In his latest blog, Tim Marsh candidly shares his personal experiences to look at reasons why someone may not be performing their best at work.
This summer I managed to bump my nice shiny car not once but twice in a single afternoon – having not done so for 40 years! The reason for the considerable expense and inconvenience is – I’d like to suggest – at the very heart of the wellbeing / safety debate.
I wasn’t tired, upset – or late and rushing. I hadn’t had a row. I wasn’t on any medication or hungover. I’d not been triggered to anger by any road rage. The weather was dry and lovely.
It was actually an extremely calm and happy day but because of the context, my brains were well and truly scrambled. I was simply ‘away with the fairies big time’. (I’ve been a chartered psychologist for more than 30 years now but, frankly, that term is as accurate as anything in a textbook!).
The day in question
The day in question involved one of my children graduating from the Royal Veterinary College. Certainly, an emotional day of great pride for each and every parent in attendance but simple parental pride was not the reason my own brains were so thoroughly scrambled.
You see, 12 years ago, very quickly and very severely, my happy, healthy, bubbly (if always quirky) ten-year-old fell ill with a combination of OCD and other related disorders often linked to spectrum issues. Within weeks of first symptoms, she was in hospital and she’d not get home for more than ten months. (Not at all unrelated – a variety of animals featured heavily in her recovery…).
The (secure) hospital rules seemed almost designed to keep her there as long as possible – being aimed squarely at anorexic patients who made up the majority. Physical attempts to feed them and pin them down to stop them exercising frantically after they’d been force-fed, made the place feel like a war zone.
Visiting, as well as often traumatic, was limited to set hours only several times a week. No phone allowed. No computers. One shared pay phone only. Frankly, if she’d been incarcerated there for setting fire to one of her siblings the following year, it would have looked very much the same for her and the rest of the family.
Christmas, eight months into her stay, was an especially low point.
An officious jobsworth nurse on Christmas Eve ushering us out exactly on time I’ll never forget or, frankly, forgive and a fairy light-based grotto she’d arranged outside her cell (sorry, room) door when we came back on Christmas morning – that was as close to unbearable a sight as I ever hope to see.
Like Cilla Black after her husband Bobby died, I lost my life-long fear of heights overnight along with a decent amount of tolerance and inhibition (though I can’t talk for Cilla on those). 12 years on I’m still not able to talk about these events in public. ‘It’s only 12 years’ I joke, but I know that’s nothing really.
The man who feels he could have prevented my business partner, Jason Anker’s, fall still can’t meet up with him because he remains too traumatised 30 years on. (On a more positive note, I was able to happily jump out of plane from fully three miles up with Jason the other day and raise a decent amount of money for a mental health charity)!