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(Part 1) "Death of a Time Lord..." - a candid tale on mental health of a Producer

"Stuck in a loop of obsessive compulsivity with work and the perceived need to succeed at an unattainable perfection whatever the costs, with the ever looming fear of failure due to constants always out of control and/or reach."

3698105-0182991652-tumbl…The death of a Time Lord…

Regeneration, a biological ability straight out of science fiction, centred around the double beating heart of a Time Lord. The process allows one who is old or mortally wounded to undergo a transformation into a new physical form with a somewhat different personality.

Now I'm no Time Lord, (although my job is all about managing time) but for me and others regeneration in a sense is possible and happens in a time in which the body needs to survive, which for me was much like a gradually inflating balloon of containing not helium but depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsivity which ignored enlarged to a point where it was to either pop or deflate, but unfortunately it was not the later requiring repair and self-evolution to overcome the illnesses..

..."on the outside a nice, bright and polite individual but appearances can be deceiving"...

My Year 11 leavers book statement by my form tutor. I didn't really think anything of it at the time, but as of this challenging (for a lack of a better word) period it's been playing on my mind. What does it even mean? What a weird thing to write about someone without explanation...

Many people would describe me as a nice, laid back, fun, hardworking with a willingness to help anyone at the drop of a hat. Is this me? Or is it a symptom of anxiety to be like this to be accepted? Who or what am I really?

...must deliver 'X', in 'Y' with 'Z'...while trying to play pin the tail on the donkey...

Stuck in a loop of obsessive compulsivity with work and the perceived need to succeed at an unattainable perfection whatever the costs, with the ever looming fear of failure due to constants always out of control and/or reach.

Lists, lists everywhere became my bedtime ritual to allow for my brain to even consider sleep.

The floor beside the sofa, my now bed, piles of paper covered with flow diagrams, worse case scenarios, self-doubt and questioning, which was done again and again until I had a complete brain dump and a nice tidy in order of execution list of actions, follow-ups or investigations required for the next day.

Damn it if I ever remembered or declassified importance of something, requiring that nice and tidy list to be rewrote.

...24/7 lights out game with emails is a losing game...

Checking your work emails before bed is never a good idea, an email marked as important, can't ignore it can I? Ok I'll just reply to this one. They reply, you can't ignore it now you started the conversation. Emails exchanged, they go on lunch breaks, issue's 2am...

Working with partners abroad from the east and west does make this difficult especially when you don't want to lose a whole day waiting for a response, so this began to be the logical way to be to meet deadlines set.

..."sorry I'll be late again tonight..."

This phrase, again and again, to the point where it became a ritual. It was happening so often that the more logical solution was just not make the plans in the first place.

Time flies when you're having fun right? Goes even faster when you've submersed yourself completely into being a metaphorical router of a project...divvying information out to the east and west from 6am - midnight just trying to keep the 'plates' spinning. year, two years, three years, four years...gone at a click of the fingers. You sit back, desk covered in lists from yesterday and even four years ago, just in case you missed something.

Personal relationships stretched to an irreparable state. Haven't seen family members for years. My closest friends getting married and not even getting an invite and now hobbies only involve work.

 ...everyone's only human...

The hardest thing to ever do is ask for help. Actually the hardest thing is to admit to yourself that you need the help especially when you don't even see it yourself.

I think I only realised I needed help when spending a 'holiday' with my son, and there was just a vacuum of emotion. I hadn't realised until that point that I was slowly losing pieces of myself, I suppose you could describe it as the soul but I'm not religious or spiritual at all.

I'd realised that all I cared about was whether an email was answered or not, and whether we would hit the deadline or not. Everything else I wouldn't get frustrated about if it got in the way of that purpose.

...side effects may include depression and suicidal thoughts...

At this point (October 2014) the first course of action was to see the GP. I had no idea what to say or expect but I was diagnosed with depression and put on Citalopram which I'm told is the basic go to drug for treating depression.

October, November and December go by with a repeated cycle of GP review, dosage increase, GP review, dosage increase.

...Ho, Ho, ho... 

Christmas, Christmas felt like torture. Most of December was spent prepping my projects most major release, and I ensured everything was done well before the break. BUT, my mind played on me and all I could do was my brain alleviating process of lists, lists and more lists.

...mountains out of molehills...

January came and the launch went perfectly smooth, but after everything started taking longer and longer to do with the tiniest of details self-scrutinised, re-done, scrutinised again, again and again. Keeping me away from completing the big ticket items.

...the injured Time Lord...

Listening to advice I was given back in October '14 I decided it was time to take a leave of absence at the end of January '15.

Work very supportive, couldn't ask for anything different there but just the sheer cutting off of my life support that had been my sole purpose and reason for living and breathing for what it has felt for as long as I could remember was agonising. I couldn't stop thinking about stuff that I had needed to do and ask of others...these thoughts only stopped two months after I had been off.

...the waiting game...

From the beginning of February '15 began the waiting game for initial therapy on the NHS began, which felt like a painfully slow process.

My personality was shifting between Jekyll and Hyde on a daily basis. Horrible to be around, without even being able to tolerate myself at all. Which was a very odd feeling indeed.

The worry of what people at work knew, or what they didn't became a major concern. Not hearing anything from those I felt close to for months became very worrying and isolating. Twitter became an outreach to 'appear' normal in society and have some social contact.

...what can I hear?...

The waiting and self-reliance deteriorated the damage, adding auditory hallucinations to the cocktail of fun.

This obviously alarming triggered a lot quicker response and immediate review and medication. Leading to be put on anti-psychotic medication, which is something I'd never even imagined in life. Quetiapine was prescribed, taken at night and leaving you like a zombie for half the day.

...further help...

This in late March was the point I couldn't wait for the NHS and asked to be referred to a private doctor. This was all speedy and within a couple of days I had my appointment booked.

Had my initial review and was diagnosed with severe depression, severe anxiety and psychosis with the immediate recommendation of a stay in hospital for care and treatment.


I can't remember a lot of the early phase but I was on a strict regime of medication Inc. Citalopram switched to Venlafaxine and the Quetiapine upped to the max, plus therapy, including one-to-one and group sessions.

I pretty much felt like the walking dead for a month with my brain only becoming cloudy around 4pm...


Being in a mental health hospital, albeit one for the wealthy and lucky insurance cover, was an eye opening experience. I met and made friends with personalities I never imagined. It in the end gets you to accept that yes I might be broken and have personality traits I'll always have, just got to learn to live with them. Obsessive compulsive personality the biggest to bear, but it’s a part of me and can be utilised into a tool when needed.

...don't judge a book by its cover...

So many people met, completely pleasant and nice to be in the company of. Underneath major psychosis, depression, anxiety, additions, violence, suicide attempts, self-harm, OCD, bipolar, disassociation and the list goes on.

...a fortnight with my late grandfather...

There was a period when the auditory hallucinations had subsided through medication, so a taper was tried to see if it would stay clear...BUT this led to the most surreal experience in having my late grandfather talking to me for two weeks. Surreal for the fact I was hearing it in the first place, but surreal that I obviously was still able to know it wasn't real. So I just had to ignore it.

...self-discovery and regeneration begins...

During my hospital stay art was a therapeutic outlet, and after not using a pencil since I was back in secondary school 14 years prior I'd become hooked, and was the beginning of the regeneration and change process.

...intellectual versus emotional understanding...

I left the hospital after 10 weeks when insurance allowance for stay had ran out. I wasn't cured, not even much if at all better but the auditory hallucinations were under control at least.

The concepts taught and learned while during the stay I completely intellectually understood, it was just trying to emotionally feel and understand them.

...on the outside...

Treatment continued, tablets added, dosage increased. At peak Venlafaxine, Quetiapine, Mirtazapine and Lithium along with electro-convulsive therapy., run, run...

Running has played a massive role in the last couple of years of my life, but since hospital it has provided a structure and free source of health. My physical form is as good as it's been since I was a teen, and it has helped with mental discipline too. isolation...

My social circle was made of about four adults including parents and doctor, plus a three-year-old.

This was one of the strangest things to deal with, as to some extent I haven't had any contact with people I were locked into a daily routine with for soooo long and felt bad still does feel very alienating.

...the taper...

After three weeks and six sessions of electro-convulsive therapy things marginally improved, with a little less foggy head to the decision to taper down the dosage of one of the four medications at a time and wean off completely depending on how I react as I go through this phase.

I'm now down to two of the medications (Venlafaxine and Quetiapine), and weaning off one of those (Quetiapine) as I type this and should be down to just one antidepressant in a few weeks.

This phase is full of pleasant withdrawals symptoms, tiredness and irritability but at least thereis light at the end of the tunnel now and a feeling of being more human.

There is still the emptiness and lack of emotion present, but it's hoped by psychologist and therapist that this will return in time.

...the beginnings of a new Time Lord reborn...

This past year has been as eventful as a Christmas special of Doctor Who, and what comes with that usually is a new leading character.

With me I do feel like I've been in metamorphosis and am slowly shaping and adjusting to my new personality, a new self-perspective on life and acceptance of flaws and traits.

All I know is that I'm a person that isn't ashamed to admit what he's been through and will want to help others in a similar situation, and educate work on how to approach and avoid situations like this going forward.

Recovery will be going on for a while longer yet, with another 12 weeks of therapy and reviews but I'll be ending out this year and entering the new year in a brand new chapter and it'll be interesting to see who I am and how I'm going to fit in society.

I'm now in a phase of prepping for a gradual return to work, which I'm both excited and very anxious about with mental health issues still a big stigma and that nobody knows why I've been off. So I fear a thick atmosphere to try and cut through in a busy office with banter I haven't experience in nearly a year.

The illness is still looming, but getting there...

To be continued...


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