Over the years I have never felt that I was worthy of many of the good things that happened to me. I always felt that I never worked hard enough nor provided suitable input into work – I never thought I understood what I was doing and that 90% of the time I was just winging it. Other people saw the confident positive and forward thinking me – I saw the timid, unconfident and frightened me – frightened of being found out as a charlatan or making a mistake.
I was always scared of making a mistake or getting things wrong because that would cause people to criticise or ridicule me. That was my biggest fear; looking like a failure. So I drove myself hard, I quickly learned about what I needed to know so I would be able to do it right and then – sometimes this meant sitting up to all hours the night before studying or thinking about how it needed to be done. I would then look confident and knowledgable the next day when doing what needed to be done.
I was confident though in my ability to see the eventual outcome of a proposal and know if it would work or not. I could also see the best way to do it and could readily estimate the resources needed. I still do not know how I was able to do this, it just came naturally. This was a skill that really let me appear confident and capable. Once again being able to back my judgement and build my internal confidence.
Then with the depression came the self doubt – a few minor errors saw my confidence plummet and develop into a situation where I no longer trusted my abilities. Without these abilities I then began to feel as if I was no longer worthy of any accolades, salary or other benefits generally given to relatively high performing workers. This then aded another level of stress onto my already stressful life , which then fuelled the depression which then fuelled the self doubt, which fuelled the stress levels, which fuelled the depression, which fuelled….. and so it went on until I eventually had a heart attack that stopped me in my tracks.
Suddenly different things became important to me. Working for other people lost its priority, it was time to do things for myself and be able to chose what I did and when I did it. The company I was working for at the time, looked after me for about 12 months after returning from hospital and I appreciate all those individuals who covered for me, kept me positive and removed a lot of the high pressure tasks I had beforehand. But, eventually, I knew I wasn’t pulling my weight in the team and decided it was time to move on.
For a year and a half I floated around with different projects and activities which gave me a role in life. Things I enjoyed doing but, once again were focussed around other people – and were still providing a high level of stress. Eventually that came to an end and I was left alone in business to work out what to do and where to go in life. I also had my melt-down which finally gave me the opportunity to do something different with my life but to harness many of the skills I had spent my life acquiring.
…And so emerged Captain Krankypants – the name given to me by my kids when I was struggling in life and constantly appearing angry about everything and anything. The name quickly caught on and many family and friends started referring to me by the name.
While the original Captain Krankypants was who I was at the time – and, yes, the website was originally for whining and complaining people to share their bleating – I now decided to keep the name as a memory to the person I was and to move forward in a positive manner and look to improve my sense of self worth while trying to help other people cope with what might be their own personal issues.
I decided that I would journal my experiences as I moved from the depressed condition to become the new person I am now. As soon as I started I found that people responded favourably to my story and to the journey I was on so I started going out and talking to groups and to media about it. I knew there was till a stigma associated with depression, anxiety and PTSD but I couldn’t care – I have nothing more to prove in life, I probably don’t have a lot of it left to be honest… so I could voice my experiences and risk the ridicule of others… but it never came.
My true friends and my family have been so supportive and new people I meet, when I explain what I do, think it is wonderful and very brave… I still don’t see why it is brave, I am just me doing what I do but I understand their support and positivity for it. Even people I never thought would say anything, have told me how proud they are of what I am doing… it is lovely to have so much support and love from people close to me.
So here I sit on a train in the UK travelling between cities where I am giving my talks. So far to groups as diverse as life sentenced ex military prisoners, drug and alcohol self support groups, mental health support groups and paying audiences across the country. I think of the individuals I have met so far and I see the look in their eyes when they recognise me as someone who has experienced what they are experiencing and they see me as someone who has got through the worst of it. I see them deep in thought, I see them crying with relief, I see them looking relieved and I see them taking notes and listening intently to me.
During the Q and A session I hear people looking for guidance, seeking comfort, asking for advice and my heart breaks for every one of them, knowing what they are going through. I tell them I am not a mental health expert nor a doctor, I am just a normal person who is a little further down the road to recovery than them. I go back to my accommodation after the show and sit quietly on my bed and think back through my life, I think about my life now, I think about all the people who come to see me and I think about all those who poor souls who are suffering so badly they can’t get out and I finally think… Yes I am worthy of being on this planet.