8 October 2020

Things that can drive you mad...


Hormoz reflects on how the pressures of life can impact on your mental health.

As it’s National Work / Life Balance week, World Mental Health day on the 10th and National Coming Out Day on the 11th of this month (AND my 60th birthday on the 9th), it's obvious that I had to be the one who wrote this blog!

Let me explain. 

Reaching one of these ‘important milestone’ kind of ages makes you reflect. I do a fair bit of that as part of my day job getting others to reflect on things as much as possible and, in the process, doing it myself too.

During Result CIC programmes, my co-director Jane and I tell our stories. We concentrate on pivotal moments as well as challenges which we have had to overcome over the years.

Coming out features strongly in the first part of my story since being ‘in the closet’ and thinking that I could never come to terms with my sexuality held me back so much. Not only that, but it created an intense pressure and negative energy in me, a secret I felt I had to carry with me forever. I could not see ANY positive role models but maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough.

It took a lot of soul searching, a friend coming out and further ‘research’ which made me pluck up the courage to make the move. I was nearly 21 years old. Telling family and friends was generally well received, but not fully.

A new tension was created. Family members (not all) were blaming themselves, about psychological reasons for what they considered to be a ‘mental condition’ and the impact of our standing in society. Not that I blame them, since ‘homosexuality’ was seen much more as an aberration in those days (60, remember!).

This was a ‘half coming out’ as I realise I had not fully come out. I still pretended in my male dominated engineering day job that I had a girlfriend.

It took a major mental breakdown 20 years ago to allow me to rethink. My severe mental illness and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder lasted for over 2 years with several bouts of hospitalisation.

As I started to recover with the help of loved ones I started examining everything about myself. Sexuality was a key one and I have my partner to thank for encouraging me to be myself. He emphasised the fact that people care less than we imagine, they want to know the ‘real you’ and if they can’t handle that, it was their issue. So true.

So, with a change of job, I was out for the first time at work and goodness, did it feel good! It was like a weight was off my shoulders.

As time went by and I got better and better and more at ease with feeling fine in my skin, my confidence grew about my identity. I was not keen to talk about my mental illness for some time, until I came out of that closet too!

The process of becoming a coach and the self-exploration which is part of the process helped a lot. Then talking about it in workshops and seeing the affect on others made it easier and easier for me to share.

There is much stigma about this area (and about being gay in many places) and one hopes that, the more open we can be, the more the situation is ‘normalised’.

Being open also allows others who are struggling with similar feelings to start being themselves more readily and lessen the self-inflicted pressure on themselves.

So, what about work/life balance week? Well, finding yourself and being the best and truest version of yourself also often gives you a better opportunity to know what the ‘pressure limits’ are for you.

Saying no to things should become an important part of your balancing work/life. That, and prioritising what to do and in what order.

I feel like I should write more about this but that could be a blog by itself. And wait, I want to prioritise my 60th birthday! So, I will leave you with a quote from billionaire Warren Buffet (I now know why I’m not a billionaire; not that I ever wanted to be):

Billionaire Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, has a theory on this subject worth exploring: “The difference between successful people and really successful people,” he says, “is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

NDA 2015 Power 100 iLM

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