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Seeking help was the best thing I’ve done – By Lucy Hale

My experience of mental health had mostly been a positive one until last year. I hadn’t experienced much major trauma, was content with my personal relationships and work life, had a solid group of friends and a boyfriend that I lived with. Then things came crashing down in March 2018 when I discovered my partner of 7 years had been cheating on me. My world shattered; I felt utterly betrayed and unloved, had to find a new place to live ASAP, my mum was living in Australia… all while I was starting a new role at Square Enix.

It was a dream job – creating videos for the Just Cause YouTube channel. But due to what I was going through personally, it wasn’t the best start. My mood was so low and I was completely distracted by everything going on in my mind that I wasn’t performing at my best. And after 3 months, the company extended my probation.

This added to the downwards spiral of not feeling good enough, desired, worthy. My imposter syndrome was at an all-time high, and so to combat this I would start to work non-stop. I’d stay late every evening, skip lunch and work at my desk, work on weekends, cancel on plans with friends because I felt behind on projects. This continued for months, all the time my mental health taking a battering. I’d spend lots of time sat in a work bathroom cubicle sobbing and trying to hold off anxiety attacks. On weekends, I wouldn’t leave my bed the entire time. I was having regular, recurring thoughts of suicide. I didn’t even want to play video games. I couldn’t even find enjoyment in the escapism of adventuring through Skyrim or speeding down highways in Grand Theft Auto. Things were bad.

One day it all got too much, and I booked in to see my GP. As soon as I began to talk about what was wrong, I completely broke down. She was so understanding and listened intently and sympathetically, diagnosing me as depressed, prescribing SSRI anti-depressants and booked me in for therapy. I was signed off work and found it so difficult to stop my brain working overtime. But after a few days I realised that this had happened for a reason, and that I needed to practise self-care.

After around a month, the anti-depressants worked wonders for me. I felt energetic, wanted to get out of bed, felt positive for the first time in what felt like forever. Even better was that managers and HR team at work were very understanding. We organised my schedule to ensure I had plenty of time between video deliveries to make sure I could edit with no need to rush. We sourced assistance from a capture company to reduce my workload. I checked in with the HR team on a weekly basis until I felt that I was confident and comfortable enough to manage by myself.

Now, I’m doing better than ever! Seeking help was the best thing I’ve ever done and I truly wish I had done it sooner. I’m now off anti-depressants, have a loving, caring boyfriend who I adore (and love to play video games with) and I’m enjoying my incredible job on the daily. If there’s one piece of advice I could give, it would be to speak up when you’re not feeling good – don’t ‘manage’ or keep it bottled up. A problem shared is a problem halved.