Mental Health Awareness Week: Janneke’s Testimony

Our HR & Project Manager, Janneke has written a powerful piece for us this Mental Health Awareness Week, which we have published below with her permission.

“2014 was the year I had my first major mental health breakdown, I remember crying on the phone to my mum telling her I didn’t want to carry on. I was living in a shared house at the time in Hemel Hempstead due to work, and at the time I had locked my bedroom door from the inside. Thinking, for some reason, that would help me stay safe from myself.

That night I managed to book a doctor’s appointment for 9am (I know, shocking!), but I wasn’t sure what to say to the doctor or whether I would have the ability to enable the words to come out in a way that would adequately describe how I felt. So, I wrote it down on paper, the next morning I walked into that doctor’s room and handed it to the doctor. I started crying immediately while she sat and read the note quietly. When she was done, she patiently waited for me to calm down. She told me that I was brave for coming in and that she was there to help. That is the first time I went onto medication for depression and in the same day, went into work with a smile on my face pretending everything was fine. 

I think I have always had a bit of sadness about me, without knowing how to label it, but it had definitely been present for a while before 2014. I was involved in a car accident in 2006 where I had almost lost my life. In the back of my head, I don’t think I ever resolved this and got to terms with what that incident had cost me and how it had changed me as a person, physically and mentally.  

I had attempted to come off the medication in 2015 after feeling much more like myself. I had moved back home as my work had relocated me back to the Milton Keynes branch. Sadly, later on in the same year, a close relative attempted to take their own life. This was a massive shock, as much like myself, they very rarely showed to the outside world that their inside world was falling apart. As I was the one who found them, it hit me harder than I realised and around the same time I was put back on a different medication, this time for depression and anxiety.  

It took a long time, and countless ups and downs, before I started to feel strong enough to decide to once again come off the medication, this time for good. I had started meditating, working out, eating (and drinking) better and with the support of my friends and family I decided to start the process of coming off the medication. It was most definitely an arduous process and really took all the strength I could muster to work through this, but it was most certainly worth it.  

At the time of coming off, I was also made redundant from a long-term position with a company that I thought I was going to retire with. Instead of taking this blow to heart, I used what I had learnt from meditation and mindfulness to reframe this as an opportunity to do something for myself and something worthwhile.  

And that is how I started my own HR Consultancy company and also started working for BuDS!  

I am now in a position that I feel secure in being able to take short notice time off if I am in need. December 2021 and January/February 2022 were some of the hardest months I have endured since coming off the medication and the support I received from the Trustees, staff and volunteers that work for BuDS has been, quite frankly, overwhelming.  

In turn, the amount of faith that staff have in BuDS to respectfully listen to any concerns they have and allow flexible working in times of need is amazing. I am genuinely grateful for each and every week that I am working with this great Charity, and hope that the support they provide to disabled people continues.  

So, with this in mind, remember to be kind, always. As you never know what people are going through in their day to day lives, even though they have a smile on their face.”