Purple network member, Jason Hibbitt, has worked for the NHS in clinical audit and governance for over 19 years. In this blog, he shares his experiences of living with a generalised anxiety condition.
My name is Jason and I’ve been working for the NHS in clinical audit and governance positions for over 19 years. Over that time I have worked for several trusts and seen many many changes in staff experience, the way patients are treated and how NHS organisations are run.
Throughout all this time I have been living with a generalised anxiety condition.
I don’t want this to be a ‘woe is me’ type of blog, because I consider myself a very lucky person. I am generally healthy, have a very supportive family, a great set of friends and a wonderfully supportive line manager and team. This is part of the reason why I joined the Purple Network. However, I did want to write this piece to give a little bit of an indication of what it is like to live with an anxiety condition, to offer hope to those that live with one and talk a bit about how I manage my condition at work with the support of my manager.
How can I best explain living with a generalised anxiety condition? After all, everyone experiences anxiety and worry, it’s an unavoidable part of everyday life. The difference for me is that I feel anxiety, worry and dread almost all of the time, it’s like my ‘worry tap’ has been turned on and it can’t be turned off. Sometimes this tap just drips a small amount of worry, whilst at other times it’s turned on full blast. There are times I can identify what is causing the anxiety and I try to do something about it, but often I cannot identify the cause or there seem to be so many causes that I don’t know where to start! This leads to other symptoms such as nausea, headaches, confusion, heart palpitations, irritability and a feeling of floating outside of your body, which I often refer to as ‘feeling a bit wobbly’ as it seems to fit nicely.
As I have said, this is not a ‘woe is me’ article and there is a great deal of help and understanding out there. I am a great believer that many things can be helped by a good chat. A conversation where both parties respect each other, really listen to what each other has to say and have an open mind to resolve any problems. By doing this at work, I have experienced fantastic support from my line manager and team. Communication is key to this and each situation is approached with a mutual respect and trust. For example, I am allowed some flexibility in my working, which may involve starting work a little bit later or working in a different location on days when my anxiety is causing me particular problems. In return I feel supported, appreciated and able to be the best that I can be, but most of all I feel that I am able to bring my real self to work and not pretend to be someone else.
I know that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution that can be adopted for everyone in a similar position to me. People have very different work and life experiences with differing and challenging job demands, work patterns and responsibilities. However through mutual respect, trust, and a little give and take, I am positive that a ‘sweet spot’ can be reached for everyone, and that everyone will feel they can bring their whole self to work.