Twitch. Come and join the conversation. You can support by donating to Just Giving or simply texting XMIZ70 to 70070 on your mobile phone.

You can follow along on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

You can do anything…

…so you go do what you want to do.

Andrew Salkeld

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World Mental Health Day

 

I would like to apologise for not writing anything in a while. Whilst that shouldn’t need an apology as I write these expecting nothing back, it appears that some people have actually started following them a little bit and like reading what I write. I have been moving house and everything over the last two weeks has been a lot to handle by myself, so I needed to focus on me.

Regardless, I’m back.

After posting Breaking the Stigma and completing my 24 hour charity stream over on Twitch I was approached to talk about my experiences with mental health. I was taken aback that people might actually want to hear my story and that there might be some people who benefit from it.

Now I’m going to give you a sneak peak into my upcoming 30 minute talk (information to follow in this article) as I think it’s important for everyone to understand how I am feeling about this and what to expect from my talk:

Picture1

This is taken from Slide 2 of my presentation, because I believe it is incredibly important that people understand what depression and mental health can mean.

I do not feel I deserve to be put up on a podium for being some person who happens to be willing to talk about his problems. I don’t even think in the universal scale of things that my problems ever matter.

I feel like a fake and a failure.

What I did realise though, and why I have agreed to give this talk and to speak openly in front of an audience, is that people didn’t realise I have depression. People don’t understand that;

Depression isn’t about weeping in a corner or collapsing on the nearest object and crying like a Disney princess. It isn’t about staying in bed all day and fearing the outside world.

Depression is just a part of those people who have it. People with depression just happen to carry with them this other part of themselves people don’t see. I personally see depression as;

a heavy numb emptiness in my very being.

Now that I understand it though, I don’t worry when I do notice it is there again.

That is why I want to give this talk and to hopefully push a recording of it out onto the internet somewhere. I want other people, those with or without depression, those who are or are not seeking better mental health, to realise that mental health can impact anyone; from the most successful to the most humble.

World Mental Health Day

So I will be talking at Chakra Corporate’s ‘Finding your Way to Wellbeing’ event as part of their ‘Mental Strength for the Nation’ tour.

5333ce7b-d5cd-46a7-8a1f-ed5ec965edf9-large

If you are interested in coming along and hearing me speak for 30 minutes on my experiences with mental health, my battle with depression and ultimately how I faced the ultimate decision in my life, then please do feel to sign up on the website.

I will be making as much of this talk available to everyone as I can.

As always

You can continue to find me on TwitchFacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

I am going to continue live streaming when I have the spare time to enable me to do so. I am going to continue trying to break the stigma attached to mental health.

You can continue to follow my journey by visiting the website or store. You can continue to follow on Twitch. Come and join the conversation. You can support by donating to Just Giving or simply Texting XMIZ70 to 70070 on your mobile phone.

Whatever you choose to do, may you find your way to wellbeing.

 

Andrew Salkeld

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Running on empty…

 

A bank holiday weekend in the UK is always seen as an opportunity for celebration. This one was no different! However this time it was a celebration of a lifetime. It was my parents 40th Wedding Anniversary…

…and I was doing a speech.

Let’s do this!

For those that know me well, you’ll know I’m fairly confident and well spoken…and that I love giving speeches…

 

…a microphone…

…a captive audience…

…an excuse to talk about myself.

 

It would not be unfair to say that I am more comfortable talking in front of a room of hundreds of people than in a one-to-one conversation. This will seem odd to many (as I appreciate most people don’t like this at all!) but to me it is the most natural thing.

I believe this stems from my anxiety. One-to-one I am focused on the responses of the individual. I am reading body language. I am analysing eye movements. I am judging tone and intonation. I am identifying any inconsistencies in the language and trying to assess the truth. I am trying to read between the lines of speech… I do all this in every conversation and it takes a lot for me to turn it off. Why do I do it? I’m not entirely certainly, but I believe it comes down to…

…not wanting to be caught off guard.

This is a fairly basic instinct of humans as a species. It’s what prompts a fight or flight response. This is also typically caused by a predator-prey interaction…

Do I see everyone I talk to as a predator?

That’s a bigger question for another time. The point is that when speaking atop a podium in front of hundreds of people, I can’t parse the amount of information I would typically seek to glean from the conversation. I stop. I relax. My body knows I can’t do anything more. I open up.

 

Begin at the beginning…

I woke up and wrote my speech at 5:30am on a Saturday morning. That’s when my muse spoke to me. I often don’t sleep well (again, likely linked to anxiety and or depression), but I was awake at this time not for any reason other than being inspired to write.

I had finished the speech in 2 hours and was confident in what I had put to paper. It was caring. It was loving. It was brutally honest. I sent it to friends and family, practised it in front of people (you can even view some of the practice on the Twitch stream).

People were teary eyed at the end of hearing it. I even received feedback that I shouldn’t be as honest. It was meant to be a light-heart-ed and fun occasion.

I refused to change my words.

I knew what I was saying would be controversial. But I also knew it was balanced between the awful times that both myself and my parents have gone through over the past 2 years, and the love and companionship that we were celebrating.

 

This guy never shuts up…

The night was brilliant. Everything went perfectly throughout. I gave the speech that I had actually began to get nervous about. It went well… (video below)

…it probably went a little too well. It overshadowed my dad’s speech that followed…

I received a standing ovation at the end of the speech with the toast to my mum and dad. I have over half the audience come and speak to me individually and say that it was the best speech they had heard and that I should be proud. I had friends tell me that it was me at my best self. I had the people from the venue who weren’t even related to the event outside of catering come and tell me it was beautiful. This clearly spoke to people and touched them in a way I never expected.

 

But then the exhaustion…

I believe there are three types of energy that a person has and uses…physical, mental and emotional. And right then, after that speech, I was at zero across the board. I was so drained that I had to go and sit in a room outside the main function space just to find a quiet space to recompose myself.

I shouldn’t be physically exhausted; it was only 10pm at night…

I shouldn’t be mentally exhausted; I had already written the speech, I was just reading it…

…I was emotionally exhausted, and that exhaustion took with it my physical and mental strength as well.

I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t hold conversation, I just needed to find time to correct myself after giving this speech. It took a good 20 minutes for me to recover to a level where I felt I could engage with people properly again!

 

The important bit!

One of the things I have talked about previously in Breaking the stigma… and Choosing a your path… is the idea of acceptance and of being yourself. I knew all of the above was going to happen because I understand how emotions (for me) are actually more tiring than physical or mental exertion. My close friends and family are also learning this about me; that when I go recluse for a period, not to worry, but just to carry on as normal when I come back.

Understanding how each other deals with emotions is important for the future.

 

As always…

I am continuing to live stream on Twitch when I have the spare time to enable me to do so. I am going to continue writing these articles and trying to break the stigma attached to mental health (in the workplace).

You can continue to follow my journey by visiting the website or store. You can continue to follow on Twitch. Come and join the conversation! You can support by donating to Just Giving or simply Texting XMIZ70 to 70070 on your mobile phone.

You can also follow along on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

Remember.

Be you.

 

Andrew Salkeld

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Choosing your path…

This article was originally published on LinkedIn on 20 August 2018.

721 views…

67 likes…

15 comments…

5 shares…

274 live viewers…

152 unique viewers…

16 unique chatters…

25 hours in a row…

175 pounds raised…

Would you say that I helped break the stigma? Would you say that things are different now? Would you say that things are changing? Would you actually want things to change?…

The problem with depression (or any mental health concern) is that even success can feel like failure. I would believe I made a difference… some of these comments made me cry…

So candid and so difficult to be so open especially as a man in a professional capacity. You are remarkable and will have helped more people than you know with your authentic honest account of your own experience. Thank you.

I can’t commend you enough for your kindness and support to others.

A courageous and selfless post. Thanks for sharing. I’ll tune in on Twitch and hopefully others will too!

Just had a coffee with Andrew this morning, unaware of all this – to your absolute credit Andrew, sharing experiences and your own story can only go to help others, of whom there are many

I’m so very proud of my great friends Andrew Salkeld who has written a searingly candid, honest and vulnerable piece here in order to try and break the stigma surrounding mental health in the professional space (and out of it).

However; even after seeing reading these comments, even after being asked to talk at various mental health events, even after being asked to co-host a podcast on mental health and gaming, I still feel like I have failed…

This is a problem many of your employees (and sometimes employers) may suffer from. They will work hard, they will spend hours calculating returns, they will spend days preparing presentations, they will spend months creating budgets, they will spend years helping you implement a business plan and grow your company.

They will feel they have achieved nothing.

Why?… because the reward they are seeking is not a promotion…it is not a bonus…it is not a salary increase…it is not a car allowance…the reward often sought by people is acceptance.

This isn’t acceptance in the form of respect or being a peer; this is acceptance for being an individual with opinions and ideas.

This is acceptance of being yourself.

It took me a long time to figure out what life meant to me. After everything that happened to me in 2017, which I talked about in Breaking the Stigma, I struggled to find what meant something to me anymore. My world was shattered. What I realised in that moment, and I stand by this to this day, is…

…be yourself, because nobody else can be.

Simple isn’t it.

We are all unique. We are all individuals. We all have our own likes…our own dislikes. We all have opinions. We are all different. We are not normal…there actually is no normal!

Embrace it!

So what? What do I do now?

My first ask is a simple one…

…say ‘Thank You’ more often…

…it will make so much more of a difference than you know. Also…

…learn about each other, take an interest in each other…

…this will lead to better and more meaningful relationships; both in business and in life!

My second ask isn’t much more complicated if I’m honest.

I am going to continue live streaming on Twitch when I have the spare time to enable me to do so. I am going to continue trying to break the stigma attached to mental health (in the workplace). I’m not doing this for anyone else. I’m doing this because it’s a cause I truly believe in.

You could continue to follow my journey by visiting the website or store. You could continue to follow on Twitch. Come and join the conversation. You could support by donating to Just Giving or simply Texting XMIZ70 to 70070 on your mobile phone.

You could also follow along on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

You could do any of this…

You could do none of this…

But one thing you must do is…

…be you…

Andrew Salkeld

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Statistics

The numbers speak for themselves!

Capture

Live Q&A one hour early!

Everyone

Due to the overwhelming response and interest I have had in the stream, I am starting one hour early to do a Live Q&A before I start getting distracted playing the game.

Please feel free to join me over on Twitch.

 

Andy

 

12 hours…

Limited availability for the week commencing 13 August 2018!

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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#miz7 #miz7gaming #twitch #streaming #streamer #twitchstreamer #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #charity #honest #honesty #mind #calm #thisisme #breakthestigma #suicide #suicideprevention #samaritans #thesamaritans #endthestigma #worldofwarcraft #battleforazeroth #activision #blizzard #activisionblizzard #justgiving #mindfulness #mindful #shouldhavebeenapublicspeaker #twitchstreamersandnetworking #shopify #wordpress #discord #streamlabs