Alzheimer’s and depression, and how I evolved

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.

Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

Having recently left the armed forces after tours in Afghanistan, Adam found himself in such a dark place.  He was struggling to find his sense of purpose and life was seemingly pulling away from him.  His relationship had ended, he was in need of work and was unsure of what he wanted from life.  The days were long, lonely and dark and depression had engulfed him.  It was beginning to swallow everything he once held dear and cover his life in grey clouds.  He found himself wanting the pain of his life to stop, and wondering how he could end his life completely.

Adam had witnessed such terrible things whilst on tour and carried some guilt for having survived where others did not.  He was certain the depression he was feeling was as a result of his experiences over the last few years.  Thoughts of what happened on his tours haunted him and was unable to allow himself to be happy.  He wasn’t sure what the point of it all was anymore.  Everything about his day to day life seemed so unimportant and trivial and his depression sank deeper each passing day.

“Before I came to you I’ve never been in such a dark place in my life and I don’t think I ever will be again. The thought of killing myself on a daily basis just did not seem like a big deal anymore, it was just the thing that was always on my mind. 

After coming to see you I started looking at things more positively and was able to pull myself out of a negative mind space more easily.”

Adam was told about Rapid Transformational Therapy and the support EmpowerPlan can offer by his mother (an EAP member). His mother arranged for him to give it a try. His mother was extremely worried about him as she had noticed how his moods had altered over time.  She was aware of the dark thoughts he was having and knew he needed some form of intervention. Luckily the EAP users are able to transfer their therapy allowance to other members of their household should they need to. We recognise that sometimes employee stress and hardships come from worry and concern for spouses or children.

Rapid Transformational Therapy looks at the root cause of any issue and Adam was surprised by the root cause that showed up during his session.  He had expected it to be as a result of the events experienced whilst on tour, and yet was so surprised to discover that those events were nothing at all to do with why his mental health had deteriorated.  Although they may have acted as a trigger, the root cause came from early on in his life and a belief he had formed at an early age.  A belief he wasn’t aware he held. 

“People say to me now ‘You look happy!’ and that sounds like a small thing, but that is huge for me.  I am in a really good place now with my mental health and mindset.”

After Adam’s initial session we did some coaching around his career goals which also helped to turn his life around.  Finding a new sense of purpose, enjoyment and fulfilment in his life.

10 months after Adam’s initial session, he is now working in his dream job and has just bought a house with his girlfriend.  And has stated that he can’t recommend RTT enough.  It has not only changed his life but it has saved his life.