My mental health and me!

by Martin Grady, Co-Founder & Director, The Thrive Team

Trigger warning, this content contains talk of suicide

I’ve been contemplating writing this article for quite some time but for lots of reasons it has never been the right time.

This morning I was talking to my amazing partner Ali Trodd about sharing a brilliant video of Jason Manford about why he has been out of the public eye for a while. He has been struggling with his mental health, like most men. Ali’s response was ‘instead of releasing that article why don’t you share your own story?’.

That made me emotional and I thought that I couldn’t do it. I self-stigmatised and worried about looking weak. I was also conscious of the fact that I have not spoken openly about this with close friends and family.

Those that know me, I think they would say that I was confident and outgoing but like most people I do suffer from low self-esteem at times and I am naturally an introvert.

So here we go.

Over the last 30 years there have been times when I have drunk too much. My career started at 17 in the Royal Navy and I describe my service as extending my adolescence by 12 years.  I left the RN and started my second career in HR and Recruitment and continued to drink more than was good for me. I didn’t know at the time but I was struggling with anxiety and drinking was masking my mental health issues.  As we all know, alcohol is a depressant and I did not realise the whole effect that alcohol was having on me.

Nearly 5 years ago I lost my dad suddenly one Friday night to a heart attack. A few weeks later, I also got involved in a legal battle which cost me £27K in legal fees and many months of unnecessary stress. This was a very dark period for me and along with a break down in my marriage, things were getting very tough mentally.

All these factors came to a head one morning when I was driving to the Midlands to carry out a number of meetings with clients and candidates. I was driving along a road and thought I had found the perfect opportunity to take my life. There was a lorry coming towards me and this was going to be the time. I still have no idea what stopped me but luckily, I slowed right down to cry like a baby.

I am so grateful that I did not have the nerve to do this. Clearly not only for my sake but for the lorry driver, their family and obviously my family too.

I had to take action and get some professional help. I sought this help and made some very serious decisions about how I had to change my life and move forward in a positive way.

I have been on quite a journey of self-discovery, including therapy, fitness and coaching.

I am now absolutely committed to help other people to recognise that at times in their life they may need help. It is not weak to talk, it is not weak to seek help and if you don’t look after yourself first, you will not be able to be the leader of your business, be a dad, be a partner or be a friend to other people. Most importantly, you cannot be the best version of you.

Over the last 2 years, I have really noticed an increase in the amount of people who are in the doldrums in their lives and careers. It is much more noticeable to me as I am much more attuned to the behaviours and signs of men, in particular, who need some help.

Since meeting Ali in 2018, I have fundamentally changed my outlook to mental health and how I personally view it. I have become a Mental Health First Aider which has helped me to recognise the signs of poor mental health. It has given me the confidence to start a conversation and to listen without judgement.

In our businesses, we have trained over 700 people in Mental Health First Aid and mental health awareness over the last 18 months. I have also encouraged others to become MHFA Instructors.

As part of The Thrive Team’s search and selection offering we have developed a new coaching programme to help candidates transition from one role to another with a focus on their wellbeing and resilience.

I am still very much a Headhunter helping senior leaders transition from one role to another and with The Thrive Team, we have the perfect vehicle to help people to become the best version of themselves, both within their jobs but also in their lives too.

I am very grateful to have taken a second chance at life and now I live every day to the full!