Alzheimer’s and depression, and how I evolved

Alzheimer’s and depression, and how I evolved

I am Andrew and I am one of the Directors here at EmpowerPlan. Please allow […]
Category: Articles Case Studies Company News Mental Wellbeing
Written by: Andrew McCabe

I am Andrew and I am one of the Directors here at EmpowerPlan. Please allow me to share my own personal story, which will give you a brief insight into why I am so very passionate about my job, and how it can help various employers & employees across the UK. 

A few years ago, a family member and someone who is very close to my heart was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. As his condition developed over time, and the repercussions of the disease were clear to see, it dawned on me that my best friend and the man I worshipped from being a little boy would never be the same again.  

Memories are what make up a person.

If you stripped someone of their memories, then what are they but an empty shell? Empty inside but with the same exterior being presented to the outside world around them. This is what Alzheimer’s does to people. Each day, their internal memories, that once made them look at you the way they did, slowly shrinking and eventually disintegrating.  And there is not an awful lot you can do to stop it at the moment.

My Father... My Hero

My hero

He was the man I called every other day, if not every day. He was the man I turned to for advice, my first port of call if in a crisis. He was the man who made me love Sunderland football club; and although this can bring with it much heartache, it was this love of sport that bonded our relationship.

Who would I call now after a win, a draw, or predominantly a loss? Who could I play golf with and attack the large bushes searching for our miss placed shots? Who could I cry with? Who could I reach out to? Why was this happening? To him… of all people… HIM? What had he done to deserve this cruel torture? As each week went by, a new condition would set in. It was brutal, heart-breaking and I was completely and utterly devastated to watch it.  

The impact

To cut a long story short, my mental health deteriorated, and this illness was one of the trigger points for a large period of depression. I didn't realise that I had a mental health illness at first. I honestly thought the phrase 'mental health' was for people in 'cloud cuckoo' land. This wasn't me.  I wasn’t crazy.  These were all misconceptions I had back then. I just felt like I was extremely sad.   I remember the fake smiles at work, which were exhausting. I just wanted to lock myself away, curl up into a ball in the toilet cubicles or something similar and cry. I remember doing this very act and plucking up the nerve to re-join the office, only to be criticised for being late out of the lavatory. When I finally informed my line managers that I was struggling, they had no idea on how to resolve the issue or support me in what I was going through. It was uncomfortable for them when I mentioned it, just as it was uncomfortable for me and therefore found little strength and reassurance from them.  It wasn't their fault I suppose, they had no experience of mental health issues. They told me I could take days off; however, I wasn't in the position to afford time off unpaid.  My company did not pay sick pay, especially for mental health conditions.  

Help me

I did as I was advised to and sought help from my GP and was prescribed medication… but no avail. I started to drink more. A lot more.  It took the heartache away, and dulled my pain. Or at least momentarily I was under the illusion that is what was happening.  I had no interest in my work at all. It was evident in my altered motivation levels.  And they offered little help in supporting me through this glitch, in what had previously been a very loyal, and well-presented career path. I was on a downward spiral, and something needed to change. 

I found my shining light.

My rock bottom

My behaviour became very erratic and I relished in causing myself physical pain to take away the emotional hurt that clung to me inside; relentless and unwavering.  Just there deep within me, drawing me down further into darkness that just felt consuming and claustrophobic.  My world felt as though it had crumbled around me and I was alone.  I was at rock bottom, but I found some light thanks to my amazing and supportive wife.

Rapid Transformational Therapy

When I was at my lowest point, I knew that I had no choice but to seek professional help.  I couldn’t keep denying what was happening and hoping it would pass.  My loved ones had spent so long trying to get me to go to counselling of some sort.  But I really did not want to sit in a room and talk to a stranger about my dad, and how his illness triggered such darkness and pain.  I didn’t want that pain and I wanted to supress it, not talk about it every week.  We each have our own needs and preferences and, this was something I felt I couldn’t handle at that time. After much discussions and convincing,  I decided to experience first-hand the power of Rapid Transformational Therapy. My wife explained how I wouldn’t need as many sessions as general counselling and the release would be impactful and freeing.  And boy, was she right. Little did I know, that the depression I thought was caused by my fathers illness, was only triggered by it.  The root cause happened much earlier on in my life experiences.  I know now after all the research I have done since, that the root cause of mental health conditions happens before the age of 18 in 75% of cases.  But before my session, I had no idea what I clung onto from my past and how my own memories had shaped my beliefs and manifested into depression.

Why I joined my wife in creating EmpowerPlan

For me, the opportunity to launch EmpowerPlan was a no brainer. I know first-hand what it feels like to be struggling at work. The support we can give businesses across the UK and to employees can be life changing. If employees are happier, they'll feel more focused and motivated and they'll use their time at work more effectively, which means they'll get more done without sacrificing quality.

I feel like I am truly where I belong and actually making a difference.