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I’m ready to talk! Believe me I don’t want to be like this. I know how it looks. I’m odd, right? I barely say hi, I’m disconnected and seem very unfriendly. But you know what, I have to be like this. No, I’m being serious, I do. I have to protect myself.

Have you any idea how draining it is keeping up this pretence, day in and day out, hiding behind this mask, afraid to let it fall. It is better this way, for you to think I’m odd or anti-social rather than letting you in and meeting the real me.

The days you see me in work, believe it or not, they are the good days, on those days I’m ‘winning’. You have no idea how difficult and exhausting it is for me to be here today. I want to run and hide but I don’t I stay, I get my work done, to you I seem productive, but inside I long to be alone in the sanctuary of my home, my darkness.

Can I ask you something? How well do you function if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, not so well eh? Me, I don’t sleep much, well, in fact, on average I sleep 45 minutes a night. Those 45 minutes typically come just before I have to ‘rise and shine’ for the day ahead. I am so exhausted and worn that my body shakes uncontrollably. I don’t want to get up and face the day. I can’t do this anymore!

Today you will see me in the office because I have dragged myself out of the bed. I am torn, between calling in sick or struggling through the day. I should call in sick, but I don’t want to speak to anyone, maybe I’ll text them. This is all I want, to stay in my dark room, be alone, and be curled up in the foetal position under my covers with my headphones on, not being able to hear or see.

Today I decide to go work. As I drive my body becomes dull and heavy. It feels like the blood is draining from my body and filtering out through my toes. My head is spinning, my body is heavy, I’m a wreck. How much longer can I hide this?

I am approaching the office, my heart is racing, body shaking. I sit in my car, struggling and wanting to go home, nobody has seen me yet, maybe there’s still time. I am exhausted and it is not even 9am. I sit in my car and plan my route to my desk. I try to plan how I can avoid people or at worst how I can have the least amount of interactions.

I start to walk, passing reception, giving an exaggerated ‘hello’ and a smile, I move swiftly, there it is my desk, at least it is in the corner, I’m nearly there, giving the odd salute as I edge closer to the sanctuary that is my desk.

I’m safe, well as long as nobody needs me today. I cower behind my screen. My head is heavy and I can’t seem to get started. 10 minutes, 20, 45 and hour has now passed. The thoughts are constant, it just never stops, I’m exhausted. I need to get started. I set my timer for 45 minutes, a trick I use to try to focus. After the 45 I will take a 5-minute break and go again for 45.

I start to worry about lunch time. I want to be alone and go get some air, put on my headphones and go to some quiet area, where I can be alone. I have to plan my exit strategy. It’s lunchtime, I wait, people are going, okay now I can go, there’s nobody around. Freedom for a little while.

I know they think I’m odd. They don’t really bother with me anymore; I can’t blame them. I know they talk about me. Believe me I would give anything to be able to just hang out and talk and laugh, to be one of you. But I can’t.

It’s home time. I’m nearly there. In the door, eat some fast food. Race up the stairs, close the curtains, stick my headphones in, cover myself with my duvet and wait…………….Are you ready to hear this?


Neil Kelders International Speaker/Mental Health Ambassador/Performance & Wellbeing Coach joins us on the 6th February for PAI’s Annual HR Conference


Neil’s is speaking on Wellbeing in the workplace – Your role in breaking down the stigma, understanding the obstacles and supporting a positive mental health culture.

Neil specialises in the areas of Performance Coaching, Mentoring, Mental Health & Wellbeing Coaching. Neil has worked with a diverse range of target groups with the objective of helping them overcome barriers and sharing equally in the economic, cultural and social aspects of life. Neil has often been found over the years on National, Regional and Local Radio and national newspapers discussing his views on a wide range of wellbeing issues, in particular providing solution-based views to mental health problems.

Neil achieves life changing results by bringing his unique practical work experience and combining this with his professional background and work as a personal trainer and team coach, as well as his personal story. This allows Neil to provide personal client-centered results in a creative and inspiring environment.


Join us this Thursday 6th February at PAI’s Annual HR Conference – Building Inclusive Healthy Workplace Cultures – The Power of Diversity and Wellbeing. This half day event will educate and inspire!